Unconfirmed Internet Rumor Quashed By Picking Up the Phone
Okay, everyone: Here is Exhibit A on exactly the kind of hysterical, rumor-driven, unconfirmed story that gets grabbed by irresponsible bloggers who then use it to make wild accusations against the government and the media for not reacting quickly enough (read: for not reacting instantly with no effort to find out the truth) — the very same bloggers and media pundits who then turn around and heap scorn and blame on those same government officials if they DO overreact out of panic that it will turn into a political disaster:
This report should be the headline story put out by the American media. The idea that drug cartel raiding parties are attacking and seizing territory inside the United States is major.
There is currently a standoff between the unknown size Zeta forces and U.S. Border Patrol and local law enforcement on two ranches on our side of the Rio Grande. The source tells us he considers this an “act of war” and that the military is needed on the border now!
It’s unforgivable that this story isn’t being reported by the elite media. More at the link.
Just one tiny problem: The story is almost certainly not true.
Here is some actual reporting from Confederate Yankee — a very conservative blogger who actually bothered to pick up the phone first:
Twitter exploded a while ago about this story, which claims that heavily-armed Los Zetas gunmen of the Gulf Cartel have taken over ranches on the U.S. side of the border.
My curiosity got the better of me, and so I called the Laredo Police Department, and had a delightful chat with the acting watch commander, Sgt. Perez.
Sgt. Perez informed me that I was her seventh caller about this claim since she came on duty this afternoon. She stipulated two things that blows holes in the invasion claim.
- The location of the alleged invasion is outside of their city-limits jurisdiction, so they would not be involved, and;
- while they would not be involved in any law enforcement response outside of their jurisdiction, they work closely with the county sheriff’s office and would know if such an event is occurring.
She also provided me the number of the Sheriff’s Department. The deputy that answered the phone there was less bemused, having also dealt with this rumor multiple times in a short amount of time. She also told me that there was no invasion and no law enforcement siege, and that deputies were continuing normal operations.
This “story” was started and spread by a blog I’ve never heard of called “Diggers Realm,” a newspaper I’ve never heard of called “The Cypress Times” (the same person apparently wrote the article in both places — someone called “Digger”), and a “reporter” at Examiner.com, which is a content provider that uses freelancers they call “examiners” to pump out stories for varying forms of payment, usually very low.