Flashback to Feb. 12 of this year, after a Washington Post blogger was fooled by satirical website the Daily Currant into wrongly believing that Sarah Palin had landed a new gig as a talking head on Al Jazeera English, when Breitbart.com’s John Nolte had this to say about the journalistic error:
Washington Post contributor Suzi Parker … made a very public spectacle of herself. In a blog post snarkily titled “Sarah Palin’s plan to reach ‘millions of devoutly religious people’ through al-Jazeera,” Parker used the Web pages of the once-legendary Washington Post to spread the incredible news that Palin had joined Al-Jazeera. This news was then used by Parker as the basis for a piece of left-wing smuggery that ripped Palin for being so desperate to stay relevant.
There was only one problem: The story of Palin joining Al-Jazeera is, duh, 100% false. Parker fell for an “Onion”-style satire published at the parody website The Daily Currant.
Make no mistake, Parker’s error was an embarrassing one, all the more so because it quickly made its way around the Web. The Post, however, quickly acknowledged the mixup, running a bolded correction at the top of the post and rewriting the headline and story to remove the misinformation. Now flash-forward to this morning, when Nolte’s fellow Breitbart-er Larry O’Connor wrote this:
Paul Krugman, the economic darling of the left, has filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy protection, according to Boston.com. Krugman has been the leading advocate for increased deficit spending as the only solution to turn the US economy around. He believes that President Obama needs to be even bolder with continued trillion dollar stimulus programs driving our nation deeper and deeper into debt. Apparently this Keynesian thing doesn’t really work on the micro level.
If that story sounds too good to be true for Krugman’s conservative critics, it’s because it is. If you follow the links, that Boston.com report was actually a brief from financial blog Prudent Investor, and not from the Boston Globe’s editorial staff as the domain name might imply. The PI post in turn cites Austria’s Format magazine, which had reprinted a translated version of an original story from—you guessed it!—the Daily Currant. If you run the German through Google translate, you can see that the post even includes a disclaimer at the bottom that reads: “The source of this ‘message’ is the satirical magazine ‘The Daily Currant’, the truth of the message accordingly low.”
Here’s a snippet from the original Currant story:
The filing says that Krugman got into credit card trouble in 2004 after racking up $84,000 in a single month on his American Express black card in pursuit of rare Portuguese wines and 19th century English cloth. Rather than tighten his belt and pay the sums back, the pseudo-Keynesian economist decided to “stimulate” his way to a personal recovery by investing in expenses he hoped would one day boost his income.
Breitbart pulled its Krugman story from its site after learning of its error, but has so far issued no explanation or correction alerting readers to the false information it had reported as fact. (Perhaps as troubling, and more surprising, the Boston.com post was still live with no correction or editor’s note as of late this morning.) Krugman, meanwhile, has since weighed in to explain that he had known of the fake Currant report for days but decided to stay quiet to see what outlets would fall for it:
OK, I’m an evil person — and my scheming has paid off.
On Friday I started hearing from friends about a fake story making the rounds about my allegedly filing for personal bankruptcy; I even got asked about the story by a reporter from Russian television, who was very embarrassed when I told him it was fake. But I decided not to post anything about it; instead, I wanted to wait and see which right-wing media outlets would fall for the hoax. And Breitbart.com came through!
You can see the original, since-pulled Breitbart post over at Media Matters, which has a screenshot for posterity’s sake. It’s also worth checking out Nolte’s column from last month, which blasted the Post for never letting “facts get in the way of a good Narrative.”
(h/t Business Insider)
This post was updated at 10:55 a.m. with additional information about the Format magazine report.