The Onion seems to have registered a rare misfire in the joke department. It set off a scare at the US Capitol this morning with a fake tweet reading, “BREAKING: Witnesses reporting screams and gunfire heard inside Capitol building," reports the Washington Post. A few others in a similar vein followed, and it turns out the site was promoting this satirical story, headlined "Congress Takes Group of Schoolchildren Hostage."
Capitol Police weren't laughing, issuing a statement that all was well at the building and adding that the fake reports were under investigation. Reaction on the Internet has been mostly negative. ("I mean, I know you guys do satire, but I really don't get this one..." went one typical Twitter post. "The Onion botched a joke," says Gawker in its writeup.) The Onion's New York office wasn't apologetic: "This is satire. That’s how it works.” The tweets came a day after this guy got arrested and charged with plotting to blow up the Capitol. (Read more The Onion stories.)