The New York Times just got Rickrolled.
Let us explain. On Monday, March 24, the Times ran a piece on the popularity of the Rickroll meme. As an example, they started off the article with a recount of a women’s basketball game at Eastern Washington University:
“A routine timeout turned into a 1980s flashback, as two men on the sidelines briefly hijacked the proceedings with a popular prank known as rickrolling. They surprised the crowd by blasting the British singer Rick Astley‘s 1987 hit song “Never Gonna Give You Up” through the gym, while one, dressed as a look-alike in Mr. Astley’s signature trench coat, lip-synched and mugged to the music. The stunt provoked a variety of reactions. Many older spectators looked, by turns, puzzled or irritated. But the under-30 fans danced and sang, happy to participate in a rapidly spreading phenomenon with roots in their favorite medium — the Internet.”
There’s only one problem: The basketball game was never “rickrolled.”
FishbowlNY has learned that the YouTube clip in question was completely faked. The filmmaker, an Eastern Washington University student known only as “Pawley P.,” composed the piece using footage from several games spliced together with some home footage. Pawley was busted by Spokane NBC affiliate KHQ-TV and owned up to pranking the New York Times.
Unfortunately, Pawley didn’t see the irony in pranking the New York Times on a story about a prank. When asked by reporter Anthony Gomes if he pranked the paper of record, his response was: “You could say that, uhhhhhhhh, you could say that [..] I was able to put it together, make it look real, you know?”
As of 8 a.m. Wednesday morning, the original NYT article is running without a correction.