Photos of an aspiring broker purportedly telling off her boss garnered widespread news coverage and more than 105,000 Facebook "likes" Tuesday. Too bad the story was published by two guys who have pranked the media before.
TheChive.com was first to post a series of pictures of "Jenny," a supposed office worker who held up a dry erase board with a series of messages dissing her chauvinist, micromanaging boss "Spencer" and outing him for spending all day playing FarmVille and reading TechCrunch. From there the story spread basically everywhere; the post got picked up, for example, on New York magazine's site, Mashable, The Atlantic's website, the New York Post, and TechCrunch, just to name a few. Gawker Media ran the story, too, on our sister site Jezebel and on Kotaku (whose post ran here on Gawker).
But over at All Things D, writer Peter Kafka grew suspicious. He noticed that TheChive was owned by the same two men who promoted a prior website, Derober, by fabricating a story about Donald Trump leaving a $10,000 restaurant tip, thus tricking the Post and Fox News. The site owners, John and Leo Resig, launched their 2007 Trump story on the strength of a falsified receipt; now they seem to be promoting TheChive's post with a fake resignation.
Because when Kafka called up Leo Resig and asked if the "Jenny" story is real, Resig wouldn't answer, saying:
"This one is to be determined. People are kind of making up their own stories."
We go on this vein for a bit. Since Leo won't tell me the story is real, and the Trump story definitely wasn't, I'll assume that this one is make-believe, too. "If you want to assume that, you can. We have a track record."
Click to viewResig added that Jay Leno and Good Morning America want "Jenny" on their shows — and that he'll reveal "Jenny's" identity tomorrow at 10 am. Maybe after Resig has had his fill of free publicity, he'll tell what's really going on. At least one thing is clear: his post was carefully timed for when the media was already in a lather about a spectacular, and very real, quitting story involving that JetBlue flight attendant who resigned via inflatable chute. And TheChive's suspect post came during that time of year when bored office workers are happy to be entertained by even the fishiest of "news" stories.
Their near-certain hoax will provoke some outrage, but the Resigs should get some credit for supplying the world with yet another bizarre story to laugh at this week. That's no small accomplishment, even if it did mean suckering everyone into trusting two known media pranksters.