Read it and weep

From The Economist:

D2109US0 Real reporting is easy. Making the news up is much harder. So the weekly editorial meeting at the Onion, a spoof newspaper based in New York, is intense. One writer clutches a human skull. Another wields a threatening stick. Yet another walks in late, looking scruffy and eating a chocolate cereal bar. Alert readers would recognise him as the cover model for a feature in 2006 on “Heterosexual Men’s Fashion”.

Someone hands round a list of 124 bogus headlines, all written in the sombre style of the New York Times. After two hours of raucous banter, the list is winnowed to a dozen. At a second meeting, the chosen headlines are fleshed out and writers are assigned to turn them into stories. Recent gems include “Detroit Mayor Throws First Brick in Glass-Breaking Ceremony for New Slum” and “Hero Woman Changes in Front of Open Window”. Alas, Lexington is not at liberty to disclose next week’s fake news. But the headlines that were scrapped are not bad. An opinion piece by Barack Obama, for example, is entitled “Should You Ever Feel Despair, Simply Remember How Eloquent I Am”.

The real Mr Obama baffles other comedians. David Letterman, a talk-show host, describes him as “cogent, eloquent, and in complete command of the issues” and sighs: “What the hell am I supposed to do with that?” The new president is “not fat, not cheating on his wife, not stupid, not angry and not a phoney”, complains Bill Maher, another small-screen joker. Chris Rock, a stand-up comic, likens Mr Obama to Brad Pitt. “There’s no Brad Pitt jokes,” he told CNN. “You know, what are you going to say? ‘Ooh, you used to have sex with Jennifer Aniston. Now you have sex with Angelina Jolie. You’re such a loser’.”

More here.