Alex Hilton has finally got a hoax right. A couple of years ago he tried to convince the world that Margaret Thatcher had died. Yesterday he launched a website pretending to be the Mayor of Baltimore, who was "outraged", I say "outraged" by Chris Grayling's comments likening some British city centres to the Baltimore based series The Wire. Despite there being plenty of clues on the website (copyright R Monkee, British spelling etc) some pretty big media institutions fell for it hook, line and sinker.
Check THIS out from The Guardian. Even the Baltimore Sun fell for it. And so, unbelievably did the BBC.
Much of the lefty blogosphere also fell into line, which won't make Alex very popular. Indeed, LabourList's Alex Smith is spitting blood. But it's the reaction of the Liberal
Regurgitating a press release without doing any independent checking isn’t journalism, it is churnalism, something you condemn repeatedly.
Hundal replied in his normal charming manner...
Guido – wait, you’re giving us advice now on journalism are you? You idiot – I’m not running a press release and passing it off as original journalism – I’m reporting and linking to a statement made by someone. I know that you’re desperate to defend the Tories these days and a bit annoyed that left blogs are increasingly flexing their muscles* – but I suggest you take your moralising someplace where people take your opinion seriously.
* My emphasis. You really do have to feel sorry for him, don't you. On his other site, Pickled Politics, which is obsessed by supposed examples of apparent racism, he has a go at the Daily Telegraph, using the inflammatory headline...
Daily Telegraph Goes for Naked Racism
Of course, it does nothing of the sort, as any half sensible person reading the article would agree. A few weeks ago the Daily Telegraph threatened Nadine Dorries (who is back blogging on a daily basis) with legal action after she accused its owners of promoting the BNP.
Surely what Hundal has accused the Telegraph of is just as bad. Perhaps Sunny had better prepare his legal defence.
UPDATE: Alex Hilton will be on Sky News at 7pm talking about the scam.
UPDATE 7pm: The Mayor of Baltimore's media spokesman has just been on Sky News saying that they are going to take legal action against Alex Hilton. A bit of an overreaction, I would have thought. It just shows how what seems like a funny joke can spiral out of control.