Stephan Glass made up his articles for The New Republic, Janet Cooke won a Pulitzer prize for a Washington Post story about an eight year old heroin addict (for the record, my husband flagged the tale as a fake the first time he heard it. "Why would a dealer shoot up an eight year old?" he asked. "Eight year olds don't have any money."), and James Frey enraged an even higher authority when his bogus memoir triggered the ire of Oprah.
But the fact that all of the above -- and more -- were able to get away with what they did for as long as they did comes down to a simple truth: nobody checks facts anywhere. Even the easy, take-you-a-couple-of-minutes-on-Google stuff.
To wit, from the very respectable Backstage.com, we get this tale of woe:
Even established actors are being forced to downsize. Talent manager Phil Brock told Back Stage of a married couple, each contract regulars on Guiding Light, who live in Los Angeles. They recently sold their cars -- a Land Rover and an Infiniti -- because they were spending $70 every three days on gas due to audition travel costs.
Let's parse this three sentence paragraph out in order, shall we?
There are currently no contract players on GL who are also a married couple.
Guiding Light tapes in New York, not Los Angeles.
Phil Brock works at Studio Talent Group. Here is their client list. While Brock represents a few former soap people (Jeff Conway, Tom Hallick, James Storm), none of them are currently under contract to any soap opera, and neither are their wives. (For the record, in the interest of being 100 percent accurate, I will concede that the BackStage story doesn't say this is a couple he represents, just one that he knows of.)
Even if we give them a second benefit of the doubt and decline to wonder what, if they are under contract to a soap opera, this mystery couple is driving to audition for (let's say its voice-overs and commercials), the fact remains, in just that one paragraph of a much longer article, someone is lying or someone isn't checking their work. Most likely both.
Don't believe everything you read.