Writer and literary magazine editor Malcolm Harris has taken to Gawker to out himself as the man responsible for starting a false rumor this September that Radiohead would be playing a concert at Occupy Wall Street, and he's got some shady excuses for why he did it. In a fun coincidence, Malcolm Harris is also the man profiled in a recent New York Times trend story about literary societies that got some media attention. (He edits a magazine called The New Inquiry and blogs for Jacobin magazine.) So basically, he's kind of a master of garnering the internet's notice. Anyway, he seems to excuse the fact that he started a fake Gmail account with the name of Radiohead's manager and used his blogging powers to start a rumor he knew to be false by saying he only meant to drive traffic to Zuccotti Park (which he did.) And he only intended to critique the "gossip mill," not to convince anyone in charge of the protests or in the media to look stupid. On that point, he writes:
Now I want to say that it was never the goal to troll the OWS bureaucracy ... I was honestly hoping they would just keep their mouths shut and let the gossip mills work. But that didn't stop me from laughing my ass off when I heard Willie's incredulous voice on the phone: "They just confirmed it. Officially. 'It is confirmed.'" What the hell were the words "confirm" or "official" supposed to mean? It was a pompous exercise in the exact sort of discourse the occupations are about undermining.
We're not sure that "people were gullible enough to believe my outright lie" is really a good excuse for identity theft. With that logic, we can hear the "Nigerian princes" yukking it up wherever they are every time some sad old lady wires them money. But at any rate, the take away seems to be, you can convince the entire internet of something as long as that something has enough "truthiness" (i.e. it's not wildly implausible) and you have a "clean looking Gmail account."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to email@example.com.