Some people in Washington woke up Wednesday to the news they've been hoping for. “TRUMP HASTILY DEPARTS WHITE HOUSE, ENDING CRISIS,” the headline read, under a banner saying “UNPRESIDENTED.”
Turns out it was a fake version of the Washington Post, claiming Donald Trump had been ousted from the White House. The fake editions, dated May 2019, also included headlines about women’s protests that helped bring down Trump.
Soon after the papers started popping up, the real Washington Post announced it was looking into the situation.
Later in the day, a “trickster activist collective” called The Yes Men group took responsibility for the stunt and told the actual Post the effort had cost them about $40,000, largely from an appeal to their mailing list that raised about $36,000.
The Yes Men took the fakery to other platforms as well: A phone number listed on the group’s website leads to a message that said “Thank you for calling the Washington Post. Your call is important to us.” The group also sent out two emails that appeared to be Washington Post materials, according to the real Washington Post.
The intent, according to the group, was to create a “grassroots” action that pushed for the impeachment of Trump. Of the 25,000 copies that were printed, Yes Men co-founder Andy Bichlbaum estimated to the Post that about 10,000 had been distributed.
The group said that it also put out a similar fake newspaper — with headlines like “IRAQ WAR ENDS” — back in 2008 shortly after the election of Barack Obama to put liberal pressure on the incoming administration.
The group Code Pink, a liberal activist group known for disrupting congressional hearings and other political events in D.C., was apparently in on the joke and posted a video of the group’s founder, Medea Benjamin, hawking the newspaper.
“The crisis is over,” she said. “Trump has left the White House. Very exciting. It’s over. Government will be opened up. Trump is gone, he’s toast. It’s all over. You got to believe in the Washington Post.”