We've all been taken in by satire sites, but Power Line Blog author John Hinderaker managed to be duped by a Las Vegas jokester. Hinderaker has been desperate to "prove" that Harry Reid was beaten up by the Mob. That's so much sexier than having an exercise band smack you in the eye, after all.
Larry Pfeifer, a 50-year-old former consultant in the nightclub and entertainment industry, said he fabricated the story after becoming appalled that right-wing political blogger John Hinderaker published a rumor that Reid’s injuries stemmed from an assault by a Mafia enforcer. Pfeifer said he pitched his fake story about the Reid brothers’ supposed fight to Hinderaker, author of the Power Line blog, to test whether the blogger would publish it, as well. When Hinderaker reported it and the rumor was subsequently spread by others in conservative media, Pfeifer says he began plotting to self-report it as a lie to show the lack of credibility and journalistic standards among partisan media figures.
“It was just so outrageous,” he said. “The fact that someone can say something completely false that can destroy somebody’s life, it’s just wrong. Where’s the moral compass?”
The rumor spread quickly after Hinderaker published it April 3, landing Pfeifer on conservative talk show host Laura Ingraham’s radio program six days later when Hinderaker was a guest host, and leading to a conversation between Pfeifer and Rush Limbaugh. Pfeifer said he tried to get on Limbaugh’s show, where he planned to admit he’d made up the story.
“I thought the whole thing would be over in a day and a half,” he said. “I wasn’t after 15 minutes of fame. I wanted a platform where I could present this as what it was and 2 million people would pick up on it.”
He said he decided to present the truth after Limbaugh rejected him as a guest but repeated the rumor April 15 on his talk-radio show.
When it comes to right wing smears, morals have nothing to do with it.
Hinderaker isn't letting go of his conspiracy theory, however.
Someday the truth about Reid’s injuries, which may or may not be related to his surprise decision to retire from the Senate, may come out. But that will only happen if one or more journalists gets serious about investigating the incident, rather than allowing Reid to sweep it under the rug.
Occams Razor, Mr. Hinderaker?