What happens when a satire is taken seriously?
Following the release of Jerome Corsi's birther book, "Where's the Birth Certificate? The Case that Barack Obama is not Eligible to be President," Esquire posted on their website a satirical piece, "BREAKING: Jerome Corsi's Birther Book Pulled from Shelves!" The problem? The satire was so believable that within hours, Esquire had to add an update clarifying that the piece was not, in fact, true and now Esquire may face legal actions.
In light of President Obama revealing his long-form birth certificate, many consider Corsi's book a rather moot point with an outdated argument. But, as HuffPost's Jason Linkins argues about birthers, "They are only limited by their imagination, and they've so far managed to create an entire alternate reality, so why stop now?"
Yet, Esquire managed to convince a major audience that World Net Daily Editor and Chief Executive Officer Joseph Farah had pulled the book from shelves after telling Esquire, "I cannot in good conscience publish it and expect anyone to believe it." To be clear, Farah never actually spoke to Esquire. Farah also never actually offered a refund to anyone who had already bought the book. It was a joke. Except that instead of laughing, Farah is reportedly considering “legal options” against the magazine, according to The Daily Caller:
“I have never spoken to anyone from Esquire. Never uttered these words or anything remotely resembling them to anyone. It is a complete fabrication,” Farah told The Daily Caller. “The book is selling briskly. I am 100 percent behind it.”
Esquire has posted an update to their piece, a segment of which stated:
We committed satire this morning to point out the problems with selling and marketing a book that has had its core premise and reason to exist gutted by the news cycle, several weeks in advance of publication. Are its author and publisher chastened? Well, no. They double down, and accuse the President of the United States of perpetrating a fraud on the world by having released a forged birth certificate. Not because this claim is in any way based on reality, but to hold their terribly gullible audience captive to their lies, and to sell books. This is despicable, and deserves only ridicule.
It was a joke, but who's going to have the last laugh?