At 9 a.m. yesterday, Prof. Peter Tague of Georgetown Law School told his class not to mention it to anyone, but that Chief Justice John Roberts was about to announce his retirement from the court because the pressure of the job was ruining his health. He did not say how he knew this.
At 9:10, the news of Roberts’ likely imminent retirement announcement was published as an exclusive on Radar Online.
One of the topics of Prof. Tague’s lecture that morning was the danger of relying on information when you do not know the source. Halfway through the lecture, Tague divulged that he had made up the Roberts rumor to illustrate his point.
By that time, according to Above the Law (which was quite proud of the fact that although it had heard the rumor, it had checked it out before publishing it) the news of Roberts imminent retirement had “spread like wildfire, triggering thousands of texts, blog posts, and emails.”
Radar Online retracted, but, to its partial credit, didn’t take down the original post. Above the Law has the full story in a post titled “Anatomy of a Rumor.”