I Am Looking Into This Report to Verify Its Authenticity

Long Live Cormac McCarthy

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Cormac McCarthy
Cormac McCarthy Credit: Jim Spellman/WireImage/Getty Images

This morning the world mourned the tragic loss of... journalistic fact-checking.

And also, for a short time, the tragic loss of literary lion Cormac McCarthy. Though an initial report via @USAToday was that Mr. McCarthy died of a stroke, in fact it turns out he died of acute tweetisis, which was brought on by a gullible USA Today staffer believing a hoax tweet about the author's death and then rushing to "report" the news via a now-deleted tweet ("#BREAKING Pulitzer Prize-winning author Cormac McCarthy dies of a stroke at 82").

Another sad casualty this morning was this tweet, also by @USAToday, which followed the initial Cormac-is-dead tweet and has also since been deleted: "UPDATE: We are looking into this report to verify its authenticity."

Fortunately, though, Cormac McCarthy's acute tweetisis -- which actually is often deadly -- turned out to be the nonfatal kind. Remarkably, Mr. McCarthy's seemingly lifeless body was found by his pet penguin, and the flightless bird was able to dial 911 by slapping its pitiful wings against the keypad of the author's landline telephone (I am looking into this report to verify its authenticity). Paramedics quickly arrived on the scene and were able to revive the Pulitzer Prize winner and noted penguin trainer (I'm also looking into this report to verify its authenticity).

If a penguin can be taught to use a telephone to dial 911, can a USA Today reporter be taught to use a telephone to verify a tweet about a supposed death? That may be a moot point, as some Twitter users noted that there were reasons to doubt the report of Cormac McCarthy's death from the get-go:

Simon Dumenco, aka Media Guy, is an Ad Age editor-at-large. You can follow him on Twitter @simondumenco.

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