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Old 07 June 2014, 01:40 PM
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Simply Madeline Simply Madeline is offline
Join Date: 15 October 2005
Location: Chicago, IL
Posts: 9,525
Default The Great Satirical-News Scam of 2014

The Onion is funny. These other sites aren't—and that's intentional. They're cashing in on your gullibility and knee-jerk outrage.

While it takes a particularly keen immunity to irony to fall for an Onion article these days, The Daily Currant is a fake-news site of a different stripe: one entirely devoid of jokes. Whether this humorlessness is intentional or not—the site's founder contends his critics don't have a sense of subtlety—the site's business model as an ad-driven clickbait-generator relies on it. When Currant stories go viral, it's not because their satire contains essential truths, but rather because their satire is taken as truth—and usually that "truth" is engineered to outrage a particular frequency of the political spectrum. As Slate's Josh Voorhees wrote after Drudge fell for the Bloomberg story, "It's a classic Currant con, one that relies on its mark wanting to believe a particular story is true."

To choose a recent example: “Obama Pledges $700 Billion Bailout of VA” isn’t a headline whose humor you might miss on the first pass but find sly in retrospect. It’s just an unfunny lie, and any American who doesn't keep a close eye on the size of federal budgets—the VA's was $139 billion last year—could be forgiven for believing it. Not every fake-news site needs to signal its intentions as quickly and openly as The Onion does, but The Daily Currant's headlines don’t engage in subtlety so much as fail entirely to signal humorous intention. That would be acceptable, perhaps even clever, if the stories themselves skillfully exploited the reader's initial credulity, the copy growing increasingly ludicrous until the reader realizes the joke. Instead, jokes sometimes materialize in the final lines, but they’re half-baked at best. The VA story ends with Obama dismissing calls for officials to resign. "Why," Obama asks, "would holding people accountable for their actions be necessary?” That neither funny nor satirical. But it rings true to partisans who genuinely believe that Obama thinks that way—the same people who, in a flash of outrage, are most likely to share the story on social media.
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