Sorry, folks, the Iraq war isn’t over (sob sob !!), at least not yet. In an elaborate hoax, pranksters distributed thousands of free copies of a spoof edition of The New York Times on Wednesday morning at busy subway stations around the city, including Grand Central Terminal, Washington and Union Squares, the 14th and 23rd Street stations along Eighth Avenue, and Pacific Street in Brooklyn, among others. The spurious 14-page papers — with a headline “IRAQ WAR ENDS” — surprised commuters, many of whom took the free copies thinking they were legitimate. The paper imagines a liberal utopia of national health care, a rebuilt economy, progressive taxation, a national oil fund to study climate change, and other goals of progressive politics. Dated July 4, 2009, and boasting the motto “All the news we hope to print” in a twist on the daily’s motto “All the news that’s fit to print,” the fake paper looks forward to the day the war ends, and envisages a chain of events that would be manna from heaven for American liberals. In one story ExxonMobil is taken into public ownership, while in another evangelicals open the doors of their mega-churches to Iraqi refugees.
The hoax was accompanied by a Web site (click here to visit the spoof site) that mimics the look of The Times’s real Web site (click here to visit the original site) . A page of the spoof site contained links to dozens of progressive organizations, which were also listed in the print edition. (A headline in the fake business section declares: “Public Relations Industry Forecasts a Series of Massive Layoffs.” Uh, sure.)
The Associated Press reported that copies of the spoof paper were also handed out in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Philadelphia and Washington, and that the pranksters — who included a film promoter, three unnamed Times employees and Steven Lambert, an art professor — financed the paper with small online contributions and created the paper to urge President-elect Barack Obama to keep his campaign promises. Software and Internet support were provided by the Yes Men, who were the subject of a 2004 documentary film. `Yes Men` issued a statement about the prank, stating, in part: "In an elaborate operation six months in the planning, 1.2 million papers were printed at six different presses and driven to prearranged pickup locations, where thousands of volunteers stood ready to pass them out on the street."