Politician Takes Onion Post Seriously; Ability to Lead in Doubt

(Original story on Politico here.)

I like to share with my friends on Facebook news articles that I read. I guess it makes me feel like people are listening to me. My comments on the articles that I share are also an expression of what I stand for, or not. Sometimes I ruffle feathers because my friends do not understand my dry sense of humor or what I said is taken out of context.

No one has called me an idiot on my Facebook wall in my five years of sharing articles on Facebook but I suspect that more than a handful have un-friended (or de-friended) me because of what I said. I don’t really worry about that because real friends respect each other’s differences.

You can’t really say the same for a politician though. Politicians can’t afford to let their supporters or constituents think that they’re stupid. After all, the people are the politician’s bosses. If I were Fleming, I would issue a statement apologizing for the confusion, explained that it was an article sent to me by an aide or a constituent and that I did not check the source (say, for example, it was printed or faxed to me), and that I did not realize — but should have — that it was a satirical piece. By deleting the post and keeping quiet, he is admitting his ignorance and lack of critical thinking skills.

John Fleming links to Onion story on Facebook

By MACKENZIE WEINGER | 2/6/12 1:57 PM EST Updated: 2/7/12 11:27 AM EST

In a Facebook status on Friday, the Louisiana Republican alerted his followers to The Onion’s May 18, 2011 article, “Planned Parenthood Opens $8 Billion Abortionplex” and wrote “More on Planned Parenthood, abortion by the wholesale.” Fleming’s spokesman Doug Sachtleben confirmed to POLITICO the post has since been removed from the congressman’s Facebook page and said the office had no further comment.

The blog Literally Unbelievable — which posts Facebook statuses from users who think Onionarticles are real — picked up Fleming’s status before the congressman removed it from the social-networking site. Four users liked the post and eight left comments, with one person writing, “The Onion is satire. How exactly did you get elected?”

The May 2011 Onion article details the opening of a “sprawling abortion facility that will allow the organization to terminate unborn lives with an efficiency never before thought possible.” The fictional Abortionplex includes more than 2,000 rooms dedicated to the procedure, as well as “coffee shops, bars, dozens of restaurants and retail outlets, a three-story nightclub, and a 10-screen multiplex theater — features intended not only to help clients relax, but to foster a sense of community and make abortion more of a social event.”

The Onion’s editor, Joe Randazzo, said the publication is proud to count Fleming as a reader.

“We’re delighted to hear that Rep. Fleming is a regular reader of America’s Finest News Source and doesn’t bother himself with The New York Times, Washington Post, the mediums of television and radio, or any other lesser journalism outlets,” he said in a statement.

Hudson Hongo, the blogger who runs Literally Unbelievable, said a “keen-eyed reader” sent in Fleming’s Facebook status after the Onion re-posted the “Abortionplex” article Friday in response to the Susan G. Komen controversy. “It seems that Rep. Fleming, like many others, has given the nearly year-old article a second life,” Hongo said.

Hongo added he finds it “extremely satisfying to see a politician being made the rube by just the kind of sensationalism (in this case satiric), that they seem so adept at manufacturing these days.”

Do you like this blog? Become a fan on Facebook! Follow us on Twitter@SocMediaGaffes! Follow Nicholas on Twitter @nicholas_cheong.

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Author: Nicholas

Experienced Mortgage Banker at Colorado State Bank and Trust. Effectively bilingual in English and Mandarin Chinese. Expert on real estate market in the Front Range.

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