News Column

Communist Paper Falls for Onion Satire

Nov 28, 2012

Rob Manker

China's Communist-run newspaper on Tuesday fell for a satirical story by The Onion proclaiming North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un to be the "Sexiest Man Alive," The Associated Press reported.

But the People's Daily, which quoted The Onion piece and published a photo spread devoted to the Korean leader, is hardly the first entity to misinterpret content from the Chicago-based Onion as real. Here are five other recent examples of those similarly duped:

--September -- The Fars News Agency in Iran published nearly verbatim an Onion story headlined "Gallup Poll: Rural Whites Prefer Ahmadinejad to Obama." After the error came to light, the story was removed from Fars' website that same day.

--February -- Rep. John Fleming, R-La., posted on his Facebook page a link to an Onion article, "Planned Parenthood Opens $8 Billion Abortionplex." His post included the comment: "More on Planned Parenthood, abortion by the wholesale." Fleming's post was later deleted.

-- April 2011 -- The New York Times included in a gallery of Tiger Beat magazine covers a parody Tiger Beat cover produced by The Onion attempting to explain then-Sen. Barack Obama's surging popularity among tweens, with the fake Obama quote, "I sing in the shower." The Gray Lady later ran a correction explaining the mistake.

-- November 2010 -- FoxNation.com, a Fox News-affiliated website, repackaged as real an Onion piece, "Frustrated Obama Sends Nation Rambling 75,000-word Email." When it was revealed that the site had been fooled, the story and ensuing thread of reader comments were taken down.

-- March 2004 -- MSNBC's Deborah Norville delivered the Onion story "Study: 58 Percent of U.S. Exercise Televised," as if the story were real. "For instance," Norville quoted from the bogus piece, "of the 3.5 billion situps done in 2003, 2,030,000 of them were done on exercise shows on Lifetime or one of the ESPN channels."



Source: (c)2012 Chicago Tribune. Distributed by MCT Information Services.