TV journalism’s newest embarrassment

The Guardian has a nice take on the BBC’s live interview yesterday with a man claiming to be a representative of Dow Chemical on the 20th anniversary of the Bhopal disaster in India.

The story is right out of a movie. The guy is a member of the Yes Men group, which hoaxes businesses and governments, and this one was quite elaborate and included hijacking a portion of the Dow Website. The BBC knew the anniversary was coming, so they assigned a producer to book a guest from Dow. The producer went to the Dow Website and ended up with the Yes Men.

The embarrassment caused great harm for awhile in India, because the man said Dow was offering a $12 billion settlement to those involved in the incident. Hopes were raised and then dashed. Disgusting.

Frankly, the planning and execution of the hoax was so sophisticated that it would likely have fooled any producer. Be that as it may, the incident will renew calls for Internet security and the like. It’ll also give more ammunition to those who prefer the status quo — not that they’ve ever been fooled, eh?

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