Or the case of the fictitious yellow bellied yobs.
On 14 Jan 2008 Jason Brunelle was driving near Bassano Alberta. He claimed he stopped to help some people who appeared to be broken down, and then was severely beaten up. The Bassano RCMP investigated but there were no witnesses and no suspects. He claims he fought off his assailants then drove to his home (or a gas station) in Strathmore where he called the police. Brunelle was taken to hospital as he did indeed have injuries to his face and head. Brunelle then phoned his story in to QR77 and the Calgary Sun and they promptly wrote it up as fact. It remains unclear as to whether any journalists actually talked to him face to face. The Calgary Herald also wrote about the incident.
Yesterday a quiet news release came out from QR77 reporting that Brunelle has been charged with mischief and that the Bassano RCMP believe the story was fabricated. He will appear in court in February.
Brunelle, while describing his ordeal, also told the Calgary Sun that he had previously been hit by a truck and survived by holding onto the grill, fell off a roof and was saved by grabbing a power line, and once fell into a bonfire. In professional journalism and police work I think these stories would be referred to as "clues".
I don't entirely blame the media for writing up this story, however they didn't express even a shred of doubt about completely unsubstantiated claims. When I read the story as written by Michael Platt on 15 Jan 2008 (less than a full day after the incident) I actually felt sorry for him. He so desperately believed and wanted it to be true because it affirmed the world view of right wing tabloid journalism, that godly good Samaritans (us) are under constant siege from godless yellow bellied scum (them).
Too bad Platt ran out of real estate in his column. He could have thrown in some bits about Jamaican gang members and the immigration system and it would have rounded it out really well.
And its a good thing that Brunelle's injuries didn't require a blood transfusion otherwise Michael Plett would have had to demand the return of the blood.
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