Claim:   An Associated Press news article about the Washington Navy Yard shootings was dated the day prior to the events it described.


Example:   [Collected via e-mail, September 2013]

I heard a rumor that the DC shootings yesterday were “accidentally” reported on Sunday by the AP. Like the gov’t had planned the shootings.


Origins:   At about 8:20 A.M. on the morning of 16 September 2013, a man named Aaron Alexis fatally shot twelve people and injured fourteen others at the headquarters of the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) inside the Washington Navy Yard in Southeast Washington, D.C. Alexis was subsequently killed in a shootout with police.

Later that day, some viewers noted that an Associated Press account of the shootings published on various online news sites was datelined 15 September 2013, the day prior to the events described therein. One such example appeared on the web site of the Kelowna (British Columbia) Daily Courier:

Conspiracy buffs promulgated claims that the dating of these articles indicated foreknowledge of events and demonstrated that the shootings had been planned and executed as a “false flag” event through the involvement of some government entity:

In fact, the Associated Press article in question was not actually written and published until after the events it described took place, and it was simply misdated on some sites during the process of disseminating the copy across the online news network. Some of the sites that initially carried the article with a 15 September 2013 dateline have since corrected that information, and the Kelowna Daily Courier published a statement on 17 September noting that:

The tragic story of the shooting rampage in Washington, D.C., has earned us some notoriety online, thanks to an incorrect time stamp on the version of the story that appeared on our website.

Conspiracy theorists from across the continent have called, emailed and posted comments wondering how we could have posted The Associated Press story before the events even happened.

For the record, what we call wire copy flows through the site automatically, all day long. Itâ??s not uploaded manually by anyone.

We obviously didnâ??t know about the shooting in advance and will address the incorrect clock on the site with our IT staff.

Because the date stamp was off, it made it appear as if Monday’s story on the shooting was posted on Sunday. It wasn’t; that’s just what the date stamp says. We got the story at the same time every other media received it from The Associated Press.

Last updated:   17 September 2013