Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Faking Out the Fakers

If Tucker Carlson, the poor man’s George F. Will, can run a fake website full of fake and exaggerated right-wing drivel, it stands to reason that it would get punked on by a fake news story from a satirical magazine article from 1990.

Dave Weigel at Slate:

If 2013 was the year of “the Internet falling for bogus stories,” 2014 is starting off with green shoots of hope. Some background:

Two and a half long months ago, reporter Charles C. Johnson teamed up with Joel Gilbert—a birther director who previously claimed that Barack Obama was sired by a communist poet—and talked to a few Newark residents who hated Cory Booker. The resulting Daily Caller story, titled “Neighbors: Cory Booker Never Lived in Newark,” was buzzy enough to generate questions for the New Jersey U.S. Senate candidate in his final press avails before he won the special election. Steve Lonegan, Booker’s opponent, even held a press conference to draw attention to the claims. It didn’t take much for BuzzFeed‘s Ruby Cramer to prove that the article was wrong, or to later prove that Johnson had previously (and without declaring it in his journalism) done research for an anti-Booker PAC.

Would that mean “fewer Charles Johnson articles in the Daily Caller“? No, of course not. Three days into the new year, Johnson appeared again in the Daily Caller with an apparent scoop about David D. Kirkpatrick, the New York Times Cairo bureau chief who’d just filed a lengthy corrective history of the 9/11/12 Benghazi attacks. Never mind Kirkpatrick’s reporting; Johnson proved that Kirkpatrick had “show[ed] his naked body to all” while a student at Princeton 25 years ago.

The source of the scoop was a parody edition of the Princeton University newspaper that also ran articles on the then-dead Elvis crooning for students cramming for finals and a professor who claimed to be able to brainwash his students at will.

Mr. Johnson has admitted to not understanding sarcasm and has apologized to Mr. Kirkpatrick.  But the best part is his defense of his journalistic integrity:

As an aside some people are arguing that I was trying to discredit Kirkpatrick’s controversial reporting on the Benghazi attack which is false. I simply wrote up the story because his name was in the news. I have no idea if what he reported was accurate.