Our Own Smarty-pants

Yes, last week's "exclusive" was a ruse, but it still fooled a few cops and reporters

Murawski wasn't kidding about the cops. Boca Raton Police Department spokesman Jeff Kelly confirmed that his guys were looking for the alleged anarchist infiltrators. "We have our intelligence out, but we're not going to say what we've got," Kelly said coyly. "But we are aware of it." However, Kelly revealed that Peltz had told him the story was a gag. "How fictitious is it?" he asked.

At 11 a.m. Thursday, the first and only TV reporter to bite called New Times and asked for yours truly. So one of the editors pretended to be Greg O'Shube to answer questions from Elliot Cohen of Eyewitness News 25 in Palm Beach Gardens. Cohen said he wanted O'Shube to sit for an interview: "For television purposes, we need someone on camera to talk about it." The fake O'Shube offered to give Cohen the number for Bakunin, but Cohen wanted it easier than that. "Of course, we could go and talk to the principles, and we will attempt to do that, but we also want to talk about the article. Don't you want to talk about your story?" O'Shube declined. "Then never mind," Cohen said. "We'll just move on to another story. Thank you very much."

In the midst of all that media hoopla, Anarchists for a Better State officially got its first potential member. Carl Dickinson sent an e-mail to Bakunin's address offering help: "I hate those fucking republicans,,, thhat [sic] republican government killed my cousin in Iraq. What can I do to help in Boca Raton Beach Resort." Bakunin replied that, to be considered for membership, Dickinson would need to submit a detailed autobiography accompanied by a lengthy essay detailing his feelings on the subject of anarchy. So far, Dickinson hasn't replied.

Gov. Bush (left, at the conference, along with Ohio's Gov. Bob Taft) was not amused.
AP World Wide
Gov. Bush (left, at the conference, along with Ohio's Gov. Bob Taft) was not amused.

As the governors' conference began Thursday, the security was evident everywhere, from bomb-sniffing dogs at the entrances to the Boca Raton Resort & Club to the dozens -- was it hundreds? -- of suited security guys, all with matching red and yellow lapel pins. Authorities wouldn't say how much, if any, of that security was to blame on the hoax, but the story had at least one effect inside the conference. The article claimed anarchists had obtained credentials for reporters and those attending the conference, including a pass for Nancy Murkowski, wife of Alaska Gov. Frank H. Murkowski. Around 7 p.m. on Thursday, three cops being tugged by leashed dogs burst into Murkowski's hotel room shortly after he had stepped out of the shower. "They had flak suits and the dogs and the whole bit," the governor said during a break in the conference on Friday. "Scared the heck out of me and Nancy, but luckily they didn't see anything suspicious. We got our passes OK, but I guess they thought someone else had gotten them."

By Friday afternoon, the gag was sprung, since no cockroaches were released in the halls, as the story promised. Gov. Bush even criticized the way the media drummed up the number of protesters expected at the conference. "I don't think the anarchists found their way up I-95," Bush said.

And just when it seemed no one else would buy the ruse, Miami Herald reporter Noah Bierman called a New Times editor on Friday afternoon. He said the bogus story was copied onto the Herald's internal files and then Deputy City Editor Casey Frank told him to "see whether these guys are legit." Bierman, a savvy newsman, followed the order but sounded immediately skeptical. "The guy's name is funny," Bierman said of Bakunin. "That's a famous dead anarchist. And I looked into your database, and this is the only story by Greg O'Shube or about this group. Well, I called the number on the website and left a message. So feel free to ridicule me if you want."

Yes, Mr. Bierman. Yes, I think I will.

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