Tales from the Trail

Press release hoaxer targets SEIU, Obama

December 7, 2011

 

Someone is unhappy with President Barack Obama, but it isn’t the Service Employees International Union.

Targeting an influential union that is an important source of support for the Democratic president as he seeks re-election, a hoaxer put out a fake press release on Tuesday night saying the labor group had voted to withdraw its Nov. 16 endorsement.

The reason? According to the fake release, the 2.1-million-member union felt it was too early to endorse anyone.

The release seemed odd.  It seemed inexplicable that the union would withdraw an endorsement so soon after making it, especially in a statement issued very late at night. And there were technical issues – the email address for spokesman Mark McCullough was misspelled, the telephone number was not his usual one and the “release” was not posted on the union’s website or sent to its normal press list.

But the formatting of the fake release was convincing and a few news organizations fell for the hoax and published stories.

McCullough, adding “(the real one)” after his name, released a statement saying that the union still “proudly” endorses Obama.

“We stand by our endorsement of President Obama as part of a broader ’99 percent strategy’ to create good jobs now; and end devastating cuts to Medicare and Medicaid and other critical programs and to require everyone to pay their fair share in taxes to invest in our country,” it said.

“Any reports to the contrary are simply false.”

There was no immediate word on who was behind the hoax.

Picture credit: REUTERS/Max Whittaker

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