Israeli reporter suspended over false Disney World abduction story
Reporter Sivan Cohen.
Channel 10's Sivan Cohen reported on well-known hoax that Israeli girl was nearly kidnapped at Orlando amusement park on Passover; channel apologizes, claims she was misled by source
Channel 10 suspended Sivan Cohen on Monday for reporting on a well-known hoax claiming a nine-year-old Israeli girl was nearly abducted at Disney World in Orlando.
During Sunday's broadcast, the reporter opened by saying that the story sounds like an "urban legend," but went on to quote the girl's parents as saying the amusement park closed its gates following the incident, which she said occurred over the Passover holiday.
Cohen also said security camera footage helped in the identification of the girl's shoes. The girl, Cohen said, was later found drugged in a bathroom with her head shaved.
The reporter went on to say that the parents' attorney told her they were considering suing Disney World.
The hoax is well-known in the United States, but not in Israel. The story was quoted by numerous Internet sources in Israel.
During Monday's news broadcast, anchorwoman Tamar Ish Shalom apologized for the false report. Channel 10 said it has launched an investigation, claiming a source had misled Cohen. "Cohen has been suspended until the examination into the circumstances that led to the story airing is concluded," the channel said in a statement.
Channel 10 said the decision to publish the story was specifically based on "confirmation by one of the parents" to Cohen, but suspended Cohen after learning that the story was false.
A media personality said, "You cannot run such a story without providing some proof – be it the parents' testimony, a photo of the shaven girl or a response from the amusement park.