Don’t believe everything you read, particularly when it’s satire.
Texas governor and Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry learned this the hard way, after he poked fun of the Occupy Wall Street movement by citing an outlandish quote he received from his son from an Occupy Toronto protester named “Jeremy.” While speaking in Concord, N.H. on Friday, Mr. Perry chuckled after paraphrasing what “Jeremy” said:
“He said, ‘Those bankers that we came to insult, they’d already been at work for two hours when we got here at 9 o’clock. And when we get ready to leave, um, you know, they’re still in there working.’ He said, ‘I guess greed just makes you work hard.’”
The trouble is “Jeremy” isn’t real. He’s the creation of Globe and Mail contributor Mark Schatzker, who wrote this humorous piece, clearly labelled “satire,” published on Oct. 22.
Mr. Perry’s gaffe has since been pointed out by various news blogs, including Mediaite and The Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire. Mr. Perry was not alone in mistaking satire for reality. Talking Points Memo notes several other blogs, such as Power Line and The American Spectator, have cited Mr. Schatzker’s too-good-to-be-true, fictional protesters as well.
Mr. Schatzker says he first discovered that bloggers critical of the Occupy movement were taking his characters’ words at face value about a week ago. But with Mr. Perry joining them, his spoof piece has taken a life of its own.
“It’s just hilarious. It’s thrilling in a way, just because it’s just so incredibly out of context that a guy from Texas running for the president of the United States is quoting a satirical piece that appeared in a city section of a Canadian paper,” he says.
Mr. Schatzker adds that even if his article hadn’t been marked as satire, the absurdity of his characters’ quotes should have tipped people off. A simple Google search would also have allowed them to easily fact-check, he says.
“I suppose people wanted it to be true so much that they didn’t bother.”
This isn’t the first time international audiences have mistaken The Globe and Mail’s spoofs for the real deal. Earlier this month, the cheeky captions of the newspaper’s “Caption Writing Person” was widely and erroneously thought to be the work of a writer “gone rogue.”
Update: Writer Mark Schatzker has just posted a reflection from "Jeremy" on his newfound infamy, thanks to Rick Perry.