On Feb. 24, 2016, then-President Obama published a post on SCOTUSblog. I thought it was pretty cool that the president of the United States would publish a post on blog, and doubly cool that he chose to do it on a legal blog. So, a month later, when April 1 rolled around, I picked up on that and published what I pretended was a guest post by the president, in honor of April 1, National Legal Technology Day.
I did not mean this as my entrée to the world of fake news. I thought I was sufficiently stretching credulity by suggesting that the leader of the free world had singled out this blog for a guest appearance. I coupled that with the fact that it was April Fools’ Day. And I didn’t really think anyone would buy into such a thing as National Legal Technology Day.
Like many bloggers, I’d done April Fools’ pranks before. In 2015, when former-lawyer Matt Homann’s Invisible Girlfriend was making headlines worldwide, I wrote about his spin-off, Intangible Lawyer. The year before that, I covered the joint announcement by Westlaw and LexisNexis that they were opening their databases to free public access.
But last year something unexpected happened. Several readers believed the post was real. In one case, a reader circulated the post among a group of the reader’s professional peers. That reader felt hurt that the incident had tarnished her reputation and she believed it had also tarnished mine. In fact, several readers complained that they had come to trust this blog and that I had disrespected their trust.
If anyone felt the fool after that, it was me. I’ve spent 14 years building up a readership for this blog and trying to build credibility with my readers. It makes no sense to throw that away for the sake of an ephemeral prank. I’m not always right in what I publish here, but I am sincere in my efforts to always try to get things right.
To any readers I offended last year, I apologize. From now on, I’m swearing off April Fools’ posts. And this time, that’s no joke.