First, there's this, from back in 1999 (all emphasis added):
... But just when you think the cynical exploitation of the public can’t get any worse, along comes the Fox Network to set a new world record. In December, Fox issued a press release revealing the shocking news — brace yourselves! — that their Alien Autopsy special was a hoax! As anyone with any knowledge of photo lighting and more brainpower than a grapefruit could tell, it was not filmed in 1947, as claimed, but shot quite recently on video and converted to film.
Now, here’s where the really cynical part comes in: after two years of milking this bogus footage for every nickel it could generate from TV specials, videos, T-shirts and coffee mugs, Fox finally decided to come clean. But they didn’t just hold a standard Clintonesque “I have sinned” press conference. Oh, no: there’s no money in THAT! Instead, they aired a new special, World’s Greatest Hoaxes: Secrets Finally Revealed, in which they made millions of dollars in new ad revenues by exposing the alien autopsy hoax (and several others) that they themselves had profitably perpetuated.
But wait, it gets better! This new special was executive-produced by Robert Kiviat, the same man responsible for the original Alien Autopsy special! I knew that if you just gave the Fox Network enough time, they’d figure out a way to make money by exposing themselves on TV.
Then there's this:
And I quote the entire front-page Sun headline of Tues, May 16: "MILLIONS HELP 25-YEAR-OLD T.O. VIRGIN GET LUCKY ON ... eLAY." The cutline under the photo read "Sexual innocent Geoff launched a website on a bet and needs 5 million hits in 30 days to lose his virginity. Platonic friend Jen, left (whose identity hasn't been confirmed so we can't show her face), says she'll support him with his 'problem' if he pulls off his online stunt. With two weeks to go, he's logged 3 million votes of support.''
That's it. That's all. Not a hint of a shred of evidence that the story wasn't true. No skepticism to be found anywhere. Inside, the page 3 report, while tongue in cheek, did nothing to disprove the story...
So, strictly speaking, Parker was correct to say that I was wrong in my ''vitriolic rant'' to write that the Sun ''retracted'' its story. As he charged:
The Sun, and only the Sun, shone a bright light on an Internet scam, talked to real people face-to-face, and busted a phony site that could have easily surpassed the 5 million hits in a month which the marketers were seeking. The Sun's cred is fine. It's yours, Antonia, that nosedived.
So the Sun milks a fake story which it should have checked before splashing it all over its front page -- and then it dumps on me?
Please don't make me explain the parallels, OK?