Viral Video of Pig Rescuing Goat Is Fake

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A viral video showing a pig saving a drowning goat is now known to have been faked, according to the New York Times. The video, which went viral within hours of being posted last September, was actually created as part of a Comedy Central television series.

In the video, a goat appears to be struggling to stay afloat in a pond when a brave pig swims up to it, apparently all on its own, and nudges the goat to the safety of the shore. What looked to be a candid, amateur clip was in truth elaborately staged, with animal trainers, scuba divers and humane officers on hand.

Ironically, it was the goat who did well in the water and the pig who needed coaxing. The pig that was originally chosen for the hero role refused to get in the water. A trained professional pig took over, but even that animal required a plastic track to help guide it to its mark. Meanwhile, the goat was so comfortable in the pond that its cries had to be dubbed in post-production.

The whole event was part of a new Comedy Central series called "Nathan for You." In this particular case, host Nathan Fielder was helping a petting zoo fabricate a "hero animal" as a marketing stunt. Fielder posted the clip without fanfare or explanation on Sept. 16, 2012, and its popularity exploded literally overnight.

When network shows like "Anderson Live" and "Good Morning America" sent Fielder requests to show his clip, he obliged, but without offering the truth behind its creation. The video was widely reported as a true event. "NBC Nightly News," stonewalled by Fielder after reaching out for more information, showed the clip with the caveat that they were unable to verify whether or not it was real. Elizabeth Vargas of "Good Morning America" was even mocked by her co-hosts for questioning the clip's authenticity.

Some are pointing to the incident as an example of new media's tendency to report news without due journalistic diligence. NBC issued a statement defending their broadcast of the video: "This was presented as a video that had been making the rounds on the Internet - and as Brian clearly stated, its authenticity couldn't be verified. We treated it for exactly what it was: an aside, a fun moment, the kind of 'What's going on here?' picture that is the coin of the realm on social media."

Kelly McBride, the senior faculty for ethics, reporting and writing at the Poynter Institute, says that the on-air caveat was insufficient. "Go find something cute that is real," McBride said.


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