Yesterday evening, at the Space Needle Skyline level, the Yes Men and others staged an elaborate hoax designed to draw attention to two oil rigs that are currently being refurbished in Elliott Bay. The rigs, one of them called the Kulluk, are both old, both dangerous according to Arctic drilling opponents, and both headed up to Alaska soon to take advantage of the Obama-administration-approved "new frontier" in drilling up there.
The fake Shell press conference disaster, which featured a supposedly haywire drink fountain made to look like an exploding oil rig, plus a geyser of brown rum and coke shooting from this rig and covering participants, temporarily fooled a few online media outlets. Among them: The SeattlePI.com (which has modified its post so that you might not know the site ever was hoaxed, while others are owning it with a sense of humor).
At the bottom of it all, this kinda-viral video:
The Stranger and other media organizations knew in advance that this hoax was afoot. More on all that in a bit.
But for now, it seems that #ShellFail, as it was being called on Twitter, fell apart as a hoax pretty quickly—though it clearly got a lot of people's attention, and maybe even got them thinking about Arctic drilling and the aging, Alaska-bound rigs that are currently parked in Seattle's harbor.
By my count, if I'm adjusting for time zones correctly, seven hours elapsed from this to this. Credit for the web savvy, domain-investigating de-hoaxing goes to Gawker.