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Editor's note: PolitiFact's coverage of beheaded babies

Katie Sanders
By Katie Sanders November 21, 2023

On Oct. 20, PolitiFact and Poynter published a story headlined, "How politicians, media outlets amplified uncorroborated report of beheaded babies." We explained how reports of beheaded babies and/or "40 beheaded babies" were repeated by politicians, reporters, celebrities and news publications in the days after Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on communities and a music festival in southern Israel.

PolitiFact began reviewing the story after the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis, a media watchdog group, criticized our reporting in a Nov. 8 story. The group regularly publishes critiques of Western coverage of Israel and Gaza. 

The critique noted that we overlooked published comments from Israeli military spokespeople and an emergency response worker that added to the basis for these reports. We erred by not identifying and including these comments in our original story. (Additional comments from a coroner who examined many human remains were published Oct. 20, the same day as our story.)

Our revised story now includes the comments from Israeli military spokespeople that were publicly available at the time our story was initially published. Based on the feedback we received and inclusion of the additional information, we have written a new story.

Because our initial story was incomplete, and discussed the narrative in the context of misinformation, we have archived the original version. The new story updates our reporting of the circumstances as of today.  Our journalists take great care to conduct thorough searches for evidence for every claim we analyze, whether it is rated on the Truth-O-Meter or not. We should have been more complete in our reporting.

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Editor's note: PolitiFact's coverage of beheaded babies