Examiner.com is reporting what it’s calling a “national outrage” — that Michael Vick has gotten a dog.
” …the latest cosmic injustice in the up-and-down saga of Michael Vick takes the cake … Judge Herman Wilton, who presided over Vick’s 2007 trial, has rescinded his order that Vick never again be permitted to own a dog. Vick is now the proud owner of a Beagle named HutHut.”
“The judge’s reasoning, if it can be called that, is (1) that Vick has been thrilling football fans with his play, (2) that he has won over the hearts and minds of the people of Philadelphia, and (3) that his young daughters really wanted a dog.”
The source for the Examiner report? The Weekly World News. The same people, or at least the latest incarnation of the publication, that brought us Bat Boy, Elvis sightings and predictions of an apocalypse at least every month.
Apparently, the Weekly World News and its playful reputation are fading from public memory — at least enough that a blogger for Examiner.com saw this report and took it at face value.
Even with such clearly doctored photos as this one, many people bought it — judging from the comments both on the Weekly World News piece and the Examiner’s.
This proves three things. One, there is no limit to how gullible some people are. Two, legitimate newspapers had their place (bring them back). Three, this Internet thing, all this cutting and pasting and regurgitating what other people have said — at least when the original source is not one to be trusted, when the facts are not checked – is giving truth a beating.
In its paper version, on the grocery store checkout line, it was always clear to most people that the Weekly World News was a purveyor of hoaxes, sometimes mean spirited, sometime delightful.
I once went to its Florida offices to do a story on the collection of characters that put it out, in a backroom of the National Enquirer. They were a fun and creative group — from the grizzled editor to the artist who came up with Bat Boy, and insisted of course, like a professional wrestler, that the monster was real.
On the internet, though, which is the only place where a semblance of it still exists, the Weekly World News pops up in searches just like any other publication, with no indication that it’s dispatches are meant in fun — and a slogan that even reads “The World’s Only Reliable News.”
The Weekly World News report quotes William Tacatoo (no such person), president of the Humane Society of the Pennsylvania (no such organization), as saying he has been around Vick a good deal over the last two years and feels confident Vick would be a great pet owner: “He loves dogs, he really does.”
It quotes West Virginia Judge Herman Wilton (no such judge) as saying he lifted the order banning Vick from owning dogs in the interest of the quarterback’s daughters: ”Ah, come on, we can’t deny the girls a dog.”
It reports that, as soon as the judge announced his decision, “Vick immediately went out and bought a cute, little beagle.”
Vick, though he has expressed a desire to have a dog, doesn’t have one.
The world is not coming to an end next week.
Elvis is still dead.
Bat Boy, though? I’m still not sure he’s not real.