Four strikes and he’s still not out. That is the frightening lesson to be gleaned from the latest example of an MSM outlet being duped by a satirical, fake Web news item.
On Monday, Andy Borowitz joke posted on The Borowitz Report that 76-year-old Italian billionaire Silvio Berlusconi was contemplating a run for some sort of New York City public office. On Tuesday, Italian time, the website for the man’s very own weekly Panorama news magazine ran with the item. As Rome-based freelancer Eric J. Lyman writes in The Hollywood Reporter, many warning signs were ignored:
The magazine did not appear to recognize the impossibility of the premise given that Berlusconi does not speak fluent English, is not a U.S. citizen and has never been a resident of New York – or that he is currently under indictment in four separate trials in Italy.
Mamma mia! Granted, the real local-politics news that inspired Borowitz (a.k.a. Eliot Spitzer) sounds like it is made up. Still, given the close Rolodex proximity of the person Panorama was in this case aggregating, the magazine should have been able to figure it out.
P.S. Our favorite incidental aspect of all this is the expression on the faces of the bodyguards in the photo Borowitz used to illustrate his Monday goof. Take a look; it’s almost as if these guys knew what was coming.