Breitbart Duped by Satirical News Outlet

March 12, 2013

By Alex Seitz-Wald via Salon

How delicious: Paul Krugman, legendary economist and liberal lion, has declared bankruptcy! Breitbart.com saw solid gold and quickly jumped on the story — If Krugman can’t even manage his own finances, why should we trust his advice on the nation’s, right?

Unfortunately for conservatives in the early throes of schadenfreude, the story comes from the Daily Currant, a satirical news site that competes with the Onion. It’s bogus. “I decided not to post anything about it; instead, I wanted to wait and see which right-wing media outlets would fall for the hoax,” Krugman wrote on his blog. “And Breitbart.com came through!”

“Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go give a lavishly paid speech to Friends of Hamas,” he continued, poking fun at Breitbart’s recent invention of a group that doesn’t exist.

Breitbart summarily removed the story without a correction or note, so that the URL now leads to a 404 error. It’s generally considered more ethical to leave an erroneous story online with a prominent correction than to delete it entirely, except in the case of plagiarized material, when leaving the story up could violate the source author’s intellectual property.

But we expect this kind of thing from Breitbart. The more troubling issue is that the Breitbart story was based on an item posted at Boston.com, a website run by the Boston Globe. Breitbart sourced its story from the site, which in turn cited an Austrian magazine that had picked up the Daily Currant story. The Boston.com story was not original content, but a cross-post from the Prudent Investor. As of this publishing, it had not yet been removed or corrected.

Boston.com news editor Angela Nelson told Salon in an email that she was not aware of the issue. “I’ve contacted the vendor and asked them to take it down immediately,” she explained.

It’s not the first time the Daily Current has duped a high-profile publication. Last month, the Washington Post picked up a (phony) Current story saying Sarah Palin was moving to Al Jazeera.

Breitbart berated the Post for that error, saying it had no concern for letting “facts get in the way of a good Narrative.” If the Post’s reporter “had a shred of self-awareness, integrity, and dignity,” Breitbart’s John Nolte wrote, “she would have changed the headline to ‘Too Good To Check,’ and under it posted an essay about how shallow, smug, bitterly angry partisanship can blind you to common sense.”

UPDATE: Boston Globe communications director Ellen Clegg said in a statement, “The post about Paul Krugman was an automatic feed on a partner website, FinancialContent.com, which Boston.com uses to provide stock and other financial data. The story did not originate with The Boston Globe or Boston.com, and we worked to get it taken down as soon as we heard about it from readers. We have asked FinancialContent.com to provide us with more information as to how this story was added into their financial news feed.”

Photo: Striatic