Courtney Rubin's New York Times trend piece on the death of college bars today is brimming full of falsity—drinking blue liquor out of fishbowls is sadly real—starting with the Cornell "seniors" she interviewed who don't actually exist. "I’m honestly shocked by this. I’m looking at my notebook, going over my notes … It’s all here," Rubin told the Cornell Daily Sun last night. "I can clearly see where it was in Level B where I spoke to them and what they were wearing. Why would I make up names? I don’t make stuff up." Rubin didn't, of course, but it turns out the interviewees did.
As IvyGate points out, 21-year-olds Michelle Guida and Vanessa Gillen, both prominent figures in Rubin's story "Last Call for College Bars," don't appear in Cornell's student directory and neither does Tracy O'Hara. As the Sun reports, those names might be the fake IDs of some underage Cornell undergrads. And if the names are fake, their ages probably are, too. This following passage for instance is probably more about fake-ID toting, possibly uncool undergrads:
After all, cool is irrelevant when you have arrived at a bar at the insanely early hour of just after 9 p.m. on a Wednesday, in the company of a fraternity “most of us wouldn’t go to a mixer with,” said Michelle Guida, 21, fiddling with her orange Hermès bracelet and gathering three straws to drink from simultaneously. “But it’s their bar tab,” said Vanessa Gilen, also 21, who did not look up from her iPhone as she sipped and texted furiously.
The Sun notes, "The three students, referred to as 'Cornell seniors' in the photo caption, are identified by false names and are in fact members of the Class of 2014, according to sources who spoke with The Sun." Rubin told the paper, "Short of asking people for ID, you [assume] that when people give you a name, they represent themselves as who they are or say ‘I don’t want to be quoted.’"
Big picture: the world will keep on spinning and whether or not "Michelle Guida" had a great time hanging out at a crappy bar at 9 p.m. isn't going to destroy lives. And Rubin shouldn't feel totally bad. This is not the first time that drunk college kids have pranked a newspaper reporter. Still, there is no correction yet in The Times.