AP Gets Fooled by a Christopher Walken Impersonator Who Has Been on the Radio for Years

You can't make this up: The ever-careful Essential Global News Network known as the Associated Press actually believed that a guy who has been on a DC sports show for several football seasons impersonating Christopher Walken was actually Christopher Walken.

After excerpting several paragraphs from AP's unbylined (naturally) mea culpa (saved here at host for future reference, fair use and discussion purposes), I'll explain why this snafu really isn't particularly surprising:


AP mistakes impersonator for Christopher Walken

An Associated Press reporter mistook an impersonator of actor Christopher Walken on a sports-talk radio program Friday for Walken himself, leading the news cooperative to include comments mistakenly attributed to the actor in its coverage of the Natalie Wood death investigation.

The AP corrected the story about an hour later and told its members not to use the incorrect information.

The radio station, Washington, D.C.-based ESPN 980, informed the AP that the Walken impersonator appears weekly to discuss sports-related topics for a humorous segment. Walken has a distinctive, staccato style of speaking.

Walken was sharing a yacht with Wood and her husband, actor Robert Wagner, when the actress drowned on Nov. 29, 1981. The death was ruled an accident. But this week, authorities in Los Angeles reopened their investigation into Wood's death based on new information but said that Wagner is not a suspect.

The Walken impersonator, Marc Sterne, appeared Friday afternoon on "The Sports Fix," an afternoon talk show hosted by Kevin Sheehan and Thom Loverro.

... "It's not set up as real. It's not like we're trying to fool anybody," Sapienza said. "We say it's the person on the air but we never believe that someone actually thinks the person's actually there."

During Friday's appearance, Sheehan asked Sterne about the Wood case. Sterne, impersonating Walken, remarked: "We had a lot to drink that night. There was Sambuca. There was shouting. And then there was tragedy. And that's all I can remember."

The Walken impersonator added that he went to bed after reading "one of the Hardy Boys novels" and awoke to learn that Wood was dead.

It would seem from the paragraph bolded above that Sapienza hasn't met very many AP reporters. I mean, really, the AP's hapless reporter didn't get that it was an impersonation when the fake Walken referred to Hardy Boys novels?

That the AP was fooled shouldn't be a shock to anyone. It fools itself at least as much as it gets fooled by others. After all:

  • It spent the past two months describing the violent, intimidating bullies involved with the Occupy Wall Street crowd from its outset as "mostly peaceful."
  • It, along with many other news organizations, reported that the Occupy Oakland violence on November 2 was separate from the "general strike," when it actually "began during, not after, the main 'general strike' protest."
  • The wire service itself impersonates a group of objective journalists, when it is in fact represented by a union which has openly supported Occupy Wall Street from its beginning, up to and including the movement's Thursday "Day of Mass Action," which featured supposed adults harassing grade-school children and a "Moment of Silence" in San Diego on behalf of the deranged man who fired shots at the White House.

Compared to these items and so many more, believing that a Christopher Walken impersonator who has been on the radio for several years was the real Christopher Walken is a relatively trifling matter.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.