The two Massachusetts men who were pictured on the cover of the New York Post with the headline “Bag Men” are suing the tabloid, according to the Washington Post. In the image, above, of the NY Post’s cover, the plaintiffs’ faces are covered — in the NY Post’s publishing, they were not.
Calling the lawsuit “inevitable, the Washington Post’s Erik Wemple writes:
The two people plastered on the front of the New York Post days after the Boston Marathon bombing under the headline “Bag Men” are suing the paper for libel and invasion of privacy. In a civil action filed in Massachusetts, the two accuse the newspaper of publishing “their photographic images, together with false, inflammatory and libelous assertions concerning plaintiffs’ involvement in the April 15, 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.”
The complaint identifies the plaintiffs as 16-year-old Salaheddin Barhoum and 24-year-old Yassine Zaimi, residents of Revere and Malden, Mass., respectively. As previously reported, the pair left the finish line area hours before the fatal blasts. “They had nothing whatsoever to do with the bombing,” reads the complaint. They learned of the bombings the way most Americans did — on television, that is.
In its editions of Thursday, April 18, the newspaper carried the “Bag Men” presentation to America. Though the accompanying article carefully stated that investigators “are circulating photos of two men spotted chatting near the packed finish line,” the adjacency of that reporting with the photo and the tag “Bag Men” packed a condemnatory punch. In the words of the complaint:
The plaintiffs were not suspects and were not being sought by law enforcement. The Post had no basis whatsoever to suggest that they were, especially in light of a warning on Wednesday to the news media, by federal authorities, to exercise caution in reporting about this very matter. In fact, law enforcement authorities had then focused their investigation on two suspects who were not the plaintiffs.
As The New Civil Rights Movement reported in April:
In a wonderfully “Yes Men” act of “identity correction,” the folks at Animal wrote an apology for the Post, then printed it out and stuffed it into copies of the Post — and handed it out to New Yorkers for free.
“This week, the New York Post has acted recklessly and with flagrant disregard for the principles of good journalism,” Animal’s fake apology reads, adding their (so-called) reporting was ”at best ill-informed and speculative, and at worst intentionally misleading and harmful to the lives of those involved.”
You can watch a video of it here.
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