Washington Post Fooled by Viral News Parody Site ClickHole

Newspaper cited a fake article in its story about anti-Trump song campaign.

Tre Cool and Billie Joe Armstrong members of the band Green Day performs live on stage at Arena Anhembi on November 3, 2017 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.(Mauricio Santana/Getty Images)
Getty Images

Yesterday, the Washington Post cited satirical news site ClickHole as a source in a story about a real campaign in the U.K. to get Green Day’s “American Idiot” to the top of the British charts in time for Donald Trump’s visit there this week. The campaign has been pretty successful, but the Washington Post’s sourcing of it was not great. For several paragraphs, the newspaper cited a ClickHole article published last year under a byline of “Billie Joe Armstrong,: which is the name of the band’s lead singer. In this fake article, the phony Armstrong writes: “now that enough time has passed to let the dust and controversy settle, I finally feel comfortable revealing that the ‘American Idiot’ I sang about was none other than President George W. Bush.”

It took the Post a few hours to figure out the mistake, since the article went up overnight. They updated the story on social media and added a straightforward correction which read: “Editor’s note: A previous version of this report included information about the meaning of ‘American Idiot’ that was attributed to a Clickhole.com article. Clickhole.com is a satire site. The information has been removed from the story.”

The InsideHook Newsletter.

News, advice and insights for the most interesting person in the room.