Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

EXCLUSIVE: On the Internet, No One Knows Your Story Is Make-Believe

One upside of the Web is that everyone has a printing press. One downside: Everyone has a printing press.

Hence, today’s brief flurry of reports echoing Radar Online’s scoop that Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts was “seriously considering stepping down” for “personal reasons.”

The story, which was published early this morning, is not true. And it was ignored until lunchtime on the East Coast, when the Drudge Report picked it up. At that point it became open game for a host of smaller sites, which picked it up with varying degrees of credulity.

Radar has since reversed the story, noting that it “has obtained new information that Justice Roberts will NOT resign. The justice will be staying on the bench.” The site has yet to update its headline, though, which is still trumpeting its “exclusive.”

Radar is a media gossip site/magazine that has gone through several permutations over the years. In its current incarnation, it’s an online-only property owned by American Media Inc., the people who bring you the National Enquirer, among other properties.

But while the Enquirer has a history of getting some big political stories right over the years, Radar doesn’t. It generally sticks to stuff like photos of the “Jersey Shore” dudes taking off their clothes. Probably a good strategy going forward.

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald