Washington Post sports columnist Mike Wise pulled a clever stunt yesterday: he put up some fake news on Twitter, to "prove that 'anybody will print anything.'" Actually, he proved it's dumb to assume Mike Wise is a smart, trustworthy journalist.
At midday yesterday, Wise tweeted that Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger would be suspended for five games by the NFL. Which would be big news, if it were true. The funny thing though is Mike Wise just made it up! Because you may not know this, but Mike Wise is what you call a "real journalist," the type who doesn't just run with any old rumor he hears on the Twitter, unlike most losers today. So when other sports reporters passed on Mike Wise's fake tweet, guess what Mike Wise proved to the world?
Yes, he proved that Mike Wise is an idiot. Twitter is simply a channel of communication, albeit an annoying one. Mike Wise is a sports columnist for one of the most respected newspapers in the world. So Mike Wise proved that, yes, he is capable of using the institutional respect that his employer has garnered to trick people, very momentarily, into believing something that's not true. This would also work if he just made some shit up and put it in his WaPo column—people would believe it momentarily, and then it would come out that it's actually false, and everyone would curse Mike Wise for being a fucking idiot, just like they are now. (Including his own colleagues).
Wise has apologized, but he still seems to think that he proved something here: "But in the end, it proved two things: 1. I was right about nobody checking facts or sourcing and 2. I'm an idiot. Apologies to all involved." He also said, "Bottom line: I picked a lousy way to show we have no credibility in this medium, in the social networking medium, and that nobody checks these things out. It was just not a good way to do it. If i had to do it all over again I would have picked another way."
No, you proved nothing, Mike Wise. Nothing! All you did was confirm that it is possible for a journalist with a respectable title at a trusted news outlet to squander his credibility in exchange for momentarily getting the public to fall for a fabrication. Jayson Blair did this with much more style than you, anyhow.