ABC News was aware that a viral video, showing a wolf purportedly walking through the hallway of the athletes village in Sochi, was staged by Jimmy Kimmel. ABC News was told of the stunt as an off-the-record tip, and didn’t feel it had a responsibility to warn other news organizations.
“The world is seeing these kinds of videos more and more, and every news organization has to do its own reporting and own vetting to decide whether or not they want to print, air or say something,” ABC News spokesman Jeffrey Schneider told the AP’s David Bauder. “It is a piece of comedy. We need to keep that in perspective.”
NBC’s “Today” show and CNN aired the video last week, which first appeared on the Twitter feed of American luger Kate Hansen. Willie Geist, who called it “a little bit scary” on Thursday’s show, clarified Friday that they’d been duped by Kimmel. But he says they checked with Hansen before running the item, and she told the show, “it was me.” Bauder talks with news ethicists and purists about the stunt. They conclude that these kinds of incidents add to a growing distrust of the news media.
On Twitter Friday, Kimmel joked the whole thing was an “accident” and “won’t happen again.”
Hey guys, FYI, that wolf at the Olympics thing was an ACCIDENT. It won’t happen again. http://t.co/hLTuSQ8ivF
— Jimmy Kimmel (@jimmykimmel) February 21, 2014