The Fort Worth Star-Telegram was hoaxed by a satirical website into publishing a fake quote.
The Texas newspaper had published the fake quote in a June 11 editorial on controversial graduation speeches. It has since published a correction and an editor’s note owning up to the error. The correction reads:
“A quote in the Tuesday editorial ‘Why graduation speeches might need policing,’ attributed to former Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillén, was created by the writers of a satirical website. Its inclusion in the editorial was an error.”
According to the Dallas Observer, the phony quote came from fake news site the Heckler and claimed Guillen said at a 2011 graduation:
“Man oh man, did you little [expletive deleted] pick the wrong time to graduate…For those of you lucky enough to get jobs, maybe half of you work at [expletive deleted] Popeye’s Chicken, and the other half get your [expletive deleted] blown off in Afghanistan.”
That quote was published in a June 17, 2011 story for the Heckler that claimed Guillen “was barred for life” over the speech. The Heckler’s story went on to say that Guillen also commented on reality TV show The Biggest Loser and actor Sean Penn until the school’s principal axed his speech.
Despite the site’s name being a tip-off that the site isn’t hard news, its About page discloses that the site publishes fake news:
“Largely satirical, The Heckler sometimes also contains bonafide sports news and commentary. All names used in a satirical context are fictional, unless the individual represented is famous or otherwise noteworthy.”
Fort Worth Weekly noted that The Heckler has written numerous stories about Guillen. “Guillen is one of The Heckler’s favorite whipping boys, and in the past they’ve published fake stories about him working as a steak house server, spraying graffiti on a Harry Carey statue, and managing the Cuban national baseball team,” Fort Worth Weekly wrote.
iMediaEthics has written to the Star-Telegram asking how it learned of the error and if the correction ran in print. We’ve also reached out to The Heckler for comment and will update with any response.