FINAL UPDATE: #Mubarak Falls Into Coma, Flown to Germany

Read this post with a heavy grain of salt.

Barry Sussman, at watergate.info in a post entitled: Watergate, 25 Years Later-Myths and Collusion, dispelled the myth of the journalistic “two-source rule” before running a story:

“Part of the Washington Post’s Watergate lore is that we had a “two-source” rule. According to this notion, if a Watergate prosecutor or conspirator or U.S. senator or Senate investigator — or anyonemade — an important allegation to us, we had to confirm it with at least one other source before running it.

I don’t know who concocted this two-source nonsense. I do know that none of the editors above me ever mentioned it, nor did I mention it to the reporters.

The two-source rule, usually referred to reverentially, is a smug way of suggesting that Washington Post editors were 100 percent sure of what we were printing. We did, of course, try to confirm and expand on leads, and that often meant going to two, three, four or even more sources. What responsible reporter or editor would want to run some unconfirmed assertion from a shaky source?

There was no two-source rule. There was only, as with most news organizations, an attempt to find reliable sources. [emphasis added]

Since I’m no journalist, I have to rely on second-hand media reports and adopt a Three-Source Rule to verify this story. So far, there are 3 different news sources confirming that former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak fell into a coma late Saturday night and has been flown to Germany for emergency surgery:

Sources: Mubarak falls into coma in Sharm al-Sheikh Al-Masry Al-Youm:

“Ousted President Hosni Mubarak went into a coma on Saturday at his residence in Sharm al-Sheikh, according to well-informed sources. Mubarak flew to the Red …”

Mubarak in life/death state in Germany hospital Examiner.com – Aimée Kligman:

“We have learned through foreign sources that Hosni Mubarak was flown this morning to a Baden hospital in Germany after falling into a coma. …”

Ma’an News Agency:- Sources: Mubarak seriously ill

“CAIRO (Ma’an) — Ousted Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak is suffering serious health problems and fainted before his last speech, informed sources in Egypt told Ma’an on Sunday…”

Stay tuned.

UPDATE #1:

Thanks to Professor Tim’s comment about my proposed “Three-Source Rule”.

According to the Bahrain newspaper alwasatnews.com story:

تدهورت الحالة الصحية للرئيس السابق محمد حسني مبارك في الساعات القريبة الماضية و اكدت بعض المصادر المقربة منه انه في حالة غيبوبة كاملة يذكر ان الناحية الصحية للرئيس السابق محمد حسنى مبارك تدهورت أمس الاول ايضا حيث تعرض للإغماء مرتين أثناء تسجيل خطابة أمس. ونقلت هذه الصحيفة قوله “آخر الأخبار” على موقعها على الانترنت صباح اليوم السبت 12 فبراير 2011. وذلك حسبما نقلت صحيفة “آخر الأخبار” بموقعها الإلكتروني صباح اليوم السبت ١٢ فبراير / شباط ٢٠١١.

The English translation of the story (via Google Translate) reads:
Deteriorated state of health of former President Mohamed Hosni Mubarak in the early hours near the past and said some sources close to him that he is in a coma The full terms of health of former President Mohamed Hosni Mubarak also deteriorated yesterday, where he was fainting twice while recording his speech yesterday. This newspaper was quoted as saying “Latest News” on its website on Saturday morning, February 12, 2011.
UPDATE #2:
A considerable amount of Twitter static discussing “Mubarak coma“.
Meanwhile, the Guardian reports that “Defeated Mubarak adjusts to solitary life in Sharm el-Sheikh” while the ArabNews.com notes “UK calls for international action on Mubarak assets
Without independent verification, we are left to speculate whether the “Mubarak coma” meme is part of a National Democratic Party disinformation campaign to protect Mubarak’s alleged estimated $70 Billion fortune pillaged from Egyptian state assets. As I mentioned on Twitter:

UPDATE #3

President Mubarak Headed to Germany for Cancer Treatment (via http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread662658/pg1 )

“Plans are being made for Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak to take a “medical leave” in Germany, in an effort to “ease” him out of the country.  The question is, how soon will this happen?  Is “moving him out” before the fall election going to assure a smooth transition of power?

As we reported July 7 via Debka.com website, President Mubarak was diagnosed in March with esophageal cancer and had surgery in Germany.  The information was “suppressed” for several months while Mubarak decided if he was healthy enough to continue or needed to name a successor.  Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel heard the news in early July while he was meeting with President Obama and flew immediately to Egypt.”

I don’t believe in coincidences. First a story about Mubarak planning to travel to Germany for esophageal cancer treatment appears on February 8th, then an unverified “Mubarak coma” story surfaces 3 days later . How convenient. I’m sure the conspiracy theorists can thicken a plot where there is none,  but the famous Mark Twain quote  “the reports of my [coma] are greatly exaggerated”, comes to mind.

This is all getting curioser and curioser…

UPDATE #4

CBS News has picked up the story: Mubarak Mystery: In Egypt, In Germany, In Coma?:

“Still, several locals in Sharm el-Sheikh also told the Post they believe that, while he did immediately flee for the resort town after resigning, he quickly boarded a plane for Abu Dhabi and then continued on to Germany.

For their part, the Germans call this theory nonsense.

“He’s not in Germany, and he’s not on his way,” Steffen Seibert, the chief spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, said Sunday night, according to the post. “This is a new round of rumors. There is absolutely no information that we have about this, and it would require him a visa to come here. So presumably we would know.”

If Mubarak is indeed gravely ill, there is still uncertainty about how he would pay for medical treatment.

Widely rumored to have accumulated billions of dollars in personal wealth during his presidency, Switzerland announced after Mubarak stepped down that it had frozen his and his family’s assets in their banks.”

Part of the Washington Post’s Watergate lore is that we had a “two-source” rule. According to this notion, if a Watergate prosecutor or conspirator or U.S. senator or Senate investigator — or anyonemade — an important allegation to us, we had to confirm it with at least one other source before running it.

I don’t know who concocted this two-source nonsense. I do know that none of the editors above me ever mentioned it, nor did I mention it to the reporters.

The two-source rule, usually referred to reverentially, is a smug way of suggesting that Washington Post editors were 100 percent sure of what we were printing. We did, of course, try to confirm and expand on leads, and that often meant going to two, three, four or even more sources. What responsible reporter or editor would want to run some unconfirmed assertion from a shaky source?

There was no two-source rule. There was only, as with most news organizations, an attempt to find reliable sources.

3 Responses to “FINAL UPDATE: #Mubarak Falls Into Coma, Flown to Germany”

  1. Prof. Tim Says:

    Only one problem with your “three source” rule: you have to backtrack and make sure that the three sources aren’t — as they are in this case — all quoting from the same original article.

    Once your source’s sourcing is taken into account, those “three” sources collapse down to just one & you’re still two INDEPENDENT sources short!

  2. Antonin I. Pribetic Says:

    Thanks Professor Tim.

    Actually, the “third source” quotes both the original source (Al-Masry Al-Youm) and

    “The Bahrain-based newspaper Al-Wasat reported Saturday that Mubarak had fallen into a coma, quoting sources close to the deposed leader.”

    If the story turns out to be true, feel free to cite me as the third source which scooped Drudge Report and HuffPo.

  3. World Spinner Says:

    #Mubarak Falls Into Coma, Flown to Germany « THE TRIAL WARRIOR BLOG…

    Here at World Spinner we are debating the same thing……

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