Chinese Media Duped By New Yorker Parody

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Aug. 8 2013 11:39 AM

Chinese State Media Don't Think The New Yorker's Borowitz Report Is Very Funny

ChinaMixup

Screengrab of the Xinhua News Agency article about Jeff Bezos' "accidental" purchase of the Washington Post

The Shanghaiist brings us news of Chinese state media's latest difficulty distinguishing reality from satire: The state-run Xinhua News Agency is currently reporting that Jeff Bezos' $250-million purchase of the Washington Post was the result of an accidental mouse-click while the Amazon founder was shopping online. That, as you can probably guess, isn't exactly how the blockbuster deal went down. Nonetheless, it was the main joke of a parody news article from The New Yorker's satirical Borowitz Report that ran earlier this week under the headline of "Amazon Founder Says He Clicked on Washington Post By Mistake."

According to the Shanghaiist, it was that article that Xinhua references at length in its report, citing The New Yorker but without mentioning Borowitz. Google Translate appears to confirm that. Here's a very rough translation of the still-live Xinhua report's lede via Google:

According to "The New Yorker" on August 6 reported that the Amazon e-commerce businesses founder Jeffrey Bezos (Jeff Bezos) will pay $250 million in cash, has personally acquired "Washington Post." In various media have speculated Bezos meaning behind this move when it acquired Bezos has said "too confusing," he was just not careful the wrong mouse only.
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Of course, this isn't the most embarrassing satire mix-up for China's state-run media. That honor probably goes to the People's Dailywhich ran a lengthy photo tribute to Kim Jong Un last year after falling for an Onion joke about the North Korean dictator being named "Sexiest Man Alive." Then again, several American media outlets have made their fair share of similar (although less hilarious) mistakes recently too, and they don't have the lost-in-translation excuse.

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Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

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