We have yet another fake story that has been picked up by various sites and run as an actual news story. The latest story by the Daily Currant claimed Minnesota Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann was irate in finding falafel on a menu for school lunches and called for it to be banned as an example of “jihadi food.” The story went viral and I had a number of people send it to me to be posted. It is entirely untrue but many followed the old adage that this was “a fact too good to check.” The wide circulation of the story comes after the “stench” barely cleared after a Politico story last week targeting another Republican, Mitt Romney.
We have seen unwitting foreign media run Onion stories due to a lack of understanding of the nature of that publication. Thus, Iranian press recently ran a “new poll” showing 77 percent of white rural voters preferred Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad over U.S. President Barack Obama . . . and would prefer to go out for a beer with Ahmadinejad than Obama. The state-controlled media outlet however did admit the mistake but insisted that “we do believe that if a free opinion poll is conducted in the US, a majority of Americans would prefer anyone outside the US political system to President Barack Obama and American statesmen.” This of course showed that there is little difference between the content of the Onion and the Iranian New Agency except that the former parodies other news organizations while the latter is a parody of itself.
We have also seen the same phenomenon in the United States recently as when a variety of sites picked up a Politico story by Roger Simon where he reported that Vice Presidential Candidate Paul Ryan had developed the habit of calling Mitt Romney “the stench.” While the story has a graph at the end that indicated it was a joke, it read like a straight news story in one of the largest political sites. Later the site added a disclaimer at the top stating “Editor’s note: Some readers were confused that this Roger Simon column was satire. Please see Roger’s note at the end . . . ” One reason that the story was taken seriously is that it was not particularly funny, usually a sign of satire as with the Onion or Bachmann stories. The other reason is that graph did not appear until after the jump on the page so unless you clicked to turn the page, you would not see the final graph. The graph read: “[Author’s note: Jonathan Swift did not really want Irish people to sell their children for food in 1729; George Orwell did not really want the clocks to strike thirteen in 1984; Paul Ryan, I am sure, calls Mitt Romney something more dignified than “Stench” and Microsoft did not invent PowerPoint as a means to euthanize cattle. At least I am pretty sure Microsoft didn’t.]” Various sites did not see or get the veiled joke, particularly because the stench reference came from a widely reported comment by Craig Robinson, a former political director of the Iowa Republican Party in the New York Times. Robinson remarked “I hate to say this, but if Ryan wants to run for national office again, he’ll probably have to wash the stench of Romney off of him.” The fact that the Simon piece was not funny led many to conclude that it was not satire but true. The story was picked up by Paul Krugman, Mediasite, Moderate Voice, MSNBC, Raw Story, and others.
The Daily Currant posting did not even have a graph at the end with a veiled suggestion that its story was false. You had to know that the Daily Currant is a satirical newspaper. In today’s fast-moving Internet news cycle, the story was quickly reprinted without any references to the newspaper or satire.
The Daily Currant can at least defend itself as a satirical publication even if it is less well-known than the Onion. Politico of course has made great strides to establish itself as an important news site.
We have all been duped at one point or another by such stories which are quickly grabbed and reprinted. There was clearly an insatiable appetite for embarrassing Bachmann stories. I dodged this one and the Politico story but only by the grace of God and uncharacteristic restraint. This is one
fish falafel story that needs to be thrown back into the frier.
Some stories are just too perfect and delicious. We would all be better off listening to the advice of Sky Masterson to Nathan Detroit:
Source: Daily Currant