Rumors of Dick Cheney’s Death exaggerated

Not that CNN isn’t already in enough deep Falafel over some conspicious reporting practices, but now some laxed security — and some development work not ready for publication that appears to have leaked. Or as the Smoking Gun reports:

Rumors of Dick Cheney's Death exaggerated

APRIL 16–While all news organizations prepare obituaries in advance of the deaths of famous individuals, the folks at CNN inadvertently gave the Internet-surfing public a chance to preview how the network’s web site would note the demise of Vice President Dick Cheney, Ronald Reagan, and a few other prominent figures. Until earlier this afternoon, a CNN server housed mock-ups of web pages announcing the yet-to-happen deaths. The CNN pages, which were discovered by the intrepid folks at, were yanked about 20 minutes after being exposed (though TSG was able to grab a few of the pages for posterity’s sake). The premature obituaries, housed in a publicly accessible area of the CNN server and searchable via Google, were apparently the work of Peter Rentz, a senior multimedia designer at CNN. The mock-ups are virtually identical to the obituary design currently used by CNN when a notable person dies (click here to see how CNN covered the Queen Mother’s March 2002 death). In fact, elements of the Queen Mum’s obit template can be seen in the below Cheney design. In addition to Cheney and Reagan, CNN also prepped online farewells to Fidel Castro, Bob Hope, Pope John Paul II, and Nelson Mandela. (6 pages)

Today’s lesson? If you don’t want people to see what you’re developing, password protect it via .htaccess — or at least ask your service provider to disable the ability to “surf” directories. If nothing else, just create a file named “index.html” with the words like “go away” in it so any attempt to cruise an image path is thwarted.