April Fools Day is an appropriate time to tell the story behind the satirical report that sent the anti-Obama crowd into a frenzy. I wrote about it briefly in my article Military Oath Change Farce Fools Orly. The Jumping In Pools blog, where this originated, is lot of fun to read. I’m pleased to present the story behind the farce heard ’round the world.
I’m a history student right now, and politics really interest me. I have no love lost for the current President, but I’m not one to believe the crazy thoughts being thrown around the web. However, knowing a little about history and the feelings that some on the right wing of the Republican and Libertarian parties, it behooved me to jump in the fray.
So I started to write work that was tailored to my audience. Being a Republican, my work wasn’t going to break out with the left-wing crowd. I’d written satire before, but nothing that really hit it big. I had written about how MIT declared Obama to be genetically superior to the average man, but nothing really exploded.
So I remembered my history of the Third Reich and the fact that Hitler had the troops swear allegiance directly to him, and not the Weimar Constitution. So I threw some official names on it, gave some juicy details, and tagged it ‘satire.’ But I didn’t spread it. I went to bed that night, and noticed by 2:30 the next afternoon, my site had had over 1,000 views, which was a nice accomplishment. By the end of the day, lots of blogs and forums had spread it (not to mention email) and it had ballooned into over 17,000 hits. By today, that article must have gotten a lot of attention.
It was marked satire, and all of the attention came by not realizing this, not realizing it was on a no-name blog, and not realize that no real news agencies or press releases were cited as evidence. However, this fell by the wayside as the desire to spread the information. Some people got it, and found it genuinely funny. Some people got it, and found the reaction genuinely funny. Some people were told it was fake and thought that it just meant we should be careful. Some people were told it was fake and got angry that they fell for it. And some people heard it was fake, and still believed that it was real.
And no one figured (except for two people) to actually contact the author and ask if it was real. But finally, by Monday the first, a lot of people started to hear that it was just satire. WND, Snopes, and Urban Legends wrote up pieces about the “hoax.”
As for my influences on the satire, the radio host Phil Hendrie is a big influence. Reading all of that history, especially by William Shirer and John Toland were a big help. I hope that this experience has taught people at least two things: one, what satire is, and two, to check their sources.
So if you have time, spread the word about this story, and see if you can fool your friends. Lots and lots of people believed it, and some still do, even with an author’s denial, and a big satire paragraph at the top. I’m going to be writing more satire, and be sure to check the tags before believing it.