Baby 81 Story a Hoax

Lost in Translation

For the New York Times, it was the case of Sri Lanka’s “most celebrated tsunami orphan.” Networks broadcast how “nine” women fought over the baby who survived the island’s worst natural disaster. The unprecedented media attention brought more misery and heartache to a young Tamil couple who survived the December 26 tsunamis, but ended up in jail trying to get back their only son Abilash amid an avalanche of mis-reporting. The infant dubbed “Baby 81” could have been reunited much earlier if not for the media madness, according to the judge, the police and social service officials involved in the case.


[B]aby 81’s real burden was having too many journalists of the type of Jason Blair, the New York Times reporter who made up sensational stories and eventually was forced out of his job in 2003. If there is a Pulitzer award for embellishing, exaggerating, and outright lying and misleading in print, the coverage of “Baby 81” would merit top billing.

District judge, M.P. Moahaidein, on Wednesday (Feb 16) made it clear that there never, repeat never, were nine couples claiming the child as their own and only Junita and Murugpillai Jeyarajah had said they were the parents.

via Paul at Wizbang

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.