Media Comments about Recovered Memories


In June CNN fired two people, accepted the resignation of another, and then apologized for releasing a false story about sarin gas being used during the war in Vietnam--it seems in part this story was apparently based upon claims of "recovered memories". Subsequently, many journalists commented on the reliability of such claims.

"If, as with CNN, you rely on a source who later says he has experienced 'recovered memories,' you're in trouble."
San Francisco Examiner, July 5, 1997.

"'[R]epressed memories,' an exceedingly shaky source of information."

Providence Journal-Bulletin, July 5, 1998.

"[V]erification came from a military official who had heard only rumors and an operation participant who recalled the nerve gas use as a 'repressed memory.' Ridiculously weak stuff on which to hang a news story..."

Las Vegas Review-Journal July 7, 1998.

CNN asked Floyd Abrams, the famous first-amendment lawyer, to investigate. A widely quoted passage from his report:

"[H]e has in spectacularly self-destructive fashion, [Van Buskirk] stated that he had repressed memory syndrome. . . [R]ecent reports that he attributes to repressed memory his previous failure to recall the encounter with defectors as he now describes it makes continued reliance upon him all the more problematic."

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