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Did the National Media Botch This Story?


"My next call is to ABC News to let them know they messed up."

The story sounded almost too good to be true. And with a little digging, TheBlaze learned that it was just that.

ABC News and USA Today both reported on a story that was starting to go viral on the web.

Both national outlets told the tale of high school senior Andrew Muennink, who seemed poised to be the hero to the rest of his classmates at Round Rock High School in Texas.

According to the news reports, Muennink made a deal with his teacher, Ms. House, that if the picture below was retweeted on Twitter 15,000 times by May 23, he and his classmates would not have to take their art class final exam.

(Source: Twitter)

ABC News reported that the enterprising student first pitched a 5,000 retweet threshold to avoid the final, but that the teacher negotiated up to three times that. With the attention from two very large media outlets, Muennink's retweet project seemed destined for success. As of Friday morning, the tweet had been retweeted more than 8,500 times.

TheBlaze was curious about the deal and reached out to the school district for more details. Was the "retweets for no exam" deal approved by the administration?

Enter Round Rock School District spokeswoman JoyLynn Occhiuzi. Turns out, there was no deal to skip the exam.

"All of the students will be taking the final exam," Occhiuzi said. "Ms. House is someone who is a lot fun and says fun things like, 'if you go to the moon and back, you don't have to take the test."

Then we learned something surprising. The school district hadn't heard from any news organization until TheBlaze contacted them.

"ABC never called, never checked the facts," Occhiuzi said. "They just went on what the student told them. There is no deal, all students will be taking the exam." Before she ended the call, Occhiuzi told us, "My next call is to ABC News to let them know they messed up."

The Round Rock School District followed up our call with a copy of the formal statement they released this morning.

"We are very disappointed in the fact that abcnews.com did not do any fact-checking regarding the Round Rock High School exam story. Our local media is committed to working with us to ensure responsible journalism. The art students at Round Rock High School will be taking their final exams at the end of this month."

TheBlaze reached out to ABC News and Alyssa Newcomb, the writer of the original story. If the network or writer respond, we will update the story.

This story has been updated.

Follow Mike Opelka (@Stuntbrain) on Twitter

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