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Al Rankin, who wrote the joke story for Hockey Independent, even tweeted that the story was fake...but that didn't stop MSNBC and NBC Chicago from reporting it as real news.

Where’s the fact checking? Apparently not at NBC Chicago and MSNBC who reported “an obviously fake story” about two pro hockey players getting in trouble for planning a tour of Chicago pizza places,  Deadspin reported May 4.

National Post noted May 4 that all journalists make mistakes, but “this is just too funny to pass up.”

The stories have since been removed from NBC Chicago and MSNBC’s Web sites, but SB Nation posted screen captures from the NBC Chicago story here and here.  Deadspin posted a screengrab from MSNBC.

Hockey Independent’s Al Rankin wrote a blogpost April 29 saying that coaches for the Vancouver pro hockey team the Canucks had reprimanded players Kyle Wellwood and Shane O’Brien “for allegedly planning a day-long tour of popular deep dish pizza joints in the greater Chicago area.”

Rankin used a fake Facebook post as support for his fake story.

“As of press time the Canucks had not disclosed what punishment the two players would face but sources tell us that both will be confined to their hotel rooms and have their minibar privileges suspended,” Rankin wrote.

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How did that sentence not tip off NBC and MSNBC that the story might not be legitimate?

Sports Illustrated reported May 4 some of the story noting that “the Facebook posting was a joke” but that an NBC Web site reported the post, “and even reported that Wellwood would be fined by the team.”

Deadspin noted that Hockey Independent reports both “legitimate stuff as well as the occasional humor piece.”

SB Nation wrote May 4 that Rankin’s author biography, posted directly below the blog post, should also have been a hint that the story wasn’t legitimate.  The biography reads “Al Rankin writes vicariously through others. You probably shouldn’t trust what he says, although it’s cool to lend him money, he’s totally good for it.”

Rankin tweeted April 29 announcing the blogpost and even hash-tagged the post “#yesitsfake.”  On May 1, Rankin tweeted “MSNBC picked up my story on the Kyle Wellwood Pizza Crawl aaaaand didn’t realize it was fake.”

SB Nation also notes that Hockey Independent clearly indicates it has a satire section, which should have been another tip off for news sites.

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NBC Chicago, MSNBC reported fake story about NHL Canucks players

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