The story was repeated in dozens of Scandinavian newspapers: Bush bans CD featuring Swede Eva Dahlgren.
The US administration had, the stories claimed, banned the album ‘Lullabies from the Axis of Evil’, featuring artists from countries such as Iran and North Korea. The record and the record company, it was said, had been put on an official ‘blacklist’ by the federal government.
The only problem with this story: it was entirely false. As the US ambassador in Norway said, the American constitution protects freedom of speech. In fact, while the ‘War on Terror’ has led to some restrictions on personal freedom, the US still has more comprehensive protection for freedom of speech than many other western democracies. American administrations don’t keep lists of banned music.
Why, then, did so many journalists fall for this obviously fake story? Why did nobody smell a rat? Search the Internet for other examples of music banned in the United States, and the lack of evidence of a blacklist should should be enough to sow doubts. A call to the US Embassy in Stockholm would probably have confirmed these doubts.
The fact that this didn’t happen was partly down to journalistic laziness (and all journalists get lazy sometimes). Maybe the journalists in question were also afraid to look too deeply into this interesting story, in case the truth got in the way.
But it also seems that the Iraq war and the general anti-American sentiment of the past few years have poisoned opinion to such an extent that many have trouble distinguishing fact from a very obvious example of pure fiction.