On Thursday, independent journalist Andy Ngo provided a major update on the Wi Spa controversy after his sources told him that charges had been filed against the so-called transgender woman at the center of the “naked man” incident that was alleged to have taken place at the Los Angeles spa on June 23rd.
In addition to the news that indecent exposure charges were filed against 52-year-old Darren Merager after four women and one young girl filed police reports over what they say was Merager walking around naked in the women’s section of the spa, Ngo also reported that Merager was a registered sex offender who “is also facing six felony counts of indecent exposure over a separate locker room incident in December 2018.”
Not long after the video of the female Wi Spa customer going off on an employee went viral back in June, some purported online “news” outlets begin circulating stories that suggested the alleged incident was a “hoax,” and one which inspired protests and people to launch into “transphobic attacks” against members of the transgender community.
Slate Magazine, which sadly now appears to only be about one step up from the wacko rantings typically seen in the fever swamps of the Democratic Underground, helped lead the way in advancing the “hoax” theory. In a piece published on July 9th, journalist Evan Urquhart echoed “reporting” from the LGBTQ site The L.A. Blade on how “these early doubts have been bolstered by reporting from the Los Angeles Blade that police suspect a hoax after failing to find witnesses who saw a trans woman at the spa, and that Wi Spa claims none of their trans clients had scheduled appointments that day.”
The piece now includes a change to the original headline wording and two important updates. The first one, posted on August 2nd and which appears at the bottom of the page, noted the news about the women who had filed police reports. But in that update, Urquhart, who is a transgender man, clung to hope that the story was still a hoax by noting that “this does not contradict previous reporting by the Los Angeles Blade that LAPD sources suspected the incident to have been a hoax.”
The second update, which was posted Thursday, appears at the top of the page and was basically a brief recap of what Ngo wrote about in his New York Post article.
What was perhaps more interesting than the update itself is how Urquhart whined about the piece having to be updated in the first place. Though Urquhart has now locked their Twitter account down, here’s a screengrab of a tweet they wrote expressing their “annoyance” with having to basically note that their “hoax” story completely fell apart:
A journalist for @Slate (@e_urq) has responded to news that the suspect in the #WiSpa incident has several convictions and charges for indecent exposure by saying “it is with great annoyance” that his article must be edited to reflect this fact, and it was “60/40 not [a] hoax”. pic.twitter.com/fp75e58jhf
— Women's Voices (@WomenReadWomen) September 3, 2021
Folks, this is just not how it’s supposed to be done, no matter whether you’re supposed to be covering the news objectively or not.
Recent history alone (the last five years or so) shows us how badly reporters have burned bridges with readers and viewers as trust in the media has plummeted big time, with one “bombshell” political story after another proving to either be fake news or a big nothingburger.
Further, most news consumers who are fed up with agenda-driven journalists masquerading as straight news reporters have also caught on to the fact that most of these “errors” in reporting almost always negatively impact the reputations of popular Republican figures. This is not by accident.
Though Urquhart is clearly a biased journalist, that doesn’t absolve them of not only trying to get the story right the first time around, but to also be eager to correct their mistake and acknowledge it without huffing and puffing about how they really don’t want to (because they really, really wanted their original story to be true).
I personally don’t think trust in the media as an institution will ever be restored to a decent, respectable level, but all media figures – especially the ones who file flawed reports – have an obligation to do their best to report accurately the first time, and to unequivocally own any mistakes they may have made and then learn from them going forward, not just so they are not repeated but also to maybe earn back some of the trust and respect they’ve lost from loyal readers and viewers.
This is, of course, just my view of things. Urquhart, unfortunately, does not appear to share that same opinion.