Howard Stern show regular and notorious media prankster Captain Janks called CNN on Sunday, pretending to be Cairo University exchange student Gregory Porter. He did a fairly lengthy interview with Fredricka Whitfield and wasn’t cut off by producers until he made reference to “Baba Booey’s Monkey Nuts.” (Whitfield continued to ask questions even after the Baba Booey reference.)
On his Monday Sirius XM show, Howard Stern discussed the prank:
I’m amazed by this. Captain Janks not only made a phony phone call to CNN, where he posed as that kid who was Egypt who was thrown in jail for a while but they let him out. I think Janks was booked as a guest like 12:30 in the afternoon. So from 12:30 to 5:30 at night, when he got on, CNN doesn’t even check their sources [to make sure their guest is legitimate]. It’s kind of crazy.
Stern show producer Producer Gary (“Baba Booey”) Dell’Abate added:
Janks emailed me at 11:30 yesterday and said, I’m booked on CNN at 5:45. Then he hits me back about one and says, my call time is moved up to 5:10, and all I can think of is, so he’s been booked for six hours; what was the process to check if you’re talking to the actual guy?
Janks told the Stern show listeners:
This took about four hours to set this up. I got myself booked through their booking agent early in the morning. I’m not too far from where that real kid lives, so I knew a bunch of things about him — where he lived, and the street, and the phone number is the same — you know, the prefix. I just was on the phone trying to talk like a 19-year-old kid. …I said [to CNN] I’m that kid, Gregory Porter, and that I just got back from Egypt and I heard that you wanted to interview me. So I just wanted to tell you that I’ll do it. I figured CNN had already had tried to reach out to him, so I just bascially said I was calling back.
I’ve asked CNN to comment.
UPDATE: CNN sent me this:
Below is the statement that was
read by Ted Rowlands on air Sunday evening regarding the prank call.
Earlier tonight we had planned an interview with an American student who
returned home after being held in Egypt. Gregory Porter was one of three
students arrested during pro-democracy protests. We did not talk to him.
Instead, a prankster made it on air. CNN regrets this mistake and we
apologize to Mr. Porter for any confusion that arose from this incident.