Our View: The Onion’s tweet causes chaos

DKS Editors

The Onion is known for using satire to make a point, but when a tweet about a hostage situation at the capitol building surfaced on its follower’s feed, there didn’t seem to be much laughing.

The controversy began when The Onion tweeted this on Thursday:

“BREAKING: Witnesses reporting screams and gunfire heard inside Capitol building.”

Followed by:

“Congresss takes group of Schoolchildren Hostage,”


“BREAKING: Capital Building being evacuated. 12 Children held hostage by group of armed congressmen.”

Along with the Tweets, The Onion also posted a fake web story, doctored photos, video and other updates. Even by The Onion’s standards, this a bit much. Especially considering the fact that only one day before, a man was arrested for plotting to fly remote-controlled aircraft strapped with plastic explosives into the U.S. Capitol and the Pentagon.

Considering that this is The Onion, a comical “news” organization that has also reported that a 500-foot tall Osama bin Laden zombie emerged from the sea and was destroying New York City, it’s pretty obvious that the Tweet is not true.

It shouldn’t be an issue of confusion based on the other “news stories” posted by The Onion alone. Had the second tweet been the first, then this probably wouldn’t be such an issue. The problem is, tweeting that gunshots and screams were heard in the capitol building isn’t funny.

Some followers were appalled; some defended The Onion, and others wondered if the account had been hacked. After confirming that the account had not been hacked, The Onion told the Washington Post: “This is satire, this is how it works.”??

In the end, it’s not about whether people took it seriously or not. If you take The Onion seriously then you should probably take a look at your own media savvy. The problem is it just wasn’t that funny. National security isn’t a joke.

The above editorial is a consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.