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imperialism & war | media criticism

The Onion Website Joins the U.S. Anti-Syria Club

The Onion is the most famous fake news website in the world, adored by millions who visit the site regularly for a cheap laugh as well as sharp political satire. But even fake news has certain responsibilities.
Recently The Onion began publishing articles that framed the Syrian conflict according to the very biased views of U.S. politicians and mainstream media. Suddenly The Onion's objectivity and satire was reduced to regurgitating the war mongering that the website had previously mocked.

For example, a recent satirical Onion article was entitled: "'Help Has To Be On The Way Now,' Thinks Syrian Man Currently Being Gassed."

The article quotes a fictitious Syrian named "Amir" who is a victim of a chemical weapons attack by the Syrian government. Amir begs for foreign intervention to help save him from the Syrian government.

The article begins:

As Syrian military aircraft rained chlorine gas on his community Tuesday, local man Amir Najjar, 36, reportedly assured himself that military and humanitarian aid from foreign governments must certainly be racing toward the country at this very moment to protect him and other helpless civilians.

Given the current international debate about the use of chemical weapons in Syria — and the potential for this debate to result in a military invasion — the Onion's article is profoundly irresponsible. The article assumes that the U.S. intelligence agency (CIA) is correct when it stated that the Syrian government used chemical weapons against the U.S.-backed rebels. And it incorrectly insinuates that the U.S. government is reluctant to intervene in Syria. Just the opposite is the case. The U.S. government is searching for the most flimsy, completely uncorroborated conjectures to justify an invasion.

But the same CIA also said that Iraq had "weapons of mass destruction," which was a fabricated lie. Millions of lives are at stake in Syria, and the situation is uncertain. Blindly echoing these statements of the U.S. government against Syria only serves to re-enforce these yet-proven accusations, the consequence of which could be the loss of millions of lives.

This isn't to say that The Onion doesn't have a right to satirize the Syrian conflict. But the current situation in Syria is critical, and a U.S.-backed invasion a very real possibility. The Onion hasn't shown appropriate caution as to how its assertions may affect impressionable readers on a subject that is still very much in flux. One need only imagine if the Onion published articles before the Iraq War calling for U.S. intervention against Saddam's alleged Weapons of Mass Destruction. The Syria situation is no different.

To be clear, there has been zero evidence presented that supports accusations that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons against the U.S.-backed rebels, let alone civilians. Middle Eastern journalist Robert Fisk wrote an excellent article about this, while President Obama was forced to acknowledge as much the same day The Onion article was published.

With its Syria articles The Onion has thrown its influence firmly into the pro-war camp. This is significant because The Onion remains — like Jon Stewart's Daily Show — a very real source of political influence; the website has written articles with a sharp political perspective to intentionally cultivate this image.

For example, when President Obama recently visited Israel, The Onion wrote a number of excellent articles about the trip that exposed Obama's unabashed support of Israel while offering zero realistic solutions to the Israel-Palestine conflict.

The Onion has likewise written a number of great articles about the U.S. economy that millions of people can relate to — articles that again expose the lies that U.S. politicians are telling people about the economy. (This writer has posted several Onion articles on Facebook with the intention of raising political awareness.)

The point is that The Onion's readers enjoy the articles, in part, because they trust the writers to base their satire on a foundation of accurate political analysis. Many readers would be less enthusiastic about The Onion if they concluded that some of their articles were mimicking U.S. war propaganda.

Worse still, The Onion's article suggests that U.S. military intervention would be a "good" thing, presumably based on the previous "successful" U.S. invasions that destroyed and fragmented the nations of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya.

The article again quotes the fictional 'Amir':

The United States and many other nations publicly stated that the use of chemical weapons was a line that [Syrian] President [Bashar] al-Assad could not cross and would draw a swift and overwhelming response, so I have 100 percent confidence they [U.S.-NATO] are on their way to save us right now.

After the examples of Iraq and Libya, few Middle Eastern people — even opponents of Syrian's government — would have any reason to believe that a U.S. military invasion would "save" them.

Ultimately, The Onion has zero responsibility to practice responsible journalism, but it does have a duty to its readers — who trust the website's liberal political perspective — not to re-enforce war propaganda that could result in yet another U.S. military adventure.

Hopefully, The Onion corrects its mistakes about Syria before it acquires the sad honor of being the first fake news website with blood on its hands.

homepage: homepage: http://workerscompass.org


This gets tiring, doesn't it? 04.May.2013 08:29

Shaker

It's frustrating enough that we have so many being essentially condescending asses claiming to be the smartest people in the room, and that we have what appears to be a dreadful majority of those who unfortunately feel trapped, can't see or won't take the chance to try some alternative, or really buy in and validate those asses' claims, but now we have here in Shamus another who is simply calling us stupid. Satire is not about offering solutions other than exposing its opposite, which is the solution. Is this the mentality of the anti-Syrian war debate? No wonder it's getting nowhere. It saddens me, just like the debate over Libya.

With tongue-in-cheek, I might add that by this article's line of reasoning, while Shamus is a valid name, Shamus could also be satirical as in 'shame us', and is written by someone who is getting his kicks proving just how stupid one can be through belief in the article's relevance and validity. But that's nonsense, right Shamus?

Maybe the asses are right. There are some who shouldn't be taught to read, live in an Aldous Huxley world in which they're simply impertinent. Worked for the catholic church for centuries, didn't it? And, really, if this article is an accurate assessment of the influence and interpretation concerning the ouput of the Onion, I guess it's time to slash and burn.

Shamus, are you being satirical? 04.May.2013 10:14

anon

Shamus, here is some information that could be helpful, in case you're article is not also satire:

 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Onion

The Onion has a duty to NO ONE(Liberal or Conservative) - as it should be.

Texbook example of Doctrinaire Political "thought" process 04.May.2013 20:31

_

As noted by the above commenters,

this is why the Left (and the Right) populists can not create a substantive / powerful opposition movement to the ruling elites.

Completely imprisoned by their own humorless and inflexible views of the world, and attempting to convey them to others in the hope that new 'recruits' may be 'cajoled' and "join in"....

'Workers Compass' ??? (some sort of 1920s/30s-era Internationale allusion there? get over it, you're a century too late)

best of luck Mr. Cooke.


QUOTE:
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The Onion remains — like Jon Stewart's Daily Show — a very real source of political influence
-----------------

Huh?? The Onion is completely irreverent and intentionally silly (often juvenile) satire.

Stewart's television program — while of course it is satirical — is not nearly as unilaterally irreverent, or lampooning as is The Onion. As well, it attempts to be 'serious' in an indirect and 'hipster' sense; i.e. "We're so hip and discerning to comedic-satirically cut thru/render all the B.S. over at The Daily Show" (intended 'through-message' conveyed self-reflexively to the show's regular viewers).... And Stewart does have a bias/agenda (whether or not said bias/agenda happens to be 'in line' with viewers' own) which is overtly visible to any person with half a brain who's watched the show more than once.

Stewart and his cast/show may (?) be said to have some sort of 'political influence' at least thru mass TV audiences who happen to tune into it (right wing conspiracy theorists, though might?? perhaps see Stewart/Daily Show as some sort of 'liberal trojan horse').

The Onion just indiscriminately satires and lampoons all whimsically and in the moment (i.e. whatever's in their sights in the specific bit they're doing). No consistency or depth to their "criticism" (???) whatsoever, and certainly no -- 'underlying' or not -- political 'agenda'.

The ONION Allows It's Writers To Promote New Wars, Eh? 05.May.2013 12:21

blues

/――――――――――――――――――――
The ONION — Apr 30, 2013 — 'Help Has To Be On The Way Now,' Thinks Syrian Man Currently Being Gassed
 link to www.theonion.com

HOMS, SYRIA—As Syrian military aircraft rained chlorine gas on his community Tuesday, local man Amir Najjar, 36, reportedly assured himself that military and humanitarian aid from foreign governments must certainly be racing toward the country at this very moment to protect him and other helpless civilians. "The United States and many other nations publicly stated that the use of chemical weapons was a line that President [Bashar] al-Assad could not cross and would draw a swift and overwhelming response, so I have 100 percent confidence they are on their way to save us right now," the man reportedly thought to himself as the deadly and internationally banned toxin began to destroy his lung tissue and compromise his respiratory abilities. "Even if I do not survive, at least I can die knowing that someone is currently stepping in to prevent any more grotesque and inhumane loss of innocent life. After all, the international community fully recognizes that anything less than decisive action would be completely immoral and unconscionable."
\____________________

The Western Empire has just used a missile launched from Israel to blow up an already blown up military research facility near Damascus, the capital of Syria. The damage done was likely worth less than the cost of the missile, but we have lots of money. This was just more bullying.

But the ONION certainly seems to have taken the side of the bullies. So it's now off my list of sites to visit. From now on I will go to THE DAILY CURRANT, which is better anyway:
 http://dailycurrant.com/

Here's one of their articles:

/――――――――――――――――――――
THE DAILY CURRANT — May. 02, 2013 — Bloomberg Refused Second Slice of Pizza at Local Restaurant
 link to dailycurrant.com

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg was denied a second slice of pizza today at an Italian eatery in Brooklyn.

The owners of Collegno's Pizzeria say they refused to serve him more than one piece to protest Bloomberg's proposed soda ban,which would limit the portions of soda sold in the city.

Bloomberg was having an informal working lunch with city comptroller John Liu at the time and was enraged by the embarrassing prohibition. The owners would not relent, however, and the pair were forced to decamp to another restaurant to finish their meal.

Witnesses say the situation unfolded when as the two were looking over budget documents, they realized they needed more food than originally ordered.

"Hey, could I get another pepperoni over here?" Bloomberg asked owner Antonio Benito.

"I'm sorry sir," he replied, "we can't do that. You've reached your personal slice limit."

(Stop and Tisk)

Mayor Bloomberg, not accustomed to being challenged, assumed that the owner was joking.

"OK, that's funny," he remarked, "because of the soda thing ... No come on. I'm not kidding. I haven't eaten all morning, just send over another pepperoni."

"I'm sorry sir. We're serious," Benito insisted. "We've decided that eating more than one piece isn't healthy for you, and so we're forbidding you from doing it."
\____________________

If the ONION allows its staff to create articles that promote more wars, then it must be time to move on to greener pastures.