Weep for the state of TV journalism.
My friend and former Spinsanity co-editor Ben Fritz runs a satirical website called Dateline Hollywood. This week they ran an obviously fake article titled "Michael Richards apologizes for blackface roast appearance" that the Baltimore CBS affiliate ran as "breaking news" twice yesterday. Here's the item on it from the Washington Post's Reliable Source column:
Poor Michael Richards. Seems people are willing to believe anything about him these days!
On at least two of its Monday evening news broadcasts, Baltimore's Channel 13 reported that the disgraced "Seinfeld" comic had apologized for yet another racial uproar, when he showed up in blackface at a celebrity roast for Whoopi Goldberg.
What, you didn't hear about that one? Yee-e-e-ah, well, see, that's probably because it's not true. A WJZ staffer ripped the story off the Web -- without realizing that the source, DatelineHollywood.com, is a purely satirical site, which invented the completely bogus item as a riff on Richards's real-life racist outburst at an L.A. comedy club last month.
"This was an error in judgment by one of our producers who did not follow our established policy," said station spokeswoman Liz Chuday. "She failed to verify a story from a publication we were not familiar with before it aired." The station caught the error in time to issue a correction by the 11 p.m. broadcast.
The producer missed some pretty obvious tipoffs-- like the line about Richards pouring Aunt Jemima pancake syrup over Goldberg's head. Also: The links to other "articles," including "Britney Spears' Vagina Asks Press for Privacy" and "Rupert Murdoch Found Dead Next to Bloody Glove."
"Get out!" laughed Dateline: Hollywood creator Ben Fritz when we told him his fake news made the real news. The former political writer -- a recent transplant from Adams Morgan to L.A. -- said this wasn't the first time the site's satire cut too close to the bone.
"Last year we had an article about how Pat Robertson said Katrina happened because they picked Ellen DeGeneres to host the Emmys."
No, of course he never said that, but "a lot of people thought that was real."