New York, Nov.13 : New Yorkers were surprised recently to read a report in the New York Times that said that the war in Iraq has ended. An enthusiastic man was hawking the paper on W. 33rd St., just a few blocks south of the Times headquarters.
"Very special edition, New York Times!" he shouted. "IRAQ WAR ENDS," read the lead story headline, while other pieces included an apology from Condoleezza Rice for lies about WMDs and the indictment of President Bush for high treason.
It turned out to be a prank paper, but the stunt took six months in the making, with 1.2 million copies printed.
The editorial page included an apology for the paper's support of the war and columnist Thomas Friedman's "resignation" for doing the same.
For those who missed the joke, the realistic-looking paper was dated July 9, 2009, and came with a weather forecast calling for "recent gloom passing ... strong leftward winds."
The fake paper also misspelled Secretary of State Rice's first name.
Some people were taken in by the headline, believing the war was over.
"I feel like I've got mud on my face," said Sam Johnson, 35, a former Marine and Iraq veteran. "This looks like the real thing."
The Web site Gawker.com reported the bogus 14-page paper was the work of The Yes Men, a liberal prank group. The people handing out the paper from vans around Manhattan were coy about their identity.
A Times spokeswoman said the paper was investigating its origins.