Andy Borowitz, a man who throws darts at major headlines and calls it satire, is a blight on his supposed genre. Which is to say, Andy Borowitz is great at his job.

Rather than make any real point with his work, he churns out kooky, “reshuffled” (actual tagline) news stories that sound just real enough to go viral on Facebook and get knowing winks from idiots on Twitter. And occasionally, people who don’t notice the byline (or by some mercy of god don’t know who he is) will aggregate his oh-so-soft satire as actual news. Which is what happened to one editor at Deadline Hollywood earlier this evening.

Today at 2:40 p.m., The New Yorker posted an Andy Borowitz column under the headline “ISIS Chief Abruptly Cancels Meeting With Sean Penn.” Get it? Because people are talking about Sean Penn’s interview right now, and al-Baghdadi is another famous Bad Man. Another Borowitz Zinger™.

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So (in an act reminiscent of a certain beloved sister sports site) Deadline posted the quick reblog you see above. And about half an hour later, Deadline deleted the story from its site entirely, though not before posting the following the retraction:

A Deadline weekend editor misinterpreted a humorous story posted on The New Yorker website today and filed as a Deadline news story a supposed canceled meeting between the head of ISIS and Sean Penn. The story, which was quickly stricken from the site, has no basis in truth and is a regrettable error. Deadline Hollywood apologizes to Mr. Penn.

The fact that no one really ever need apologize to Sean Penn aside (and the fact that, yes, this is a hilarious blunder aside), this is just another testament to the Borowitz-brand, algorithm-friendly fake news parasites that plague our Facebook timelines under the auspice of satire. Satire that, in actuality, is little more than a vehicle for misinformation and much more like a lie than anything else.

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So no, Sean Penn was never planning to meet with an ISIS leader. And yes, Andy Borowitz is still fucking awful.


Contact the author at ashley@gawker.com.