If you happened to be skimming headlines on the internet and came across one that said “Guantanamo Prisoners to Receive GI Benefits,” would you sound the alarm bells or think twice?
Hopefully the latter. The headline is in fact from an October article on Duffel Blog, a military-themed parody news website (basically the military’s answer to The Onion).
Anyway, that headline made it all the way to the Pentagon, thanks to Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell, or at least the members of his staff that respond to letters from constituents.
Last year, one individual sent a letter to McConnell, referencing the blog post and requesting that the Senator look into the post. Could terrorists possibly be benefitting from the GI Bill?
Far from putting the issue to rest, McConnell bounced a letter off to the Pentagon’s Congressional liaison, Elizabeth King. Wired Magazine recently obtained a copy, which reads in part:
“I am writing on behalf of a constituent who has contacted me regarding Guantanamo Bay prisoners receiving Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits. I would appreciate your review and response to my constituent's concerns.”
Question for McConnell: if Guantanamo prisoners were in fact receiving these funds, wouldn’t it rise higher than the level of a “constituent’s concern”?
Asked to comment on the incident, McConnell’s office chalked it up to a “humorous misunderstanding.”
That may be a whopper, but this is certainly not the first time parody news has been mistaken for fact. Last September, an Iranian news website ran a story with the headline, "Gallup Poll: Rural Whites Prefer Ahmadinejad to Obama". Their primary source? The Onion!
Then there was China. Back in September, Chinese website People’s Daily Online, reported that North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un had been voted “sexiest man alive for 2012”. Again, The Onion was behind it.
In case you’re not convinced the rest of the articles on Duffel Blog are quite as “off-the-deep-end,” you might enjoy another feature: “Nobody Asks, Soldier Still Tells About Boyfriend”.