On the morning of November 8, The Globe and Mail published the following Associated Press (AP) article to its website with the following headline which lacked attribution: “Everything you need to know about polonium, the rare element used to poison Yasser Arafat”.
The problem? Well, the Globe was asserting that it’s a matter of undisputed fact that Arafat was poisoned, but of course, this has yet to be proven and this is just a claim made based on evidence from scientists at Switzerland’s Institute of Radiation Physics, and which is disputed by Russian scientists.
In fact, the AP article itself acknowledges that “absolute proof (of poisoning) is elusive”: “Can scientists prove Arafat was poisoned? Absolute proof is elusive. There have been so few cases of known polonium poisoning that scientists don’t know very much about its exact symptoms. Swiss scientists say Arafat had symptoms commonly linked to radiation poisoning, including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and liver and kidney failure – but not two other classic symptoms, hair loss and a weaker immune system. The Swiss scientists also noted their tests faced several limitations. They had to perform their analyses on very small specimens – such as a single hair shaft or traces of blood and urine. Those tests were also conducted eight years after Arafat’s death, so there could have been problems with chemical degradation.”
To remedy, HonestReporting Canada asked Globe editors to amend the headline, which we are pleased to relay was done immediately and to our satisfaction. The new headline now states: “Everything you need to know about polonium, the rare element allegedly used to poison Yasser Arafat”.