The End Is Near! A Farewell for Weekly World News

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It seems to have taken a while for reality to sink in for Weekly World News fans -- not really that surprising when you consider its readers were happy not to question headlines such as "12 U.S. Senators Are Space Aliens!" -- but last week they began to accept its demise. Fond farewells have appeared in no less lofty bastions of news than the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times and The Washington Post. It's true, a beloved source of fake news is shuttering, leaving aficionados to make do with The Onion and "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart."
The famous Bat Boy, shown here in a Mini Cooper, was a creation of the tabloid's staff.
The famous Bat Boy, shown here in a Mini Cooper, was a creation of the tabloid's staff.

Weekly World News started out in 1979 as a fairly typical tabloid covering celebrity tittle-tattle with a smattering of those wacky and weird stories usually given cute headlines and about 6 inches in your local newspaper. But the National Enquirer's little brother soon proved to be an alien baby, ready to cross lines other tabloids left uncrossed. The wacky news stories grew wackier until the only criterion was that the story be told in a way that made it seem true. The Washington Post's Peter Carlson credits Managing Editor Eddie Clontz with installing the newsroom ethos of "Don't fact check your way out of a good story."

And that is how the world got to know about the existence of Bat Boy. Unlike Elvis, Big Foot or Nostradamus, Bat Boy was wholly the creation of the Weekly World News staff, like columnist Ed Anger or the alien P'lod (who dated Hillary Clinton). The creature, discovered in a cave in West Virginia, was also the only one to fully capitalize on his celebrity status, most famously becoming the basis for a Broadway musical. But Water Cooler's favorite Bat Boy moment was the ingenious use Crispin Porter & Bogusky found for him as a stealth spokesman for BMW's Mini Cooper. A January 2003 cover proclaimed, "Bat Boy Leads Cops on 3 State Chase! Mutant steals Mini Cooper car for joy ride!" Readers were provided with "Actual photos!" of the "Hot pursuit of half-bat, half-human!" When a spokesman for Weekly World News was called to ask if this was part of a product-placement deal, the response was, "Ask Bat Boy if it's product placement."
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