This is either the best worst news we’ve ever heard, or the worst best news. We can’t quite figure out which way it goes.

Late last week a lot of you (including everyone in our offices) got their hearts thoroughly ripped out through their arses by the tale of a professional Santa rushing to the bedside of a terminally ill 5-year-old who just wanted to see the big man in red before the end came.

The story, which sped around the world faster than a reindeer-pulled sleigh, was tearfully told by the Santa in question, Eric J. Schmitt-Matzen who recounted the heartbreaking moment the poor wee child passed away in his arms after handing him an early Christmas gift because he wasn’t going to make it to December 25.

It’s… god damn it, I’m welling up again just thinking about it. It’s so sad.

However, as with all incredible yarns that wind up in the media, efforts have been made to get to the bottom of the story and confirm all the tiny details of Schmitt-Matzen’s account.

And it would seem that those efforts thus far have been… well, less than successful.

The Knoxville News Sentinel, which originally published the story, is now officially distancing themselves from it after attempts to verify Schmitt-Matzen’s account of events yielded inconclusive results.

According the them, the Schmitt-Matzen did not approach the Sentinel directly. Rather, a “known source” of the paper directed them to the tale, and they then reached out.

Things start to get a little murky is in the minor details. Quite obviously, Schmitt-Matzen is very much a man who dons the Santa suit from time-to-time. A man blessed with such a look surely can’t turn that down.

But through questioning from the Sentinel, Schmitt-Matzen outright refused to name either the family in question, or the identity of the nurse who summoned him to the hospital, in order to protect the identities of all involved in what’s surely a tough time for all.

The Sentinel has then independently attempted to verify the details Schmitt-Matzen refused to divulge, but has come up with nothing. And as such, we’ve now got this pearler of an update from the original publisher:

“Schmitt-Matzen had not approached the News Sentinel originally with the story. The information came to the newspaper indirectly through a known source, and Schmitt-Matzen was then contacted and asked about the incident. At the time of that initial interview, he said he had promised to protect the identities of the child’s family and the nurse who summoned him to the hospital bedside. In follow-up interviews, he has continued to hold this position and stand by his account.

Since publication, the News Sentinel has done additional investigation in an attempt to independently verify Schmitt-Matzen’s account. This has proven unsuccessful. Although facts about his background have checked out, his story of bringing a gift to a dying child remains unverified. The News Sentinel cannot establish that Schmitt-Matzen’s account is inaccurate, but more importantly, ongoing reporting cannot establish that it is accurate.

Therefore, because the story does not meet the newspaper’s standards of verification, we are no longer standing by the veracity of Schmitt-Matzen’s account.”

Bloody hell. Now we’re not sure what to believe. But three points do immediately come to mind about it all:

  1. If the Sentinel can’t fully verify the bulk of the yarn, it’s absolutely their duty to inform the public and distance themselves from it. Dodging that part of media responsibility is how that whole “Fake News” malarky begun.
  2. Of course Schmitt-Matzen refuses to identify the family and nurse in question. What kind of sick idiot endures an event like that, then the instant the media gets involved points a finger and yells “IT WAS THEM!@!!!
  3. What kind of absolute psychopath would make something like this up?

We’re not here saying the story is definitely false. It’s just a small-town yarn that can’t be absolutely proven via media-standards due to sensitivity and father-like (or Father Christmas-like, if you will) protectiveness of the people involved.

Sure, the Sentinel’s gotta distance themselves from it all.

But, y’know. Sometimes you’ve just gotta take people’s word for it.

Source: Knoxville News Sentinel.

Photo: Facebook.