Top 10 Lies, Hoaxes and Pranks of 2014

2014 was full of Hollywood stars behaving oddly (See Shia LaBeouf and Amanda Bynes) and loads of fake viral videos. But this year saw fabrication with dead-serious ripple effects as well. Here are the prevaricators who rose to the top of the LieSpotting list this year:
This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

2014 was full of Hollywood stars behaving oddly (See Shia LaBeouf and Amanda Bynes) and loads of fake viral videos (Did you see "The Drunk Girl video?" - Fake!) But this year saw fabrication with dead-serious ripple effects as well.

Here are the prevaricators who rose to the top of the LieSpotting list this year:

10. Seeing triple


Alisha Jasmine Hessler, a 21-year-old Tampa, Florida resident, became an Internet sensation when a selfie of her in short shorts and a revealing halter top seemed to attest to her claim of having a third breast surgically added. Calling herself "Jasmine Tridevil," Hessler's hoax became public record when she went to claim luggage that had been stolen at Tampa Airport. Before returning her bag, the police made Hessler sign an inventory of its contents, which as posted on The Smoking Gun, included among other items, something referred to as a "3 Breast Prosthesis." Chest -- er -- case Closed!

9. Kim Kardashian makes an impression but barely dents the Internet.


Speaking of vast oil reserves, Kardashian's oiled derriere as displayed in the hipster monthly Paper was supposed to break the Internet, but that goal proved somewhat slippery. Hundreds of thousands did view and discuss her assets. She shared the photo with her 21 million Instagram followers and in the immediate aftermath of the pictures release, the BBC reported 178,000 mentions of #breaktheinternet on Twitter. A greater accomplishment was present on Paper's cover where Kim K. balanced a glass of champagne on her rear platform. Many have since tried to replicate the task, including an Australian TV host who Kim told did not have a large enough "butt." But really, all this is beside the point. As Kim stated on that same Aussie program: "I love the photos. I did it for me." Of course you did. And that may be one of the biggest whoppers told this year.

8. A Megalodon-sized shark of a tale.

great white shark
During the Discovery Channel's "Shark Week" the channel presented "Megalodon: The New Evidence" with purported footage of a giant prehistoric shark attacking a sperm whale. Ratings, once again, went through the roof. However, according to Snopes, Slate, CNN, The Daily Show, and the evidence presented in the program is "100% completely and totally fake." Megadolon last roamed the seas millions of years ago and is considered absolutely extinct. Except at the Discovery Channel.

7. Say "Sayonara" to your Takata airbag

takata airbag
Holy Shrapnel-shooting inflator parts! Takata, the Japanese airbag manufacturer has had to recall around 8 million airbags in more than two dozen automobile brands, with revelations about lies, destroyed reports and tests, and more lies continuing to be uncovered. According to Car and Driver, "more than 7 million vehicles are potentially affected in the United States."

Takata first announced this fault in April 2013, but it was only in June of this year that a Toyota recall brought the issue to national attention. In a response reminiscent of Martin Short's Ed Grimley, Takata at first said it did not know which cars used the defective airbags and what the cause of the defect was. Toyota, for its part, said the airbags had caused no injuries or deaths because of the defect.

If only. An investigation by the New York Times uncovered 139 injuries, and that Takata knew about the default since 2004. Reuters revealed that rust, bad welds, and even chewing gum dropped into at least one inflator were at fault and that Takata's Mexican plant had a defect rate that was six to eight times the allowable level. Takata's response: They called the Times report "fundamentally inaccurate." The Times stood by its sources and its reporting.

The world agreed: In November the National Transportation and Highway Safety Administration formally called for a nationwide recall. Officials in Japan are also calling for an expansion of the recall. Takata executives were scolded before Congress but appeared little chastened. Accura, BMW, Chrysler, Dodge, Ford, Honda, Infiniti, Lexus, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Pontiac, Saab, Subaru and Toyota have all instituted recalls of the defective airbags. Drive safely!

6. Secret Service or Keystone Cops?

secret service

Julia Pierson, who became the first female director of the Secret Service on March 13, took over after numerous breaches including a prostitution scandal involving agents traveling with the president, and gate crashers at a White House State dinner. She had a hard time explaining to Congress how Omar Gonzalez, a war veteran who had a knife on him, was able scale a White House fence and make it far inside the White House itself. First there was the matter of the false Secret Service accounts which originally stated that Gonzalez "was physically apprehended after entering the White House North Portico doors" and didn't mention that he had been overpowered and gotten by several secret service agents and that an alarm inside the White House had been silenced. Summoned to explain before Congress, Pierson assured them: "It will never happen again." And that part is true: Not under her watch -- she resigned the next day.

5. The wild world of Donald Sterling, Shelly Sterling, and V. Stiviano

donald sterling

Do we really need to explain? The facts, as best we can tell, are that a conversation between 74-year-old Clippers owner Donald Sterling and V. Stiviano, a much, much younger woman with whom he attended Clippers games and for whom he purchased a Ferrari, two Bentleys, a Range Rover and a $2 million duplex, was recorded and leaked to the media. In the audio recording Sterling was identified making racist remarks. Sterling was banned for life from the NBA - Steviano made numerous press appearances including rollerblading while wearing a mirrored face guard; Sterling's wife, Shelly sued Stiviano, sued her husband for divorce, wanted him declared mentally incompetent, and managed to engineer the sale of the Clippers for $2 billion dollars to Steve Ballmer. Who planned what, and how everyone, including the Clippers, came out better funded than they were before, no one can explain. It's almost like they couldn't have had a better result if they planned the whole thing. Hmm, makes one think.

4. The "courage" of USC football player Josh Shaw... ouch!

josh shaw usc

Shaw told a whopper: He claimed that he sustained two ankle sprains jumping from a second floor balcony to save his 7-year-old nephew from drowning in a pool in Palmdale. Shaw, who had been elected team captain, later admitted that he had what the AP referred to as a "heated argument" with his girlfriend in their apartment in downtown LA. Neighbors called the police and when Shaw them arriving he decided to flee by dropping himself 20 feet from the balcony and injuring his ankles. Shaw was suspended from the team; the DA declined to press charges.

3. Rolling Stone: "Too good to check... Sorry"


After Rolling Stone published a bombshell story of a brutal sexual assault, the nation's sympathy poured out for the victim. Going only by "Jackie," the young student at the University of Virginia spun a horrifying tale of gang rape and dehumanization. The story electrified the country, but also attracted the suspicious eye of Washington Post reporters. Pressed on a few outstanding questions, like why the assailants were not given the opportunity to respond to the allegations, Rolling Stone's story fell apart. Rolling Stone issued a lengthy editor's note and author Sabrina Erdley went dark on social media -- a safe bet lawyers were involved. The editor's note regretted the colossal error, but loosely translated it read: "Too good to check, sorry."

2. "This government does not torture people!"


"The government doesn't torture." That's what Bush administration officials would have you believe. Instead, they labeled their harsh treatment of terrorists detainees "enhanced interrogation." The subterfuge persisted for years, until the Senate Intelligence Committee released an exhaustive report of detainee treatment in the years following 9/11. The report was tough to stomach: secret prisons, denial of basic human rights, torture-via-waterboarding. The years it took get to the bottom of all the intrigue should put this in the running for top lies of the past decade.

1. Putin: "Yes, we have no troops in Ukraine!"

poroshenko putin

Vladmir Putin, President of Russia, is angling to become a perennial on our list. With much of the Russian media under his control, and most Russian citizens satisfied with Putin, he has taken to increasing the gap between what he says and what he does. The situation in the Ukraine being a prime example. As Russian forces not bearing any identifying tags entered Crimea, as reported on NPR, Putin told a press conference that the heavily armed men were "local self-defense forces" who were on a "humanitarian mission" to protect ethnic Russians. When similarly unmarked units massed on Ukraine's Eastern border, Putin went on live TV in Russia and said "It's all nonsense, there are no Russian units, special forces or instructors in the east of Ukraine." On this occasion, he did admit, however, that similar unmarked units were used in Crimea prior to its annexation, re-appropriation, or reunification, depending on your point of view. Lying about invading a country takes the cake.

Popular in the Community


What's Hot