It’s always funny when someone actually believes a satirical article from The Onion or elsewhere. But the fake news fleecing hit a little close to home today when The Washington Post attributed fake ClickHole quotes to Billie Joe Armstrong in an article about a recent Green Day fan campaign in the U.K.
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There’s a fan drive happening right now in the U.K. to bump Green Day’s “American Idiot” to the top of the charts in time for a visit from U.S. President Donald Trump. Reporting on the matter in an astounding failure for fact-checkers everywhere, WaPo went a bit crazy with counterfeit Billie Joe quotes.
It all stems from an ironic ClickHole article published in February 2017, as noted by Consequence of Sound. Check out the following paragraph, in which a fictional Billie Joe dryly reveals the not-so-secret meaning behind “American Idiot.”
“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. Don’t believe me? Go take a listen to ‘American Idiot’ with this new info in mind, and I think you’ll find it all starts to finally click.”
Now, would you believe that the Green Day frontman actually said that? The Washington Post apparently did, and how! They included a whopping six fake Billie Joe quotes in their piece about the ongoing Green Day U.K. fan campaign.
One might think even the most naive of newspaper readers would question Billie Joe Armstrong supposedly saying he can “finally pull back the curtain on this little corner of Green Day lore” that “American Idiot” was about Bush. But it sailed over the heads of some writers and editors on this one.
The WaPo article, now corrected, presents a note at the top of the piece, stating, “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.”
— Sam Thielman (@samthielman) July 10, 2018