It’s fake “fake news.”
Bogus copies of the Washington Post were circulated around Washington, DC, Wednesday morning with a blaring front-page headline claiming President Trump had resigned.
Sham copies of the paper, which has often been derided by Trump as fake news for its critical reporting on his administration, bore the headline, “UNPRESIDENTED TRUMP HASTILY DEPARTS WHITE HOUSE, ENDING CRISIS” above a photo of a glum-looking Trump. They quickly made the rounds in the nation’s capital — and on social media.
The fake broadsheet reported that Trump issued no formal statement about his sudden departure. But it “quotes” anonymous White House aides who claimed to have found a napkin on his desk in the Oval Office, scrawled with, “Blame Crooked Hillary & Hfior & the Fake News Media.”
On closer inspection, the fake WashPo has a print date of May 1, 2019, and several satirical details, including the slogan “Democracy Awakens in Action” — a riff off the Post’s actual motto of “Democracy Dies in Darkness,” Deadline reported.
All of the articles carry women’s bylines. One front-page spoof is a congratulatory piece about WashPo’s “eerily predicting real events.” Another fake story is about White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders holding three press briefings in one day.
A photo of New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet is also featured in the fraud paper — with the headline “Major news outlets on Trump’s rise to power: ‘Our bad.’”
The p.r. debacle prompted the real Washington Post to tweet, “There are fake print editions of The Washington Post being distributed around downtown DC, and we are aware of a website attempting to mimic The Post’s. They are not Post products, and we are looking into this.”
Real reporters based in DC were quick to point out on Twitter that the mock-up Post looked like the real deal. Almost.
“The fake WaPo being distributed around the White House is pretty convincing at first glance,” wrote Huffington Post reporter Ryan Reilly.
Hours after the fake paper was doled out, “The Yes Men” took credit for the gag.
The activist group has pulled similar pranks in the past.
“The story this paper tells is more reasonable than our current reality,” the paper’s author Onnesha Roychoudhuri said on “The Yes Men’s” website. “And it’s anything but far-fetched. We’re already seeing unprecedented levels of protest and resistance. Now we just need to ask ourselves: What’s next? This paper offers a blueprint to help us reclaim our democracy.”
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