AP Falls For Fake GE ‘Tax Refund’ Hoax

Whoopsie! The Associated Press had to send out a “mandatory kill” on a juicy story that turned out to be nothing more than a hoax: a bogus news release supposedly send out by General Electric headlined “GE Responds to Public Outcry – Will Donate Entire $3.2 Billion Tax Refund to Help Offset Cuts and Save American Jobs.”

The AP ran with the story, and was then forced to retract it about half an hour later. An AP story on its own mistake said “the fake release, which was emailed to the AP, included a GE logo and a link to a website designed to look like GE’s website. The AP published a 90-word story based on the release. Thirty-five minutes later, AP withdrew the story and advised its customers that the story was a hoax.” Associated Press business editor Hal Ritter explained “the AP did not follow its own standards in this case for verifying the authenticity of a news release.”

Poynter has posted the full text of the AP’s retraction:

Date: 4/13/2011 10:21 AM
Kill – BC-US–GE Tax Refund,KILL/46
Eds: BULLETIN KILL. Do NOT use BC-US–GE Tax Refund. A kill is mandatory. The story was based on a press release that GE says was a hoax.
The Associated Press has withdrawn its story about General Electric repaying its entire $3.2 billion tax refund to the US Treasury on April 18. The story was based on a press release that GE says was a hoax.
The AP

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