The Central Basin Municipal Water District has found an original way to make scandal news. The public body hired a "news" outfit to write favorable articles about the district and then got them posted on Google News as though they were legitimate. Essentially, the stories were thinly disguised public relations pieces.
Now the Los Angeles Times, which broke the Google story, has discovered that the hired-gun journalists being paid to write the water district's PR weren't really journalists - and, in fact, weren't really people.
Mike Adams, the lead writer for a company calling itself News Hawks, appeared to be imaginary. From the Times:
News Hawks also presented a picture of Adams, showing a stoic man with a gray beard and a black cowboy hat. A reader notified The Times that the photo was a stock image used to demonstrate editing techniques on websites such as deviantart.com.
From there, the picture was traced to photographer Leroy Skalstad, who said he took the shot at a Milwaukee food bank last year and posted it to several photo-sharing websites. He said the subject of the picture is a man nicknamed "Cobra."