Maggie Haberman, New York Times White House correspondent and CNN political analyst, retweeted a fake article by beloved satirical news site The Betoota Advocate. The article in question? “Gold Coast Hospital Staff Roll In A Volleyball To Keep Tom Hanks Company In Quarantine”. Its image? Tom Hanks and goddamn Wilson.
No, this is not a joke. This is real life. This is 2020. It’s March.
— The Betoota Advocate (@BetootaAdvocate) March 12, 2020
Haberman didn’t retweet the article to her 1.2 million Twitter followers because she knew it was a joke. She retweeted the article because she thought it was real. It wasn’t until Variety’s editor-at-large, Kate Aurthur, tapped her on the shoulder did Haberman realise the mistake she made.
And, thanks to @KateAurthur for the flag, here's the readout from @BuzzFeedNews on how the Tom Hanks sequestered with a staff-donated volleyball story many of us shared is a parody/fake https://t.co/2IajQQwpbp
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) March 12, 2020
not to put too fine a point on it, but at the height of a global pandemic, the lead white house reporter for the most important newspaper in america has retweeted a fake news story about tom hanks receiving wilson the volleyball in quarantine. please send help. pic.twitter.com/nhp4i7lU8z
— jordan (@jordansarge) March 12, 2020
But still, Haberman’s retweet sent the Betoota’s article skyrocketing. It went so viral that even fact-checking website Snopes had to step in and debunk the article, making it very clear that the Betoota yarn is not real.
“This is not a genuine news article,” Snopes wrote. “The Betoota Advocate is an Australian satire website.”
Unbelievable scenes, tell ya what.
As Snopes investigated, the image of Hanks with Wilson is actually from the actor’s appearance at a New York Rangers hockey game. Said appearance was captured in a 2015 video, which is still available on the Rangers’ Instagram.
Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson do actually have coronavirus, though. That part is very much true.
Right, well, happy Friday.Image: Betoota Advocate