Baroque Nazi war criminal hoax — an update
I’m sad to learn that not everyone at the DNA newspaper reads this blog. Yesterday, they ran the story of the arrest of Johann Bach — the fictional, music-loving, piano-stealing, octagenarian Nazi war criminal with a fondness for Goan trance parties — a full day after it was exposed as a hoax.
The Pen Pricks, the Goan bloggers behind the hoax, have e-mailed me back, and have also updated their blog with a gleeful recounting of the prank. They won’t say who they are, other than to say they are journalists based in Goa. They said they got the idea for the hoax after being disappointed in the media’s coverage of recent high-profile murder cases, where, they say, “Almost every kind of rumour, tidbit was reported as the gospel truth”. Here’s another passage from their e-mail:
All we wanted to do, was expose the depths of depravity in the media by leaking this absolutely fake story to the media in Goa. As expected, once the story was picked up by a couple of papers, the national media just sucked in on it, without verification.
It’s interesting to see how different victims of the hoax are reacting. As far as I can see, only Goa’s Herald has published a straightforward mea culpa. Other papers have shifted some of the blame onto hapless local police and intelligence officials, who had earlier been gently criticised for not knowing the details of the case.
The Indian Express partly blames local intelligence officials for what “could be a media hoax”. The New Indian Express said it regrets that it fell for the hoax, but also explains to readers it had confirmed the story with local police. (They did not include this confirmation in the original report, which only quotes a police officer who was “unaware of the incident”.)
The Telegraph, however, has heard that “certain blogspots” are saying the whole thing is a hoax, but the paper is still hedging its bets (although it appears to have wiped the original story from its website). It says it is asking its sources in India’s Intelligence Bureau to reveal the whereabouts of Mr Bach, the name of the concentration camp he had overseen, the name of the Perus Narkp agent who lead the operation, and to provide more details on that stolen piano. The truth is out there.