The author of this brief opinion piece, a scientist and journalist I respect and generally agree with, is wrong here. The point being made with this fake news story isn’t for self-gratification. The point it makes is critically important, which makes all the difference.
If you can expose a corrupt and/or broken system on which millions of people base life decisions, then you owe it to yourself to do so. The systems responsible for informing the public should be tested, independently and often, especially if those systems profit from their mission and are considered trustworthy.
If innocent lives were lost, or there was a strong possibility that innocent lives would be severely affected due to this story, then the morality of publishing this story would be much more difficult to discern. As it is, I applaud the authors for their dedication to exposing the sad state of pop science journalism and am happy for their success.