Hoax of the day

Perhaps it’s time to change the name of newscasts to hoaxcasts.

Today’s hoax-as-news event occurred in Washington where someone pretending to be from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce announced the organization was endorsing climate change legislation.

The event at the National Press Club ended when a real spokesman for the Chamber burst into the room.

“Whoops,” says The Guardian:


In today’s instant news era, that wasn’t quite soon enough. Several green organisations tweeted or blogged on the about-face. Reuters news agency put out a straight news story about the Chamber’s apparent U-turn, and the Washington Post and New York Times put the story on their news sites (both later removed the stories from their websites). CNBC actually sought – and got – comment from analysts. It also broke its programming to have a reporter read out the fake press release.

The hoax was carried out by The Yes Men, a group which has perpetrated similar nonsense in the past, and.which has a new movie out about its “work.”

There once was a saying in newsrooms, “if your mother says she loves you, check it out.” It might be time to bring that baby back.

Coincidentally, the New York Times announced today it’s cutting 100 newsroom jobs. No word yet if one of the positions affected is the one that determines if a story is real.

(Update 4:55 p.m.) – The Chamber rattles the legal sabers.