Thousands of fake copies of The Washington Post which falsely claim US President Donald Trump has stepped down have been handed out at multiple locations in Washington DC.
The real Washington Post says the newspapers, which were dated May 1, 2019, look “strikingly similar to actual copies of The Post”.
The fakes were filled with anti-Trump stories and a website — my-washingtonpost.com was also flooded with stories. The website’s source code was also topped with the phrase “hack the planet”.
“Donald Trump appears to have abandoned the White House and abdicated his role as president. He issued no formal statement, though four White House aides — who spoke under condition of anonymity — claim they found a napkin on the president’s desk … with the following message: “Blame Crooked Hillary & Hfior & the Fake News Media,” the mock website’s lead story reads.
It’s unclear what the authors meant by Hfior but it appears to take aim at the president’s spelling ability.
There are fake print editions of The Washington Post being distributed around downtown DC, and we are aware of a website attempting to mimic The Post’s. They are not Post products, and we are looking into this.
— Washington Post PR (@WashPostPR) January 16, 2019
Headlined ‘Unpresidented’, the fake news stated Trump left Washington for Yalta, the Crimean resort where the World War II meeting between allied leaders was held.
The real Post’s PR department released a statement saying: “There are fake print editions of The Washington Post being distributed around downtown DC, and we are aware of a website attempting to mimic The Post’s. They are not Post products, and we are looking into this.”
Authors Onnesha Roychoudhuri, L.A. Kauffman and activist group The Yes Men are claiming responsibility for the fake paper and website.
The goal of the paper appears to be securing Trump’s impeachment, offering ideas on how to incite this and encourage activism against the administration.
Ms Kauffman said the newspaper was “fantasy” but was “rooted in both reality and scholarship”.
Fake editions of The Washington Post were handed out at multiple locations in D.C. https://t.co/QpjpOreYYw
— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) January 16, 2019
“Our stories build on real-world resistance to Trump and insights about how ordinary people can dislodge an unfit leader,” she is claimed to have said in a Yes Man statement about the paper.
Ms Kauffman told NPR “the paper is a dream, it’s not a deception.”
“It’s a vision of a women-led popular uprising that drives Trump from office by May 1st,” she added.
The real Post reports Yes Men co-founder Jacques Servin, who claims the print and digital newspapers cost about $40,000 to create — most of that was crowdfunded from the group’s mailing list.
The Fake News gets crazier and more dishonest every single day. Amazing to watch as certain people covering me, and the tremendous success of this administration, have truly gone MAD! Their Fake reporting creates anger and disunity. Take two weeks off and come back rested. Chill!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 14, 2019
He claimed 25,000 copies were printed and about 10,000 had been distributed to the public.
The group aren’t strangers to this type of activism.
In 2008 they were behind a fake version of The New York Times which came out after the election of President Obama.
This time around the stunt included two email mailouts which were also designed to look as though they came from an official Post account.
One of these fakes reported Trump’s departure from the White House while the second corrected the first.
It’s unclear whether the real Washington Post plans to take action against those behind the fake news.
Ms Kauffman said the project was not authorised but told NPR she had not yet heard from the real newspaper’s legal team or had been asked to take the website down.
The real Washington Post is owned by the world’s richest man Jeff Bezos, who has been involved in an ongoing public feud with the president.
Donald Trump has yet to respond to the fake paper and its claims but a few days ago he took aim at Mr Bezos and The Post.
“Sorry to hear the news about Jeff Bozo being taken down by a competitor whose reporting, I understand, is far more accurate than the reporting in his lobbyist newspaper the Amazon Washington Post. Hopefully the paper will soon be placed in better & more responsible hands!” Trump tweeted on January 14, taking aim at Mr Bezos after the National Enquirer reported on his recent divorce.