Feeds

Hacks hoodwinked by hoax Baltimore mayor's website

When The Wire and Midsomer Murders collide

High performance access to file storage

A fake website linking cult US television show The Wire to not-so-cult Blighty TV drama Midsomer Murders has hoodwinked several newspapers into reporting what they believed were the reactionary views of Baltimore mayor Sheila Dixon.

The Guardian and Independent were both caught out by the hoax planted by political blogger and sometime Labour Party fancier Alex Hilton AKA Recess Monkey.

It would appear that RM has been on his ollibobs in Maryland, Baltimore where he spent some time and effort pulling together a somewhat convincing spoof website that apes Mayor Dixon’s online home.

And quite a few newspapers, including local rag The Baltimore Sun, swallowed the story without first checking their facts.

The Guardian breathlessly reported today that Mayor Dixon had “spoken out” against futile comments made by shadow home sectary Chris Grayling, who compared what the Tories describe as “Broken Britain” with Baltimore-set The Wire.

"To present a television show as the real Baltimore is to perpetuate a fiction that dishonours [clue one: UK English spelling] our city. It is as pointless as boasting that Baltimore has a per capita homicide rate a fraction of that in the popular UK television show Midsomer Murders," Dixon, with her cheeky smile and come-to-bed eyes, was quoted as saying.

Alas, none of it was true but merely a hoax dreamed up by RM.

If hacks at the Grauniad and elsewhere had checked their facts they might have noticed the site wasn’t actually real. The joker was also kind enough to sign his name at the bottom of the press release page, for anyone who might’ve cared to look.

“Copyright R Monkee Esq,” it helpfully reads.

The Guardian updated its story after eventually spotting the journalistic blunder.

“The following correction was due for publication in the Guardian's Corrections and clarifications column, Saturday 29 August 2009. The mayor of Baltimore did not make the statements attributed to her in the story below – we were caught out by a hoax,” reads a tail-between-its-legs statement on the G's website.

The paper also wrote a comment piece confessing to having been duped.

“It was quite an elaborate hoax including not only a spoof website, but also a fake Twitter account and a fake YouTube channel showing beyond any doubt the the [sic] picturesque market town of Midsomer is far deadlier than Baltimore,” spluttered the paper.

Aha, so that explains things, then. There was a Twitter account so it must've been true, right?

Er, nope. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Forget the beach 'n' boardwalk, check out the Santa Cruz STEVE JOBS FOUNTAIN
Reg reader snaps shot of touching tribute to Apple icon
Oz bank in comedy Heartbleed blog FAIL
Bank: 'We are now safely patched.' Customers: 'You were using OpenSSL?'
Happy 40th Playmobil: Reg looks back at small, rude world of our favourite tiny toys
Little men straddle LOHAN, attend tiny G20 Summit... ah, sweet memories...
Spanish village called 'Kill the Jews' mulls rebranding exercise
Not exactly attractive to the Israeli tourist demographic
Lego is the TOOL OF SATAN, thunders Polish priest
New minifigs like Monster Fighters are turning kids to the dark side
Dark SITH LORD 'Darth Vader' joins battle to rule, er, Ukraine
Only I can 'make an empire out of a republic' intones presidential candidate
Chinese company counters pollution by importing fresh air
Citizens line up for bags of that sweet, sweet mountain air
Google asks April Fools: Want a job? Be our 'Pokemon Master'
Mountain View is prankin' like it's 1999...
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.