- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 3, 2009

UPDATED:

The Washington Post reported Wednesday that a widely reported tale about a self-professed adulterer was actually a publicity stunt directed by a local radio station personality.

The story about the stunt, which first appeared on the Web site of WTTG-TV (Channel 5) in Washington, was repeated by media around the world, from Los Angeles to China.

The story unfolded last week when a man who identified himself as William Taylor stood at a busy intersection in Northern Virginia wearing a placard that read: “I cheated. This is my punishment.”

The man told reporters that he was standing along the stretch of Leesburg Pike, in Tysons Corner, to make amends to his wife “Karen,” who had found cell-phone evidence of an affair.

According to The Post, the ruse was the invention of local radio station HOT 99.5 FM. The true identity of the man with the sign has not yet been made public.

The station is owned by Clear Channel Communications. Company spokeswoman Michele Clarke told The Washington Times on Wednesday that the station is locally managed, so Clear Channel would not comment. The station did not respond to several e-mails and phone calls from The Times.

The Times did not report the original story.

The Post reported the story Friday and wrote that it was itself skeptical about some of its facts. The story acknowledged that neither the man’s identity nor details about his story could be confirmed and that others had already dismissed the story as what it termed an “insidious publicity hoax.”

WTTG, a Fox affiliate, said Wednesday on its Web site that the radio station had posted the man with the sign to see how much media attention he would receive amid other major news, including the funeral of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy.

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