A week after the historic presidential election that brought Barack Obama to the White House, the Yes Men were joined by hundreds of independent writers, artists, and activists in an elaborate project, six months in the making, to release a "special edition" of the New York Times in cities across the U.S.
The papers, dated July 4th of next year, were headlined with long-awaited news: "IRAQ WAR ENDS". The edition, which bears the same look and feel as the real deal, includes stories describing what the future could hold, if we forced Obama to be the president we'd elected him to be: national health care, the abolition of corporate lobbying, a maximum wage for CEOs, etc. (Less momentous, but poignant, was columnist Tom Friedman's letter of resignation, full of remorse for his consistently idiotic and fact free predictions about the Iraq war.
"Is this true? I wish it were true!" said one reader. "It can be true, if we demand it."
"We wanted to experience what it would look like, and feel like, to read headlines we really want to read. It's about what's possible, if we think big and act collectively," said Steve Lambert, one of the project's organizers and an editor of the paper. (Please visit Steve's page about the paper for more paper, videos, and details.)
In response to the spoof, the New York Times said only, "We are looking into it." Alex S. Jones, former Times reporter who is an authority on the history of the paper, says: "I would say if you've got one, hold on to it. It will probably be a collector's item."
Bringing the much needed "good news" to a war weary public required the collaboration of hundreds of activists and volunteers, including the Anti-Advertising Agency, CODEPINK, United for Peace and Justice, Not An Alternative, May First/People Link, Improv Everywhere, Evil Twin, and Cultures of Resistance.