By Jay Levine

CHICAGO (CBS) — A Halloween trick from Mayor Rahm Emanuel has proven to be a real treat for the national media.

A photo released on Facebook by the Mayor’s office over the weekend showed Emanuel riding a CTA train, as he often does, but surrounded by people dressed up as zombies.

The photo quickly went viral, picked up by media websites coast to coast. But as CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine reports, it’s not what it appears to be.

The picture shows Emanuel checking his Blackberry on a Brown Line train to the Loop and several riders in the seats behind him – and outside the train’s window – dressed up as zombies.

It was subtitled “In the case of a zombie apocalypse, remember to stay calm like Rahm. Have a happy and safe Halloween Chicago.”

It was Tuesday’s picture of the day on The Atlantic website, titled “Rahm Emanuel Rides the ‘L’ With Zombies.”

On Wednesday, Huffington Post ran the headline “Rahm Emanuel With Zombies.”

But take a closer look at the zombie right behind the mayor and then the reflection in the window. The reflection doesn’t show a zombie, it just shows a man in a red baseball cap.

Emanuel acknowledged that the photo was faked. That’s him on a CTA train, but the zombies around him were Photoshopped into the photo.

“Welcome to digital technology,” Emanuel said.

The mayor said it was just a harmless Halloween joke.

“Yeah, it’s good for you. It keeps you on your toes,” he said.

A few websites, like Politico, spotted the Photoshop job. Readers didn’t seem to care.

“Too funny, gotta love the new mayor!” wrote Chris Mitchell of Lake Forest.

There were even contests for “best captions.”

Among them:

“Those aren’t zombies. They are protesters after being beaten out of Grant Park.”

Or, “Those are the city workers who lost mileage reimbursement.”

Or Levine’s favorite: “Everybody knew the dead voted in Chicago, but do they also get to ride with Da Mayor?”

There is, of course, the issue of the mayor’s office, perhaps with tongue firmly in cheek, faking a photo without identifying it as such. But it’s not like the photo showed an embrace with Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis, proclaiming an end to the war with the teachers. It’s more like April Fool’s in October. But it sure looked like some folks in the media got punked.

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