Media journalist Patrick Smith has a good run down on his blog about Tangerinegate - how the press was duped by a hoax call to a London radio station into reporting the daft story that an angry Gordon Brown had thrown a tangerine into a machine causing a breakdown while on a visit to a factory.
Patrick says: "Maybe I’m over-reacting, maybe this doesn’t matter. The press has always been duped by pranksters and, hey, here’s another one. Big Deal.
"But for me it does matter: we’re less than two months from an election and the Prime Minister is dealing with some fairly atrocious press at the moment. One more tangerine in the works won’t make the difference between defeat or an unlikely victory – but why should we believe newspapers when the work of a piss-take artist is reported as fact without any question? It’s another Flat Earth News story.
"Even worse, this hasn’t just happened – The Sun and the Telegraph reported this one week ago: these stories are still sitting there unchanged, for all to see, with no hint to their complete untruth."
The thing is it's happened before.
Last October Private Eye's Adam Macqueen investigated the widely reported story that claimed a dithering Gordon Brown could not answer the question "what's your favourite biscuit ?" during a web chat on parents' networking site Mumsnet and found it was complete baloney. Read the truth here on First Post.
I am a freelance journalist based in the UK and was deputy editor of Press Gazette, the journalists' magazine, from 1993 until 2006. I want to give an independent view on media matters.
You can contact me with stories, ideas and comments by email at firstname.lastname@example.org You can also follow me on Twitter @jonslattery