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ABC News helped along Sochi prank

ABC News received advance warning of Jimmy Kimmel’s prank about a wolf supposedly prowling the athletes’ village in Sochi but didn’t steer other news organizations away from it, the network said Friday. The talk show host’s hoax was so realistic that despite the tip, even one of his own network’s news websites posted a story suggesting the report was real.

One media ethicist questioned whether a company that includes a major news organization should broadcast a joke that implied security problems at an Olympic Games where concerns about safety have been, and continue to be, a major issue. “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” airs every weeknight on ABC.

Kimmel posted, through USA luger Kate Hansen’s Twitter account, a video that depicted a wolf walking in the hallway outside of Hansen’s Sochi dorm room. It was nearly 24 hours before Kimmel revealed it was a joke, shot with a rented wolf on a Los Angeles soundstage constructed to look exactly like the hallway outside Hansen’s room.

ABC’s entertainment division had no immediate comment on whether Kimmel sought approval in advance for the prank, or whether anyone questioned whether it was a good idea. The comic has a history of trying to fool the media; last year, he staged a clip of a woman apparently set afire while twerking and posted it online, where news organizations jumped on the story.

– Associated Press

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