Note to Reporters: Google Is Your Friend


Writing for Reuters, Arthur Spiegelman (no, not that Art Spiegelman) reports:

Bowing to a barrage of complaints from Jewish groups, retail giant Wal-Mart Inc. on Thursday stopped selling "The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion," an infamous anti-Semitic tract long exposed as fake.

Jewish leaders had complained that the book, which purports to tell of an international Jewish conspiracy to take over the world, was being sold on with a description that suggested it might be genuine instead of a forgery concocted by the Czarist secret police in the early 20th Century.

The description, now withdrawn from the Wal-Mart Web site, said, "If … The Protocols are genuine (which can never be proven conclusively), it might cause some of us to keep a wary eye on world affairs. We neither support nor deny its message. We simply make it available for those who wish a copy."…

Wal-Mart had no immediate response to questions on whether the company wrote the description of the book on the Web site or if it came from the publisher.

My question: How did Spiegelman make it to the year 2004 without learning to use a search engine? It took me less than a minute to plug a phrase from that description into Google and discover that the exact same language is on the book's Amazon site. Obviously it didn't originate with Wal-Mart.

Spiegelman does note that "Barnes & Noble and sell 'The Protocols' online but with strong disclaimers." So apparently he found the Amazon page, but didn't bother to scroll past the warning. If he'd done that Google search, of course, he would have learned that Amazon faced protests because of the exact same language four years ago, and that that's why the disclaimer is there.