There was some shocking news Wednesday morning in the New York Times: The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq had ended and troops were coming home. All U.S. citizens are now covered by a functional national health care system and there’s a cap on how much CEO’s can make.
Also, one headline revealed that "Court Had Indicted Bush on High Treason." Oh, and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has apologized for that whole mix-up about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
There’s just one catch: the news – and the paper – are fake.
In an elaborate operation six months in the planning, 1.2 million bogus New York Times were printed at six different presses and driven to prearranged pickup locations throughout the city, "where thousands of volunteers stood ready to pass them out on the street," a press release from the "Special Edition" staff said.
Stunned readers found stories about the ending of the wars and dozens of new initiatives including the abolition of corporate lobbying, the establishment of national health care and a new "maximum wage" law that caps how much corporate bigwigs can pull-in each year.
The paper was an exact replica of The New York Times. According to the New York Observer, the prank is apparently the work of “The Yes Men,” a collective of media and political pranksters featured in a 2003 documentary. According to Gawker, the volunteers were rallied online, via BecauseWeWantit.org.
The replica paper included International, National, New York, and Business sections, editorials, corrections, and advertisements -- among them a recall notice for all cars that run on gasoline.
"We've got to make sure Obama and all the other Democrats do what we elected them to do. After eight, or maybe twenty-eight years of hell, we need to start imagining heaven,” said Bertha Suttner, one of the newspaper's writers.
Some readers, however, said they weren’t amused. One commuter near Grand Central Station said she believes in free speech, but thought the paper played on people’s emotions and brought up questions of forgery.