Monday, June 12, 2017

Guess who got busted for ‘fake news’

A wealthy and well established radical group learned the hard way that fake videos can backfire when media friends resent being roped into a deception.  But in an era of extreme media politicization, such integrity might be hard to find if Trump were the target.  Fortunately, in this instance, electoral politics were not the issue.  Abby Ohlheiser of the Washington Post reports on a bizarre attempt to play on public sympathies with a lie.  (No, this is not about "Hands up, don't shoot.")
A small grey cat, Rufus, sits on a bar stool in a kitchen. "Rufus, jump," a man says in a stern voice. Rufus looks at the stool next to his, a few feet away, and cowers. The owner sighs, walks over to the cat and instructs again. "Rufus, jump," he says, and slaps the house cat hard, in the head. The cat doesn't jump; he slaps the animal again. Finally, the cat does the trick. "Once more for the camera!" the owner demands, before the cat scurries away, terrified. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals were intending to anonymously release this disturbing video on YouTube this week, to draw attention to animal cruelty. But there's a problem: The video was faked. The cat is CGI. And a PR company working on PETA's behalf asked a media organization to help them make the video go viral – without revealing that Rufus wasn't real.
Unfortunately for PETA, one of the media outlets asked to collaborate in the deception not only refused, but wrote an article busting the fraud:
Last week, a Mashable reporter received a pitch from Press Kitchen, a PR company working for PETA, asking the publication to write about the video and not explain its origins – even as the pitch acknowledged the video would be "planted on YouTube anonymously by the ad agency who created it for PETA." In other words, the company wanted Mashable to play along with PETA and pretend as if they were unaware of who made the video or why..

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