In an elaborate prank, fake print copies of The Washington Post were distributed throughout Washington, D.C., on Wednesday. The prankster collective known as The Yes Men later claimed responsibility for the ruse, along with author Onnesha Roychoudhuri.
The fake paper featured the all-caps headline “Unpresidented,” with the sub-headline “Ending crisis, Trump hastily departs White House.” The front page goes on to lay out a scenario in which Trump “abandons” the White House and abdicates the presidency, leading to a “clipped duck” presidency for Mike Pence. The paper has an online edition as well, hosted at my-washingtonpost.com, which looks remarkably like the newspaper’s real website.
The front page is dated May 1, 2019 — placing it more than three months in the future — and replaces the Washington Post‘s “Democracy Dies in Darkness” slogan with “Democracy Awakens in Action.”
In a blog post explaining the prank, The Yes Men called the action a “road map to creating the near future we want and need.”
“The story this paper tells is more reasonable than our current reality,” Roychoudhuri wrote in the blog post. “And it’s anything but far-fetched. We’re already seeing unprecedented levels of protest and resistance. Now we just need to ask ourselves: What’s next? This paper offers a blueprint to help us reclaim our democracy.”
The fake newspaper also proposes a package of 64 bills that the creators believe would help make Trump’s departure come true. These include multiple bills under the headings of Medicare For All, the Green New Deal, “anti-corruption and pro-democracy measures,” and “opportunity for all.”
Just plucked this piece of fakery from a trash bin at Union Station pic.twitter.com/oE8HyOiFS3
— ErikWemple (@ErikWemple) January 16, 2019
The Washington Post had put out a statement earlier in the day, via Twitter, confirming that the “UNPRESIDENTED” newspapers were not genuine.
“There are fake print editions of The Washington Post being distributed around downtown DC, and we are aware of a website attempting to mimic The Post‘s,” the newspaper tweeted from its official Twitter public relations account. “They are not Post products, and we are looking into this.”
Meanwhile, political blog Splinter reported that the physical paper was highly realistic, and that copies were being passed out near Union Station and the White House in Washington by L.A. Kauffman, one of the organizers of the campaign.
The Yes Men first became prominent leading up to the presidency of George W. Bush, as they created a fake website for Bush called GWBush.com in 1999. The group has consisted in “culture jamming” activities against both politicians and corporations, and they have been the subject of multiple documentaries over the years.