Several news sites wrongly reported that actor and comedian Tracy Morgan would have to have his leg amputated.
Morgan and several others were seriously injured when a truck crashed into their limousine in New Jersey. One of the passengers in Morgan’s car, comedian James McNair (Jimmy Mack), was killed.
Morgan’s spokesperson Lewis Kay called the reports “completely fabricated.” He told USA Today, “Rumors about amputating his leg are completely fabricated. As we shared yesterday, Tracy had surgery on his broken leg.”
So where did the claims come from?
iMediaEthics found three sites that wrongly claimed Morgan may need amputation —The Daily Caller, The Inquistr, and Complex.com.
The Daily Caller‘s June 9 report credited the claims to Media TakeOut’s anonymous source.
The article, “Report: Tracy Morgan’s Leg Might Need To Be Amputated” also didn’t apparently include any attempts to independently verify the claims.
The Inquistr‘s June 9 story was titled “Tracy Morgan May Need Leg Amputated After Crash, Reports Say.”
The Inquistr reported on the claims, sourcing it to “the gossip blog Media TakeOut.” The last sentence of the story cautioned: “There was no verification on whether Tracy Morgan would need his leg amputated.”
Despite the speculation and claims sourced to a gossip blog, The Inquisitr still published its story.
Complex.com, the website for “men’s buyer’s guide” magazine, reported on the claims in a June 9 story as well, citing Media Take Out. Complex.com noted “this is hearsay at best.”
MediaTake Out Claimed ‘Insider’ at Hospital Provided Info
All three of the sites cited Media TakeOut’s story. So what was Media TakeOut’s evidence?
Its article has since been updated, and is now titled “UPDATE On Tracy Morgan’s Condition . . . It Now Looks Like Doctors May SAVE HIS LEG . . . But He Will Have ‘PARTIAL PARALYSIS Though’!! (We Got His MEDICAL HISTORY Inside)”
The June 9 post was a lengthy statement from an unidentified “insider” who “works at Robert Johnson Hospital where Tracy is staying.”
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Then, Media TakeOut claimed, “This is #FACTS# not some report found on Twitter. We spoke to an actual NURSE that saw Tracy.”
iMediaEthics asked the hospital for comment about the Media TakeOut claims that the website got its information from a hospital employee. We received the following statement,
“Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJUH) values our patients’ privacy and comfort and we take these concerns very seriously.
“We have instructed our employees that per hospital policy, only individuals directly involved with a patient’s care may access related health information. Also, we have reminded all staff members, visitors and patients that capturing and sharing any patient’s image, or posting unauthorized images and videos to the Internet or social media sites, is not only a violation of RWJUH administrative policy, but also violates state and federal law.
“We also continue to stress that no employees, other than authorized Public Relations staff or their approved designees, are permitted to speak to the press under any circumstances. Our staff will continue to work closely with Mr. Kay to ensure the accurate and appropriate release of information regarding this case.”
What is Media TakeOut?
All that aside, was Media TakeOut even a legitimate source for outlets to cite?
MediaTakeOut identifies itself as “The Most Visited Urban Website in the World.”
Other articles on the homepage for MediaTakeOut.com’s website included:
- “We Know We’re GOING TO HELL FOR SAYING THIS .. . But Don’t Rapper IGGY Azaelia And Pop Star RITA Ora Remind You Of . . .”
- “RIH GOTTA NEW MAN????? Rihanna Is Spotted OUT ON A DATE . . . With Jay Z’s BEST FRIEND!!! (CREW LOVE )”
- “Magic Johnson’s KIDS Were At The THINK LIKE A MAN Premiere Too . . . His Daughter . . . GORGEOUS . . . His Son . . . NOT SO MUCH!!!”
GQ profiled the site and its founder in September of last year. The profile warned:
“Because if MediaTakeout sets its sights on you, whatever it publishes probably isn’t true, but it does mean you’ve made it in the game.”
The profile did note that “Like TMZ, MediaTakeout does occasionally break news…but MTO has also inaccurate claimed ‘exclusives’ on everything from suggestions that Beyonce was faking her pregnancy (until she gave birth) to Lil Wayne’s decision to cut off his dreads (until another photo showed that the dreads were very much still there.”
GQ added “After reading for a while, you get the rhythm of it—it’s maybe one-sixteenth news and fifteen-sixteenths entertainment, more fun-house filter than reliable source.”
GossipCop, a gossip fact checking website, has rated more than a dozen MediaTakeOut stories from the past year false.