The Onion botched a joke about congressmen taking children hostage this morning on Twitter. Now, the U.S. Capitol police are investigating the joke. Everyone chill out!
Today, The Onion tweeted: "BREAKING: Witnesses reporting screams and gunfire heard inside Capitol building."
This, by itself, was not funny at all and many people, including me, believed the account might have been hacked. Either way, no big deal: It's still fake! The Onion followed up a minute or two later with: "BREAKING: Capitol building being evacuated. 12 children held hostage by group of armed congressmen." This made it clear the tweets were related to a story on the Onion's website "Congress Takes Group of Schoolchildren Hostage," satirizing the budget fight—an article about as offensive as anything on the Onion any day.
Still, Twitter was outraged. More than that, the US Capitol Police sent out an email to counter the reports: "There is no credibility to these stories or the twitter feeds," the press release reads. "The U.S. Capitol Police are currently investigating the reporting." So, looks like a bad Twitter joke by a fake newspaper has led to a Capitol Police investigation? It's like something from the Onion! yuk yuk. Here's hoping the Onion gets cleared quickly.
Here's the full USCP press release:
From: Schneider, Kimberly A.
Sent: Thursday, September 29, 2011 11:01 AM
Subject: USCP Notice: False Reporting via Twitter
It has come to our attention that recents twitter feeds are reporting false information concerning current conditions at the U.S. Capitol. Conditions at the U.S. Capitol are currently normal. There is no credibility to these stories or the twitter feeds. The U.S. Capitol Police are currently investigating the reporting.
Disclosure: I'm a former contributor to the Onion's IFC show