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Phoenix ‘News’ Prankster Breaks Hearts With Latest Scam

Phoenix, Arizona “prankster” Paul Horner has struck again with fake news — this time right to the suffering hearts of thousands in Maricopa County. With his latest stab at satire, under the pen-name Darius Rubics for the discredited NewsExaminer, Horner announced only hours ago that the infamously inhumane Tent City Jail complex would close in December.

The deceitful report, released only hours ago, claims that, “at a closed-door hearing early this morning,” (it’s Sunday, mind you), the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors “decided” to shut down Tent City, and that “current inmates during the time of closure will be moved to other jails and housing locations not yet determined.”

This account is a bold-faced lie, but it is so couched in factual account of Arpaio’s vile history, that it grabs at the hopeful heartstrings of thousands of residents who have suffered at the abuse of convicted racist Sheriff Joe Arpaio for more than 25 years.

Discriminating readers, who click on links embedded in authentic journalistic endeavors for evidence of correspondence to fact, would have found that the first link in the NewsExaminer article states, “According to NBC News,” leading one to believe the subject matter derives from a reputable source for updates on factual events. The source site is disguised to appear legit to the casual observer, down to the credits at the bottom of the page:

Copyright © 2015, All Right Reserved. Proudly owned by NBC President & CEO, Dr. Paul Horner.

Here’s the deal — the President and CEO of the real NBC is Steve Burke.

One could discuss the relative morality of disseminating false information, designed to dash the hopes of many people while lining the pockets of the author. There would certainly be myriad opinions of the relative merit of getting people discussing the issues, versus confusing the very important events that are unfolding in the case against Arpaio. Despite the wiley sheriff’s failed attempt to conflict Federal Judge Snow, he was the subject of his own workplace raid at the hands of U.S. Marshall David Gonzales as recently as Friday, July 24.

However, this exercise in the uncovering of lies made to look like the truth has the possibility to produce a legitimate improvement in the way we consume our “news.” Never take it for granted that a report is accurate without verifying for factual origin. A very good start in that enterprise would be to click on embedded links while reading — they are there to take the reader to factual evidence supporting the statement in question. It’s also a good idea to give a call to any phone numbers listed for additional information. For instance, at the end of the articles referenced above, this one from “NBC”:

If you have any questions or comments about the closing of Tent City, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors have setup a 24-hour hotline at (785) 273-0325.

Curious callers will be directed to the voicemail of Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas. FYI, at the time of this writing, the farcical NewsExaminer piece about the closing of Tent City had already been shared 281 times.

Featured image screencap from NBC

Chimene is a third-generation native of Maricopa County, Arizona, a graduate of ASU's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Telecommunications, and a passionate local activist for progressive change.
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