Andy Rooney on Women, and 5 Other Hoaxes to Avoid

by Kate Silver

Andy Rooney’s been getting a lot of love here on DivineCaroline lately, following the resurfacing of the so-called “Andy Rooney on Women Over 40,” a piece that paints a flattering picture of why women improve with age, presumably from the perspective of the acerbic commentator (and dearly departed) Rooney. And for those of use pushing towards the big 4-0, there’s a lot to love in this essay. But we shouldn’t be thanking Rooney, as dozens of readers have done. We should be thanking a man named Frank Kaiser, who wrote an earlier version of the essay for Suddenly.Senior.com in 2000 (see the Snopes story for the full scoop).



Kaiser’s essay didn’t get a lot of traction when he first published it. But after Rooney’s name was attached to it, it went viral in 2002-2003, and managed to surface again, 10 years later, despite the digital trail of evidence pointing to the real author. [Editor’s note: The piece was posted by a user on DivineCaroline.com in 2007 and, quite frankly, we’d forgotten it was even there until a new surge of traffic to it alerted us to its existence this week.] Clearly, there are some poignant points in the piece that really resonate with men and women, and it’s worth a read. But let’s give Kaiser credit where credit is due, and leave Rooney out of this.


Since we’re on the subject, here are five other recent hoaxes that should be on everyone’s radar.


The Viral ‘Morgan Freeman’ Quote
Morgan Freeman and Andy Rooney could have swapped some stories on this one. Similar to Rooney, Freeman found his name attached to a stance that he had nothing to do with. In Freeman’s case, it touched on a national tragedy. Soon after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, a Facebook post circulated that said, in part, “You want to know why. This may sound cynical, but here’s why. It’s because of the way the media reports it. Flip on the news and watch how we treat the Batman theater shooter and the Oregon mall shooter like celebrities. Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris are household names, but do you know the name of a single victim of Columbine?” It’s a provocative statement, but one that Morgan Freeman never wrote. In fact, Reddit users traced the first version of this quote to a man named Mark. According to MSN, Mark also later commented, “If I know the Internet, someone will attribute the quote to Morgan Freeman or Betty White and it’ll go viral.”


Betty White is Dead and Other Celebrity Hoaxes
We’re pretty sure that Twitter was created as a mass obit service, because whenever there’s a rumor of a death, you can count on Twitter being one of the early news breakers. That said, don’t believe everything you read. In recent years, social media has proclaimed the deaths of Betty White, Chris Brown, Justin Bieber, Mickey Rourke, Sylvester Stallone, Jim Carrey and the list goes on. Lately, the celebrity hoaxes have also had real-life implications, as something called “swatting” circulates Hollywood. That’s the name given to incidents in which pranksters call 911 and falsely report break-ins at celebrity homes. It’s happened to Ryan Seacrest, Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus, Sean Combs, Justin Timberlake and a number of others.


Facebook Copyright Warnings
You’ve no doubt seen it on a friend’s wall, or maybe placed it on your own, in an attempt to warn off pirates from taking your own, personal copy: “In response to the new Facebook guidelines I hereby declare that my copyright is attached to all of my personal details, illustrations, comics, paintings, professional photos and videos, etc. (as a result of the Berner Convention). For commercial use of the above my written consent is needed at all times!”


The truth is, posting this on your wall means nothing. It won’t protect your copy and it won’t keep the pirates at bay. Facebook published this notice in response: “There is a rumor circulating that Facebook is making a change related to ownership of users’ information or the content they post to the site. This is false. Anyone who uses Facebook owns and controls the content and information they post, as stated in our terms. They control how that content and information is shared. That is our policy, and it always has been.”


That said, if you’re worried about your privacy on Facebook, familiarize yourself with the site’s own terms and then decide whether or not you agree with them. If not, there’s always MySpace. Right?


Joel Osteen Loses Faith
More than 1 million people download the podcast of televangelist Joel Osteen each week, and 45,000 attend Lakewood Church, where he is a pastor. So it came as a shock when the Houston-based preacher supposedly posted an online resignation from his church in April, citing a “lack of faith,” and referring to the Bible as a “fallible, flawed, highly inconsistent history book that has been altered hundreds of times.”


Well, it turns out the Web site where he resigned, which was similar to Osteen’s own site, was a hoax. The site, which has since been taken down, was created by a self-described fan of Osteen named Justin Tribble, who told ABC News that this was his way of reaching out to the otherwise inaccessible Osteen. “I think it would be nice to have a conversation with him,” Tribble said to ABC News. “Honestly, I wouldn’t mind if he prays over me.”


Manti Te’o and ‘Catfishing’
It’s a sad but true fact: No hoax story in the near future will be complete without including the sad debacle of Manti Te’o’s girlfriend. You know the tale by now: The former Notre Dame linebacker was in love with a photo and a voice, named Lennay Kekua. But it turned out, the girlfriend, whom he’d never met, and who supposedly died following a car accident and battle with leukemia, was a fictional figment of the imagination of one of Te’o’s acquaintances. The hoax led to a resurgence of the term “catfishing,” which refers to creating false identities on social media. Fueling the fire, Maxim just named Lennay Kekua to its Annual Hot 100 list and extolled the wonderment of an “invisible girl.” Maybe someone should send the editors the “Frank Kaiser on Women Over 40” piece to expand their minds.