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The Onion Roils Capitol With Fictional Congress-Perpetrated Hostage Situation


Late morning on Thursday, The Onion tweeted: "BREAKING: Witnesses reporting screams and gunfire heard inside Capitol building."

This was then followed by an "update," and a new hashtag for the story: "BREAKING: Capitol building being evacuated. 12 children held hostage by group of armed congressmen. #CongressHostage"

The paper then posted an article laying out the "breaking news" of the hostage situation -- having it begin when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) "suddenly burst into the National Statuary Hall with a pair of black panty hose over his head and began firing a Beretta 9 mm handgun into the air, shouting, 'Everybody down! Everybody get the fuck down!'"

The article includes a plainly Photoshopped image of Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) at a door to the Russell Senate Office Building, holding a gun to a little girl's head, and flanked by an unidentified man wearing a ski-mask and holding a rifle. The caption reads: "If the money is not delivered by this evening, members of Congress say they will shoot a new child every hour on the hour."

The article also includes a fictional cell-phone video, seemingly taken by a child hostage, seated on the ground depicting Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Rep. Dan Lipisnki (D-IL) threatening the group of schoolchildren. "Lipinski" says, "Hey, Boehner, this kid's got a phone," and the video suddenly stops after a loud noise -- presumably meant to represent some violent act, possibly a gunshot, being committed against the child.

This story kicked off various negative reactions across Twitter. In a very notable example, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's (R-VA) real-life spokesman Brad Dayspring tweeted: "The Onion: FAIL. #notfunny"

A minute or two later, The Onion tweeted a message about Cantor: "Arlington gun shop confirms Rep. @EricCantor bought 6 semi-automatic handguns, 3 rifles & 600 clips of ammo last month #CongressHostage"

It is unclear whether The Onion's tweet about Cantor was related to the criticism from his spokesman, or if the close timing might be a coincidence.

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