James Conradt just wanted to get them “riled up, I guess.”
That was his best reason for publishing a fabricated article 10 days ago on a Nebraska Cornhusker fan site reporting that two Oklahoma quarterbacks had been arrested for intent to distribute cocaine. To give his story legitimacy, Conradt used a formatting template of The Daily Oklahoman newspaper, and the byline of a Oklahoman sportswriter, to make it look like it came right out of that newspaper. Needless to say, it wasn’t long before the story was spreading like a prairie fire.
Earlier this week both the newspaper and reporter filed suit against Conradt. The parents of the two quarterbacks have said they will pursue legal action as well.
It’s not the first time an anonymous Internet poster has faked a newspaper article. Rodney Orr, who began the Alabama fan site TiderInsider in 1996, said he has deleted faked newspaper articles “many times.”
“At one point, someone even created a fake newspaper, the Piedmont Gazette,” Orr said. “They thought posting as a newspaper article would give their stories credibility.”
As another football season looms, chat rooms all over the country are heating up -although it’s arguable whether they ever cool down.
And while the Conradt case is extreme, it does raise the question of just how far chat room participants can go in saying what they want to say about players and coaches.