The Washington Post

Onion Twitter joke prompts serious response

(Cliff Owen/AP)

The Onion, a satirical newspaper, wrote this on its Twitter feed Thursday morning:

BREAKING: Capitol building being evacuated. 12 children held hostage by group of armed congressmen. #CongressHostageThu Sep 29 14:44:50 via HootSuiteThe Onion

The newspaper followed the “breaking news” tweet with a link to a satirical article suggesting that House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) is serving as spokesman for a “bipartisan group” of congressional hostage-takers. Subsequent messages appeared to provide real-time updates of the completely fictional situation.

The Capitol Police reacted angrily.

“It has come to our attention that recent twitter feeds are reporting false information concerning current conditions at the U.S. Capitol,” Sgt. Kimberly Schneider said in an e-mail statement. “Conditions at the U.S. Capitol are currently normal. There is no credibility to these stories or the twitter feeds. The U.S. Capitol Police are currently investigating the reporting.”

On Wednesday, the FBI arrested a 26-year-old physics graduate and model hobbyist from Massachusetts and accused him of plotting attacks on the Pentagon and the Capitol with small, explosive-laden drones. The man intended to launch three small GPS-guided aircraft from East Potomac Park — two against the Pentagon and one against the Capitol, according to a detailed plan he gave to the FBI, authorities said.

Follow Ed O’Keefe on Twitter: @edatpost

Further reading:

Massachusetts man accused of plotting to hit Pentagon and Capitol

Harassment complaints on the rise on Capitol Hill

For more news, visit PostPolitics and The Fed Page.

Ed O’Keefe is covering the 2016 presidential campaign, with a focus on Jeb Bush and other Republican candidates. He's covered presidential and congressional politics since 2008. Off the trail, he's covered Capitol Hill, federal agencies and the federal workforce, and spent a brief time covering the war in Iraq.


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