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Fox Nation readers confuse Onion article with real news

By David Edwards
Friday, November 26, 2010 13:32 EDT
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UPDATE: Editors scrub article, comments from site

It was George Orwell, who first coined the term “memory hole,” in his classic novel 1984. For Winston, the book’s main character, his full-time job with the Ministry of Truth is to rewrite history, spiriting away the inconvenient details.

Someone like Winston appears to be hard at work behind the scenes at Fox Nation.

This morning, an article and comment thread related to a piece of satire the site and its readers took seriously, went missing.

The page was preserved through Google Cache, but the comment thread, which showed dozens of loyal Fox readers reacting to a joke story from The Onion as if it were real, is gone.

Some of the comments were preserved by Raw Story in the story below.

For a news outlet to retain credibility, standard industry procedure dictates that reporters and editors not only correct mistakes, but acknowledge them as well. Fox Nation had done neither at time of this writing.

It’s not a good move for Fox, which was savagely and very publicly mocked by other major online media for passing off satire as if it were actual news.

In the wake of such humiliation, the site’s editors can expect to face even greater scrutiny from the online community, especially after vanishing their embarrassment without so much as an explanation or retraction.

Original report follows…

Fox News’ opinion website Fox Nation and their readers don’t seem to know satire when they see it.

The Fox News sister site re-posted a joke from the satirical website The Onion Friday about President Barack Obama sending a 75,000-word e-mail to the the entire nation. At no point does Fox Nation note that the story is a satire.

The Onion story joked that Obama had “reached the end of [his] rope” and sent out the “rambling” stream of consciousness e-mail that addressed everything from the war in Afghanistan to his live-in mother-in-law.

The story goes on to say that the fake Obama e-mail was 27 megabytes and 127 printed pages.

If Fox Nation knows the story is a joke, they aren’t letting on, and many of the comments on the post treat the story as if it were actual news.

“It is really sad that in a time of crisis in this country with troops on foreign soil the economy lack of jobs and now N. Korea once again rattling their saber we have a President sitting in the White House that by what I read in the email is utterly losing it,” Goofy1954 wrote. “We can not afford to have him in the White House at such a critical time.”

“I must not be on his email list, I didn’t get it,” another commenter said. “Oh well, I didn’t miss anything. He thought running the country was just giving speeches to throngs of people.”

“If this story is correct, that he did send out this email, it is very concerning about his current state of mental health,” Famnp worried. “I am surprised he would be allowed to send something like this out and if he is not functioning very well why there isn’t some attention being paid to his current state.”

“This should be enough to have him removed from office immediately……he is now the highest security risk to this nation,” Obamababble observed.

“What you are seeing folks is the human unraveling and development of a self-delusional, irrational madman becoming unhinged. Can anyone say Hitler?” Mmttomb3 asked.

Janerogers wrote:

OK. Long, rambling tirade typed at 4 am. Judgement impaired as he didn’t think twice before sending it. Didn’t think of the consequences. Diagnosis: Bipolar Disorder. And we already know he has Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Omama is mentally unstable and should be removed from office at once. Can’t wait to hear what Charles Krauthammer has to say about this psychotic episode.

Freedomfighter2 said he e-mailed The Onion to ask them to confirm the story.

Markejohn commented:

God Help Us . . . what person in their right mind would send a 75,000 word email.

The guy is losing it and we should all be SCARED . . . Obama is unstable and who knows what he might do

Some commenters have even reported knowing people who received the e-mail. “A friend of mine got the email because she was an Obama supporter,” Bettybonnie said. She forwarded it to me. It was pitiful. My friend thinks he is losing it. I told her I knew this a long time ago.”

But not all commenters are falling for the hoax.

Capstryker pointed out:

THIS ARTICLE IS NOT REAL!!

It is from The Onion. A comedic, satirical news website. Please don’t take this one seriously. Fox Nation needs to either take this down or point out the fact that it is a joke.

The Onion‘s stories have been mistaken for real news before. Mediaite notes that a 3-year-old satirical news video about fake congressman John Haller was recently thought to be real.

With reporting by Stephen C. Webster.

David Edwards
David Edwards
David Edwards has served as an editor at Raw Story since 2006. His work can also be found at Crooks & Liars, and he's also been published at The BRAD BLOG. He came to Raw Story after working as a network manager for the state of North Carolina and as as engineer developing enterprise resource planning software. Follow him on Twitter at @DavidEdwards.
 
 
 
 
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  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_ZPXZ6OIY7TU7MYO2ABK3DYVWVY JPJ

    Funny how on right wing sites they just bash the shxt out of left wing sites. Then you go to left wing sites, they just bash the shxt out of right wing sites. And both say how the other are stupid, incompetent, untruthful, brainwashed etc….So who’s right if no one’s credible? It’s 1/2 the fkn reason why we get nothing done in this country, everybody’s got the blinders on..

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_ZPXZ6OIY7TU7MYO2ABK3DYVWVY JPJ

    FYI: Democrats including our president are millionaires as well (Obama Went to ivy league schools, did you? I didn’t. That’s not middle class my friend). They’re all rich pigs dining together on our dime, regardless of what party they’re with!

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