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October 03, 2012 12:49 PM Obama to Regulate Satire Industry; GOP Calls Move Job Killer

By Hans Noel

In the wake of a series of satirical articles being mistaken for the real news, President Obama took steps today to regulate the satire industry. House Republicans immediately painted the move as socialism that would cripple job creators.

The White House announced the Let America Understand Genuine Humor Act, which will require, among other things, that any satirical website not called The Onion announce that it is satire in flashing letters at the top of the page.

“Americans are good at detecting satire,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said. “But in today’s increasingly reality-challenged world, they are not always sure. So they check the address bar of their browser. If it doesn’t say `theonion.com,’ they say `OMGthisisrealIhavetopostittoFacebook.’ ”

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor quickly denounced the bill as nanny state coddling. “Hardworking, job-creating Americans can identify satire.” Cantor told reporter’s at a press conference. “It’s just the lazy `taker’ class who would believe utter nonsense like that Michele Bachmann wants to ban falafel. Or that Michele Bachmann was grateful that no Americans were killed in the shooting at an American Sikh temple. Or that Michele Bachmann was a serious presidential candidate.”

“They are just projecting their liberal fantasies onto conservatives, who are nowhere near as out of touch as they think,” Mitt Romney said at a fundraiser, when asked about the bill.

“What is worse,” Romney added, “This bill will cost Americans 9.1 billion jobs.”

Author Nathan Poe agreed that the bill seems unnecessary. “It’s true that sometimes satire can be hard to identify,” said the scholar in an interview in which this reporter tried to get him to say what this reporter already wanted to write.

“But come on!” Poe continued. “If you can’t tell a satirical website about fundamentalists who hate The Hunger Games from the sincere websites by fundamentalists who hate The Hunger Games, that’s your own fault.”

Taking controversial action like this in the middle of an election season is rare. But the White House felt forced to react in light of the recent explosion of satirical websites that are not The Onion. At press time, an unconfirmed list of satirical sites mistaken for real news sites included The Daily Currant, Christwire, The Landover Baptist Church, The Borowitz Report and Politico.

[Cross-posted at The Mischiefs of Faction]

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Hans Noel is an assistant professor of government at Georgetown University.
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