NYT Fooled Twice on April Fools' Day

NYT Fooled Twice on April Fools' Day

The paper of record fell for two blogs' April Fools' jokes—one required a retraction and one went so far over their heads, the Times sent a publicist to quell an "inaccurate" story. Update: Prankster tells all.

The joke they fell for hook, line, and sinker came from New York Personal Injury Attorney Blog.com. Eric Turkewitz—the titular Personal Injury Attorney—claimed he had been appointed "official White House law blogger." NYT's City Room reported it in a post entitled "When Lawyers Blog":

After all, as Mr. Turkewitz, a Manhattan lawyer, writes on his New York Personal Injury Law Blog, he is about to be sounding off on all manner of legal issues as the Obama administration's new White House law blogger.

"Excited about new blogging gig as White House law blogger," he tweeted this morning. "But hope I don't have to spend too much time in D.C."

Spoken like a true New Yorker.

But Turkewitz was pulling their leg. At least, they think he was pulling their leg, when they called to ask he dodged their fact-checking department's sledgehammer of truth. City Room's befuddled retraction:

Note: an earlier version of this column had an item about a blog post by a personal-injury lawyer, Eric Turkewitz, announcing that he had been appointed the White House law blogger. Blogospheric chatter indicates a high likelihood that this post was an April Fool hoax. Mr. Turkewitz declined to give us a straight answer on this score, so, pending callback from the White House, we've taken the item down.

When the White House press office denied Turkewitz's appointment to the Wall Street Journal, he expressed outrage at the power-hungry press office's manipulation: "I'm not surprised that the press office gave that comment to the WSJ. Before I even start, they are already trying to squeeze me out." Update: Turkewitz has published a detailed post-mortem on the prank, originally conceived of as "a bunch of law bloggers would try to punk the political bloggers, whose reputation is to grab any old rumor and run with it." The people who ran with it, though, were WSJ and NYT.

On the other end of the spectrum, TechCrunch ran a subtle joke about the Times' resistance to new media by reprinting a 1996 NYT article announcing the paper's arrival on the "World Wide Web": "The only changes we made were to replace 'Web Site' with 'iPad App' and 'World Wide Web' with 'iPad.'"

A NYTimes communications person emailed to ask us to correct or take down our post earlier today about the debut of their new iPad application, which they're calling "The New York Times on the iPad." The post, they say, contains "extremely old information that is inaccurate" and requests that we correct or take down the post.

Darn you, World Wide Web. Will the entropy of misinformation, rumor, and hyperbole will never end?