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CNN mocks Fox News for relying on ‘Bat Boy’ paper as source

By David Edwards
Wednesday, October 6, 2010 11:09 EDT
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Weekly World News continues to stand by its original report

When Fox News fell for a tabloid story claiming that the City of Los Angeles was about to spend a billion dollars on jetpacks for its police and fire departments, not even CNN could resist making bad puns at their expense.

“This is the story of a news story that took off,” CNN’s Jeanne Moos began. “A story that got off the ground. Even though it was made up out of thin air. The joke’s on FOX News, reporting on the Martin jet pack — which does exist.”

“The City of Los Angeles already ordered 10,000 jetpacks for its police, paramedics, and fire departments,” Gretchen Carlson had gushed on Tuesday morning’s Fox & Friends. “I’m all for buying stuff up to help the capitalism and all that, but states, do they have “$100,000 [per pack]?”

According to Gawker, however, the story originated with the Weekly World News, the supermarket tabloid best known for spinning fantasies about “Bat Boy” and space aliens.

“Where else could you find the scoop on which senators are aliens, or Saddam and Osama’s torrid love affair?” a publisher’s description of a book about the paper explains. “Serious newshounds know the Weekly World News (which counts over a million beings as readers) broke the story that Elvis still lives, but it also has exclusives on what kind of pizza was served at Jesus’ last supper, who’s the father of the Loch Ness monster’s baby, and (of course) the various escapades of Bat Boy, the half man/half bat found in a West Virginia cave almost 15 years ago.”

“The first commercially developed jetpack, The Martin jetpack, is ready for mass production and will soon be released to the public,” WWN claimed in its story on Tuesday. “The City of Los Angeles has already ordered 10,000 jetpacks for its police, paramedics and fire department. ‘We’ll all be flying around L.A. soon,’ said Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. ‘And it’s another great tool for law enforcement.’”

The LA Police Department, however, says they’ve never heard of the supposed agreement. “We certainly haven’t bought any jetpacks,” LAPD Chief Charlie Beck told the Los Angeles Times. “We haven’t bought [squad] cars for two years.”

The CEO of the Martin Aircraft Company also denied the story when contacted by CNN, though he added, “We would love a call from [the LAPD] if they’re interested.” There are just two prototypes of the jetpack in existence, and the company is looking for investors.

According to Digital Trends, “Currently Martin Aircraft Company is fulfilling an order for 500 jetpacks to be used by emergency services, as well as four unnamed defense companies. As of right now, the company’s focus is to produce jetpacks specifically for governmental purchase, but they are seeking funding to build at least one new factory with the purpose of producing jetpacks for the average (extremely rich) customer.”

Even Fox & Friends had realized by the end of Tuesday’s program that the story was a fake, but WWN continues to stand by it.

“WWN’s Pulitzer Prize winning reporter, Frank Lake, is being recognized for breaking the Jetpack story,” the paper reported breathlessly on Wednesday. “CNN dedicated fifteen minutes last night to a broadcast about Frank Lake’s reportage. 60 Minutes is planning on interviewing Lake and Dr. Barry Leed for a more in-depth discussion of the story and WWN’s ability to scoop the mainstream media.”

“The city of Dallas has order [sic] 5,000 jetpacks,” the WNN story continues. “San Diego has ordered 3,000 and Phoenix has ordered 4,000 that included a special ‘illegal immigrant’ spyscope. ‘We plan on using these jetpacks to put these illegals behind bars. We’re gonna swoop down on them all,’ said Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County.”

“Think about law enforcement jetpack officer being able to descend down on Sunset Boulevard and stop a celebrity that’s loaded driving a convertible into a tree,” WWN’s Neil McGinness told CNN. “I mean, that’s something that could save a lot of lives.”

This video is from CNN’s The Situation Room, broadcast Oct. 5, 2010 and uploaded by Mediaite.

David Edwards
David Edwards
David Edwards has served as an editor at Raw Story since 2006. His work can also be found at Crooks & Liars, and he's also been published at The BRAD BLOG. He came to Raw Story after working as a network manager for the state of North Carolina and as as engineer developing enterprise resource planning software. Follow him on Twitter at @DavidEdwards.
 
 
 
 
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