Vogue mistakenly refers to high ranking State Department official as an interior designer

Kudos to @RebeccaKatz for spotting this wonderful correction in the October issue of Vogue:

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The New York Times corrects a claim that Muammar el-Qaddafi once exposed himself to former French president’s ex-wife:

An article on Sunday about the diplomatic life of J. Christopher Stevens, the American ambassador to Libya who was killed in an attack there last week, referred incompletely to an account Mr. Stevens gave of a meeting between Cécilia Sarkozy, then the wife of the French president, with the Libyan dictator Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi in 2007. While Mr. Stevens passed along gossip that said Qaddafi had opened his robes during the meeting and was naked underneath, the former Mrs. Sarkozy, now Mrs. Attias, says that Mr. Stevens was not at the meeting and that the anecdote he repeated is not true.

The article also misidentified the country in which Mr. Stevens served with a former diplomat, John Bell. They were in Egypt, not in Syria.


The Bangor Daily News corrects an article that mixed up mammary and memory:

An earlier version of this story should have said BPA potentially affects the mammary gland. The story incorrectly identified the organ as the memory gland.

Thank to Charles Apple for sending it in.

Bangor Daily News


New York Times obituary for Gore Vidal included three notable errors

An earlier version misstated the term Mr. Vidal called William F. Buckley Jr. in a television appearance during the 1968 Democratic National Convention. It was crypto-Nazi, not crypto-fascist. It also described incorrectly Mr. Vidal’s connection with former Vice President Al Gore. Although Mr. Vidal frequently referred jokingly to Mr. Gore as his cousin, they were not related. And Mr. Vidal’s relationship with his longtime live-in companion, Howard Austen, was also described incorrectly.  According to Mr. Vidal’s memoir “Palimpsest,” they had sex the night they met, but did not sleep together after they began living together. It was not true that they never had sex.

Related: This is reminiscent of the New York Times’ appraisal of Walter Cronkite, which contained seven errors.

The New York Times


Fake Bill Keller column represents emerging form of social hoax

I suppose some congratulations are in order to the folks at WikiLeaks. They appear to have spent months planning a hoax and pounced when the right conditions presented themselves.

The result was a fake Bill Keller New York Times column that fooled journalists, including the Times’ own Nick Bilton. The column generated discussion and attracted attention to the WikiLeaks cause, which I imagine was the point.

At the same time, the hoax had a shelf life of less than 24 hours. The hoax op-ed began circulating Saturday night and on Sunday morning Keller knocked it down on Twitter:

That was enough time to make a dent in the media consciousness, but a relatively small impact given what seems to be a decent amount of time spent planning the hoax. An encouraging dynamic.

Josh Stearns put together a great Storify of how the hoax spread and how it was picked apart piece by piece after Keller tweeted it was a fake. (The Storify is embedded below.)

As is often the case with hoaxes, the trickery seems obvious once exposed. But it appears this hoax took more planning than, say, the attempt to fool people into believing that Kanye West had launched a new website.

This was more in the realm of the recent Shell Arctic hoax, which included fake websites, fake social media accounts, and even fake outrage. It was a hoax designed not just to fool, but to spread. The WikiLeaks hoax was similarly designed.

Stearn’s Storify collected a variety of revelations about the planning and execution of the hoax:

  • The domain that housed the fake column was That would seem to be a red flag, as is the real site. But many who subsequently shared the column used Twitter, which means the URL people clicked on was shortened. (Though it’s interesting that the WikiLeaks account, for example, did not use a shortener when it first tweeted the hoax.)
  • The hoax page layout was very similar to how the New York Times website looks, though with some alterations. For example, New York Times op-eds do not have a “tweet this” button at the top of the story. Admittedly, though, this isn’t something that will jump out at readers. The page looked real enough. And the prominent Twitter button suggests the hoaxsters saw Twitter as the best platform to help spread their work.
  • A look at the who-is record for the site shows it was registered back in March, which suggests a notable measure of forethought.
  • They also created the fake Twitter account @nytkeIler (with an uppercase “i” that appeared to be an “l”) that looked like the real thing at first glance. Many were fooled by this element of the hoax.
  • Finally, the element of timing was important. I think those involved launched it when they did because of actual comments about WikiLeaks that Keller made last week to GigaOm writer Mathew Ingram. Some of Keller’s comments were used in the fake op-ed, giving it a basis in reality. For some, it perhaps created confusion as to which came first: the GigOm post or the op-ed. Given that content flows around so much and is quoted and requoted and reblogged, the hoaxsters were smart to create this kind of confusion, and to include real words in a fake column. I also think they were wise to launch it on a Saturday night. Keller (the real one) is not a constant tweeter and chances were good that he wouldn’t be watching the network at that time, which gave the fake column a head start.

As with the Shell Arctic example, the amount of preparation and forethought places this fakery in the category of a new breed of social hoax. Note that the above elements also represent a blueprint that subsequent tricks will likely follow. So it’s also useful for journalists who want to vet information for red flags.

For tips on how to spot a hoax of this nature, have a look at my B.S. Detection presentation:

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And here’s Josh Stearns’ excellent Storify about the WikiLeaks hoax:

[View the story "Lessons From the Fake New York Times Wikileaks Op-ed" on Storify] Read more


Gizmodo issues frank correction after falling for false rumor about new iPhone

Editor’s note: We fucked this up. Our bad. And then we fucked it up again by taking the post down. Double-bad; it’s back up now. In the months leading up to an expected Apple announcement there’s always a crazy swirl of rumors and speculation that can catch someone off guard. That said, we’re supposed to be the guys who don’t get caught, and for that we apologize.

Hat tip to Jim Roberts (nytjim)



Jonah Goldberg offers a correction and apology to fans of King Kong and Godzilla:

I misspoke this evening on the Special Report panel. I suggested that Godzilla was less destructive than King Kong. And everyone knows that it’s the other way around. I apologize for any offense to the Kong family or to Godzilla’s fans — or victims.

National Review

1 Comment

CNBC reporter apologizes after falling for teenager’s hoax

CNBC reporter Darren Rovell has apologized after discovering that a story he wrote back in November included hoax material given to him by a source.

Cautionary lesson: Rovell only spoke to the source by email and never made any other attempts to confirm his story.

In the end, he quoted a collection of made-up facts and figures provided to him by what Deadspin describes as a “bored” 18-year-old high school senior.

After Deadspin broke the story, CNBC removed the offending section from Rovell’s report, and added a correction which links to an apology from Rovell.

The story started with an attempt by Rovell to use social media to gather stories from people who had been affected by the NBA lockout:

One response came from a person who went by the name Henry James and used the email address “” He told Rovell he ran an escort service that was feeling the pinch due to a dropoff in patronage from NBA players.

Rovell and “Henry” went back and forth by email and then this section appeared in Rovell’s article:

A 30 percent decline seems to be the magic number, even for Henry, who runs an escort service in New York that he says charges between $400 and $4,000 an hour, depending on the woman.

Henry says he takes between 65 and 80 percent of the total cut to match the players and other high-profile fans, who are with the client an average of four hours.

“There are replacements but they aren’t as consistent and not nearly as high paying,” Henry said.

Deadspin has published part of the email exchange they say was provided to them by the 18-year-old who claims to be behind the fake email account. Tim told Deadspin he just made up the numbers quoted by Rovell. And, apparently, Rovell made little attempt to verify any of the claims, or Henry’s identity, before publishing the information.

Tim told Deadspin he decided to reveal the hoax now because a friend encouraged him to do it. It seems he and his friend aren’t fans of Rovell’s Twitter presence, and they wanted to reveal the hoax to burn him.

Tim’s friend said Rovell is “just such a douche on twitter all the time,” so off the emails went to Deadspin.

By 3 p.m. today, CNBC had corrected the story and Rovell apologized. From his apology:

The escort story made the cut because I thought it was different. As you can see in the published exchange I went back and forth with “Tim” in an attempt to ascertain whether his story was genuine. Feeling satisfied that the answers seemed real, we included it in the story.

He duped me. Shame on me. I apologize to my readers.

As a result I will do fewer stories on the real life impact of big events which I do think the public enjoys.

There will always be people out there who want their 15 minutes of fame and not really care how they get there.

It’s good he’s willing to be up front about being fooled, and to apologize. But his decision to do fewer stories on this related topic seems strange, and his comment that the public will suffer as a result is even more puzzling.

The problem wasn’t the subject matter, and Rovell hopefully realizes that — even if he doesn’t say so to readers.

The problem was Rovell neglected to check any of the material he was given — material that came from an amusingly named gmail account, unaccompanied by anything resembling proof or verifiable fact, about NBA players sleeping with prostitutes and paying hundreds or thousands of dollars to do it. Information worth verifying.

Hat tip to Anthony De Rosa. Read more

1 Comment

A Philadelphia Daily News editor’s note emphasizes that bath salts are not the same as LSD:

The commenters below have made some good points about there being a difference between bath salts and LSD. We’ve edited this story to try to make that clear.

Also, here are a few links to stories that breakdown the differences and provide details on what bath salts actually are.

Via Daniel Denvir

Philadelphia Daily News


Reuters corrects a misquote that said Facebook’s COO suffers from anxiety:

This story corrected paragraph 6 to show Sandberg said she sometimes gets anxious, not that she suffers from anxiety



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