Before we go into detail into the shocking truth behind the story of Arianna Huffington and the unspeakable act she committed on a donkey in a Tijuana Bar (see photo right), I would like you to consider the following story that the HuffPost published on 22 Jun 2011:
Have you heard the one about the dog who walked into a rabbinical court?
Here's how the BBC reported it: A pooch made its way into a beth din in Jerusalem's ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Mea Shearim. One of the judges, believing the dog to be the reincarnation of a now-deceased lawyer whom the court had cursed some two decades earlier, sentenced the dog to death by stoning, and ordered that the sentence be carried out by children. The dog escaped before the sentence could be carried out. Dog-lovers have filed a complaint against the court.
That's the story you read when you click on this photo near the top of its World page:
However, the photo is completely misleading because the title of the story is: "Dog Stoning Sentence In Jerusalem Exposed As Hoax," but you have to click on the link to the full story at the Christian Science Monitor to find out that the BBC, Agence France Presse, and Time magazine all erroneously reported that a rabbinical court in Jerusalem had sentenced a dog to death by stoning (1).
But the Huffington Post knew the story was a hoax when they ran the inflammatory-headlined photo. The false story unleashed a wave of anti-Semitic comments from its readers.
So in retaliation blogger Huff-Watch published the photo we see at the top of this article and tells us what really happened at that Tijuana bar with Arianna and the donkey:
Now, getting back to the headline at the top of the page, regarding Arianna and the donkey...
According to Arianna's (and presumably, her advertisers' and attorneys') views on journalistic ethics, she should have no problem with that headline. After all, it was merely asking a question, right?
What's the real story? Well, turns out it was just a rumor --- that she got drunk in a Tijuana bar, paid to have a boom box fitted to the back of a donkey, through which she gave a lecture in her... distinctive Greek accent, urging Mexican farm laborers to read Huffington Post.
You seem surprised. Why, what "unspeakable act" did you think we were talking about?
The rumor continued, that poor "Hector" the Donkey went into convulsions after the first six minutes of her nails-on-a-chalkboard voice, then gasped, and keeled over.
Christian Science Monitor, Did a Jerusalem court really sentence a dog to death by stoning?
As it turns out, the BBC, along with Agence France Presse, Time Magazine, and a handful other news outlets got the story from Ynet, the website for Yediot Ahronot, Israel's second-largest newspaper. Ynet's story says that the head of the court denied that such an incident had taken place, a detail that was left out of the original BBC, Time, and AFP stories. The paper is also alone in noting that there was no official ruling, just a rabbi telling kids to throw rocks at a dog.
Ynet didn't do any original reporting. They got the story from this in Behadrei Hadarim, a small Hebrew-language news outlet for Israel's ultra-Orthodox community. The Bhadrei Hadarim's reports that it got the story from someone who was present, but it doesn't bother to give that person's name.
Israel's third-largest paper, which doesn't have an English edition, also ran the story. They subsequently ran an apology, noting what the court said actually happened: A dog walked into a courtroom, and someone called the dogcatcher.