The popular satirical news publication sent out "breaking news" tweets and posted a satirical article about a shooting inside the Capitol and lawmakers taking children hostage. It was meant to satirize recent budget negotiations in Congress and the debt ceiling crisis, which many had likened to a hostage standoff.
Here are some of the tweets the Onion sent out as part of its "reporting":
Reports from those who know Congress say the legislative body had seemed desperate as of late #CongressHostageRoll Call reported that the tweets temporarily set off a brief panic on Capitol Hill, and the U.S. Capitol Police was reacted angrily to the Onion's parody.
Veteran hostage negotiator calls Rep. Boehner's demands "unrealistic" #CongressHostage
President Obama in bullet proof vest now on Capitol steps trying to talk congressmen down" #CongressHostage
Obama on bullhorn: "John, I know you can hear me in there. Please, you don't need to do this." #CongressHostage
4pm deadline is in 15 minutes. Congress still has not received its $12 trillion #CongressHostage
Some compared the Onion's fake hostage reporting to Orson Welles's famous "War of the Worlds" radio drama, which caused panic among listeners who actually believed the Earth had come under attack by Martians.
But as one observer tweeted, "Not sure what's worse, people not knowing the Onion is fake, or that it seemed believable that Members of Congress would take kids hostage."
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