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The Hoax Museum Blog
Category: Journalism
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…
Man Sues Over Lack of Axe Effect
Posted by The Curator on Mon Nov 02, 2009
A news story is circulating claiming that an Indian man, 26-year-old Vaibhav Bedi, has sued Axe deodorant (aka Lynx in Europe) because he failed to land a single girlfriend after using their product for seven years. It's in The Australian and the Daily Record, among other news sources. This is an example of satire being mistaken as news. According to Asylum.com: Axe spokesperson Heather Mitchell sent Asylum this statement: "We've been following the news reports from India where a man was allegedly planning to take legal action for the Axe Effect not working for him personally. We can confirm this is a hoax. In fact the story originated…
Newspaper claims Armstrong admitted moon landing was a hoax
Posted by The Curator on Fri Sep 04, 2009
Satire mistaken as news: On Monday, August 31 The Onion published an article claiming that Neil Armstrong had been convinced, after watching a few "persuasive YouTube videos," that "his historic first step on the moon was part of an elaborate hoax orchestrated by the United States government." A few days later this claim was picked up by a Bangladeshi newspaper, the Daily Manab Zamin, and run as fact. The paper has now apologized for its mistake, noting "We've since learned that the fun site [The Onion] runs false and juicy reports based on a historic incident." (Thanks to Tom Littrell)
Categories: Journalism Comments (3)
Vinayak Gorur, sous chef
Posted by The Curator on Mon Jul 20, 2009
On May 13, 2009 the Ahwatukee Foothills News ran an article about Vinayak Gorur, a local guy who, at the age of 21, had become the youngest ever sous chef at the upscale Compass Restaurant in downtown Phoenix. But a few days ago, the paper ran an apology, admitting that Gorur wasn't really a sous chef at the Compass. Gorur had invented the entire tale. Why isn't clear. A few things evidently went wrong in the paper's fact checking process. First, they never called the Compass Restaurant to verify Gorur's claim. Instead, the reporter interviewed someone (whose phone number was supplied by Gorur) who claimed to be Gorur's boss. It's not known who…
Fake Air France Footage
Posted by The Curator on Tue Jun 23, 2009
Posted by Peter in the forum: TV station airs Lost as Air France crash footage A BOLIVIAN television news channel has been left red-faced after falling for a hoax that saw it claim pictures from the hit TV show Lost were actually the last moment of Air France flight AF447 before it plunged into the ocean on June 1. Source This confirms my theory that should a suitably dramatic picture of a major event not exist, one will be created. It's because our culture craves visual images. And hoaxers are always ready to supply what we crave. For more examples of this phenomenon, see the…
Categories: Entertainment, Journalism Comments (1)
Wikipedia Hoax
Posted by The Curator on Thu May 07, 2009
Irish student Shane Fitzgerald conducted an experiment to test whether journalists blindly rely upon wikipedia as a source of information. Shortly after composer Maurice Jarre died, Fitzgerald placed a false quote on the wikipedia page about him, claiming Jarre had said: "One could say my life itself has been one long soundtrack. Music was my life, music brought me to life, and music is how I will be remembered long after I leave this life. When I die there will be a final waltz playing in my head, that only I can hear." Sure enough, the quotation soon appeared in newspapers throughout the world. Why is this no surprise? [Yahoo]
Categories: Journalism, Websites Comments (9)
Ads Disguised as News Columns
Posted by The Curator on Mon Apr 13, 2009
Should the LA Times have run an ad designed to look like a regular news column on its front page? (The ad was for an NBC news show Southland.) Critics, who include quite a few of the paper's own staffers, argue that it crossed a line of journalistic integrity. The paper's defenders point out that all newspapers are losing money nowadays, so whether you like it or not, expect to see more ads disguised as news columns in the future. [Editors Weblog]
Categories: Advertising, Journalism Comments (10)
Cheating Hubby Caught on Street View
Posted by The Curator on Tue Mar 31, 2009
A recent article in The Sun (and we all know how diligent The Sun is about fact checking) claimed that a woman, while using Google Street View, spotted her husband's car parked outside another woman's home. Now she's filing for divorce! But Matt Platino, of the Idiot Forever blog, claims he hoaxed the sun into printing the story: I emailed The Sun, first with the email address sashaharris289@gmail.com. I shot them a “frantic” note: Hey Sun, I need your help. One of my mates caught her husband cheating by using…
Categories: Journalism, Sex/Romance Comments (6)
Astrological Discrimination
Posted by The Curator on Fri Feb 06, 2009
Two days ago the Daily Mail published an article describing an unnamed "Salzburg insurance company" that seems to be practicing a form of astrological discrimination in its hiring. The company is said to have placed this ad in newspapers: We are looking for people over 20 for part-time jobs in sales and management with the following star signs: Capricorn, Taurus, Aquarius, Aries and Leo. When accused of discrimination, the company responded: "A statistical study indicated that almost all of our best employees across Austria have one of the five star signs." And a spokeswoman later followed up with…
Categories: Journalism, Pseudoscience Comments (8)
New York Times Hoaxed
Posted by The Curator on Tue Dec 23, 2008
The NY Times apologized for printing an email from the Mayor of Paris in which he criticized Caroline Kennedy's bid for Clinton's senate seat. You see, it's easy to put a fake email address in the "From" field, so it's the Times's policy to always check that the person who seems to have sent them an email actually did so. But they didn't do that in this case, and now the Mayor is denying he wrote the email. The Times is "reviewing procedures" to make sure something like this doesn't happen again. Which probably means some underpaid intern is getting yelled at. Link: NY Times. (Thanks, John!)
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