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Looking for a way to amuse himself on a cross-country flight, TV producer Elan Gale started tweeting about a passenger arguing with the flight attendants. By Gale’s account, he tried to mediate the dispute, but the cranky passenger slapped him. Like an old-fashioned serial, the tale was spun, 140 characters at a time, for hours, eventually catching the attention of the major news outlets, including ABC, Gale’s employer. Two days later, he confessed that it was all fiction but refused to apologize, saying, “I never claimed it to be true.”
Politics as usual
In January, the Internet hummed with the report that Rep. Michele Bachmann had been arrested in Colorado for impaired driving after getting high on marijuana. The Minnesota Republican, who wasn’t even in Colorado at the time, was the butt of a spoof posted by the satiric Newslo.com, which tends to have a marked slant toward Democrats. The organization argued that its reputation should have kept readers from taking the report seriously, but people who had never heard of Newslo quickly reposted the story as fact.
Going to pot
The Bachmann parody wasn’t the only one that surfaced when Colorado legalized pot. DailyCurrent.com ran a story under the headline: “Marijuana overdoses kill 37 in Colorado on the first day of legalization.” A doctor was quoted as saying he expected hundreds of more deaths. Like the Newslo spoof, this one was picked up and re-sent by people who thought it was true, but the story didn’t get the traction of Bachmann’s. The giveaway: The doctor being quoted was Jack Shephard, whom many people recognized as a character from the hit TV show “Lost.”
Category: To be determined
Notre Dame football player Manti Te’o became the epicenter of a bizarre series of events in which he was both the perpetrator and, he claimed, the victim of a hoax. It began with him announcing that his girlfriend died from leukemia. Under questioning by suspicious reporters, he finally admitted that the girlfriend never existed. But he claimed innocence, saying that he was the victim of “a sick joke” in which he was tricked into falling in love with a woman he courted through the Internet but never met in person. Now playing for the San Diego Chargers, he refuses to talk about the incident. We likely won’t know the whole story — until he writes his memoirs.