April Fools’ joke makes the news
The press release looked genuine – genuine enough that it fooled at least one Northern Nevada television newsroom that ran it as a news story last weekend.
It said Rep. Jim Gibbons, R-Nev., had reversed himself and decided to support the Tax and Spending Control constitutional amendment proposed by his primary opponent, State Sen. Bob Beers, R-Las Vegas.
But there were a couple of signs something was wrong. First, the quotes attributed to Gibbons were outrageous. Second, the release was e-mailed to media on April Fools’ Day.
For those who read through the release, the statement at the very end confirmed their suspicions: “Paid for by the Committee to Elect Bob Beers (and not by the taxpayers).”
Beers and Gibbons are opponents in the Republican primary for governor.
The phony release quoted Gibbons as saying now that they agree on TASC, which would require a vote of the people to raise any tax or fee in Nevada, they should debate. It challenges Beers to “50 debates in 50 states in the next two weeks” – a reference to the challenge Beers issued that he and Gibbons debate in all 17 Nevada counties.
“I’m for TASC, Bob’s for TASC. I’m against sexual predators, Bob’s against sexual predators. I like puppies, Bob likes puppies. So what’s there to discuss. I say let’s discuss it.”
Beers said he thinks quotes like that made it pretty obvious the release was a practical joke.
Gibbons spokesman Robert Uithoven said it was obvious to him as well. But he said it was still a political stunt which shows Beers “lacks the maturity and judgment to be Nevada’s next governor.”
Officials at KRNV Channel 4 confirmed a weekend news crew had used the story treating the release as legitimate.
They said they have corrected the error on their Web site and are taking steps to make sure people know it was a joke. A spokesman said they are also taking steps to make sure nothing like that happens again.