The New Yorker is in some hot water over Jared Diamond’s article last year,about Papua New Guinea. Diamond, you may recall, is a Pulitzer- and MacArthur winner, the man behind the tome that is Guns, Germs and Steel. I haven’t read the story, but Forbes summarizes it like this:
…Jared Diamond describes blood feuds that rage for decades among tribes in the Highlands of New Guinea. Diamond tells the story using a central protagonist: Daniel Wemp, member of the Handa clan, a blood-thirsty warrior bent on avenging his uncle’s death. That quest, writes Diamond, touched off six years of warfare leading to the slaughter of 47 people and the theft of 300 pigs.
Wemp is suing the New Yorker for $10 million, claiming all this is false. He’s had help from a media watchdog that Forbes says sent 40 anthropologists to Papua New Guinea to fact-check Diamond’s story. None of it, they say, checks out. (The New Yorker, of course, has a renowned fact-checking department, to understate a little.)
But Wemp, apparently, told said watchdog org that it was all true (says Forbes). Oops.
Wemp friend and lawyer Mako John Kuwimb tries to get him out of it like this:
“When foreigners come to our culture, we tell stories as entertainment. Daniel’s stories were not serious narrative, and Daniel had no idea he was being interviewed for publication. He has never killed anyone or raped a woman. He certainly has never stolen a pig.”