A group of political activists recently handed out more than 1.2 million fake New York Times newspapers with a front page story declaring "Iraq War Ends." The elaborate 14-page edition, dated July 4, 2009, is said to be the work of a group called the Yes Men, whose previous hoaxes include masquerading as World Trade Organization officials announcing they were disbanding the body.
A statement sent from a Web site set up for the fake edition, www.nytimes-se.com, said creating the newspaper took six months and that it was printed at six different presses and then given to thousands of volunteers to distribute, mainly in New York City and Los Angeles.
The newspaper includes a front page story saying that "Ex-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice reassured soldiers that the Bush administration had known well before the invasion that Saddam Hussein lacked weapons of mass destruction." Other headlines declared that the "Maximum Wage Law Succeeds," "Nationalized Oil to Fund Climate Change Efforts" and "Nation Sets Its Sights On Building Sane Economy." There is also a full page fake advertisement on page three from the world’s largest publicly traded oil company Exxon Mobil saying the company cheered the end of the Iraq war and that peace is "an idea the world can profit from."
Rumors are it’s a group of writers from several mainstream daily newspapers — including The New York Times.
The Yes Men, who were the subject of a book and documentary in 2004, have pulled off similar hoaxes including posing as Exxon Mobil and National Petroleum Council representatives to deliver a speech at a Canadian oil conference. They have also posed as federal housing officials at a New Orleans event with the city’s mayor and the governor of Louisiana and promised to throw open closed public housing to thousands of poor former city residents.
They are not the first, however, to fake The New York Times. According to the paper’s "City Room" blog, the best-known spoof was during the 1978 newspaper strike and the prank included journalist Carl Bernstein, author Christopher Cerf, humorist Tony Hendra and Paris Review editor George Plimpton.
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