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The Hoax Museum Blog
Category: Journalism
Planet-Dissolving Dust Cloud Headed Toward Earth
Posted by The Curator on Tue Sep 20, 2005
Status: Fake; an example of the Weekly World News Effect. I've received a couple of emails about this article on Yahoo! News detailing a cosmic "chaos cloud" that will obliterate the earth in 2014: CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Scared-stiff astronomers have detected a mysterious mass they've dubbed a "chaos cloud" that dissolves everything in its path, including comets, asteroids, planets and entire stars -- and it's headed directly toward Earth! Discovered April 6 by NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, the swirling, 10 million-mile- wide cosmic dust cloud has been likened to an "acid nebula" and is hurtling toward us at close to the speed of light -- making its estimated time…
Categories: Journalism Comments (18)
Fake Quotes in Newspaper
Posted by The Curator on Sun Jul 31, 2005
Whenever I see the opinion of a 'man on the street' quoted in a newspaper, I always wonder if the quote is for real since it would be so easy for a reporter to simply make something up without interviewing anyone. Now here's a case, at the Reidsville Review, where that actually happened. The reporters invented quotations, but, strangely enough, attributed the quotations to real people. They should have just gone ahead and put the phony quotes in the mouths of phony people: The newspaper's "Two Cents Worth" feature includes a small picture of a person, along with their name and response to a question. But on several days in May the item apparently featured…
Categories: Journalism Comments (15)
Phony Seal Hunt
Posted by The Curator on Mon Apr 18, 2005
The latest nugget of fake news from the world of journalism concerns a seal hunt that never took place. A Boston Globe writer, Barbara Stewart, described the slaughter of baby seals off the coast of Newfoundland in great detail. What she didn't know was that the hunt had been delayed, and so hadn't begun yet. Oops.
Categories: Journalism Comments (12)
Fake Sports Reporter
Posted by The Curator on Sun Apr 17, 2005
As a representative of Westchester Cable Services, Mark Sabia has been allowed into press boxes at sports games for years. The one problem is that Westchester Cable Services doesn't exist. The teams finally figured out he didn't belong there (but it was a good scam while it lasted): Sabia, who lives in Ossining, was arrested Monday when he showed up to cover Opening Day at Shea and was charged with scamming season passes for almost all of New York's professional teams, as well as for several World Series and League Championship Series dating to 1998. He was charged with five felony counts of falsifying business records and 16 misdemeanor counts ranging from petit larceny…
Categories: Journalism, Sports Comments (5)
Jeff Gannon, Ace Reporter
Posted by The Curator on Fri Feb 11, 2005
So this guy Jeff Gannon shows up at the White House and wants press credentials so that he can attend the President's press conference. But his real name isn't Jeff Gannon, and he isn't really a reporter, although he's been playing one on the internet for a few months. His experience as a journalist seems to consist of posting slightly reworded Republican press releases on the website of Talon News, which is a conservative news outlet that hardly anyone has heard of (and which is also a barely disguised front organization for Republican activists). Oh, and this Gannon character also claims to be a born-again, bible-thumping, red-necked conservative, but he also seems to be connected to…
Categories: Journalism, Politics Comments (39)
Worst Weatherman Ever
Posted by The Curator on Wed Jan 26, 2005
Here's a video going around showing what has to be, quite easily, the worst weather broadcast ever. It's so bad you begin to suspect that it was staged. But I don't think so. It seems to be a student-run news show broadcast by Ohio University Public Television. Not to be harsh, but this guy should really think about pursuing a different career. Reporting the weather doesn't seem to be his thing. Update: Apparently there's a few more weird weathermen videos going around (weird weathermen must be the internet meme of the moment). One shows a weatherman in North Carolina
Categories: Journalism Comments (19)
Actual Headlines From 2004
Posted by The Curator on Wed Jan 05, 2005
I received an email containing this list of THE YEAR'S BEST [ACTUAL] HEADLINES OF 2004! But, of course, these aren't really headlines from 2004. This list has been going around for at least four years. Check out this competition from 2000 in which people created images to match some of these headlines. Plus, I doubt any of these were ever actual headlines either.Crack Found on Governor's Daughter.Something Went Wrong in Jet Crash, Expert Says.Police Begin Campaign to Run Down Jaywalkers.Iraqi Head Seeks Arms!Is There a Ring of Debris around Uranus?Prostitutes Appeal to Pope.Panda Mating Fails; Veterinarian Takes Over.Miners Refuse to Work after Death.War Dims Hope for Peace.If Strike Isn't Settled Quickly, It May Last Awhile.Red Tape Holds…
Categories: Email Hoaxes, Journalism Comments (7)
Most Dubious News Stories
Posted by The Curator on Wed Dec 08, 2004
Alan Caruba, Founder of an organization called The National Anxiety Center, has published a list of the 'Most Dubious News Stories of the Year'. Some of the entries include: The University of Szeged in Hungary announcing that mobile phones may damage men's spermReuters reporting that tens of millions of people in America may drown when a volcano in Africa cataclysmically collapses into the sea (though scientists only think this will happen 'sometime in the next few thousand years')The New York Times reporting that the collapse of the Earth's magnetic field has begun in earnest (again, look for the effects of this to become evident in a couple of thousand years) However, although Caruba has a point about…
Categories: Journalism Comments (19)
BBC Falls for Bhopal Hoax
Posted by The Curator on Sat Dec 04, 2004
The hoaxing of the BBC has now been all over the news. In case you haven't heard, on Friday the BBC broadcast an interview with a man claiming to be a representative of Dow Chemical, Jude Finisterra (is the guy's last name supposed to mean 'the end of the world'?). During the interview the man said that Dow had decided to accept full responsibility for the chemical disaster that killed thousands of people in Bhopal twenty years ago, and in addition it would pay $12 billion in compensation to the victims. The BBC broadcast the interview twice, causing Dow's stock value to promptly drop. Later that same day it became clear that the man wasn't a representative of…
Name Change for I-69
Posted by The Curator on Tue Nov 16, 2004
Is Indiana Congressman John Hostettler really introducing legislation to change the name of Interstate 69 to Interstate 63, because religious groups feel that I-69 is too risque whereas I-63 is more 'moral sounding'? Of course not. But the story has spread pretty far by now. When I first saw the headline linked to on Blogdex, I assumed it was real after glancing at it quickly. I should have known better. After all, the story comes from the Hoosier Gazette, which is becoming well known as a source of news hoaxes. Check out this article at about Josh Whicker, the creator of the Hoosier Gazette. He's already scored three successful hoaxes before this one. There was…
Categories: Journalism, Sex/Romance Comments (14)
Ananova Corrections
Posted by The Curator on Wed Oct 27, 2004
I've said before that I don't trust the Ananova news service, and now here's proof that they really do make some questionable claims. Craig Silverman, of Regret the Error, links to Ananova's corrections page where they apologize for the following strange errors, among others (though personally I think the corrections they've listed are only the tip of the iceberg): Robotic relief - an apology. On September 11, we published a story suggesting that Indian scientists had invented a robot with the ability to improve couple's sex lives. Bill Clinton - an apology. Bill Clinton has asked us to make clear that he won't be appearing in commercials for a Chinese men's clothing…
Categories: Journalism Comments (4)
Slovakian Satire Reported as News
Posted by The Curator on Wed Oct 13, 2004
Here's another case of the media in one country reporting another country's satire as straight news. About a week ago the Austrian paper Der Standard reported that a Canadian-American company was going to privatise and expand the Bratislava airport, which would involve the relocation of the entire village of Ivanka pri Dunaji. And where did Der Standard get this story? From the website of, a Slovakian paper. It didn't notice that the story was over six months old and dated April 1st. What happened next, of course, was that the news bounced back to Slovakia where it was also reported as true, with the Slovakian media citing Der Standard as their source. Probably gave the villagers in…
Categories: Journalism Comments (0)
CBS and the Bush Memos
Posted by The Curator on Mon Sep 27, 2004
Looks like while I was on vacation I missed the riveting spectacle of CBS News falling flat on its face and humiliating itself by falling for an obvious hoax involving President Bush's service (or lack of it) in the National Guard. A lot of ink has already been spilled over this (especially about the difference between Microsoft Word-produced fonts and typewriter-produced fonts), so I won't repeat the whole sorry episode. But I did notice that many commentators have pointed out that this is not the first time the media has fallen for a hoax. But the only previous example of a hoax that anyone seems to mention is the Hitler Diaries. So here are…
Categories: Journalism Comments (0)
Meteor Hoax
Posted by The Curator on Thu Jun 03, 2004
A couple of people have sent me links to this meteor hoax that the AP fell for. The AP reported that a meteor about the size of a small car hit near Olympia, Washington early this morning. Its source for this story was one Bradley Hammermaster, supposedly an Astronomy professor at the University of Washington, who called in a report of the meteor to Seattle's KIRO radio. The AP later had to admit that, "No one by the name of Hammermaster is known to the astronomy department, and the description given by the caller to the station of the object... was clearly bogus." However, it does appear that there really was meteor activity over Washington state,…
Categories: Journalism, Science Comments (2)
Has Rumsfeld Banned Camera Phones in Iraq?
Posted by The Curator on Tue May 25, 2004
Lots of media outlets have been reporting that Rumsfeld has decided to ban camera phones in Iraq, in the wake of the photos of prisoner abuse coming out of Abu Ghraib. For instance, the story is on Yahoo! news, the Washington Times, and The Sydney Morning Herald. The Register, at least, points out that there are doubts about the story, while also noting that it would be almost impossible to actually enforce such a ban. But what's the source for this news. The Sydney Morning Herald refers to some British newspaper called The Business. But what's that? Is there such a paper? The story actually seems to come from The…
Categories: Journalism, Military Comments (1)
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