LA Times Burned By Fake Press Release

Newspapers are filled with carpal-tunneled wretches, overworked and underpaid, who suffer near-pathological allegiance to getting it right. *

Tuesday’s cover story in The Los Angeles Times, by Times Staff Writer Julie Cart, on the on the plight of federally protected Canadian gray wolves contains a bombshell quote from Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal.

But now, as the Fish and Wildlife Service ponders a delisting plan that would turn over management of the wolves to the states, federal officials are balking at plans they fear would allow hunters to exterminate whole packs.

In Wyoming, for example, Gov. Dave Freudenthal last April decreed that the Endangered Species Act is no longer in force and that the state “now considers the wolf as a federal dog,” unworthy of protection. The governor’s declaration reflects the views of hunters and ranchers that the wolves are decimating elk herds and devouring cattle and sheep. Some rural residents say they fear that wolves may prey on children.

The problem is that it doesn’t take much Google Fu to find out that Cart’s source was an April Fools forum posting. Prior to the Tuesday story a search for the phrase “now considers the wolf as a federal dog” showed the original source (eco.freedom) as the top search result.

Here’s what the LA Times says about the error now.

The statement, which was circulated on the Internet, was purportedly from Freudenthal but was in fact a hoax.

Surely there must be some bar that a story would need to cross to go from “buried on the Internet” to “circulated on the Internet.” The Times assertion that this statement was circulated is a serious stretch in that as of Monday Dec. 26th it appeared in just 4 unique places (eco.freedom,,, and on the great big Internet. This wasn’t a “circulating press release” such as those via established newswires, or even a viral story spreading via e-mail. No this was a bit of long forgotten information buried in the corners of the Internet.

Amazingly the header of the original piece at eco.freedom failed to raise any red flags.

Something for April Fools Day…
if only it were true
Wyoming Governor tells feds to go to Hell
As reported by Mauricio Jonez

News Release, Cheyenne, Wyoming, April 1, 2005 Of course not all of the sites where message was reposted contained the heading, but most of them contained the footer…

In a related story to the Wyoming Governor’s Official Declaration, Hell froze over.

Look for the LA Times to run with that scoop in the Times Calendar section this weekend…

The story of the fake quote started in The Casper Star Tribune then jumped to the AP wire. Here’s what the Times is saying about the error.

Los Angeles Times deputy metro editor David Lauter called the error unfortunate. “We hate when this kind of thing happens, and we correct it as quickly as we can,” he said.

“The reporter saw it on the Internet and had talked to the governor in the past, so she was familiar enough with the way he talks and writes that she thought it sounded authentic and she didn’t check, which she should have,” Lauter said.

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