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Rolling Stone learns the naked truth about fact-checking

Newspaper and MagazineAlex TrebekGame of Thrones (tv program)

Some mistakes bite you in the butt. But for Rolling Stone magazine, its mistake is on someone’s butt (or darn close to it) -- specifically, the naked back of actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

The magazine’s latest clever cover features the star of HBO’s “Veep,” in which she plays a female vice president (who can talk a blue streak, with the emphasis on “blue”). And, of course -- because what else would you do with an attractive female actress? -- the editors had her pose naked on the cover.

But because that’s just shameless pandering to prurient people in an attempt to sell magazines, Rolling Stone had its makeup folks ink the U.S. Constitution on Louis-Dreyfus’ back. Not the whole thing, of course (she’s not very big, after all!), just the preamble.

Sexy and clever. What’s not to like? Made me look.

It also helped that Louis-Dreyfus, who’s nothing if not both funny and media-savvy, tweeted it out this way: In my defense, “I was in a drunken stupor” #crackexcuse http://rol.st/POrWpX cc: @RollingStone.

Gotta love it.

Apparently, though, not everyone was just ogling Louis-Dreyfus. The Washington Examiner’s eagle-eyed Justin Green, like any good journalist, dug deeper. And what he discovered was an argument for the lost art of fact-checking: Hovering precariously close to Louis-Dreyfus’, ahem, southern region was the rather large signature of one John Hancock.

Now, I’ll give you a few moments to ponder that (a la “Jeopardy”). Da-da-dum-dum, da-da-dum-dum ….

Got it?

OK, for those of you who, unlike Green, didn’t pay attention in history class, John Hancock’s signature does indeed appear prominently on a founding document of the United States. Except it’s the Declaration of Independence, not the Constitution. (If you knew that, go shake Alex Trebek’s hand!)

For her part, Louis-Dreyfus took the gaffe in stride -- and, like any Hollywood veteran, milked it for a little extra publicity. In a follow-up tweet, she owned up to the mistake -- but blamed it on her fictional aide Mike on “Veep” (I’d reprint the tweet, but this is a family newspaper blog, not HBO, and I have already used up my quota of scandalous words/material.)

Now hopefully, for Louis-Dreyfus’ sake, the “tattoo” isn’t permanent.

And hopefully, for the Rolling Stone staffer(s) responsible, he or she learned a history lesson -- and the value of fact-checking.

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Follow Paul Whitefield on Twitter @PaulWhitefield1 and Google +

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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Newspaper and MagazineAlex TrebekGame of Thrones (tv program)
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