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Fake YouTube Video Fools TV News

On the surface, it looked to good to be true. Video of a goat, struggling to stay afloat in a small pond, when suddenly a piglet swims up, pushing him to shore where both climb out unscathed.

Alas, it was too good to be true. The video was a hoax, put together for an upcoming Comedy Central show called “Nathan For You.”

However, because it went viral on YouTube, “NBC Nightly News,” “Today,” “Good Morning America” and “Fox & Friends” all aired it on their respective shows, and presented it as though it were authentic. The sole exception was Brian Williams, who introduced the clip by saying “We have no way of knowing if it’s real.”

Williams presented a correction on last night’s “Nightly,” something that no other outlet is yet to do (Watch the correction below).

The New York Times, the Poynter Institute and other outlets used the clip as an example of why the public increasingly doesn’t trust the media. If journalists can’t be bothered to verify whether a cute YouTube clip is real, why should they be trusted on much more nuanced and complex issues?

“When there’s so many nuggets of raw, unfiltered information out there,” Ms. McBride said, “our job increasingly becomes to find the most meaningful ones and tell the story behind it.”

Though Mr. Williams of NBC had offered his caveat that he did not know if the video was real, Ms. McBride said this was not sufficient.

“Go find something cute that is real,” she said.

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