Fake news hits Ireland as Irish Times and Journal forced to pull made up “poll” about Irish Doctors

Major embarrassment as irish media forced to pull FAKE NEWS story about “POLL” of IRISH DOCTORS on abortion

The era of fake news arrived in Ireland today as two of the country’s largest media organisations were forced to withdraw an entirely false story about the attitudes of Irish doctors.

The story, which falsely claimed that 75% of Irish doctors support the Government’s abortion proposals, was published by the Irish Times and the Journal after a front page report in this morning’s Irish Examiner.

 

The examiner claimed that a poll had shown that 75% of medics supported the new law. However, no such poll had ever been conducted.

The report referred to a facebook and twitter poll, which was open to all social media users – not just doctors, and had been shared amongst supporters of the pro-repeal campaign. There was and is no way to verify who took part in the poll, and it was not in any way scientific.

Pro-life campaigners responded swiftly to the publication of the fake news story, with Communications Director of the Save the 8th campaign, John McGuirk,  calling out journalists and media outlets on Twitter, and pointing out that the story be withdrawn once the facts emerged.

 

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https://twitter.com/john_mcguirk/status/961516647122075648

Others also pointed out that it was perfectly obvious to everyone that the poll was flawed – and that the claimed results were fake news.

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https://twitter.com/GLKavanagh/status/961542442775404545

In fact, of the 388 responses to the poll some 338 came from social media posts, primarily Facebook, rather than anything that required a respondent to prove they were a medical professional. Yet the media had described it as 'the most substantial survey of medics on the issue to date'.

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https://twitter.com/GLKavanagh/status/961546478673113088

After sustained pressure, editor of the Journal.ie Susan Daly admitted:

“We misunderstood the methodology and have removed the article and all social relating to it”

 

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Despite action from the Journal.ie and the Irish Times, the fake news story was shared on Morning Ireland this morning, and remains on the front page of the Irish Examiner, in shops across the country. Astonishingly, the paper continued to defend its action and did not remove the misleading article from the paper’s website.

Commenting, Niamh UiBhrian, with Savethe8th, said:

“It is pretty extraordinary for the editor of Ireland’s biggest online news website to admit that they did not properly check the methodology of a poll claiming to represent the views of Irish Doctors. The Irish people deserve the facts in this debate, and this morning, the Irish media has failed them utterly. These facts were ascertainable with two or three clicks of a mouse, but no due diligence was done.

Even now, this entirely fake news story is on the front pages of an Irish Newspaper, in shops across the country. This has been a collective failure by the media.

While we welcome the fact that the Journal and the Irish Times have corrected their error, the fact remains that a large number of Irish people will have read something entirely untrue in their morning newspaper, and may make decisions based on that.

It is entirely unacceptable. Unfortunately the Irish media has taken a consistent pro-repeal line, and have been campaigning harder than anyone on that side of the debate. When zealotry replaces objectivity, the Irish people are the victims. We hope that the right lessons will be learned from this as the campaign progresses”.