Israel TV News Airs Hoax Story Claiming Israeli Girl Kidnapped at Disney, Retracts Story and Suspends Reporter

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See above a screenshot from Arutz Sheva 7 report on the hoax. (Credit: IsraelNationalNews, screnshot)

Israel’s Channel 10 TV news aired a hoax story April 29, Israel’s Media Watch’s Yisrael Medad and Eli Pollak wrote for the Jerusalem Post.

The Channel 10 story claimed that “a nine-year-old Israeli girl had nearly been abducted at Disney World in Orlando but was shortly after found by her parents drugged in a bathroom with her head shaved. The parents were unnamed, no corroborating information was aired either in the form of an audio interview or a video,” the Jerusalem Post report explained.

Since the report was aired, the reporter, Sivan Cohen, has “been suspended and an inquiry is being conducted,” according to the Jerusalem Post.  Cohen reportedly claimed that she recorded an interview with the father, but the station was unable to get in touch with Disney before airing.

Walt Disney World Resort Media Relations manager Bryan Malenius told iMediaEthics by e-mail that

“Walt Disney World Media Relations operates with a manager on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.   Channel 10 did not reach out to us before the story ran though several Israeli media outlets contacted us afterwards and we confirmed the story was untrue.”

JTA reported that Channel 10 reported April 30 that the story was a hoax and confirmed that the news outlet “suspended” Cohen during its “examination into the circumstances that led to the story.”

The Times of Israel noted that the following retraction is on Channel 10’s website:

“The decision to publish the story was due to the existence of a parent who confirmed the story. However, after publication, it emerged that the parent had misled the Channel 10 reporter, and such an incident never happened. Consequently the company open a comprehensive investigation into the circumstances of publication, and has suspended the reporter until the conclusion of the investigation.”

Arutz Sheva 7 also published the hoax report based on Channel 10’s story. See below a Google News result for the Arutz Sheva April 29 story “Attempt to Abduct Israeli Girl at Disney World.”. The link now redirects to a dead link.

On April 30, news website and radio outlet Arutz Sheva reported that the Channel 10 story was a hoax and noted that it also reported the hoax as news, writing: “The story was quoted by numerous Internet sources in Israel, including Arutz Sheva. The hoax, well-known in the United States, is not widely known in Israel.”

YNet News noted that before Cohen aired the report April 29, she commented that the story “sounds like ‘an urban legend'” but still reported it as news.

We have written to Channel 10 with questions about this incident and its reviewing of the incident. We will update with any response.

We have also written to Arutz Sheva asking if it posted a correction and if it will post the correction on the same page where the hoax report originally appeared.

We wrote last year about the dog stoning hoax that originated in Israeli media.  In that case, the BBC, Time magazine, the Telegraph, Agence France-Presse and others reported a story originating in the Israeli media about a Jerusalem court ordering a dog to be stoned.   Read our investigative report into the hoax and the BBC’s reporting of the hoax here.


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Israel TV News Airs Hoax Story Claiming Israeli Girl Kidnapped at Disney, Retracts Story and Suspends Reporter

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