Spain's Top Daily Publishes False Photos Of "Hugo Chavez" Surgery
CLARIN(ARGENTINA),EL NACIONAL(VENEZUELA) EL PAIS (Spain)
MADRID - Spain's most widely circulated newspaper El País was forced Thursday to retract a story and image it had claimed showed Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez undergoing surgery.
With information scant on the Venezuelan President, who is in Cuba for cancer treatment, the front-page story was titled "The Secret of Chavez's Illness," and featured an image of an oval-faced man with a tube in his mouth.
According to Argentinian daily Clarin, the image is a screen-grab from a 2008 YouTube video showing a surgery procedure of an acromegalic patient in 2008, who is not Chávez. If you pause the video (see below) at 2:34, you obtain the same image published by El País. Thirty minutes after a Twitter user from Barcelona found the video, the complete article and picture disappeared from the online version of El País.
El Pais, considered by many to be Spain's paper of record, apologized to its readers in an online note, and said it was attempting to collect copies of the first edition of Thursday's paper from newsstands, the BBC reported from Madrid. The paper said it has opened an internal investigation, noting that it had published the story already with a disclaimer that the image came from a news agency and could not be independently verified.
Chavez was reelected in October, but his January 10 inauguration ceremony was indefinitely postponed because of his illness.
Supporters of the Venezuelan president lashed out at the Madrid daily. Venezuelan Minister of Communications and Information Ernesto Villegas, sent a tweet saying, “Chávez’s intubated picture posted as headline news on the venerated diary of El País is as grotesque as it is false,” Caracas daily El Nacional reported.