Hostage situation in Congress, 'The Onion' reports

Breaking News: Armed members of Congress have taken 12 kids hostage — at least, according to The Onion, the satirical newspaper and website.

The situation began earlier today when The Onion  tweeted, “BREAKING: Capitol building being evacuated. 12 children held hostage by group of armed congressmen. #CongressHostage.” An hour later, another tweet read, “Arlington gun shop confirms Rep. @EricCantor bought 6 semi-automatic handguns, 3 rifles & 600 clips of ammo last month #CongressHostage.”

They then linked to a video of the “hostages” in Congress, with voices being heard to say, “Hey Boehner, this kid’s got a phone,” followed by a gun-shot. As of right now, The Onion is still tweeting updates about the ongoing hostage situation.

The story is fake, but the response in the past hour has been very real. The Washington Post reached out to The Onion questioning the validity of the tweets. The Onion responded, “This is satire. That’s how it works.” U.S. Capitol Police were also called and they have just released a statement saying, “Conditions at the U.S. Capitol are currently normal.”

Lost on some of The Olds seems to be the obvious, and, in my opinion, really well done satire regarding our Congress’ gridlock over everything from social security to the debt ceiling. American leaders really are holding future generations hostage for political points and posturing.

This isn’t the first time The Onion has gotten into hot water with individuals not in on the joke. In 2002, readers of the Beijing Evening News were treated to the fake story about the U.S Congress threatening to move out of Washington being reported as fact.

PopWatchers: Did The Onion go too far? Are there really that many people in this day and age who don’t know what The Onion is all about? What does it say about our current political situation that people believed this story?

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Comments (29 total) Add your comment
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  • PrincessBride

    I remember once when my mother said “They couldn’t print it if it wasn’t true”. My response was “obviously you’ve never read the Onion”.

    Personally, I think it’s pretty funny and dead-on satire. Let’s not go all “War of the Worlds” here people….

    • Ikagirl

      This country has no sense of humor anymore. Look at the large nunbers of people that fall for April 1st gags on the net.

      • lisa g.

        A sense of humour requires a level of intelligence rarely found these days. Bewbes, drugs, and violence – these are universally understood to be entertaining.

  • S.

    Only 600 rounds of ammo? LOL

    • pastafarian

      Clips, not just rounds. Let’s get the fake facts straight.

  • lisa g.


  • Lauren

    Ummm it’s the Onion! That’s like condemning The Daily Show for twisting information. Reporting rules don’t apply to satire.

  • Sigh

    Everyone need to check out The Onion’s Facebook page – there are literally hundreds of people everyday who are absolutely OUTRAGED at whatever story has just been published. (Didn’t they know what The Onion actually WAS before they ‘liked’ it?)

    • @Sigh

      They probably clicked on it because “Hey, there’s onions in my pasketti! I like onions!”

      • amy

        lol, My son used to say basketti! It was so cute. He’s 11 and still won’t eat onions!

  • R.J. MacReady

    Look, I like the Onion as much as the next person, but a deadpan reporting of a serious crime can, in fact, be a serious crime. I appreicate the satire, but this comes dangerously close to shouting “Fire” in a crowded movie theater.

    • LM


    • Old Man Weldon

      Actually, it’s more akin to shouting “fire” in a crowded movie theater filled with people who know that that particular movie theater is well known for people falsely shouting “fire” in it, because that’s what the movie theater has been doing for over a decade. Then one day the Washington Post calls them to see if, in fact, there is a fire in the theater.

      • R.J. MacReady

        That’s a fair point. Because The Onion is featured in the Twitter feed I can see that argument, hence the use of the word “close.” But the first tweet was very spare and announces an idea that only really became an obvious joke when the additional details were added.

      • lisa g.

        We need more sensitivity towards movie theaters so this will not happen again.

    • paula

      Wrong. This is The Onion. That’s what they do. Anyone who doesn’t like them is welcome to stop following them on Twitter and elsewhere. This is straight-up brilliant satire, and satire doesn’t really work if you have to follow up each statement with “Just kidding!!” to make sure the dummies don’t get confused.

  • c

    I love the Onion! And sadly some people believe most of its stories, not just the most sensational ones. There’s even a Tumblr comprised entirely of people’s facebook statuses in reaction to Onion stories they think are true.
    That being said, it’s a shame that the Capitol Police had to devote time to this instead of real issues. I’d hate to think the 911 lines would be busy or something with people calling in freaking out.

  • Mike

    The Onion has been around forever, and all of the stories it reports are fake and always have been. It’s not like they have some true ones in there to throw off people. The human race continues on its path toward an idiocracy.

  • Mike Charnoff

    I can think of at least one exception to the rule that The Onion publishes untrue stories. I recall that when Arnold Schwarznegger was first elected governor, The Onion ran a straight-forward article precisely because it was so absurd already. The headline was something like “Muscleman Elected to Govern World’s 5th Largest Economy”, and tracked his path from the Austrian military, to body building competitions, to Hollywood movies. Brilliant.

  • Frank OFile

    I love The Onion but this didn’t work. FAIL.

  • Joe Blow

    It would be funnier if they satired Obama committing suicide (politically of course… hows that sound? funny?) Some jokes really aren’t funny, even if I am being satirical. Wake up america, being allowed to say something doesn’t mean we should.

  • Duane

    The report by the capital police that conditions are normal, may be the most depressing part of this story.

  • LOL

    It may not be funny to you, but to get bent out of shape about it shows your stupidity. The Onion will be around long after you’re gone.

  • paula

    I love The Onion. I put this story (and the ridiculous response to it) right up there with Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal.”

  • jason

    People are sooooo dumb!! This Onion is Awesome!!

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