Mike Ibanez

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War of the Worlds Revisited [English & Spanish]

Filed under: Media Pranks

Submitted by journalist Mike Ibanez based on his article published in Cultura/s, October 31, 2008:

In 1991, an episode of the TV 2 show Camaleà³ (Chameleon), called La Mort [The Death] became a small War of the Worlds. About 1/3 of the way through the show, the drama was interrupted by a special news bulletin announcing that a coup d’état was in progress in the USSR. It was staged so well that other spanish media – TV, radio, etc – broadcast the (fake) news. And the confusion started (the news bulletin begins at approximately 8:30)…

The program was cancelled, however, reality is sometimes stranger than fiction, and 6 months later there was an actual coup d’état in the USSR against Gorbachov just as Camaleà³ has predicted. Here is Mike’s article in Spanish:

La Guerra de los In-Mundos (more…)

Tall Tales from the Tall Towers

Filed under: Fraud and Deception

Submitted by Mike Ibanez: What about Tania Head (née Alicia Esteve), the Catalan girl who conned New York?

From Wikipedia:

27survivorxlarge1-200.jpgTania Head was the president and director of the World Trade Center Survivors’ Network, which she co-founded with Gerry Bogacz, until the last week of September 2007, when her claims became doubted and the organization dismissed her. The Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia reported that Head is from Barcelona and that her real name is Alicia Esteve Head.

Claims as 9/11 victim

Head claimed that she was on the 78th floor of the South Tower (WTC 2) when United Airlines Flight 175 hit the floor where she stood. This would have made her one of only 19 people at or above the point of impact to have survived. She said that a man by the name of Dave, who perished in the North Tower (WTC 1), was her fiance or husband. She also claimed to have been given a dying man’s wedding ring and to have returned it to his widow, and to have been rescued herself by a deceased man known to have rescued others. (more…)

Spaced Out

Filed under: Media Pranks, The History of Pranks

Submitted by Mike Ibanez:

Space cadets taken in by TV hoax
December 17, 2005

_41132026_spacecadets_pa_story200.jpgThree contestants have spoken of their disbelief after being fooled into thinking they went into space for the UK reality show Space Cadets. The three believed they had blasted off from a cosmonaut training camp in Russia, but were in fact in a fake spaceship in a warehouse in Suffolk.

They cheered up when told they had each won £25,000 ($44,300).

But one contestant, teaching assistant Keri Hasset from Birmingham, said she was “heartbroken” by the prank.

Fake ceremony

“When I thought we were coming back to Earth I was planning my speech. I was going to say it had been my childhood dream. Now I’m a little bit heartbroken,” she said.

Ms Hasset, plasterer Paul French, 26 from Bristol, and footballer/recruitment consultant Billy Jackson, 25, from Kent, had suspicions they were being tricked when they had to hold a ceremony for a celebrity Russian dog called Mr Bimby on the spaceship. (more…)

Belgian TV Network Hoax

Filed under: Media Pranks, The History of Pranks

Submitted by Mike Ibanez:

Viewers fooled by ‘Belgium split’
BBC News
December 14, 2006

_42351323_reporter-afp200.jpgBelgians reacted with widespread alarm to news that their country had been split in two – before finding out they had been spoofed. The Belgian public television station RTBF ran a bogus report saying the Dutch-speaking half of the nation had declared independence.

Later it said Wednesday night’s programme was meant to stir up debate.

It appears to have succeeded. Thousands of people made panicked calls to the station and politicians complained.

“It’s very bad Orson Welles, in very poor taste,” said a spokesman for Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, referring to the famous director’s 1938 radio adaptation of War of the Worlds. That spoof fooled many Americans into believing Martians had invaded.

“In the current context, it’s irresponsible for a public television channel to announce the end of Belgium as a reality presented by genuine journalists,” he added. (more…)

Sà³lo La Verdad es Revolucionaria (Only the Truth is Revolutionary) [In Spanish]

Filed under: Media Pranks, Pranksters, The History of Pranks

Submitted by Mike Ibanez from ¡Zap! (Futura Ediciones, 1995) in Spanish.

But, first, a quick English summary:

In 1978, a pair of French nexialistas – third generation fantasy anarchist situationists – mounted a prank on the Spanish intellectual world. Planning to bring a manifesto of an old Italian anarchist in their luggage when visiting friends in Barcelona, and concerned that it might be questioned, they disguise it as a work of Sartre entitled “Jean Paul Sartre: My political testament”.

Source: photographie de Jacques Robert; Brosman, Jean-Paul SartreAct 1: They decide it will be great to take it to a left wing Spanish magazine called “El Viejo Topo” (the old stumbler). The magazine is surprised at the stated philosophy and tries to get in touch with Sartre or his publisher to verify. Unable to do so, they decide to publish it anyway, with a disclaimer that they are not sure Sartre would say these things.

Act 2: Two men show up at the magazine claiming to represent Sartre who, indeed, had not written the testament. They insist that the magazine has been hoaxed and must print a retraction. But — the two men are the same French guys who brought the story there in the first place…

El aà±o 1978, un par de nexialistas franceses –anarquistas de fantasà­a, situacionistas de tercera generacià³n- montaron un buen prank, un bromazo en el mundo intelectual espaà±ol. Los dos nexialistas -les llamaremos Dupont & Dupont- venà­an a Espaà±a para visitar Barcelona. En su equipaje llevan una soflama de un viejo anarquista italiano. La llevan, entre otro material, para enseà±ar a colegas de grupos anarcoides barceloneses. El anarquista de Catania, entre la broma y el afà¡n de difusià³n, ha titulado su texto Jean Paul Sartre: Il mio testamento polà­tico. (more…)

Natural Born Faker (Article is in Spanish)

Filed under: Fraud and Deception, Truth that's Stranger than Fiction

This article, previously published in Cultura/s in June 2003, is about Michael Born, a German television reporter who made up his stories. He was far more extreme than Jayson Blair at the New York Times. He created events with actors, tomato sauce blood, etc. and sold them to German cable channels in the 1990’s.

The real question is whether Born is the only one culpable, as the court decision decreed, or were the buyers of the stories equally guilty for not checking them out. -JS

El caso de Jayson Blair y sus artà­culos falseados y/o inventados en The New York Times ha supuesto un nuevo impulso para la instauracià³n del “fake journalism” –o como lo define el gran Tom Kummer, “borderline journalism”-, como género en sà­ mismo que tarde o temprano se estudiarà¡ en las facultades de periodismo. (more…)