Walks like a duck, but has no comment

You heard the one about the reporter who heard “dog” when a meat market worker said “duck,” right?

The Minnesota Society of Professional Journalists says WCCO has some explaining to do. The MnSPJ has come out in support of demands made by the Asian American Journalists Association that WCCO explain how its unfounded story claiming that dogs from Minnesota were sold in New York as meat made it to air.

We understand that mistakes happen, but we are disappointed that we have yet to see an explanation from WCCO regarding the report in question, which has since been pulled from the website. The report, which perpetuates an Asian stereotype, resulted in a state probe of the meat market in which no evidence was found of dog meat (AAJA).

The City Pages rolled out some new information on what led to the error.

Apparently it wasn’t a snap judgement to air the story and publish it online.

“It was approved by multiple middle manager producers, and the CBS lawyer,” says the source. “Our news director hasn’t said a word, hasn’t approached anyone in the newsroom about it. He may make heads roll before his head rolls.”

The City Pages source also says that “a reporter from the CBS affiliate in New York was deployed to Chinatown to ask if the meat market in question also sold dogs as pets, according to our source. The question met with a confused ‘No.'”

But I-TEAM reporter James Schugel pressed on with the story and in a phone call with a market employee confused “duck” with “dog.”

Thanks to a cached version of the story, here is how the exchange was reported on WCCO.com:

The I-TEAM found no sign of dogs, until they called the market directly.

“Do you sell dogs?” asked the I-TEAM’S Schugel.

“Yea. We sell dog,” said the man who answered the phone.

“Dogs for people to eat?” asked Schugel.

“Uh, yea,” he said. “We sell many kinds of meat.”

“Dogs for people to eat?” asked Schugel.

“Yes,” said the man.

The I-TEAM questioned the man again, just to be clear. He said he does not sell dogs for pets. He only sells them for food.

After hearing the shocking story New York Agriculture Department investigators went to the market and found no indication the market was selling dog meat.

  • A great lie is like a great fish on dry land; it may fret And fling, and make a frightful bother, but it cannot hurt you. You have only to keep still and it will die of itself.