No That Won't Backfire At All: Questionable Story About Obama's Daughter Disappears From The Web
from the rampant-speculation dept
It seems likely, then, that the AFP decided to pull back the story once someone pointed that out, but the story is now rapidly disappearing from a variety of online publications (big and small), leading to questions and easy political points about how the story is being "scrubbed." Google News listed about 27 versions of the story when I looked, and later, following the links, I found almost every single one of them was flat out gone. In most cases, they were replaced with a 404 (including The Daily Mail, the Telegraph, the Australian) or sometimes just redirecting people to a front page (Huffington Post and International Business Times). The only version I still found up was at TurkishPress.com, but it might not last very long.
But, having said all that, simply having the article disappear completely, rather than putting up a correction or an explanation of what happened, simply fuels both the conspiracy theories and the interest in the story. It's exactly the wrong way to go about dealing with the situation. There are a variety of possibilities here. The administration may have asked the press to pull the story, which would only generate more interest in the news. The AFP, upon realizing that it shouldn't have posted the story, may have issued a kill order/retraction of sorts. Or perhaps there's some other reasoning. But there are good ways to handle these situations and ways that are guaranteed to backfire. Simply making the articles disappear is pretty much guaranteed to backfire and generate more interest in the story, even if it's a total non-story. Replacing the original story with a "hey, we thought this, but we got it wrong," would have been much more effective.