Washington Post writer Jonathan Capehart duped by satire Twitter account

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The above tweet by "RepJackKimble" duped Washington Post writer Jonathan Capehart. Capehart had critiqued the tweet in a blogpost. But "RepJackKimble" is not a real Congressman, though his account claims he is. (Credit: Twitter)

Another Washington Post writer has made headlines for his tweeting fake information.

Weeks ago, sports writer Mike Wise was suspended for 30 days from The Washington Post for knowingly reporting fake information on his Twitter account. (See iMediaEthics’ report here.)

This time, the writer, Jonathan Capehart, fell for a hoax Twitter account and reported the tweets of a fake Congressman.  But, unlike Wise, Capehart’s reporting of a hoax Twitter account appears to have been unintentional, and he has since posted a correction to his story.

Capehart critiqued the tweet of a user named “RepJackKimble” in his Sept. 6 Voices blog for the Washington Post.  RepJackKimble had tweeted Sept. 2 at 4:40 a.m. wondering:

“Why have the wars cost so much under Obama? Check the budgets, Bush fought 2 wars without costing taxpayers a dime.”

Capehart posted a correction/clarification at 1:22 a.m. to his blogpost noting that while the Twitter account doesn’t actually belong to a real Congress member, “the budget deficits are real deficits.”  On his Twitter, Capehart admitted “yes, I got bamboozled by @repjackkimble but the point remains.”

While the Twitter account exists, it is a joke.  “RepJackKimble” identifies himself as California’s 54th district representative and  a “Conservative Congressman who is on Twitter to hear the voice of the people.” The New York Observer noted that Kimble’s claimed Congressional district doesn’t exist; California only has 53 congressional districts.

The blog The Political Carnival has previously outed the man behind Kimble’s Twitter, YouTube and blog accounts as Nate Peele, who also writes the blog That’s Right Nate.

iMediaEthics contacted the YouTube account affiliated with Nate Peele and RepJackKimble’s blogs, “ThatsRightNate.”

“ThatsRightNate” wrote in a message to iMediaEthics that  “Nate Peele is a satiricial blogger I created in March of 2008. Jack Kimble spun off of that blog in Spring of 2009. My actual name is not Nate Peele.”  He wrote that he “didn’t create Jack Kimble as a hoax.  I admire people like Don Novello whose Lazlo Toth spoofed many famous and important people. However, I wasn’t trying to create a hoax. My interest has been in satire rather than in attempting to fool people.”

He wrote that not a lot of people have been fooled by Kimble, listing the Huffington Post and the Washington Post.  But, in his Nate Peele blog, he lists Robert Ebert as a duped writer.  “As Nate Peele I have been known to review movies that I haven’t seen. Roger Ebert took offense to my review of Avatar.”

RepJackKimble tweeted several times about the Washington Post blogpost, including here, here, here, and here, complaining that he wasn’t contacted for comment.

He also tweeted in response to the Washington Post’s Opinion Twitter account.  “WPOpinions” had tweeted the story, to which RepJackKimble wrote “I am very disappointed that you did not ask me for a statement. Nuance is very difficult in 140 characters” in response to WPOpinions tweeting the story (and tagging him in it).

New York Magazine pointed out that Capehart isn’t the first to be duped by the Kimble account, highlighting an Aug 4 post  Nancy Scola on the Personal Democracy Forum.

Scola opined that “there’s always a tinge of guilt when you see the occasional citizen respond to Kimble on Twitter like he’s an actual person.”  She further noted that the Huffington Post had to run a correction after being duped in early August.

The Huffington Post article reported on Sen. John Kyl’s (R-Ariz) appearance on the television news program Face the Nation where he seemed “to suggest support for the repeal of the 14th Amendment.”  (Kyl had said he is against giving automatic U.S. citizenship to the children of undocumented immigrants and that there should be Congressional hearings on the issue.  A spokesperson later clarified that Kyl was not calling “for the ‘repeal’ of the 14th Amendment.”)  In the story, Kimble was listed among other Republican politicians who have weighed in on the debate. The correction was posted noting that references to Kimble had been removed:

“UPDATE: An earlier version of this story, echoing previous reports at other sites, listed Rep. Jack Kimble (R-Calif) as a co-sponsor of House legislation. Kimble is a fictional person. His name, obviously, has been removed.”

The Washington Post’s Emi Kolawole blogged after Capehart’s correction explaining that “Kimble is not a member of Congress; he just plays one on a blog, YouTube and on a Twitter account from which this particular tweet originated.”

In terms of politics, Kolawole described Kimble’s tweets to be conservative on the surface. “But, they are in fact subtle digs at the conservative movement.”

iMediaEthics has e-mailed Jonathan Capehart for comment via the Washington Post website.

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Washington Post writer Jonathan Capehart duped by satire Twitter account

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