Let’s recap: over the weekend the Times Union squashed an April Fools’ post in their blog section. Truth be told, they squashed the blogger, too.
But is there a double standard at play?
Chuck Miller wrote an over-the-top satirical piece about Kellyanne Conway being invited to speak at the University at Albany commencement in May. He also wrote, even more outlandishly, that the school was naming its journalism program for Conway. It was obviously a joke.
Meanwhile, blogger Rich Guthrie wrote a rambling April Fools’ post about how bird watchers are sapping birds of their color with cheap binoculars. It was an inspired bit of quackery. Pun intended. Like Chuck’s post, it was obviously a joke.
Miller’s post was deleted and he was blocked from using his account. Editor Rex Smith himself published a retraction and declared, “Even on April Fools’ Day, there’s no place for fake news under the Times Union banner.”
Well, I guess there’s a little room for fake news, because Guthrie’s bird post is still up. Here’s the question: what makes Chuck Miller’s blog post fake news and Guthrie’s post acceptable?
Maybe the outcome would have been different if the newspaper’s publisher served on the board of the Audubon Society, instead of the University at Albany Foundation. Your guess is as good as mine.