diana fallout @ rotten dot com
An archive of disturbing illustration

a photo is posted

On September 12 we received an email containing an image of a car accident matching most of the characteristics from the crash Diana Spencer was killed from. The image contained an inset and the caption Death of a Princess.

Careful analysis of the image showed that, while the photograph had not been tampered with, a few minor points were "wrong". We confirmed the source of the image within 12 hours, but because of the wide interest in the existence of any such image (real or not), we went live with it.

It got the world's panties in a bunch, to say the least. The combination of the apparently real photo, plus the "Princess Pirelli" image (Diana with tire tracks across her face) can be most upsetting to the uninitiated.

At no time did we actually claim the photo was genuine. Of course, once we receive a genuine photo of the accident, it will get published.

press coverage

A goodly number of online services posted interesting stories about the posting of the purported Diana images.

The New York Times.
San Jose Mercury (NYT News Service)
El Mundo, major Spanish newspaper.
Tampa Tribune, US paper in Florida.
Apple Daily, Hong Kong newspaper (in Chinese)
Newsletter-AT, text in German.
Verlag Heise, text in German.
c | Net, updating their earlier story.
Boston Phoenix.
San Jose Mercury News.
Press Association (posted by Yahoo).
CNN, also reporting the Reuters story.
Reuters/Wired (posted by Yahoo).
Reuters, via Nando Times.
Agence France-Presse, the French news agency.
c | Net, popular internet news source.

If there are other URL's to online media coverage, please forward them to us. We were also pleasantly surprised to hear coverage of this on other audio and visual media outlets, including the national ABC News radio broadcast, and Entertainment Tonight.

selected press contacts

Quite a number of news organizations made attempts to contact us via e-mail. One was made prior to publication of the controversial photo. C|Net was the first after the photo was published. But it appears that the prestigious Agence France-Press broke the story over their wire service.

All attempts by the press to contact us were ignored. We had made a decision to let the story develop on its own, rather than try to put spin on it. As journalist Michael Lopp told a staffmember, "you are the king of ignoring all media".

[press query in green]
[rotten commentary in red]

  Radio Ireland

I work on a current affairs show on Radio Ireland, the national commercial radio station in Ireland. I saw the pictures of the Diana carcrash and am interested in doing a radio interview today if possible. You can ring me reverse charges at: [...]
  Tampa Tribune
[...] Do you believe the image to be real or fake? Was there any debate internally about whether to put it up? Why is it up? What is your response to critics who find its posting in extremely bad taste or worse? [...]

We've known for a long time the image does not show Diana. But this site is about censorship and making people think, and it has succeeded in that regard. (At some point we intend to post a collection of our best hate mail. Some of it is precious.)

  c|Net, online news service
i want to interview you re: the photo on your site. please send me a phone number as soon as possible. best, courtney
  The Star, largest South Africa Newspaper
[...] How long has the site been up and running, how many hits have you had since you began, and particularly since you put the Princess Di accident pic on, will you be putting other pix of Princess Di on, should they become available. [...]

We've been up since late December, 1996, and have had millions of visitors.

  Australian Broadcast Corporation
I am from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in Sydney, Australia. Our national current affairs radio program would like to interview someone regarding the new accident pictures of Princess Diana. Could you please call me urgently [...]
  The Guardian, major UK newspaper
I am a reporter on the Guardian newspaper in London, and would be grateful if you could contact me re the picture of Princess Diana after the car crash. My number is [...]
  Two guys with a Microphone
my name is [...] from clearwater,fl we have a talk show with two guys named MJ and BJ they found out about the princess diania pictures and are probably gonna give out your website. [...]
  CTV, Canada's largest TV network
Please call me as soon as poosible.
Mark [...]
CTV Television Network Ltd.

Is it poosible that they really talk like that up there?

  Reforma, major Mexican newspaper
Atention: I am the photo editor from REFORMA, one of the biggest newspapers in Mexico. We are very intrested in knowing the procedence of this picture so we can buy it, if you have any adittional information about it or the author, please send it to me so we can make a deal. Joel [...]

Now this is our kind of newspaper. Mexican media is fun!

  Agence France Presse
My name is [...], I am a french journalist for the AFP (agence France presse) which is the french equivalent of the Associated Press. I was very interested in the photo of Diana that I found on your site. Would U please answer to the following questions ?

This is a wrong photo. The firemen don't have a french uniform and the phone number on the truck is 999, while in France, Fireman's number is 18...

Correct, it is a genuine accident image, very likely English. It hasn't been doctored, and is just coincidental that it appears superficially to be the Diana accident.

Who made that photo ?

Which interest in broadscating that kind of wrong document ?

It was broadcast for political reasons, to make people think, and to make them upset. Please read our statement on obscenity.

  New York Times
Hi, I'm a reporter with the New York Times, and I'm trying to reach rotten dot com regarding the Diana photo. [...]

I guess we're on vacation or something. Yeah, that's it.

  Le Monde, French newspaper.
Would you be willing to tell us exactly who you guys really are? If so, I think it would make an interesting profile piece. [...], journalist, Le Monde, Paris

sharp eyes

Numerous people pointed out flaws in the photo to us via e-mail. Some were just vaguely skeptical, while others performed detailed analysis and speculation.

  15 sep 1997, from Andrew

[...] given the angle of this shot, the photographer appears to have been several feet inside the tunnel wall when he took it.
  15 sep 1997, from Kieran
[...] the picture you list as being Diana's is not [..] it is not a new Mercedes because it has no rear head-rests [..] this is another motor accident as there are only two passengers in this car and their front seats are folded underneath [..] They also didn't do a full roof peel [.. it] appears to be a hatch-back or coupe of some kind [..]
  16 sep 1997, from JZ
[...] the picture is a fake. If you look at the fireman in profile, on the fire truck, you see a phone with the #'s 999 below it. In England, the emergency number is 999, which is similar to our 911. [..]

traffic overwhelms

We got swamped!

For several months we were receiving 25,000 visitors per day. After 3 million visitors, underwent a format change, and the number of visitors increased to about 35,000 per day. On September 17, there were about 50,000 visitors. Yesterday, after the media attention on September 18, we served 75,000 visitors.

But, prior to noon today, rotten had received 50,000 visitors and the load average on the machine, a swank 4 processor sparc, was 95 (it's normally 1/100th of that.)

The pictures have been removed for the time being. They have not been censored; there is just not enough bandwidth for us to serve the demand. If you have a T3 and are willing to act as a mirror site to shoulder a bit of this, please let our staff know in order to make arrangements.

the next thing

We will return to our regularly scheduled programming soon. Since the previous major media incident some months ago, significant bandwidth has been added, though sadly not enough for today's festivities.

To see the photo in question, click here.

September 19, 1997
-- the rotten staff, in sunny California.

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