Monday, June 30, 2008

Fiction stranger than fact

Did you know that "Johann Bach" was a Nazi war criminal who was recently arrested on the Karnataka-Goa border after he tried to sell an 18th-century piano? So says Rediff, among other news sources. Apparently the Germans did this without the knowledge of the Karnataka or Goa police, and the press release was put out by "Perus Narkp", "the intelligence wing of the German Chancellor's Core at Berlin".

The article is noteworthy because it contains the only insightful reader comment I can ever recall seeing on rediff. As the commenter points out, "Perus Narkp" is an anagram of "Super Prank", there was no such concentration camp as "Marsha Tikash Whanaab", and all Google searches for those terms turn out, suspiciously, to lead to variants of this particular news story.

To which I will add, while a "Johann Bach" was certainly associated with 18th-century keyboard instruments, he is unlikely to have ever visited Goa or Karnataka, and would be rather old today.

Also, let me point out that the alleged concentration camp name is an anagram of "Ashram Shakti Bhawana" (whatever that may be).

I wonder what it takes to successfully generate such a news story that has also been picked up by TOI, the Telegraph, the Deccan Herald, the Express.


UPDATE: DH link corrected above (thanks Sunil); an article on the hoax; the perpetrators.

9 comments:

Sunil said...

Superb. :) It got regurgitated on yahoo news too, via the express. http://in.news.yahoo.com/48/20080630/804/tnl-nazi-war-criminal-arrested-near-goa_1.html

Sunil said...

PS your Deccan Herald link needs to be fixed... it links back to the same page.

Rahul Basu said...

see, always knew the Hindu wouldn't get taken in by such piffle! They only publish well authenticated stuff - like the words of Comrade Karat....

km said...

Or, as the script kiddies would say, Indian Media has just been PwNed.

Rahul Siddharthan said...

Sunil: thanks, corrected.

Rahul B: maybe you're right and the Hindu did do some fact-checking. I suppose Ram is capable of distinguishing German from "Perus Narkp".

Vivek Kumar said...

Did you take a screenshot of the rediff story?

In the guise of an "update", they have completely rewritten the story. It now reads as if "other" journos and outlets got pwned, not them.

Rahul Siddharthan said...

vivek: I didn't. More sliminess from rediff...

Rahul Siddharthan said...

Rahul B: Via Churumuri, it seems the Hindu's Bangalore edition did carry a story, but a bit more skeptical in tone than the others (though not spotting the hoax).

Rahul Basu said...

Rahul S.: Interesting - so Sid Varadarajan's sanctimonious homily in the Hindu to his fellow journalists was a little premature, what?