WCCO's I-Team broke an investigative story on Monday, reporting that a Chinatown meat market in New York City was buying dogs from Minnesota and selling them as food in the Big Apple.
It was the kind of story reporters dream about -- an investigation that could bring down a business, stop a terrible practice, and get everyone involved sent to jail.
There's only one problem. It wasn't exactly true. Actually, it wasn't true at all. And, worse, it was based on the reporter's inability to understand an employee's accent.
Now, WCCO has completely scrubbed the story. What story? That dog thing? Oh, yeah. Uhm, early April Fool's?
Since the news of WCCO's colossal mistake broke in the New York Post, the CBS affiliate has disappeared any remnants of the story from its website. Neither the story or a follow-up post still exist, and the video story has also vanished without a trace.
Fortunately, a New York blogger captured some of WCCO reporter James Schugel's enterprising work, as WCCO wrote it up on its website:
The I-TEAM went undercover in New York City to see the Canine Culture Center, but found a meat market at the same address.Yes, he almost said that. But in fact, the worker said they only sell "duck." Apparently, through his accent, WCCO heard him say "dog," and did the most reasonable thing: Threw the story right on the air!
And as the I-TEAM found, a worker there says he only sells dogs to eat.
As the Post reports, New York state inspectors raided the Dak Cheong Meat Market and didn't find one bit of proof that they were selling dog meat. Chao Fang, an employee at the market, talked to the Post, which somehow correctly understood what he said and quoted him accurately.
"How could we sell dog meat? This isn't China. This isn't Korea," Fang said.
The dog breeder involved, a woman named Kathy Bauk who's from a Minnesota town called New York Mills -- a rather suspiciously named town, wouldn't you say? -- told the Post the whole thing was a mix-up owing to a mistaken address.
"Father God, strike me down dead if I sold a dog to a meat market to eat," Bauk said.
If you smell something now, fear not. That's not dog meat. Someone's probably just cooking up a libel lawsuit.