Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Onion Reporter Fired for Plagiarizing Truth

Editors at "The Onion" newspaper announced today that they had dismissed a reporter for submitting an article that misrepresented truth as fiction. " Editor Mary Pat O'Hara stated that "not only were elements of the article factual but the article as a whole was factual rather than the Onion's standard fabricated fiction." In recent years The Onion has gained the stature of being the pre-eminent source of "fake news" and arguably the paper of record for fabricated or fictional news. O'Hara's statement included an apology to their readers and a promise of an internal investigation including an ongoing audit of all stories written by the reporter.

The reporter it was revealed was, Ted Smith, a 2 year employee of "The Onion" Publishing Corporation. He was fired on Monday. According to O'Hara, Smith started as a contributor to the Horoscope section but in recent months had moved up to feature articles. The editor stated that Smith "showed flashes of comedic brilliance but there were warning signs which went unheeded, unfortunately." While O'Hara refused to elaborate at this time on those warning signs, anonymous sources within the newspaper say Smith had submitted several stories on the torture in Iraq, the 2004 election, and Republican corruption which had raised questions. One source related that Smith would " come in with some great shit you know, we'd be rolling on the floor and then it'd go to the fact checker who would come back all grim faced saying the story was practically verbatim from the New Yorker or the Times or some shit like that."

Another source related they do not think Smith was intentionally palgiarizing stories. The source stated that "I really think he was just thinking up stuff you would never dream would really happen and then whamo you find out it had. I just think the guy was cursed by the times. It's been rough you know lately, but thank God for Google and Lexis/Nexis otherwise it could get really embarrassing you know.....ruin our reputation."

O'Hara refused comment on Smith's intentions as the matter is still under investigation. She did say that the editors are considering the appointment of an ombudsman at the venerable institution. O'Hara stated "you know it's tough in today's political environment. The Bush administration has brought many challenges for us. Also , this is a business after all and we must compete with other "fake news" sources. Jon Stewart's Daily Show has been kicking our ass. People get stoned and just let TDS wash over them. They don't want to read or have to put any effort in to being amused. So it puts pressure on our reporters to keep coming up with bigger and better tales. Unfortunately, in this case the bigger tales were true."

One anonymous source within the paper put it like this. "Everyone thinks Bush is such a gift to comedy. Well all I have to say is be careful what you ask for. It gets harder everyday to make this shit up. These guys may ruin us yet."

Mr. Smith was unavailable for comment. In a statement released through his lawyer however Smith denies any intentional wrongdoing in the matter. Smith's attorney added, "my client will be vindicated once this is all over. What we see here is a problem that all comedians have been struggling with for the last 4 years but has not been brought to light until now. It is very diificult to fictionalize news and make it funny when the real deal is so hillarious and dripping with irony. Ted Smith is no perpetrator of fraud.....he is a victim of our times and deserves your empathy."

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