[Update 18/10/2015]: Following Shanghaiist’s publication of this article, Broadly have changed their story to replace “the Charles river” with “the River Cam.” This is one of many subsequent edits Broadly have made after its factual accuracy was challenged.
Vice Media has come under fire after publishing an article claiming that the mother of one of its contributors went on a date with the Dalai Lama, telling a story peppered with factual inaccuracies.
In the article originally titled “My Mom Went on a Date with the Dalai Lama but He Couldn’t Hit It,” author Carrie Shirley says that her mother went on a date with the Dalai Lama while he visited Cambridge in the UK during 1973.
Shirley uses the article, published by women focused Vice subsidiary Broadly, to critique the Dalai Lama’s attitude towards woman and concludes with the line: “As my mom said, ‘He was just a pest.’ Forty years later, not much has changed.”
Following its publication, many people were quick to spot the rather glaring factual flaws in the article. The photograph accompanying the piece generated the most controversy, with the author claiming that the picture above featured both her mother and the young Dalai Lama.
After going to the painstaking effort of checking the Dalai Lama’s website and performing a laborious search using Google, we were able to turn up numerous photos of the Dalai Lama in 1973. Below is a photo of his meeting with the Archbishop of Canterbury that year.
To anyone capable of using the internet, it would appear obvious from a quick search that the gentleman appearing alongside her mother is just a random man of Asian origin. Broadly slowly cottoned on to this, subsequently posting an update which read:
In light of recent discoveries, Broadly cannot verify that the man in the photo is the Dalai Lama during his visit to Cambridge in 1973. However, the women in the photo swear that’s who he claimed to be. This is their story.
Unfortunately, their story also contains some rather glaring factual inconsistencies.
Shirley says that her mother accompanied the Dalai Lama on a walking tour of the Cambridge campus, visited a Buddhist shrine he had set up in his room and accompanied him on a boating tour down the Charles river. Twitter users have already called out Broadly in a pretty comprehensive fashion.
— Tenzin Peljor (@PeljorTenzin) October 16, 2015
Others have pointed out that the Dalai Lama scarcely travels alone, usually accompanied by an entourage for security reasons, and consider the suggestion he would spend his time ambling around with random girls to be preposterous.
Online commentators have accused Broadly of at best failing to perform elementary levels of fact checking and at worst of inventing a fictitious story purely to be used as a springboard from which to launch a feminist assault on Tibetan Buddhism.
Since the article was first published on October 11, there has been no official response to the article from the office of the Dalai Lama.
[Images via Broadly // Dalai Lama]