Donald Trump's presidential campaign was a casualty in the latest prank between
Harvard University's humor magazine, the Harvard Lampoon, and daily student newspaper, the Harvard Crimson.
Last month, the article "Crimson Endorses Trump for President" with the byline "The Crimson Staff" appeared on a website mimicking the Crimson's. Evidence suggests at least some of the humor publication's staff are actually behind the piece and elaborate ruse.
A history of antics
In an ongoing tradition, Lampoon members try to steal the Crimson president's chair while the Crimson editors attempt to grab the large metal bird adoring the roof of the humor magazine's building.
In June, Crimson staff found the chair to be missing—and a pair of bolt-cutters on the floor near where the seat had been chained to a wall, says Crimson President Steven Lee.
When he contacted the Lampoon "they said they would get back to me on it," he told Crimson's "Flyby" blog.
Donald Trump has a 'university' and it's been sued. Twice.
In mid-July, the chair reappeared—in a photo with Trump sitting on it and giving two thumbs-up on a fake Crimson website. A group of students posing as Crimson staff surrounded him.
At least a few individuals in the photo have since been identified as Lampoon staffers.
The accompanying article touted the supposed newspaper's support for Trump's GOP bid, describing him as "the most formidable and competitive candidate on the Republican side."
Among his accomplishments, the article pointed to Trump's "The Celebrity Apprentice" television program that helped "inactive or troubled" celebrities reach fame again, which in turn fueled jobs.
"The creative methods and avenues through which Trump has created jobs would likely make (former editor-in-chief) Franklin D. Roosevelt '03 smile," said the article.
How it came about
The fake website is registered to the Harvard Lampoon and one of its staffers, according to a web domain identification website. Additionally, there is "good evidence" the culprits created an email address that they pretended belonged to a Crimson editor.
Representing themselves as Crimson staffers, the pranksters contacted Trump campaign officials and shared their plan to run an editorial endorsing Trump. They then apparently transported the chair to Trump's New York City campaign headquarters and took the photo.
Only when the campaign contacted the actual Crimson staff did either party realize something was off, Lee says.
"They recognized the situation once we had chatted, and it seemed like they were going to take care of it, whatever that means," he says.
A Trump spokesperson has since commented that the real-estate mogul "attended the great Wharton School of Finance, a school that has more important things to do," at the University of Pennsylvania.
Meanwhile, the president's chair was returned to the Crimson office.
The Lampoon president did not respond to Flyby's requests for comment (Tesfaye, Salon, 8/4; Klein, "Flyby," Crimson, 8/3).
Next in Today's Briefing
Around the industry: Wesleyan suspends Psi Upsilon over drug allegations