MSNBC broke down a sensational hoax story that made it through the international media after apparently originating in the UK Daily Mail. (The Daily Mail has since taken down its story, but it was re-published on the Australian Telegraph’s website.)
The hoax story claimed that Polish dentist Anna Macowiak yanked out all the teeth of her ex, Marek Olszewski, “days after” Olszewski broke up with her. The story reported quotes from both and said Macowiak “is being investigated for medical malpractice.”
According to MSNBC, “Fox News, the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, Huffington Post, Yahoo! News, MSN, the New York Post, and The New York Daily News” all reported on the hoax.
But the hoax could have been prevented with a quick call to the Polish police, which MSNBC made.
According to MSNBC, Poland’s Provincial Police Headquarters spokesperson, Pawel Petrykowski, said “Lower Silesia Police Department has not been notified about such an event.” Further, MSNBC reported that the Polish board responsible for regulating dentists said Macowiak isn’t a “listed” dentist and that it’s not looking into the reported case.
Oddly, according to MSNBC, the Daily Mail reporter credited with the story told MSNBC that he “he does not know where the story came from and distanced himself from it when questioned about its origins. ”
News Outlets That Haven’t Put Corrections on Original Reports
In a report on the hoax, the International Business Times wrote “we should’ve known — the clues were all there.” The International Business Times noted that the quotes sounded too polished — “it’s like a movie with unrealistic dialogue” or a satire site.
The International Business Times noted it fell for the hoax as well in a May 1 post, but interestingly the IBTimes didn’t add a correction to the original post. We have written to the International Business Times asking if it will correct and will update with any response.
We’ve collected a list of other outlets that have stories up about the dentist tooth-pulling story without corrections on the original article. We have written to all the below outlets asking about any corrections and will update with any responses.
- Mississippi WAPT-TV reported the hoax story as real, attributing quotes to the Daily Mail.
- Fox News still has its April 30 story up. as does its source, the NY Daily News.
- The NY Post ran a brief post about it in a column called “Weird but True,” but hasn’t corrected yet.
- ABC News ran an April 30 story about the dentist claims, but hasn’t corrected yet.
- Fox 8 Cleveland ran the story, as did NBC-affiliate WPTV Channel 5.
- The Long Island Press also hasn’t published a correction to its April 29 story.
- India’s NDTV reported April 28 on the story, but no apparent correction is on the original report.
Corrections, Updates & Retractions
Several news outlets have posted retractions or corrections on their reports about the dentist story, including MSN for its April 28 story.
The Huffington Post retracted May 9 its April 28 story. The retraction reads:
“RETRACTION: MSNBC reported today, May 9, that the dentist accused of drugging up her boyfriend and pulling his teeth out doesn’t exist. Cops in Wroclaw, Poland told the station that they hadn’t received word of such a crime, and a legal adviser for Poland’s Chamber of Physicians and Dentists said there is no dental practitioner named Anna Mackowiak.
“A handful of respectable publications ran the story before it was aggregated. Still, we strive to make sure all the articles we publish are 100-percent accurate. We regret the error.”
Yahoo News posted an update on its April 30 story reading in part:
“UPDATE: A new report from MSNBC suggests that the original report is a hoax. Contributor Erin Tennant claims to have received a translated denial from Polish authorities calling into question the report first run by The Daily Mail and Austrian Times.“
The Los Angeles Times‘ May 1 article was updated May 9 with a correction linking to the MSNBC.com story.
The San Francisco Chronicle updated its April 30 story to report that the dentist tale was a hoax and linked to the MSNBC report.