Feeds

Hacks hoodwinked by hoax Baltimore mayor's website

When The Wire and Midsomer Murders collide

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

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. ®

Reducing security risks from open source software

More from The Register

next story
Motorist 'thought car had caught fire' as Adele track came on stereo
'FIRE' caption on dashboard prompts dunderheaded hard shoulder halt
Delaware pair nabbed for getting saucy atop Mexican eatery
Burrito meets soft taco in alleged rooftop romp outrage
Japanese artist cuffed for disseminating 3D ladyparts files
Printable genitalia fall foul of 'obscene material' laws
Carlos: Slim your working week to just three days of toil
'Midas World' vision suggests you retire later, watch more tellie and buy more stuff
Brit Rockall adventurer poised to quit islet
Occupation records broken, champagne corks popped
Accused! Yahoo! exec! SUES! her! accuser!, says! sex! harassment! never! happened!
Allegations were for 'financial gain', countersuit claims
Yahoo! Japan! launches! service! for! the! dead!
If you're reading this email, I am no longer alive
Plucky Rockall podule man back on (proper) dry land
Bold, barmy Brit adventurer Nick Hancock escapes North Atlantic islet
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.