It's been a month since Tina Brown launched her Barry Diller-backed website, The Daily Beast. But it appears the massive budget for the new launch—reportedly $18 million over three years—didn't create room for a fact-checker on staff. The Smoking Gun reports that Brown's site was fooled by a Canadian college student who posed as Jay McCarroll, the winner of the first season of Project Runway, when he submitted a design for a burlap dress for Michelle Obama to wear to the Inaugural Ball.
Eight former Project Runway winners had been asked to come up with sketches as part of a feature for Radar magazine. When Radar folded, The Daily Beast picked up the story by writer Hailey Eber. But it appears the design turned in by "Jay McCarroll" was actually the work of a musician "Jay McCarrol" and a pal:
The drawing, however, was not done by McCarroll. It was actually the work of a Canadian college student who was enlisted in the hoax by one Jay McCarrol, a Toronto musician who was mistakenly contacted by a journalist who thought McCarrol was McCarroll (note that the fashion designer has an extra 'l' in his surname).
In early October, writer Hailey Eber went to jaymccarrol.com and, via a contact form on the site, sent a letter regarding the Inaugural Ball gown challenge. Eber, then an associate editor at Radar, wrote that the publication was soliciting "our favorite designers" to create a gown that would be featured in the magazine, resulting in "publicity to designers like yourself in a general interest, national magazine with a circulation of 250,000."
[After Radar shut down last month, Eber's story—which was slated for the magazine's December/January issue—was published in Brown's The Daily Beast.]
Unbeknownst to Eber, her pitch mistakenly landed in the inbox of McCarrol, 25, and not her intended target, the 34-year-old fashion designer whose web site is jaymccarroll.com.