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A bit of The Onion's trademark satire and fake news prompted Capitol Police to send out an alert notifying the public that conditions on Capitol Hill were normal.
At about 10:45 a.m., The Onion, the well-known satire publication, tweeted that shooting and screams were heard from the Capitol, then "reported" that a group of armed Congressmen were holding 12 schoolchildren hostage.
The original tweets prompted both an official response from The Onion and from Capitol Police.
Capitol Police were quick to issue a release, declaring normal conditions around the building.
"There is no credibility to these stories or the twitter feeds," the statement reads. "The U.S. Capitol Police are currently investigating the reporting."
The Onion only kept going.
"We at the Onion feel it would be irresponsible to comment on such irresponsible reporting, nor will we succumb to unfounded sensationalism until all the facts have been thoroughly obscured,” Editor Joe Randazzo said in a written statement to ABC7 News.
The Onion has kept up the satire, later reporting on “hostage negotiations.”
“If there's a lesson that can be learned from all of this, it is that the First Amendment in the wrong journalists' hands is a very dangerous thing,” Randazzo said. “We will continue to report on this incident, as well as the hundreds of more despicable acts Congress commits every day."
Mark James didn’t think the messages were funny. People also often don't realize the Onion is a satire publication.
Dan Gladstone, on the other hand, said it was no question the tweet was a joke. A fake picture of House Speaker John Boehner with a gun to a little girl's head was posted on the Onion’s website. In the article, the "hostage takers" were from both parties.