Justin Bieber popped up in a vague story last week, claiming the pop star was told off by employees at the Vatican for kicking a ball around in the corridors of the historic buildings during a private tour.
However, in every report on the topic: from Mail Online's first-out-of-the-gate big number, the Catholic Herald's brief article and every other media outlet that covered it -- not one states where the accusation originally came from.
Instead, all used the "reportedly" device to repeat the claim that Bieber was reprimanded for kicking a ball at the Vatican. The story also came without witnesses, primary source or substantiation of any kind.
Now, like so many "Justin Bieber did X, Y and Z" stories in the news cycle, the allegation is currently doing the rounds as if it has been established as fact.
The 20-year-old singer vacationed with his dad Jeremy in Europe, visiting Paris, Florence, and Rome over a week ago.
On Wednesday, October 8, the father and son were photographed at various tourist spots in Rome with bodyguards. Bieber also Instagrammed a bunch of snaps taken during their outing.
One of these showed the singer with a ball. But there is no evidence beyond that, that he kicked it inside the Vatican buildings.
It's possible that Mail Online --- which has history of doing such --- and subsequent articles at other outlets are reporting a story based on nothing more than photo assumption.
The Vatican hasn't commented on the alleged incident.
Another shot showed Bieber standing beneath an ornate ceiling.
Justin is thought to have paid 20,000 Euros for a private tour of Vatican City, including the Vatican museums, Sistine Chapel, Vatican Gardens, Saint Peter's Basilica and the papal apartments that Pope Francis does not live in.
From Mail Online:
"Not only was the 20-year-old dressed down in very casual attire that left his tattoo sleeves on display, but he reportedly rubbed employees up the wrong way when he disrespectfully began kicking a ball around in the corridors of the historic buildings," the paper wrote.
(Photo: Bieber and his father Jeremy visiting the Roman Forums.)
The newspaper then lists some of Bieber's unrelated exploits -- such as egging his former neighbor's residence -- as if these were proof of the reprimand claim.
Likewise, the Catholic Herald did not note a primary source for the Canadian's supposed transgression.
"The pop star Justin Bieber was reportedly reprimanded for kicking a football around the Vatican last week," the publication wrote.
Adding, "But it is understood that he irritated staff when he began to kick a ball around the corridors."
"Understood?" By whom, and what source? Taking an almost word for word cue from Mail Online, the Catholic Herald added,
"The 20-year-old previously embarrassed himself on The Late Show with David Letterman when he referred to the Sistine Chapel as the 'Sixteenth Chapel.'"
Dress code fail aside, the maturer view that Bieber's tour of cultural locations in Rome --- which included the Roman Forum and Colosseum, and expenditure of 20,000 Euros on a private tour --- seems to indicate he is interested in widening his understanding, is absent from all reports.
Rather, the same vague, critical content is repeated everywhere. It seems the entire basis for the claim that Bieber was scolded for kicking a ball around the Vatican rests solely on the word "reportedly."
So, taking that all the way to the bank, here's a "just in" update:
Justin Bieber reportedly repainted the Sistine Chapel when his tour escorts briefly left him alone, returning to find Michelangelo's masterpiece daubed with brightly colored graffiti of assorted emojis and animals, including "Mally the monkey" and his dead hamster Pac.
When Bieber was finally evicted from the religious setting after tussling with two cardinals who happened to be passing, he reportedly streaked through the Vatican gardens, before making off with a cross that had hung around the neck of one of the outraged clergymen.
[Images via Instagram/Xclusive Pix/OIC.]