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Media, governor not amused by Bold Nebraska’s April Fools prank

By   /   April 3, 2013  /   News  /   8 Comments

By Deena Winter | Nebraska Watchdog

LINCOLN – Bold Nebraska played an April Fools’ prank on the press, but it didn’t go over too well with some reporters and the governor.

Mitch Paine/Bold Nebraska

EVER SO BOLD: Bold Nebraska protests at the White House in November 2011.

Monday, the anti-oil-pipeline group sent out a news release that began, “Today, Gov. Dave Heineman sent a letter to President Barack Obama urging the federal government to deny the permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline, currently proposed to be routed over the Ogallala Aquifer.”

That seemed unlikely on its face, given Heineman has been supportive of the Keystone XL pipeline ever since he called a special legislative session in 2011 to deal with the original route’s crossing of Nebraska’s fragile Sandhills. Since the pipeline company, TransCanada, agreed to move the pipeline out of the Sandhills, Heineman has had little heartburn over it.

The prank was that Bold Nebraska reprinted the letter Heineman wrote to President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Aug. 31, 2011, in which he said the pipeline shouldn’t cross “a substantial portion of the Ogallala Aquifer.” (A discerning eye would’ve noticed Clinton is no longer the secretary of state.)

The fake release was sent by Bold Nebraska Communications Director Mary Anne Andrei to dozens of media outlets, including the Washington Post, Huffington Post and Associated Press. About five minutes after the news release was sent to dozens of reporters, Bold Nebraska leader Jane Kleeb Tweeted, “If you press are wondering what the heck, that’s how we all felt when Heineman flip flopped and supported the pipeline.”

KOLN-TV was not amused, and it did a story in which Dave Roberts said, “It was supposed to be an April Fools’ joke but instead Bold Nebraska undermined its own credibility.”

“The only thing real is the damage it did to the group’s reputation,” Roberts said.

Station reporter Kim Eiten continued, “We couldn’t find anyone who found it funny. No satire, no humor in fact, the event they referenced actually happened in 2011, before the governor voiced his full support for the pipeline.”

KHAS-TV also reported on the prank, saying Bold Nebraska “attempted to use humor to make a point” about the pipeline.

Although it doesn’t appear anyone fell for the prank and reported a false story, many reporters did inquire about it with the governor’s office, including several national outlets.

Vonn Jones, assistant news director at KETV in Omaha, had already asked the governor’s office about the release before determining it was a joke. He then emailed other reporters who received the release, alerting them that it was “the group’s attempt at humor.”

“While we recognize it is April Fool’s Day, we also take news releases quite seriously, especially when there is no other sign of parody or humor,” he wrote. “KETV makes note that Ms. Andrei has instead undermined Bold Nebraska’s future credibility with us.”

A spokeswoman for the governor, Jen Rae Hein, responded saying, “This is a childish act on behalf of Bold Nebraska that clearly illustrates the immaturity of Jane Kleeb and her group. This April Fools’, the joke is on them.”

Later Monday, Bold Nebraska sent an explanation to the media saying it intended to use humor to bring attention to a serious matter.

“We did not alter his words to Secretary Clinton and President Obama, we simply re-sent Gov. Heineman’s own words to make a serious point on what is normally a funny day,” they wrote.

Kleeb told Nebraska Watchdog that if Bold sends out a news release next April Fools’ Day, “we will add a disclaimer at the end.”

Contact Deena Winter at deena@nebraskawatchdog.org.

Editor’s note: to subscribe to News Updates from Nebraska Watchdog at no cost, click here


Deena formerly served as staff reporter for Watchdog.org.

  • stavi

    The only thing funny out of this is just how stupid Bold Nebraska, and liberalism in general look.

  • Bam

    Can we all be honest now and just call them “Stupid Liberals Some of Whom Live in Nebraska”? April Fools jokes aren’t bold at all.

  • Ancient 1

    O come on–I think it was funny! And it does point out how Heineman flip-flopped on the issue.

  • The Gov did NOT Flip Flop. He was against the pipeline on the grounds that he did not like the original route. The route was changed so the gov changed his opinion. Its like saying I wont buy THAT car because its Silver. then the sales man says ok do you like it in Blue? and the car buyer saying, OK ill take the blue model instead of the red one. Thats not a flip flop but a change of opinion due to a change of a condition.

  • I thought it was pretty funny, conservatives need to learn to laugh at themselves.

  • cliveklg

    It raised completely valid points in what it was trying to do. Oh but when conservatives like Rush make fun of African American women that is your type of humor eh?

  • cliveklg

    Yes he did. His main point was it crossing the Aquifer. It still crosses the Aquifer.

    You are in denial of the facts if you think it wasn’t a flip flop.

  • Again, the “lamestream media” spends too much of their time on a truely unnewsworthy item. Although I like the result that it showed Heinnie is a flip-flopper when it comes to campaign sources. Angry because of the attempt at humor, or angry that he was called on his flip-flopping?
    Getting back to the understaffed, undertrained media…. they should have been INVESTIGATING the reports that Exxon-Mobil may not contribute to the cleanup of their Arkansas tar sands oil spill, their reasoning? Tar sands are not oil, and not regulated. Has the legislature or Heinnie prepaired for this?
    The ignorants that only expoused how “stupid Bold Ne., and progressive liberalism looks”, blah, blah, blah. Are headline readers, but do not do research.