Crikey editor Misha Ketchell writes:

The Age buried the
lead this morning in its story on the Leunig cartoon hoax. It took
until the tenth par to reveal the Leunig cartoon was sent to the
Iranian newspaper by a rogue satirist from Chaser (and the key pars
still aren’t in the online version of the story).

Julian Morrow, writer, performer and executive producer of the television satire The Chaser… last night said: “It appears now that a writer from The Chaser website submitted the cartoon. It was something that happened without my knowledge.”

The identity of the hoaxer came to light after some snappy detective work by Age
legal eagles (who also happen to sometimes represent Crikey) – they
googled a phone number included in the hoaxer’s email and – Voila! – up
came The Chaser website.

But the revelation shoots a
pretty big hole in Michael Leunig’s
warmongers-of-the-world-are-out-to-get-me conspiracy theories, repeated
in his opinion piece this morning (here). And the saga may not be over yet – Age lawyer Peter Bartlett says he’s meeting with Leunig and The Age later to today to discuss the paper’s legal options.

Nor is it good news for the cheerfully anarchist Chaser
boys, whose language is taking a decidedly bureaucratic turn as they
frantically try to stave off legal trouble and distance themselves from
the “unauthorised” stunt by one of their team. Website editor Dominic
Knight told Crikey this morning that the stunt was pulled by a Chaser website writer acting alone.

“It’s not a really Chaser
style stunt. We always try to claim credit for our stunts. He [the
hoaxer] has spoken to Mr Leunig and apologised. We certainly didn’t
intend for this to be reported on CNN and Reuters. In general if TheChaser pull a stunt we’ll be out there taking credit for it from the word go, being the shameless publicity seekers that we are.”

So is this a case of art imitating life, life imitating art, or the lampoonists who dish it out just getting what they deserve?