Maybe you saw it, or heard about it, last week. If you were on your way to work last Wednesday morning, Nov. 12, 2008, in New York, you might have encountered one of dozens of volunteers handing out copies of a "special edition" of the New York Times outside the subways, headlines blaring "IRAQ WAR ENDS" and "Nation Sets Its Sights on Building Sane Economy." I was one of those volunteers.
The stunt involved a great number of people, including an art professor at Hunter College, a couple of actual (disgruntled?) staffers of the Times itself, the Williamsburg collective Not An Alternative and the activist art team known as the Yes Men (a.k.a. Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno, who go by many other aliases).
The fake paper itself is an impressive piece of work. Sharply written and stylistically acute, the 14-page special issue breathes a sense of defiant idealism that is largely missing from the fake news industry these days. Though shaped as a parody, the meticulous Times clone actually sets out quite reasonable policy goals for a progressive administration.
It is dated July 4, 2009, and meant as a sort of missive from a more hopeful future. Though reportedly six months in the making, the publication very much captures the "Obama moment" -- a profound sense of possibility, mixed with a broad rejection of the politics of the last eight years and a sense of urgency about the present.
While headlines about the war and the economy catch the eye, it is the below-the-fold feature, "Popular Pressure Ushers Recent Progressive Tilt," that sets the tone. Here’s the lede: "The spate of reform initiatives undertaken by the Administration and both houses of Congress can be attributed directly to grassroots advocacy, according to a comprehensive study due out this month." The point of the project overall, the organizers say, is "to help jump-start our imaginations" about what is possible right now, if people are willing to fight for it, a theme that is repeated over and over throughout.
Here are some other highlights: [read on]