05/19/2011 12:58 pm ET Updated Jul 19, 2011

Esquire FTW: Reactions To Corsi Satire Provide The Punchline

Wednesday morning, Esquire's Mark Warren published an item on the magazine's politics blog that asserted that Jerome Corsi's loony-book, "Where's the Birth Certificate?" was being pulled from bookstore shelves and was on its way to being pulped. Along the way, the item alleged that Corsi was in a row with WorldNetDaily's Joseph Farah over the matter.

As you may know already, the item was a satiric fake. A good one, too -- had I not thought to check the provenance of the title of a Corsi book that Warren presented as real, "Capricorn One: NASA, JFK, and the Great 'Moon Landing' Cover-Up," I might have easily fallen for it as well. But it was good enough to fool many, and by the end of the day, Esquire got to enjoy a lot of people sputtering in rage over the dupe, including a hilarious insinuation from Farah that he was exploring a legal remedy.

Lots of critics have deemed this a poor attempt at satire for the very reason that it fooled so many people. These are poor students of the form, of course -- high school English classes teach us that Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal elicited similar outrage from people who thought that Swift's plan to aid the poor by allowing them to sell their children as culinary delights for the aristocracy was something he was suggesting in earnest. The Warren post combined the same level of Swiftian plausibility with a healthy dose of what modern day satirists The Yes Men call "identity correction" -- the impersonation of Farah, in order to put the words he should be saying into his mouth.

However, the true measure of Esquire's success can be seen in the responses they elicited from the target of their joke. Consider these highlighted portions from Farah's various statements:

  • "Don't believe everything you read," Farah said, in an interview with TPM.
  • "Let me say this very clearly: There is not a single word of that report that is true," Farah said, to the Daily Caller.
  • "This is an astonishingly reckless report by a company that has demonstrated its total disregard for the truth," Farah said, at his own site.

By now, I'm sure your irony alarms are ringing like crazy. As these sentiments can be directly, and more fittingly, applied to Corsi's book itself, I have to imagine that Warren and his colleagues enjoyed every single one. That's Warren's punchline. That's Esquire's victory. And Farah is going to figure out on what grounds he might be able to sue Esquire? Well, that will be delightful. Perhaps Farah will come to know what it means to be hoisted with one's own petard.

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