Bill Keller found himself the target of a hoax over the weekend, when a fake op-ed defending WikiLeaks was published under his name. WikiLeaks later claimed responsibility for the piece.
The piece, "WikiLeaks, a Postscript," hit the web on Saturday night. In it, Keller allegedly argued that WikiLeaks and the Times reporters who wrote stories based on the leaks should be protected under the First Amendment.
"You don't have to embrace Assange as a kindred spirit to believe that what he did in publishing those cables falls under the protection of the First Amendment," the op-ed read. It also called Visa, Mastercard and American Express out for imposing a financial blockade against donations to WikiLeaks.The piece — and the subsequent realization that it was fake — spread quickly on Twitter. Hours later, WikiLeaks tweeted:
Yes. We admit it. WikiLeaks (Assange & co) and our great supporters where behind the successful NYTimes banking blockade hoax on @nytkeller.
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) July 29, 2012
It said that it carried the hoax out because the Times hasn't said anything about credit card companies cutting off payments to the organization.
The original piece fooled many journalists, including Times tech writer Nick Bilton. A Twitter account that appeared to be Keller's retweeted the piece. "Important piece by @nytkeIler defending @WikiLeaks and a plea to protect the First Amendment," Bilton wrote.
Another tweet on Sunday — "I am now a world expert in dressage. Ask me anything" — that appeared to be Keller's spurred speculation that his account had been hacked. Later, Bilton discovered that the account was fake.
Keller stated from his real account, "THERE IS A FAKE OP-ED GOING AROUND UNDER MY NAME, ABOUT WIKILEAKS. EMPHASIS ON "FAKE. "AS IN, NOT MINE."
He confirmed the events to All Things D's Peter Kafka on Sunday, writing, "Yes, the 'WL Post-Postscript' Op-Ed is a fake. (Though it steals a few lines from my exchange a few days ago with Matthew Ingram, which was real.)"
The op-ed was hosted on the fake domain http://www.opinion-nytimes.com, which was created on March 30.
Click over for a comprehensive timeline of how the hoax unfolded.