Tag Archives: The Onion

Irregular Joe: Why Biden Shouldn’t Be President

In spite of what has been the single nastiest election in American history (yes, ever) many folks are already turning their bloodshot eyes to the 2020 election.

(Assuming we’re  not all dead or in internment camps, obviously.)

“Will he? Won’t he?”

That’s the question folks are asking themselves.

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In spite of Biden’s declaration, it’s still unclear if Biden actually will run in 2020. Which hasn’t stopped  countless hopefuls from working themselves into a frenzy.

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Does The Onion Even Have Lines? #CongressHostage

So The Onion tweeted [#CongressHostage] about Congress holding schoolchildren hostage last Thursday. The Internet, as expected, exploded for a bit in a few places and then returned to normalcy.

A rather convincing photograph of what appears to be Speaker of the House John Boehner holding a little girl hostage

The tweets were fake live-action reports of an Onion headline that day that reported that Congress had taken hostage 12 schoolchildren and were demanding, for their release, 12 trillion dollars “in cash”. A less tasteful part of the story involved John Boehner threatening to kill “one child every hour” until the money was given, with a rather amusing photoshopped picture of Boehner holding a gun to a girl’s head.

The US Capitol police responded with a release affirming that there was no situation of any kind at the Capitol, which created a scad of angry tweets ridiculing at anyone who could “be so stupid to believe” the story – and by scad I mean like hundreds, which seems to be many more than the small amount of people who took the story to be actual news. Time asked if The Onion went to far with #CongressHostage, and lots of followers said that they did, which created another scad of angry tweets ridiculing anyone who would be offended by The Onion story and lamented over the lack of education about satire, etc. etc. Basically summarizing the whole debate, @GS_Design responded to Time’s question: “Does the Onion *have* lines?”

Some people compared the event to the War of the Worlds broadcast in 1938; @kevinhamel55 asked, “@TheOnion today, War of The Worlds in 1938; is there any difference?” (the answer is yes, yes there is, because this time nobody thought the world was actually ending and hundreds of people weren’t calling studios panicked, afraid for their lives; whether this makes the Onion more or less successful than the 1938 broadcast is another matter altogether).

Admittedly, in perhaps poor taste The Onion’s #CongressHostage thing started with this tweet: “BREAKING: Witnesses reporting screams and gunfire heard inside Capitol building.“, which wasn’t really funny or entirely unbelievable in any way. Further tweets were more appropriately hilarious: “Reports from those who know Congress say the legislative body had seemed desperate as of late“. Another tweet that isn’t really funny enough to justify its offensiveness was: “Two chaperones are also being held, one of whom is said to be pregnant “. It’s sort of amusing just because it’s so intensely typical of a hostage situation report, but it had nothing to do with the story’s strongest point, the nature of Congress in real life – as exemplified by the tweet: ‘Obama on bullhorn: “John, I know you can hear me in there. Please, you don’t need to do this.”

The article was a pretty accurate metaphor about Congress’ sense of desperation, as well as the public and presidential opinion of Congress this year, and the #CongressHostage stunt did a good job of drawing attention to it, at least. @TheOnion’s twitter account gained something like 7,000 followers, and the article received a ridiculous amount of news and blog coverage. The whole event was just another example of The Onion doing what The Onion does – drawing public attention to the nature of veracity and sensationalism in news sources, which is almost always good. The best summary of the situation in the current cultural context, in my opinion, came from @FultonMatt, who tweeted: “@TheOnion’s #CongressHostage has gone too far. Why can’t they just hack dead kid’s phones like a real news org?