New York Times is April Fooled by Law Blogger

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Not me, unfortunately — as I pointed out yesterday, nobody with fingers and access to a search engine would be fooled for very long by anything I tried to pass off as serious.  But somebody, or a group of somebodies, with more respectability than me did manage to fool no less than the New York Times for about three hours.

Eric Turkewitz, who writes the New York Personal Injury Law Blog, wrote early on April 1 that he had agreed to become the official White House law blogger.  He ganged up on the media a bit (which seems entirely fair) by enlisting a few other law blogs (including Popehat and Simple Justice) to repeat the story, citing anonymous sources.  (Eric later sent me a message saying "I was going to include you in the scam, but who would have believed it?"  Exactly.)  By about noon, the trap was set.

Results varied.  According to Eric, the ABA Journal was not fooled at all.  The WSJ Law Blog was fooled sufficiently to call the White House for confirmation, which in my view would have been enough to make the prank a win all by itself.  But at least the WSJ called for confirmation (and had a sense of humor about being fooled).  The Times did not, running the story in its City Room blog at 2:05 p.m.

The fooling was confirmed by an angry phone call Eric got from someone at the Times around 4:45 yesterday, asking whether the story was a hoax.  The caller apparently demanded that he answer "as an officer of the court," which is an odd request.  It is one thing for a judge to accept a lawyer's word on something "as an officer of the court," because in that context everybody understands that this is more or less code for "if a lie follows, this officer's next visit to court won't be very pleasant."  But it's not something that a reporter (or anyone else) can say to a lawyer to put him or her quasi-under-oath.  Just FYI.

Nor did it produce a truthful response, or at least Eric suggested that he was unable to comment at the present time because of White House confidentiality concerns.  This resulted in a slamming down of the phone and a removing of the NYT's post.  And that is, as they say, full of win.

Link: New York Personal Injury Law Blog (today's post explaining the whole thing)