On Sunday, the Herald posted an article to its more than 1.5 million followers, along with a blurb about the story, on China’s Twitter-like social networking site, Weibo. The article has since been deleted from the news company’s profile, but was salvaged by the South China Morning Post. The article said:
“[Krugman’s] own deficit reached more than US$7 million from Manhattan apartment mortgages, credit card debts and jewelry from Tiffany’s. His biggest investment failure was the acquisition of real estate in 2007, which saw its value drop 40 percent. Krugman’s lawyer said although he is going through a debt crisis, he still supports Keynesian policies.”
The Herald cited the listed facts from an article by satirical news source, The Daily Currant, which also claimed Krugman, who is also a New York Times columnist, racked up debt on several luxury goods including expensive clothing and “rare Portuguese wines and 19th century English cloth.”
“’They say always dress for the job you want,’ Krugman explains. “So I thought maybe if I showed up in a $70,000 Alexander Amosu suit they would give me ownership of part of the company,’” the Currant jokingly reported.
But it seems that the bizarre descriptions and unlikely Krugman quotes were not obvious enough for the Herald.
The fake article claims that Krugman declared bankruptcy after attempting to “spend his way out of debt,” which is a humorous take on Krugman’s staunch position on Keynesian economics, which relies on fiscal policy to spur demand and boost suffering economies out of recessions.
Apparently, American news sources Breitbart.com and Boston.com (a site owned by the Boston Globe, a newspaper part of, ironically, the New York Times Company) also caught wind of the story and published it as real news as well.
Unfortunately for Chinese media, this is not the first time they have reported on fake news stories.
Last year, China’s state-owned newspaper People’s Daily, was fooled by a report by satirical news source the Onion, which claimed that Kim Jong-Un was 2012’s sexiest man alive. The report, which was accompanied by a photo slide show of Kim’s best angles, was eventually removed after the paper realized its error.