Pranksters get the last laugh

N.Y. Times and MSNBC biggest victims

(Contact)
Friday, November 14, 2008

Buzz up!

Two major news organizations have been either mocked or fooled by fake news and faux publicity created by pranksters exhibiting a deft touch and a definite agenda.

Both the New York Times and MSNBC are squirming for different reasons in the aftermath.

On Wednesday, 1.2 million copies of the Times were handed out to surprised commuters in New York, Washington, Los Angeles and other cities - dated July 4, 2009 and emblazoned with such headlines as "Iraq War Ends" and "Patriot Act Repealed."

Though exacting replicas, the papers were fakes - produced by "liberal pranksters," according to Times reporter Sewell Chan.

In the hyperactive new world of news, those spoof papers became instant collectibles and are now fetching more than $100 each on eBay, the online auction house.

The pranksters - who included an art professor and the Yes Men, a 500-member collective of self-proclaimed "imposters" and "hijinks" specialists - had ulterior motives behind their $100,000 hoax, though.

"It's all about how at this point, we need to push harder than ever," said Bertha Suttner, a collaborator. "We've got to make sure [Barack] Obama and all the other Democrats do what we elected them to do. After eight, or maybe 28 years of hell, we need to start imagining heaven."

The mock paper - as well as a Web site, www.nytimes-se.com, tricked out to look like the Times' official site - referred readers to 65 mostly progressive or liberal activist groups, including Code Pink, Greenpeace and the American Civil Liberties Union.

"We can begin to make the news in this paper the news in every paper," the fake paper noted in a fake editorial.

Catherine Mathis, the spokeswoman at the real Times, said the paper is looking into the mockery. It's not the first trumped-up Times to hit the street. Spoofs of the paper have appeared at least three times in the past two decades.

MSNBC also was the victim of a complex hoax, meanwhile.

Earlier this week, Fox News broadcast an "exclusive" claiming that an unnamed official with Sen. John McCain's campaign had questioned Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's basic intelligence. For the record, Fox still stands by its story.

A pair of prankster entrepreneurs, however, contacted MSNBC claiming to be one "Martin Eisenstadt," the anonymous source. The network bit. Filmmakers Eitan Gorlin and Dan Mirvish were behind it all, even creating , video footage, biography, a false think tank Web site and blog for the nonexistent source. Their ultimate goal, however, was to publicize their ideas for a new TV show.

The Los Angeles Times, Mother Jones and the New Republic also fell for the Eisenstadt hoax, though it was left to MSNBC to retract the story and move on.

"What's the moral of the story here? Blogs get a lot of [expletive] for not vetting stories, fact checking, or even reporting. Well guess what? Mainstream news media don't do that either," noted David Hauslaib of Jossip, a gossip blog.

TIMES NETWORK

Twitter | MySpace | Facebook
Get Answers From the Community

Comment on this Article

 
Forgot?

Not a member yet?

Register Here

Comments 1 - 1 of 1

  • By: soxconn

    This becomes even more dangerous when you realize that both of these mainstream news agencies biased their stories during the campaign and will act toward that biased success. It is the responsibility of the media to send signals to the public to be interpreted and translated by the public into democratic referenda. Instead during this election these two have abrogated their integrity and those first amendment responsibilities and offered vulnerabilities for corruption. These so called pranksters are only exploiting those vulnerabilities.

    November 14, 2008 at 10:43 a.m.  | Mark as Offensive

You Report

Do you have another point of view, photos, audio, video or more information about a story?

Advertisement

Advertisement

Don Lambro and Ralph Hallow discuss the days news.; politics; washington dc; washington times; Iraq's Ambassador to the United States, Samir Sumaida'ie, discusses Iraqi stability during a visit to The Washington Times Tuesday, May 6, 2008.; Ambassador; Iraq; War; community-technology-lifestyle; iran; Thousands greet Pope Benedict XVI as he drives through Washington, D.C., on April 16, 2008.; Benedict XVI; pope; washington dc; A Washington, D.C.-based cab driver recovered from a traumatic time in his life thanks to the power of music.; cab; karaoke; taxi; washington dc; Iraq's Ambassador to the United States, Samir Sumaida'ie, discusses Iran during a visit to The Washington Times Tuesday, May 6, 2008.; Ambassador; Iraq; War; iran; Iraq's Ambassador to the United States, Samir Sumaida'ie, discusses using oil proceeds to pay for reconstruction.; Ambassador; Iraq; War; iran; oil; reconstruction; Iraq's Ambassador to the United States, Samir Sumaida'ie, discusses politics a visit to The Washington Times Tuesday, May 6, 2008.; Ambassador; Iraq; War; iran; oil; presidential primaries; The Robotopia Rising exhibit is part of the Kennedy Center's "Japan! Culture + Hyper Culture" festival. ; The Newseum, which bills itself as the world's most interactive museum, will open its new $450 million, seven-level museum on historic Pennsylvania Avenue on Friday, April 11. Take a sneak peek inside; DO NOT DELETE. I this player that shows on all article detail pages.
  • Have you always wanted to get rid of the bump on your nose but been afraid of going under the knife? Now you don't have to.

Former Secretary of State George P. Shultz says President-elect Barack Obama should practice President Bush's doctrine of preemptive defense against terrorism. Do you agree with this doctrine?