Blog Posts

Fake Newspaper Endorses Reality TV Politician

Filed under: Fraud and Deception, Media Literacy, Political Pranks, Propaganda and Disinformation

Republican Presidential nominee Donald J. Trump may have his “personal Pravda,” but everyone from The New York Times to the Arizona Republic has endorsed his opponent, and the media at large have taken the gloves off with him. The real estate developer hasn’t gotten any extra love from the fourth estate in the wake of his rough debate performance on Monday. He’ll be happy to know that the Baltimore Gazette has his back.

“Trump Gets Big Boost From Fake Newspaper”
by Jason Linkins
Huffington Post
September 27, 2016

aotp_baltimoregazetteBig media news for Hillary Clinton Tuesday night as the Arizona Republic “• which had never in its history endorsed a Democrat for president “• has thrown its endorsement to the former secretary of state, citing her lifetime of never coming across like an impulsive man-baby: “The president commands our nuclear arsenal. Trump can”™t command his own rhetoric.”

But not so fast! Donald Trump has a media coup of his own to brag about. Seems that some eagle-eyed investigative reporters at the Baltimore Gazette have brought home a dilly of a scoop: “Multiple reports and leaked information from inside the Clinton camp claim that the Clinton campaign was given the entire set of debate questions an entire week before the actual debate.”

Trumpet sting!

Earlier last week an NBC intern was seen hand delivering a package to Clinton”™s campaign headquarters, according to sources. The package was not given to secretarial staff, as would normally happen, but the intern was instead ushered into the personal office of Clinton campaign manager Robert Mook. Members of the Clinton press corps from several media organizations were in attendance at the time, and a reporter from Fox News recognized the intern, but said he was initially confused because the NBC intern was dressed like a Fed Ex employee.

That”™s some serious shoe-leather! Unfortunately there was un problema. Read more.

CEO Prankster Deceives Walmart Shoppers

posted by
Filed under: Parody, Propaganda and Disinformation

CEO Pulls Bogus Stunt In Attempt To Discredit Walmart Workers
Huffington Post
December 17, 2013

o-SCHIFF-200Walmart usually speaks for itself just fine. But that hasn’t stopped a wealthy Wall Streeter from taking up its cause, protesting against higher wages for Walmart workers.

Peter Schiff, the wealthy, libertarian CEO of Euro Pacific Capital Inc., a Connecticut brokerage firm, recently passed some time berating shoppers outside an unnamed Walmart, as you can see in the video, which Schiff released on Monday.

Pretending to act on behalf of Walmart workers asking for higher wages, Schiff asked shoppers to fork over 15 percent of whatever they had just spent at Walmart in support of a $15 minimum wage for Walmart workers. He even created a fake name for the group he pretended to support, “15 for 15.”

Schiff’s real motive apparently was to convince these shoppers that paying higher wages to Walmart workers — an idea many of these shoppers supported — would drive up the prices at Walmart by 15 percent. Walmart workers on Black Friday staged protests around the country seeking higher wages, though not necessarily $15 an hour. One actual pro-worker group, OUR Walmart, is seeking a $13 minimum wage for Walmart workers.

In any event, Schiff’s claim that prices would have to rise 15 percent to cover a $15 wage still doesn’t exactly line up with, how do you say, economics.

Read the rest of the article here.

Ask the Fiddler #9: Obamacare Spawns a Slew of Scams

Filed under: Fraud and Deception, Propaganda and Disinformation

fiddler-75Editor’s Note: Ask The Fiddler is a lifestyle advice column that aims to remedy more chaos and confusion than it creates. Questions may be submitted to us here at Art of the Prank, and good luck.

Dear Fiddler:

Have they set up the death panels that will be part of Obamacare, deciding who lives and who dies?

Rodney in Shreveport

Dear Rodney,

whitehouse.200Yes. And the panels are made up of radical liberal Democrats with Fu Manchu beards, dressed in white frocks, huddled over complicated charts, chanting and tossing chicken bones to decide the fates of vulnerable victims of Obamacare. Those victims will be mostly rightwing Republicans, of course. It is their fate to suffer from conspiracies.

Well, back here on planet Earth. Sorry, big disappointment, I”™ve searched high and low and can find no evidence of death panels.

As best as I can figure, the whole crazy idea seems to be a mad-dog rightwing conspiracy theory concocted to counter a Big Mother Government health-nazi plot. Something like that. (more…)

Newsjacking Defined: Same Old Story, New Name

posted by
Filed under: Fact or Fiction?, You Decide

“Newsjacking” With a Dark Twist: When Hoaxes Infiltrate the News Cycle
by Mandy Nagy
July 10, 2013

There is a term known as “newsjacking,” and it refers to the takeover of a news story or narrative and using it for other purposes. See the example in that link about when Oreo took over the power outage during the Super Bowl 2013, and you”™ll understand exactly why such a term was ever coined. It”™s typically seen as a positive term – the creative pairing of media savvy and perfect timing, resulting in a viral news success.

But there is a more sinister likeness to newsjacking that is increasingly employed today, especially given the advent of social media. And this is a version that comes with a dark twist.


We see it in more primitive fashion when big stories break on social media: The trolls who post fake photos or fake reports of sharks swimming in the streets during a hurricane, or the Sandy Hook child who was (not) killed in the Boston Marathon bombing, or false reports of the NYSE being under three feet of water during Hurricane Sandy – the posts that trick mainstream media and leave them backtracking on their stories in the midst of the flurry.

And then there are those who craft their own narratives in a much more savvy way – some out of whole cloth, some mixed in with a little truth – and inject them into the news to achieve a particular gain, often a politically motivated one.

Read the rest of this article here.

Putin on Trial [English & Russian]

posted by
Filed under: Creative Activism, Propaganda and Disinformation

Putin fake arrest video resonates with Russians
by Elizabeth Flock
Washington Post
February 17, 2012

The prime minister of Russia stood in handcuffs inside a cage, looking downcast, as a judge questioned him.

Watch Vladi­mir Putin in “jail”. Click on “cc” for English subtitles

The video showing Vladimir Putin on trial for corruption and terrorism was clearly a fake, but it went viral anyway “” attracting millions of viewers since it was posted on YouTube several days ago, the Associated Press reports.

Called “The Arrest of Vladimir Putin,” the video comes a week after thousands of Russians protested in Moscow against the prime minister, who will run for a third term as president March 4. Putin was president from 2000 to 2008, and has been prime minister ever since. He is widely expected to win the presidential election, despite the public”™s discontent, which peaked with widespread protests in December.


A Personal Correspondence from Julian Assange

Filed under: First Amendment Issues, Propaganda and Disinformation

Editor’s note: The Art of the Prank is in receipt of previously unpublished content from the vast archive of WikiLeaks documents. We feel we have an obligation, in the pursuit of freedom of information, to publish these excerpts as we receive them. We will continue to post them as they are sent to us. We realize the danger Julian Assange faces. We can honestly say we do not know where he is.


Thank you for your offer to publish some of the more controversial classified U.S. government documents WikiLeaks brought into the public domain on the 28th of November 2010. Although The New York Times and the Guardian began publishing some of the 251,287 WikiLeaks documents, The New York Times has bowed to government pressure and decided to withhold some passages and in some cases, entire cables whose disclosure, they claim, could compromise American intelligence efforts and even upset U.S. domestic political stability.

Some of the documents being withheld which will give the world unprecedented insight into the US Government’s foreign and domestic activities, appear to be benign except as to cause some embarrassment to certain public figures. One cable withheld is about Silvio Berlusconi, who, while contemplating a run for the Italian presidency, took a medical holiday in Luzern, Switzerland to have a very large “OMERTA” tattoo removed from his back by surgical laser. Also, he and Vladimir Putin have been described by an aid as having had an alcohol and drug fueled “boys night,” shooting out the windows of the UK Consul General’s empty parked Daimler with automatic weapons the pair borrowed from their bodyguards on a Berlusconi Moscow visit.

Sarah Palin attempted to secretly adopt two Downs Syndrome infants through an Asian adoption agency. The Chinese balked when Palin revealed that she needed stand-ins for Trig, (more…)

Harnessing a Mythical Creature — China & The Internet

posted by
Filed under: First Amendment Issues, Propaganda and Disinformation

China”™s Censors Tackle and Trip Over the Internet
by Michael Wines, Sharon LaFraniere & Jonathan Ansfield
The New York Times
April 7, 2010

Beijing “” Type the Chinese characters for “carrot” into Google”™s search engine here in mainland China, and you will be rewarded not with a list of Internet links, but a blank screen.

Don”™t blame Google, however. The fault lies with China”™s censors “” who are increasingly a model for countries around the world that want to control an unrestricted Internet.

Since late March, when Google moved its search operations out of mainland China to Hong Kong, each response to a Chinese citizen”™s search request has been met at the border by government computers, programmed to censor any forbidden information Google might turn up.

“Carrot” “” in Mandarin, huluobo “” may seem innocuous enough. But it contains the same Chinese character as the surname of President Hu Jintao. And the computers, long programmed to intercept Chinese-language searches on the nation”™s leaders, substitute an error message for the search result before it can sneak onto a mainland computer.

This is China”™s censorship machine, part George Orwell, part Rube Goldberg: an information sieve of staggering breadth and fineness, yet full of holes; run by banks of advanced computers, but also by thousands of Communist Party drudges; highly sophisticated in some ways, remarkably crude in others. (more…)

Collateral Cover-up

posted by
Filed under: Fraud and Deception, Not for Kids, Propaganda and Disinformation
This post may not be suitable for everyone. Please proceed at your own risk!

Editor’s Note: This video depicts graphic and deadly American military action against unarmed, non-combatant people, two of whom were Reuters journalists holding cameras standing on a street in Iraq in 2007. The incident was vetted by the military and apparently covered up. WikiLeaks obtained the footage from military whistleblowers and stands by its authenticity. It is difficult to watch. Proceed with caution.

Collateral Murder – Short Version [17:47]

WikiLeaks has released a classified U.S. military video depicting the indiscriminate slaying of over a dozen people in the Iraqi suburb of New Baghdad — including two Reuters news staff. Reuters has been trying to obtain the video through the Freedom of Information Act, without success since the time of the attack. The video, shot from an Apache helicopter gun-site, clearly shows the unprovoked slaying of a wounded Reuters employee and his rescuers. Two young children involved in the rescue were also seriously wounded.

The military did not reveal how the Reuters staff were killed, and stated that they did not know how the children were injured. After demands by Reuters, the incident was investigated and the U.S. military concluded that the actions of the soldiers were in accordance with the law of armed conflict and its own “Rules of Engagement”…

For further information and/or to see the longer version of this video, please visit the special project website,

thanks Don

Philip Morris Eagerly Funds Life Skills Training Program Proven to Fail

posted by
Filed under: Propaganda and Disinformation, Spin

University of Colorado at Boulder Falls Prey to Philip Morris’ Strategic Philanthropy
Submitted by Anne Landman
Center or Media and Democracy /
December 4, 2009

Cigpack-200The University of Colorado at Boulder has accepted a $12.1 million grant from cigarette maker Philip Morris (PM) to put on “Life Skills Training” (LST) programs in middle schools, nominally aimed at reducing students’ use of tobacco, alcohol and other drugs.

Notwithstanding that a federal court in 2006 found Philip Morris guilty of engaging in 50 years of public fraud and racketeering, a peer-reviewed study of tobacco industry documents conducted by the University of California San Francisco’s Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education looked at why tobacco companies so robustly promote Life Skills Training. They found that since 1999, PM and Brown & Williamson have both worked to disseminate Life Skills Training programs into schools across the country. Why? As part of their effort, the two companies hired a public relations firm to evaluate the program. The evaluation showed that LST was not effective at reducing smoking, after either the first or second year of implementing the program. Despite this, the tobacco companies have continued to eagerly award grants to implement the program. (more…)

Astroturfing the Spinternet

posted by
Filed under: Co-option (If You Can't Beat 'Em...), Political Challenges, Propaganda and Disinformation, Spin
by Evgeny Morozov
The New York Times Op Ed
March 29, 2009

censorship-200This year”™s report on “enemies of the Internet” prepared by Reporters Without Borders, the international press advocacy group, paints a very gloomy picture for the freedom of expression on the Web. It finds that many governments have stepped up their attacks on the Internet, harassing bloggers and making it harder to express dissenting opinions online.

These are very disturbing trends. But identifying “Internet enemies” only on the basis of censorship and intimidation, as Reporters Without Borders has done, obfuscates the fact that these are only two components of a more comprehensive and multi-pronged approach that authoritarian governments have developed to diffuse the subversive potential of online communications.

Many of these governments have honed their Internet strategies beyond censorship and are employing more subtle (and harder to detect) ways of controlling dissent, often by planting their own messages on the Web and presenting them as independent opinion.

Their actions are often informed by the art of online “astroturfing,” a technique also popular with modern corporations and PR firms. While companies use it to engineer buzz around products and events, governments are using it to create the appearance of broad popular support for their ideology.

Their ultimate ambition may be to transform the Internet into a “spinternet,” the vast and mostly anonymous areas of cyberspace under indirect government jurisdiction. The spinternet strategy could be more effective than censorship “” while there are a plenty of ways to access blocked Web sites, we do not yet have the means to distinguish spin from independent comment. (more…)

2008 Falsies Awards from

posted by
Filed under: Propaganda and Disinformation, Spin

The 2008 Falsies Awards: In Memory of the First Casualty
by Diane Farsetta
Center for Media and Democracy /
December 10, 2008

There’s nothing quite like a hotly contested election. The candidates have their devoted supporters and angry detractors. Then there are vigorous debates over the issues, while some people question the integrity of the entire process.

We speak, of course, of the Falsies Awards.

This year marks the Center for Media and Democracy’s (CMD’s) fifth annual Falsies Awards. The Falsies are our attempt to shine an unflattering light on those responsible for polluting the information environment over the past year. We’re happy to report that more people — nearly 1,450 — voted in this year’s Falsies survey than ever before! We’re also bestowing special recognition on one of this year’s “winners.”

Falsies recipients can collect their prizes — a pair of Groucho Marx glasses, our two cents and a chance to atone for their spinning ways by making a detailed public apology — by visiting CMD’s office in Madison, Wisconsin. This year’s Gold and Silver Falsies go to masters of war deception, while the Bronze Falsie recognizes a massive greenwash campaign. The first-ever Lifetime Achievement Falsie goes to a serial corporate front man, while a determined (if at times laughable) attempt at nation re-branding wins dishonorable mention. Then there are the Readers’ Choice Falsies and Win Against Spin Awards, nominated by our survey participants.

That’s a lot to cover, so without further ado, the winners of the 2008 Falsies Awards are…