How did Japan’s top newspaper get tricked about iPS cells by Moriguchi?

How could the biggest newspaper in Japan, Yomiuri, get so badly tricked without even trying to verify facts prior to splashing it across their front page? A commenter on this blog named Mulboyne says that competing newspaper Mainichi was offered the Moriguchi story but solid investigative reporting made them decline it.

Here’s the quote:

“The reporter became suspicious of Moriguchi’s story when, sometime after the initial meeting, the reporter called Moriguchi for details on the ethics committee’s clearance. Moriguchi said he was cleared through a ‘process different from usual.’ When the reporter pressed him for the identities of ethic committee members as well as the committee’s contact information and that of MGH, Moriguchi only gave vague responses and complained, ‘This is getting to be a chore.’“The reporter notified a superior of Moriguchi’s suspicious behavior and decided not to write an article unless sound confirmation could be obtained. In late September, Moriguchi contacted the Mainichi’s Tokyo office again asking for coverage, but as a number of points could again not be confirmed, no article was written.”

(Someone at the Mainichi nevertheless ended up approving a wire service report of Moriguchi’s initial claim for their site and this had to be hastily removed).

What a big mess!

Imagine the NY Times publishing on its front-page a story like this?

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