Wikileaks behind fake Bill Keller-New York Times editorial

An apologetic piece extolling the virtues of WikiLeaks, written by a former New York Times executive editor?

Too good to be true.

As it turns out, it was.

The fake article,  posted online late July 28,  featured an almost wistful Bill Keller saying he was in “the awkward position of having to defend WikiLeaks.”

Keller, former executive editor of The New York Times,  had a rocky relationship with WikiLeaks, further adding to the shock factor of the piece.

The story used quotes pulled from Keller’s emailed responses to Matthew Ingram’s post in defense of WikiLeaks. The webpage was, in The Guardian’s words,  an “immaculate” replication of The New York Times webpage.

This piece came soon after reports that some United States government officials are looking for ways to prosecute journalists who publish leaked secrets.

Ultimately, Keller cleared the air with his July 29, all-caps tweet:

“THERE IS A FAKE OP-ED GOING AROUND UNDER MY NAME, ABOUT WIKILEAKS,” the tweet read. “EMPHASIS ON ‘FAKE.’ AS IN, NOT MINE.”

WikiLeaks later  claimed credit for the op-ed hoax.

A second  tweet from the organization hinted their motivation might have been to embarrass the Times into running something about the financial embargo against the company, according to The Guardian.

In retrospect, a few signs should have tipped off those who tweeted the column.

Not only did Gizmodo report inaccuracies with the missing favicon and inaccurate URL, but the column also contained several typos, Poynter reported.   (More tips on how to spot an internet hoax !)

WikiLeaks’ involvement with the hoax spurred mixed responses.

“Well done,” @LifeInGotham  said.

However, others weren’t so supportive of the prank:

“The people who  hate wikileaks(sic) will use this to cast doubt on the validity of everything you have/will ever leak,” James Gammell (@Destraudo) said.

Information pulled from:

Poynter

Gizmodo

The Guardian

GigaOM

The Christian Science Monitor

Whitney is the summer Pulliam/Killgore intern with the Society of Professional Journalists. She recently graduated from Brigham Young University after studying journalism. Connect with her via email –  wevans@hq.spj.org –  or on twitter – @whitevs7

*Know something about Freedom of Information that you think we should cover in a blog post? We want to hear from you! Send information to wevans@HQ.SPJ.org. It may be featured in a future post.

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