Photo credit: Flickr user Afraid of Ducks
In 2002, the Beijing Evening News believed The Onion that “Congress Threatens To Leave D.C. Unless New Capitol Is Built.” Thanks to the gaffe, their circulation of 1.25 million people thought that, like an unhappy sports team, Congress was threatening to leave the District of Columbia unless a new, improved Capitol building was built.
The Onion‘s article included the mocked-up blueprint for the proposed new building and fake quotes from then-House Speaker Dennis Hastert like, “The hard reality is, [the Capitol building is] no longer suitable for a world-class legislative branch. The sight lines are bad, there aren’t enough concession stands or bathrooms, and the parking is miserable.”
When informed that the article was a spoof, the editor of the newspaper was surprised, telling Reuters that the reporter who covered the story was “pretty reliable.” The editor also said he would have to check to make sure the story was false, but if it was he was “sure there would be some form of correction.”