I got the email in a plane on the runway. Last night at 8:22pm. HE – the man who was responsible for my most embarrassing panic-inducing moment as a journalist – is “happy to talk … eager to help if I can,” according to the message on my buzzing Blackberry. It’s been 18 years since I fell for his practical joke. Eighteen years since I relayed his faux news release to the largest news audience in America, on 'World News Tonight With Peter Jennings.' Jennings had the egg on his face. But I pitched the egg. And now HE – that eminent author with the twinkle in his eye, is “eager to help if he can.”
NOVEMBER 5, 1991
That’s when it happened. The evening of November 5th, 1991. I remember the specific date because I just looked it up on the internet. My memory of being suckered lives forever in my heart and on the Vanderbilt Television News Archive. I was a mere 31-years-old. A year into my job as the youngest of Peter Jennings’ three writers. That’s when the fax came into our newsroom with the story I couldn’t resist.