Bush attendance at Australia CEO conference a hoax

Monday, August 29, 2005

News agency AAP reported last Thursday that George H. W. Bush would be attending the Forbes Global CEO Conference, which starts this Tuesday. These reports have now been revealed to be a hoax. They were based on a media release and associated website, and reported in Wikinews, as well as a number of print publications in Australia. The president and publisher of Forbes Asia, William Adamopoulos, has confirmed that Mr Bush will not be attending.

"Mr Bush, Sr. is definitely not attending the conference," he said.

Mr Adamopoulos said that he is considering pursuing legal action against the originators of the hoax. According to reports, the media release and website used the Forbes name.

"While we would not wish to oppose free speech in any way - for free speech is one of the things that unites both Australia and the United States - we are investigating what legal action could be open to us," he said.

Two Australian broadsheets fell for the hoax put out by the 30A protest network. The network sent out a press release purporting to be from the organisers of the Annual Forbes Conference, claiming that former US President George H. W. Bush was to attend the conference. Bruce Knobloch of the 30A network indicated that the purpose of the hoax was to show how shallow the media coverage of the conference and the protest is.

The hoax was originally reported by AAP, who checked the claim with a telephone number provided on the press release before publishing it. The hoax was then picked up by several internet news sites, including this one. AAP quickly published a retraction, however that didn't stop the hoax making its way into the paper versions of two of Australia's most respected broadsheets, The Sydney Morning Herald, and The Australian.

The Forbes conference will take place at the Sydney Opera House, and will be attended by hundreds of CEOs from around the world, as well as Australian Prime Minister John Howard, former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, and Steve Forbes himself.

There is a protest planned to coincide with the conference. Protest organisers have called for people to assemble at Customs Square at Circular Quay at 5pm on Tuesday 30 August. The protest was originally planned for the Opera House forecourt, however police have declared this area to be an exclusion zone.