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Fake KNBC “Photobomb” Fools Media Websites, But Fails to Go Viral

Two internet news publications fell for a not-so-elaborate marketing gimmick on Friday involving a video that purported to show an unfortunate incident on local television.

TheBlaze reported on Friday about a video that appeared to show KNBC-TV Los Angeles reporter Tom Wrightman being interrupted by two intoxicated individuals during a story on the Los Angeles Marathon. One of the individuals in the video used a word you don’t normally hear on local news.

Less than two hours after TheBlaze posted about the “unsuccessful live shot,” the video was lifted by the news and entertainment website Mediaite for a similar report.

The incident would be amusing if it weren’t part of an elaborate marketing stunt.

Several KNBC employees confirmed to The Desk on Saturday that “Tom Wrightman,” the reporter who appears in the video, does not work for the station. “Never heard (of) that name,” one staff member said, adding that the news anchor who later appears in the video also does not work at KNBC.

Some research reveals other signs that the video is a stunt: KNBC is not a sponsor of the Los Angeles Marathon (rival station KTLA has the broadcast rights), but the website of the event appears in the lower-third graphic as does a logo for Asics, an athletic apparel company that does sponsor the event. The graphics in the video also do not match those currently used by KNBC, and reporters in major markets typically do not begin their live segments with “I’m so-and-so for NBC News” (though NBC does own the local Los Angeles affiliate, one KNBC employee told The Desk that reporters typically do not identify with “NBC News” for local stories).

The whole thing is likely an elaborate (and poorly executed) marketing stunt put out by marathon organizers or someone affiliated with the race, which takes place on March 9. Sadly, it failed to achieve “viral” status — the original video only racked up about 6,000 views on YouTube as of Saturday evening.

TheBlaze amended their article on Saturday, adding that the video was “created by some people with apparently nothing better to do.” Mediaite updated their article as well on Sunday.

(Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly referred to “TheBlaze” as “The Blaze”)

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).