Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Prankster Jason Calacanis Talks About His Apple iPad Hoax (Warning: Cute Baby Alert!)

While in Los Angeles for a brief second on Friday, BoomTown motored over to the Brentwood home of puckish entrepreneur Jason Calacanis to talk to him about his prank tweets the night before the introduction of the iPad last week.

On Tuesday night before the much hyped launch of the newest device from Apple (AAPL), Calacanis let loose with a series of over-the-top posts to Twitter, claiming he had been a beta tester for the iPad tablet computer for 10 days.

Unfortunately, these were assertions that some in the mostly mainstream media took too seriously.

So was it a jump-the-shark moment for journalism?

It was certainly sloppy, given that Calacanis is well known for slapping Apple around and that the secretive computer giant does not even give its own employees access to new products.

All this might have sent off alarm bells.

But he followed up with a series of tweets on a myriad of features of the new iPad–one nuttier, pricier and heavier than the next, such as a built-in HDTV tuner, a solar recharging pad and more.

For example: “Yes, there are 2cameras: one in front and one in back (or it may be one with some double lens) so you record yourself and in front of u.”

The problem was that a few big media outfits, including CNNMoney.com and WSJ.com, posted reports on the tweets without much of a raised eyebrow or first checking on their veracity with Apple or with Calacanis.

While anyone can get caught in a prank–and this was a pretty elaborate one pulled by Calacanis, who claims he was just trying to point out how ridiculous Apple hype had become–it’s still an instructive moment for journalism.

Here’s my interview with Calacanis, explaining it all (with a little shot of his new baby girl at the end), as well as images of his faux iPad tweets below:

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus