“Foreign news agency reports prank story as fact” is a pretty common headline these days. Usually, that prank story originates from The Onion, as happened last November when the People’s Daily of China reported that Americans named North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un the “sexiest man alive.”
The latest false news report (actually, Photoshopped news picture) to be taken seriously seems to have sprung anonymously from somewhere on the Internet before being broadcast in Poland: the famous photo of President Obama and his advisors in the White House Situation Room the day Bin Laden was killed, altered to show Obama holding a PlayStation controller, Hillary Clinton munching popcorn out of a movie box, and video games on the computer screens of Clinton and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.
On Jan. 7, blogger Jim Romenesko said that one of his readers, a Polish journalist named Marek Miller, saw the photo presented as real on the public television station TVP 1. Miller reportedly told Romenesko:
The main public TV station in Poland (TVP 1) ran a story about the movie “Zero Dark Thirty” in the main edition of their news. While talking about how bin Laden got killed, they showed a famous picture of Obama and his administration while being informed about that fact. Notice something weird about the photo? (I am attaching it to this mail).
Yep, they backed their story with a photo they found on the web. Here’s a proof it actually happened on TV (go to 1:33, as it’s in Polish). Main edition of this news is watched by almost 4 million viewers.
Miller’s video link didn’t work for Romenesko and wasn’t working for the Dot as of press time, though it’s unclear whether the video has been taken down or is simply inaccessible from outside of Poland.
Photo via Jim Romenesko