It's Super Tuesday, and that means the remaining US presidential candidates have to do whatever they can to ensure they have enough delegates to carry them to their respective political conventions.
Sometimes, that push can involve dirty tricks, by candidates or their fervent supporters, that would make people with more scruples need to take a long, scalding shower.
So far, the dirty-tricks department of the political process has not disappointed. Someone on the Internet wrote and posted a fake story that made some of Bernie Sanders' supporters believe the Vermont senator received an endorsement from Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. The article, which has since been taken down, bore the headline "Warren Endorses Sanders, Breaking with Colleagues," according to The New York Times.
Warren has yet to endorse a candidate, but an endorsement by her could hold powerful sway.
Posting fake stories isn't a new trend for the Internet, but this one looked just like an article that might appear on The New York Times' website. It even had the URL "NYTimes.com."
The fake article was made using a website called Clone Zone that lets users create custom versions of websites using the same typeface and layout of any URL. Clone Zone's main page features other examples of doctored versions of New York Times pages, with custom-made stories such as "Man Receives Identical Plaid Shirt for Birthday" and "President Obama Imagines What Seinfeld Would Be Like Today" under a photo of the president in a contemplative state.
The phony story gained viral foot traffic on Monday thanks to its heavy presence on Facebook and Twitter before word got out that it was fake. The fake story briefly fueled speculation that Sanders has the Massachusetts senator's name at the top of his list for possible running mates if he picks up the Democratic presidential nomination, something Sanders himself seemed to hint at during his appearance on Comedy Central's "The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore" in early January.
The Sanders campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Times says in its article on the happening that it reached out to Clone Zone and asked it to remove the phony story, along with any other doctored New York Times websites. The newspaper also blocked the NYTimes.com domain name from being cloned through third-party websites. Now when you try to visit a doctored New York Times website, a window flashes on the browser that says "This clone had to be taken down due to a Cease and Desist order :(."
NYT Deputy Executive Editor Matthew Purdy also says in the article that the story did not come from them and "has no connection to The Times."
Then again, how can we be sure this New York Times story talking about the fake New York Times story is really a real story? I just blew your minds! POW!