My girlfriend stumbled upon a news item on the web edition of a local newspaper here in Iceland
The piece says that an organization called The Media Watchdog Group has critized the American TV networks for not focusing enough attention on the death of Anna Nicole Smith. That instead of providing constant coverage of the story, they sometimes took a few seconds to report on Iraq. The whole piece has very satirical overtones, and it was immediately obvious on reading it that something was fishy about it. It reads like something out of The Onion, but there it is, presented as an actual, serious piece of news on a respectable news site.
A bit of research (i.e. googling) revealed some interesting facets. First off, there is apparently no organization in the US called The Media Watchdog Group. Various organization, most notably FAIR, have been called media watchdog groups, but no orginization offically carries this name. More interestingly, a lady named Carol Foyler was quoted as a spokesperson for this apparently fictional organization. On googling her name, a great number of 'news items', most of them obviously fake and satirical, are revealed, where someone called Carol Foyler is quoted as a 'spokesperson' for this and that group. With further probing, we found that the source of the story that started our quest has to be The Borowitz Report, a satirical news site run by a guy called Andy Borowitz. Apparently, a running gag of his is to quote 'Carol Foyler'.
Now the big question is: Haven't journalists heard of googling? The worst thing is that the Icelandic news item is obviously translated word for word from The Borowitz report, or, more likely, some other source that picked it up, one that's not so blatantly fake. No, that's the second worst thing. The real worst thing is that they don't even cite a source for this bit of 'news'.