Folks in Washington were fooled by a fake version of The Washington Post on Wednesday. The newspaper appeared with the date May 1, 2019 and featured the main headline, "Unpresidented: Trump hastily departs White House, ending crisis." The fake version of the paper included anti-Trump and pro-progressive stories.
The Post's public relations department took to Twitter to let readers know that was not the actual version of their publication:
There are fake print editions of The Washington Post being distributed around downtown DC, and we are aware of a website attempting to mimic The Post’s. They are not Post products, and we are looking into this.— Washington Post PR (@WashPostPR) January 16, 2019
Later in the day, the "trickster activist collective" called the Yes Men took responsibility for creating the paper as well as a fake website that resembled The Post's. The website eventually went dark late Wednesday.
Jacques Servin, one of the founders of the Yes Men, helped lead the fake paper's creation, which was supposed to be a grassroots effort to support the impeachment of President Donald Trump.
"Te idea was a newspaper from the future and how we got there – like a road map for activists," Servin told the real Post.
Yes Men spent $40,000 on 25,000 copies of the fake paper. They estimate that roughly 10,000 were handed out. According to the group, they raised $36,000 from their mailing list.
This isn't the first time the group did something of this nature.
From The Post's coverage of this debacle:
It put together a similarly fake copy of the New York Times in 2008. That fake edition, which came out after the election of President Barack Obama, had stories depicting liberal activists putting pressure on the new administration. For more than 20 years tehy have pretended to represent official groups, such as the World Trade Organization and U.S. Chamber of Commerce, at phony news conferences.
The stunt involving the fake Washington Post newspapers also included two emails sent out Wednesday morning designed to look like they came from a Post account. The first announced the fake news of Trump's departure and the second was labeled as an "errata," correcting the first.
People took to Twitter to alert the news organization of the incident.
.@washingtonpost you might want to deal with the lady handing out fake copies of the Post outside Union Station. I tried to explain why this is problematic but she wasn’t having it. pic.twitter.com/pjohcCFSx7— Ian Kullgren (@IanKullgren) January 16, 2019
Friend of mine said she was handed a FAKE @washingtonpost paper at Union Station this morning. Dated May 1, 2019. Said it was printed on real paper stock. Someone spent some coin producing this. pic.twitter.com/dDPWANm3U3— Van Applegate (@vbagate) January 16, 2019
And activists explained why they wanted to hand out the papers:
Activists are handing out fake copies of @washingtonpost with a top story of Trump leaving office.— jordan (@JordanUhl) January 16, 2019
Inside there's an action guide outlining a progressive movement strategy and flattering "coverage" of a progressive agenda. pic.twitter.com/uMCQ8LjWkh
Actual #FakeNews being spread around D.C. today. People handing out these fake @washingtonpost papers justify it by pointing to the date on the papers. They say they’re allowed to dream. pic.twitter.com/xY0eyD98pl— Mark Irons (@MarkIronsMedia) January 16, 2019
One Twitter user even compared the fake version and the actual version of the Washington Post so people could see how much they look alike.
Democracy Action included a digital version of the newspaper on their website.