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The paper of record has been punked by the paper of parody.
The New York Times' April 17 mini-retrospective on the "original teen-girl tabloid," Tiger Beat, included a sampling of the magazine's covers throughout the years. But as the Times learned the hard way, one of those things was not like the others.
The cover in question, seen at right, pairs teen pop trio the Jonas Brothers alongside President Obama proclaiming: "I Sing in the Shower." The problem is, no such issue of Tiger Beat actually exists, which prompted the Times to issue a rather embarrassing erratum in this past Sunday's paper.
"A series of pictures last Sunday of covers of the magazine Tiger Beat, with an article about how the original teen-girl tabloid has remained virtually unchanged since its inception in 1965, erroneously included a parody cover, produced by the satiric newspaper The Onion, that featured a picture of President Obama," the correction reads.
In light of the recent pranks conservative activist James O'Keefe and liberal comedy troupe the Yes Men have played on major news organizations, is the Times' Tiger Beat gaffe yet another signal of decreased skepticism within the mainstream media as it adapts to the ever-quickening news cycle?
Probably not. But neither is it the first time traditional media outlets have been outfoxed by the free weekly newspaper, which has been serving up fake headlines since the late 1980s.
Back in 2002, the Beijing Evening News fell for a gag about the U.S. Congress demanding a new Capitol building with a retractable dome. In 2009, two Bangladeshi newspapers were duped by The Onion's spoof validating fringe conspiracy theories that the 1969 moon landing was a hoax. More recently, Fox Nation fell for the outlandish headline, "Frustrated Obama Sends Nation Rambling 75,000-Word E-Mail."