Fake copies of the New York Times – with a headline proclaiming “IRAQ WAR ENDS” – were handed out in their thousands on the streets of New York and other cities across the United States yesterday.
They were the work of a group called The Yes Men, a liberal-leaning organisation, which said that the hoax paper was intended to make sure President-elect Obama keeps all the promises he made in his campaign.
The group printed more than a million copies of the spoof paper at six different plants. Hundreds of volunteers handed out the copies at subway and bus stations.
The spurious papers fooled commuters, many of whom took the free copies thinking they were genuine. There were even reports of New Yorkers whooping with joy that the war in Iraq was over.
The paper was so realistic it even had a page of corrections and letters to the editor. It was dated 4 July (Independence Day) 2009.
In addition to the story about the ending of the Iraq war, the fake paper also had stories about the establishment of new national health care, the abolition of corporate lobbying and the setting of maximum pay for CEOs.
The 14-page spoof included phoney international and business sections and even advertisements, including a recall notice for all cars that run on gasoline
It is not the first time the New York Times has been the subject of such a hoax.
On April Fool’s Day in 1999, British businessman Richard Branson had 100,000 copies printed of a parody issue with the headline: “I Can’t Believe It’s Not the New York Times”.
Copies of a fake edition were also printed during the 1978 newspaper strike.