Hoax of the day: U.S. Chamber backs "strong" climate bill (not)

Phony press release fools major news organizations

Last week it was "spider guy" admitting that he was the arsonist behind an Internet-fueled wildfire alleging that McDonald's short-sacked Aussie customers on purpose. And, oh, you may have heard about "balloon boy."

Today it's U.S. Chamber of Commerce getting the treatment, although you can't pin this whopper an Internet-fueled wildfire or nutty parents with Hollywood stars in their eyes. Nope, Reuters owns this whopper.

(Update: Mother Jones says it was those merry pranksters The Yes Men.)

The fake press release begins:

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is throwing its weight behind strong climate legislation, a spokesman for Chamber President Tom J. Donohue announced today at the National Press Club.

"We believe that strong climate legislation is the best way to ensure American innovation, create jobs, and make sure the U.S. and the world are on track to reduce global carbon emissions and provide for the needs of the American business community for generations to come," said the spokesman, Hingo Sembra."

Now does that sound like any Chamber of Commerce you know?

Reuters took the bait. And that meant it was on countless news sites, including The New York Times -- "U.S. Chamber of Commerce backs climate change bill" -- and Washington Post.

The Chamber tells Talking Points memo that it does not know who is behind the hoax.

The real news the Chamber has made recently regarding climate change is its loss of key corporate members, including Apple, over the organization's continued opposition toward meaningful climate legislation.

From a story in the, um, Washington Post:

In all, five companies have said recently that they would leave the chamber over its stance on climate, according to a count by the Natural Resources Defense Council: Apple, Exelon, PNM Resources, Pacific Gas and Electric and Levi Strauss & Co. In addition, Nike resigned its seat on the chamber's board, but not its membership.

Of course, you really can't believe everything you read these days.

(Update: This was apparently a lot more elaborate than a mere phony press release, says the Washington Post, whose Web site was among those posting the fake report: "Environmental activists held a hoax press conference Monday morning, pretending to be the business group -- and pretending to announce that the chamber was dropping its opposition to climate-change legislation now in Congress. ... The event, complete with fake handouts on chamber letterhead, at least a couple of fake reporters, and a podium adorned with the chamber logo, broke up when a spokesman from the real chamber burst in." ... We'll let you know if this report turns out to be a hoax.)

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