Fake NYT hits streets: Iraq War Ends


The Yes Men printed over one million fake copies of the New York Times with a headline proclaiming that the Iraq War was over. The Yes Men Distribute Fake New York Times: “Iraq War Ends”


  1. The fake paper wasn’t far left wacko enough, and regular readers of the NY Times (all 27 of ’em) saw through the ruse.

  2. It was pretty awesome, and very well made. A co-worker of mine got one this morning, but by the time I heard about it they appeared to be all gone.

  3. Wow, all the negative comments! I don’t get it. Are people this brainwashed? I guess so with all the blind patriotism lately.

    This is the best idea I’ve heard on getting people to realize how backwards our leaders run things, and how simple the solutions could be.

  4. I don’t know who that man was they interviewed in front of The New York Times building, but it’s a shame that woman yelled Judith Miller at him. I would’ve been pissed off too. He’s right, they have been critical of Bush for the last four years, mistakes not withstanding.

    So, what IS the statement they were trying to make this time? Just how happy everyone would be if the war was over?

  5. I’m afraid we will not see this headline anytime soon from the New York Times. With Obama promising to keep tens of thousands troops in Iraq, keep those 14 “enduring” military bases and an embassy bigger than the size of the Vatican in the hands of the US, I just don’t see it happening.

  6. I got my copy and enjoyed it very much

    However I think it is in poor spirit to pretend in the video that someone from NYT provided commented with the intentional Judith Miller heckle.

    There is parody and art, but those few seconds of footage where in poor taste IMHO.

  7. Some friends and I were supposed to be involved in distributing this in Los Angeles as well, but last minute politics with the printer prevented them from being able to get the finished pieces here in time to hand them out this morning. :(

  8. ‘Twould have been “funnier” had they at least paid some basic attention to typography and design: that’s SO not the 72-point “Hitler Invades Poland” font that the Times would have used.

    Dunno, I felt a strong urge to strike the beardless twentysomething glibly proffering these at my local subway. Iraq’s not over by a long shot, kids: this isn’t a way out or forward so much as more negative Bush-era navelgazing. It was strange to see something so dumbly ’90s Onion unfunny after the Obama win last week: let’s hope Generation O has better jokes, at least!

  9. Hmmm.

    If anyone has a spare copy they’d like to donate, I note that it would make a swell prize for the next Boing Boing contest.

  10. Ugh, and it’s dated 4 July 2009! They couldn’t even bother to 1) use the actual date when they’d be disseminating this claptrap, or 2) pick a likely date. Independence Day? That’s the best they could do? Again, from a simple design standpoint, FAIL FAIL FAIL

  11. #1 It’s convenient that you forgot the only alternative dailies offered NYC are the Daily News and that other bastion of even-handedness…The NY Post.

  12. TDAWWG (and others) – what the fark has happened to your sense of humour?

    So maybe they weren’t making a fantastically incisive comment that met your high standards of what “qualifies” as good satire. It was light-hearted and very funny. It’s just a recognition that we really have to laugh so we won’t cry – a little fantasy moment, what the papers would look the day after the carebears descended on the halls of power and shone rainbows and love everywhere.

    Do you regularly get the urge to punch people whose jokes you don’t find funny enough, or who have the temerity to tell jokes outside the confines of comedy clubs? If so, this is your problem, not the joke-tellers’ problem. Seek help.

    OK, so maybe the typeface isn’t exactly what the Times would have used, but come on – get the stick out of your arse.

  13. TDAWWG: Don’t call us “kids”: the way to end the War is for the USA to withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan. Just like the way to start it was to go on in with your troops. Remind me again how the Vietnam war was ended…
    There is no purpose to the US presence but to kill and use taxpayers $$$ to enrich the Military-Industrial Complex…or is that just Bush-bashing “navel-gazing”?
    If it is based on lies like the invasion was, who would care?
    Punching people who pose no threat but make you uncomfortable, now that’s the Bush doctrine in a nutshell…

  14. This is an awesome stunt, but it’s not exactly original. The Unconventional Action Network pulled off a similar direct action on the day after the election, albeit on a smaller scale, substituting thousands of copies of USA Today around the country with their own copy. The banner headline was”Capitalism Wins at Polls, Anarchy Brewing in the Streets.”

    At least that headline was partly accurate. a similar direct action on the day after the election, albeit on a smaller scale, substituting thousands of copies of USA Today around the country with their own copy. The banner headline was”Capitalism Wins at Polls, Anarchy Brewing in the Streets.”

    At least that headline was partly accurate. Link.

  15. *sigh*

    In response to the negativity (in both directions) in the comments so far:

    The fake paper is satire. The video is satire. There are deliberate cues in both to ensure that no-one mistakes it for the real thing (at least not when they think far enough to try to sue someone).

    For getting the message out, this is a lot more effective and a lot less intrusive than throwing faeces at (and getting pepper sprayed by) riot police. And this kind of thing goes right back to the earliest days of the printing press.

    What is amazing is that they managed to get a distribution of 1.2 million copies, even if it was just for a single run. That‘s no small feat, and is impressive whether or not you agree with the message being disseminated.

    #1: I’m mildly amused that the NYT is regarded by some over in the U.S. to be far left. By the left/right spectrum of quite a lot of countries, it’s actually centre (or further) right. But that’s U.S. politics all over.

  16. Sorry – I meant if the withdrawal was based on lies like the invasion, who would care?
    I also meant “nutbar”, not “nutshell”.

  17. #11 – It’s claiming to be from the freakin’ future.
    That’s not “lies,” it’s light hearted fiction/fantasy.

  18. I thought it was pretty clever. It was basically the paper equivalent of Good Google News.

    It had nothing to do with the Times, so #1, the Times guy and the woman shouting “Judith Miller” didn’t really get it…

  19. As to the parody itself, hurrah!
    The Harvard Lampoon used to do knock-offs of Time, Life, national geographic,etc. IIRC, and many other college papers lampoon the local rags in similar fashion.
    As it is obviously a parody copyright law has nada to say, except:
    Lampoon on, and let us chortle!

  20. I don’t understand why the gentleman from the NY Times became upset — was the parody version of the Times intended as a critique of the NY Times, or a critique of politics/reality itself? I thought it was the latter.

  21. #23: Parody, is by its very nature, can never be “original”. A parody is of something else…a “parrotry”, almost…

  22. …but it’s a shame that woman yelled Judith Miller at him. I would’ve been pissed off too. He’s right, they have been critical of Bush for the last four years, mistakes not withstanding.

    What did those first four years the NYT and Judith Miller spent with their nose up Bush’s stinkhole cost them?

    I’ll tell you.

    Since the cost was not a wholesale replacement of their senior staff, then the cost to the NYT is their credibility.

    That woman yelling “Judith Miller”, the Yes Men faking them out, their falling circulation numbers…. the cost of their unreflective unrepentant compliance with authority is that they are no longer the paper of record.

    That man, the Times employee, should not be angry at her, he should be apologetic and contrite. He should apologise to that woman, not vice versa, or he should fucking quit on principle, which is how you can maintain your self-respect – something 95% of Times employees have FAR too much of.

    But what will the the cost (to all of us) be of your VERY short memory and willingness to forgive LIARS who lied us into a war in Iraq?

    YOUR complicity, My Friends, could well cost you the goodwill of many of your fellow citizens who assumed you were smarter than that.

    and that’s AFTER we’ve counted the cost to the nation in our fellow citizens lives.

    Judith Miller is a human stain with no journalistic ethics who I would be sorely tempted to literally spit on (is there a greater insult?) should I ever pass her in the street.

  23. I mean really, Judith Miller was given a Pulitzer Prize for her stories, built on lies (half truths at least) fed to her by White House insiders.

    She was embedded deeper in Iraq at the start than any other journalist, and that IS NOT because she was the most objective. She was involved in the Valerie Plame affair too to the point of having to testify in congress…. and refusing to in order to protect the people who clearly lied to her.

    If you really think she is completely innocent of knowingly playing along, then you would have to admit she is completely incompetent as an investigative (or any other sort of) journalist.

  24. To the haters: WTF is wrong with you? I got the last copy (complete with mystery stain on it from being on the floor of a subway station) and I am SO glad that I have it. This is incredibly well-done, and has incredible attention to detail–right down to real ads for local businesses that normally do run in the Times to parody ads.

    Grabbing it this AM led me down a rabbit hole of trying to figure out who was behind it. I have my own theories which I won’t bore anyone with, but it was a fun chase.

    Hats off to the Yes Men.

  25. MDH: You are correct. There are mistakes, and then there are mistakes – I mean, what is the price of blood? Of madness? Of screams and searing explosive pain? Of deaths of innicent in the scores of thousands? Of millions, many millions, of lives forever wrenchingly changed? Of War?
    The NYT is a profit-seeking organization – and nothing else. And an enabler and apologist for the use of violence, to boot.
    Ignore them and they will go away. The NYT has earned the disrespect of the World.
    The NYT has never been left wing (unless you adopt the crazy, uniquely American view of how icy and narrow the “mainstream” is).

  26. kudos, bravo, and thanks Yes Men for another good prank.

    critics: take the trouble to manifest your own damn prank so we can all critique it till we’re blue in the face. sheesh.

  27. I guess I just must be thinking uncritically, but this made me smile. I was reminded of the John Lennon song “Imagine” when I first saw it.

    A lot of the “platform” of this paper seem a bit laughably naive to me, but I doubt that the authors of it really thought that they had the solution to all the world’s problems when they put it out. I just liked being reminded that things could be different than they are at the moment.

    I think it would have brightened my day to get one of these on the way into work.

    I may have to hand in my membership card to the critically thinking culture jammers club, but I really don’t see why posters are getting so worked up about this. Isn’t there any room left for light-hearted pranksterism? I will say that the cost of producing all those papers boggles my mind though.

  28. It was clever, it was funny, and it was a call to demand that change really does come to america.

    You guys are underwhelmed by an amazing and beautiful prank. Every article is well written, journalistic and has a great point.

    I was proud to grab stacks and hand them out.

    people got excited about the super bowl prank Rob of Cockeyed did, but this printing and distribution of a million copies of a perfect newspaper ripoff isn’t impressive?

  29. jerry rubin advocated something like this in his classic book “steal this book.” they would gather somewhere and then run down the streets shouting joyfully that the war in vietnam was over. of course it wasn’t over and the point they were making was that no one really even reacted to it. i did a similar thing in my town last year with the same results. the point is that the people are so worn down that even something like this that should be great news doesn’t affect people because they are already brainwashed. they did such a good job selling, then hiding the war that people didn’t even care it was over.

  30. Somebody has totally scored with these on eBay… check out the completed items for (spoof new york times).

    Ah, land of opportunity!

  31. I, for one, am happy to have contributed funding for this intervention. I am rather amazed at how angry it is making some people though. The basic idea is that this is the world we could have if we wanted it badly enough. What’s wrong with that?

    It is hard for me to believe that people don’t want out of Iraq and that people don’t want nationalized health care.

    All I can think is that people really do self-identify with the wealthiest class and are afraid that their privileges will be taken away just at the moment Joe Plumber and Jane Coffee-shop waitress finally win the Lotto. I have no idea why so many Americans vote against their interests so often. I have no idea why Banker’s bloody heads aren’t rolling down Wall-Street with pins in their tongues. In any other era or country that would be the norm…

  32. Was that the actress from Six Feet Under? Anyway… What does “ENDS” mean anyway? Anyone who knows anything about the war knows that it can’t just “end” like that; there are too many complex factors involved.

  33. dragonfrog @20: a little fantasy moment, what the papers would look the day after the carebears descended on the halls of power and shone rainbows and love everywhere.

    It’s nice to know I’m not the only one having this fantasy. :)

  34. Avram @37: that was careless, thanks. Cheltenham it most definitely is. The other points stand: layout and design are horrible, and this looks nothing like a Times cover. But if stunts like this float your boat, whatever….

  35. Anyone who thinks the NYT is far left needs to go and read a book from time to time. Preferably one not by Bill O’Reilly or Ted Nugent.

  36. Venicerocco: “Ends” = All US/”Coalition” armed forces out of Iraq and Iraqi airspace & waters.
    Simple, eh?

  37. That the stories are treated as “laughably naive” is a testament to the effectiveness of US propaganda over the past 25 years.
    Last I heard Jerry Rubin was workin’ on Wall street. A living tribut to hypocrisy, and going with hatever happens to be popular. Yecch!
    And TDawwg, did you take lessons on how to be condescending?

  38. @57, no it comes quite naturally to me, which is not to say I haven’t practiced incessantly at it. ;)

    I hope you believe me, though, that I totally agree with almost all of your statements re: The Grey Lady, a war-profiteering whore of a newspaper if there ever was one.

    Re: your “kids” argument: quibble with the language if you will, but the point stands. And it was Vietnamese kids, not American ones, who stopped the Vietnam War. Don’t “kid” yourself, it was the military losses in the field, the absolute shellacking US forces took from the Vietnamese, that decided the war, not the protests at home. Similarly, it will be the realities of an unwinnable genocidal conflict, added to our destroyed economy and ballooning dept, that will “end” the Iraq War for the US, not any amount of jokey fake newspapers and angry digital diatribes, or even direct action and protest. But this feels less of a BoingBoingy argument and something for another forum, so that’s it on this thread for me….

  39. Any copywriter can see immediately that’s it’s a fake. It’s not even written in AP style (Quotes in headlines use the single quotation mark ‘, etc.). Pfft. Amateurs.

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