EgyptAir magazine apologises for bizarre Drew Barrymore article

Publisher of Horus magazine says offensiveness was due to translation errors amid suggestions that interview was made up

The inflight magazine of Egypt’s national airline has apologised over a bizarre article purportedly based on an interview with actor Drew Barrymore that sparked an online furore.

The interview in Horus magazine, which many readers said they believed was fabricated, rapidly drew attention after being posted on Twitter by political analyst Adam Baron.

Its opening paragraph, which many readers believed was offensive to the actor, drew scorn for its clumsy phrasing and insensitivity.

“Despite being unstable in her relationships most of her life, despite the several unsuccessful marriages and despite the busy life of stardom that dominated her life for several years; the beautiful American Hollywood actress Drew Barrymore has recently decided to temporary [sic] take an unlimited vacation to play her most crucial role as a mother.”

This interview with Drew Barrymore in the Egypt Air in flight magazine is, umm, surreal.

— Adam Baron (@adammbaron) October 2, 2018

After the article first attracted attention, the Huffington Post quoted a spokesperson for Barrymore saying she “did not participate” in the article and that her team was “working with the airline PR team”.

Barrymore’s representatives did not immediately respond to Reuters’ requests for comment.

The editor-in-chief of Horus magazine and the head of Ahram advertising agency that publishes it released a letter suggesting the problem lay in the translation of the interview from English to Arabic and back again, but stopped short of admitting Barrymore’s quotes had been invented.

“We apologise for any misunderstanding that might be interpreted as an offence to the great artist,” they wrote.

The bylined journalist, Aida Takla, tweeted on 3 October that the magazine may have heavily edited her piece but: “This doesn’t negate the fact that the interview with Drew Barrimoor [sic] which took place in New York is genuine & far from fake.”

Takla said she had interviewed the star “several times”.

This doesn't negate the fact that the interview with Drew Barrimoor which took place in New York is genuine &far from fake.
As far as Drew we interviewed her several times I saw her grow up before my eyes she is charming and talented.@EGYPTAIR

— Aida (@Aidatakla1) October 3, 2018

The editor and publisher did not directly answer claims the interview had been fabricated but said all material submitted in a foreign language was translated into Arabic and then into English.

As for the opening paragraphs of the article, which attracted so much criticism, the publisher said an article’s introduction could be a “product of the editor’s creativity on the condition that it contains no information that is contrary to the truth”.

“We are about to investigate this by checking thoroughly the source material that the translator depended on to write the interview,” they said.

Guardian staff and agencies

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