Across the Pond is a series that offers this Yank's take on major events in sports from Europe and the rest of the world. For the last installment, click here.
Cesc Fabregas is set to join the new Galacticos movement in Madrid!
But, wait! Barcelona are stepping in with a bid in excess of £40 million for their former youth star!
Carlo Ancelotti is waiting in the wings, hoping to swoop in and steal Fabregas from the two Spanish giants!
American woman gives birth to octuplets...from Mars!
Only one of those sensationalist headlines was imaginary, yet they all seem equally plausible to anybody who takes a minute to collect their thoughts and analyze the current transfer rumors.
Arsenal fans, you can take your fingers off the panic buttons. Cesc Fabregas is not leaving the club—not today, not tomorrow, or next season. When the Gunners open up the season against Everton, Fabregas and his captain's armband will be there for Arsenal.
How can I be so sure?
Just look at the sources of these rumors.
Not one reputable news outlet has made a claim that Arsenal are in negotiations to sell Fabregas. Take a look at this page. All of the most recent rumblings have come from The Sun or News of the World. Past rumors have popped up in the Daily Mirror and the Daily Star.
These are not exactly The Guardian or The Times, eh? Most of those rags aren't even up to the quality of a decent high school newspaper.
I'll focus on the papers that have most recently reported that Fabregas is on his way out, The Sun and News of the World.
Both of these papers are owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, which also owns Fox News. Fox News recently identified embattled South Carolina governor Mark Sanford, a Republican, as a Democrat. They've made similar missteps in the past as well because they aren't the type to let a few major factual errors stand in the way of a big scandal.
Most people this side of Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter would never go as far as saying that Fox News provides "fair and balanced" coverage. There's plenty of evidence to show that the station has a slant that blinds it to the facts.
It's safe to say that if you identify yourself as a moderate or liberal-leaning thinker, you wouldn't get your news from Fox. So why should we believe that The Sun or News of the World are any better?
You shouldn't. They're going to use the same sensationalist tactics employed by their parent company. These papers are a less legitimate source of news than The Daily Show, and their broadcast team is a bunch of comedians.
The Sun recently reported that Andrei Arshavin would be thrilled at the chance to play for Barcelona. Unfortunately, the quotes they used to support this story were made by Arshavin months before he made his move to Arsenal. These quotes were no longer an accurate representation of Arshavin's professional desires, but that didn't stop The Sun from printing them as absolute truth.
In today's edition of The Times, there's a brief mention of the Fabregas rumors. Take a glance at the article. There is one clear sign that make you question the probability of a move away from London.
The Times cites The Sun as their source. If this move was likely to happen, don't you think that The Times would have had their own reporter covering the story rather than using a tabloid as a secondary source? This is like the New York Times using Wikipedia to fact-check their articles. It's a major no-no for papers with journalistic integrity.
Before you panic and put any belief into these rumors, you need to take the time to consider their source. In its history, The Sun has published some incredibly offensive and noticeable erroneous stories.
Their original coverage of the Hillsborough Disaster featured claims of pickpocketing the victims and urinating on emergency workers. The story was put together based on the claims of unnamed and unverified sources.
In 1986, The Sun claimed that Freddie Star made a hamster sandwich and ate it because his girlfriend refused to make him a meal.
In the late 1980s, the paper was ordered to pay £1 million in a libel suit put forward by Elton John. What issues did he have with the paper? Nothing major, aside from the fact that The Sun accused him of molesting children and surgically debarking his dogs.
More recently, they published a disturbing account of Michael Jackson's autopsy. This report was almost immediately refuted by the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office and labeled as "totally false" by coroner Ed Winter.
I see a pattern here, and at no point does truth enter the equation.
We should be skeptical of most transfer rumors, and we should take care not to give credence to any rumor published in The Sun.