Metallica sucked even back when they were trying to become Nirvana (post-Kurt; that MTV contest where they ended up playing a show in Kurt’s hometown of Aberdeen was the point at which I realized that corporate music was just going to suck from here on out and that was it, brief flashes of quality notwithstanding), but they were kind enough to pull that Napster stunt and thus embed themselves in the public consciousness as a byword for legal assholism now and forever, as we see.

Good parody, eh? Now be scared: Certain alleged purveyors of journalism — Jimmy Kimmel, MSNBC, and so forth — reported this obvious parody as fact. As fact. Yes, the talking heads you see on your television screens (and the hundreds of people browbeaten daily on their staffs) didn’t have the brains or the curiosity or the simple horse sense to sniff this out as a simple hoax.

Not to get all elderly on your ass, but once upon a time if you wanted to hoax the American media you had to have some art about you. Joey Skaggs, for instance, puts months if not years into some of his best work. Part of the effort involved covering tracks — in other words, the hoax had underpinnings that made it believable, like phone-answering PR contacts and mail drops and so on. The latest Metallica hoax? As the site is the first to point out, that didn’t even bother disguising their URL. And still the press fell for it, because (as the site says) If It Is On The Internet It Must Be True. (And if it turns out it is not true, goes the corollary, journalists will blame the bad nasty Internet rather than their own inability to gather facts beyond the confines of the screen.)

Jimmy Breslin says that journalism is dying because no one wants to walk up the stairs anymore, by which he means that journalists would rather sit in middle-class cubicle splendor and occasionally take a high-powered source out for a nice dinner (making a flourish of picking up the tab — that’s what we call ethics these days in the profession) than get down in the grime and anonymity and detail of everyday life. You have to be willing to do the work, and you have to be willing to do the legwork that tells you which stairs you need to walk, and you have to be willing not to be fabulous about it. Walk up the stairs. Ask the questions. Work at getting the story right. Above all, get off your ass.


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