Don't Panic: Capitol Police "Investigating" Onion Stunt

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Sept. 29 2011 12:02 PM

Don't Panic: Capitol Police "Investigating" Onion Stunt

This morning, The Onion's Twitter feed started churning out items about a phony hostage situation, with Republican members of Congress threatening schoolchildren. (Yes, "phony" and "Onion" should be oxymoronic.)

Screen shot 2011-09-29 at 11.52.44 AM

It was a joke hooked to this article, posted earlier Thursday morning. But for some people who work in the Capitol, the joke clanged. "NOT FUNNY" tweeted Jim DeMint staffer (and former Washington Times reporter) Amanda Carpenter. It was only a few weeks ago, after all, that Anonymous hacked the NBC News Twitter account and started posting fake info about a terrorist attack. I was wondering if a hacker did this before I checked the main page, mostly because the joke is so obvious -- hah hah, Republicans literally taking Washington hostage!.

Asked for comment, the Capitol Police's public information officer Sgt. Kimberly Schneider passed on this statement.

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.

That's all the police are saying right now; they may comment later on "investigating" means. Hopefully, it doesn't mean anything. Thanks to Twitter, the joke has been defused as quickly as it was misinterpreted.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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