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The Hoax Museum Blog
Category: Journalism
King Tut’s Golden Typewriter
Posted by The Curator on Fri Aug 16, 2013
The Canadian journalist Hector Charlesworth included the following story in the second volume of his memoirs (More Candid Chronicles) published in 1928: A man designed by providence to add to the gaiety of nations was Charles Langdon Clarke, the cable editor [at Toronto's The Mail and Empire], a position he still holds as I write. Clarke, the son of an English rector, was the best educated of all the staff and had been a school mate of Lord Curzon. He had come to Canada originally as one of the engineering staff of the old Grand Trunk Railroad, but he could find no real content outside an editorial room… A few years ago,…
Categories: Journalism Comments (1)
Banksy Arrest Hoax
Posted by The Curator on Sat Feb 23, 2013
A press release posted yesterday on PRLog.com announced that not only had Banksy been arrested (on charges of vandalism, conspiracy, racketeering and counterfeiting), but that his identity had been revealed—his real name supposedly being "Paul William Horner." The press release was a hoax, but a number of media outlets ran with the story before cottoning on to the deception. A humor site, IYWIB.com, appears to be behind the hoax. How a Fake Press Release Convinced the Internet Banksy Had Been Arrested betabeat.com The release stated that Banksy is a 39-year-old Bristol man named Paul William Horner, and he’d been arrested during a police sting. But the document is riddled with inconsistencies,…
Categories: Art, Journalism Comments (3)
Johan Lehrer tries to understand himself
Posted by The Curator on Wed Feb 13, 2013
In July 2012, science writer Jonah Lehrer resigned from The New Yorker under a cloud of shame, after it was revealed that his latest book, Imagine, was full of fabricated quotations. Yesterday, he took what he may have been hoping was a first step toward rehabilitating his public image by giving a confessional talk at a Knight Foundation seminar in Miami. If image-rehabilitation was his goal, it probably didn't work, because most of the coverage of his talk was snarky and cynical about his intents, especially after poynter.org reported that he was paid $20,000 for speaking. As Lehrer spoke, a giant screen behind him showed real-time tweets about the talk,…
Sarah Palin isn’t joining the Al-Jazeera Network
Posted by The Curator on Wed Feb 13, 2013
File this under Satire Mistaken As News. Washington Post blogger Suzi Parker reported that Sarah Palin was going to start contributing to the Al Jazeera America news network, as a way to "stay relevant." The source for this info was an article on the humor site Daily Currant. Parker's blog post is now prefaced by a correction, and the erroneous info has been deleted. What Parker originally wrote was: Late last week Al Jazeera America announced the former vice-presidential candidate would be joining their news network. "As you all know, I'm not a big fan of newspapers, journalists, news anchors and the liberal media in general," Palin told the Web site The…
Categories: Journalism Comments (0)
The Disappearance of Rozel, 1897
Posted by The Curator on Sat Jan 26, 2013
Rozel is a small town in the middle of Kansas. Population: 156. It was founded in 1886 — its main reason for existence being that it served as a stop on the Santa Fe railroad line. Throughout its history, it hasn't been in the news much. The one time it did receive national attention was back in 1897 when it supposedly disappeared, swallowed up by a giant sinkhole. The report of its disappearance went out in November 1897 and appeared in papers nationwide, including the New York Times: KANSAS TOWN SWALLOWED UP. A Bottomless Pit Replaces Rozel on the Santa Fe Road LARNED, Kansas, Nov. 18—Last…
Categories: Journalism, Places Comments (2)
A Global Warming Hoax from 1874
Posted by The Curator on Mon May 21, 2012
I periodically receive emails from people who insist I need to add global warming to the site because it's the "biggest hoax in human history." I don't agree with that. Actually, I think global warming is something that definitely merits being worried about. However, I did just add a global warming hoax to the hoax archive, which might make the global-warming-is-a-hoax crowd happy. Except that this hoax occurred in 1874. It's a story that appeared in U.S. newspapers in February 1874. The premise was that scientists had discovered the earth was getting hotter and hotter. Europe was predicted to be tropical in 12 years, and soon after that the planet would become too hot to support life.…
Categories: Death, Journalism, Science Comments (0)
At the end of April, a news story was widely reported involving a jilted Polish woman, Anna Maćkowiak, who got revenge on her ex-boyfriend by pulling out all his teeth. Seems she was a dentist, and he made the mistake of showing up at her practice complaining of toothache. So she sedated him, and set to work. He woke up later with no toothache, and no teeth. This got posted over at Weird Universe (though not by me), but it didn't trigger any hoax alarms in my head. But it should have. MSNBC reporter Erin Tennant was suspicious, did some investigating, and discovered it was all a hoax. Or rather, it seems to have been…
Categories: Journalism, Sex/Romance Comments (0)
Craig Silverman has coined a term for a new kind of excuse popular with writers caught plagiarizing. It's the Maureen Dowd Plagiarism Defense. He explains: In 2009, Dowd used close to 50 words from a John Marshall post on Talking Points Memo. She didn't offer any attribution. The words were presented as her own, and that led to accusations of plagiarism, and to a correction being issued. The Dowd Defense emerged when she reached out to a variety of websites to explain how it happened. This is what she told Huffington Post and others: "I was talking to a friend of mine Friday about what I was writing who suggested I make this point,…
Categories: Bad Excuses, Journalism Comments (2)
The Great Wall of China Hoax—The Play
Posted by The Curator on Tue Apr 03, 2012
Another famous hoax has made its way onto the stage. The Denver Center for the Performing Arts is staging a production of the "Great Wall Story" from March 16 to April 22. The play tells the story of the Great Wall of China Hoax from 1899, in which a group of Denver reporters cooked up a story claiming that China had decided to tear down the Great Wall, and was inviting American firms to bid on the demolition project. The play gets a good review from the Denver Post. Check out a scene below.
Categories: Journalism Comments (0)
The Continuing Troubles of Stephen Glass
Posted by The Curator on Wed Jan 11, 2012
Former media hoaxer Stephen Glass, whose exploits were depicted in the movie Shattered Glass, is back in the news. It seems that his career since getting fired from the New Republic has been a bit rocky. He made $140,000 from his 2003 semi-autobiographical novel, The Fabulist, but that money didn't last too long. In recent years, he's been trying to become a lawyer. According to SFGate.com, he passed the bar exam and applied for an attorney's license in 2007, but the State Bar of California turned him down on the grounds that he was morally unfit to practice law. He appealed the decision, and the California Supreme Court has agreed to hear his case. …
Categories: Journalism Comments (1)
My Great Moon Hoax Data Dump
Posted by The Curator on Fri Dec 16, 2011
Way back when, in the mid-1990s, the hoax that initially got me hooked on studying hoaxes was the Great Moon Hoax of 1835. I remember coming across a brief reference to it in a book — I can't remember which book anymore — and being so intrigued by it that I immediately started tracking down more information about it. Then I decided to devote a chapter in my doctoral dissertation to it. I never finished the dissertation. Got a bit sidetracked. But I did spend a lot of time researching the moon hoax, and writing up notes about it, before I gave up on the dissertation. However, all that information then sat on my computer. It never…
Categories: Journalism Comments (1)
Dobrica Cosic Doesn’t Win the Nobel Prize
Posted by The Curator on Thu Oct 06, 2011
Serbian media reported Thursday that one of their own countrymen, writer Dobrica Cosic, had won the Nobel Prize for Literature. However, he hadn't. Soon after, the Swedish Academy announced the real winner: Swedish poet Tomas Transtromer. The Serbian media reported Cosic as the winner because they had all received an email, seeming to come from the Serbian Academy of Arts and Sciences, announcing Cosic as the winner. The email linked to a website, nobelprizeliterature.org, that seemed to confirm Cosic as the winner. However, both the email and the site were fakes. (link) Apparently Cosic is a strong Serbian nationalist. The Economist describes him as, "the intellectual godfather of the…
The Script Kiddies Strike Again
Posted by The Curator on Mon Sep 12, 2011
There's a long history of hoaxers finding ways to slip fake stories into newspapers. Back in 1864 Joseph Howard tried to manipulate the New York stock market by sending fake Associated Press telegrams to newspaper offices. The telegrams claimed Lincoln had decided to conscript an extra 400,000 men into the Union army. Several papers printed the fake news. The stock market panicked, because the news suggested the Civil War was going to drag on for a lot longer, and Howard (who had invested heavily in gold) made a nice profit. During the 1870s and 1880s, Joseph Mulhattan (a very odd character) made a kind of career out of tricking newspapers into printing fake stories. One…
Fox News Falsifies Footage of Protest
Posted by The Curator on Wed Nov 11, 2009
Fox News reminds me of William Randolph Hearst. They're no longer even trying to be subtle about falsifying the news. In particular, the latest from Fox News reminds me of something Hearst's New York Mirror did back in 1932. Here (in the words of Curtis MacDougall) is the 1932 incident: In 1932 the New York Mirror ran a picture allegedly of hunger marchers storming Buckingham Palace in London. It was revealed that the scene actually was of a 1929 crowd gathered anxiously during the illness of King George V. And here's what Fox News did recently, in the words…
Categories: Journalism Comments (32)
Mr. Man on the Street Strikes Again
Posted by The Curator on Thu Nov 05, 2009
I wrote about Greg Packer, aka the phony Man on the Street, in Hippo Eats Dwarf: In 2003, media critics noticed that the same man kept popping up time after time in “man on the street” interviews. Greg Packer, a highway maintenance worker from upstate New York, was quoted by The New York Times, the New York Daily News, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Post, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the London Times, and other publications. He also appeared on CNN, MSNBC, and Fox. But he was always described as nobody special, just a random person. Apparently Packer is…
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