The Onion parodies the rhetorical strategies of local, national, and tabloid newspapers. As its mediation shifted from newsprint to website and ultimately to social media, the cues suggesting its interpretation as inherently parodic grew potentially diffuse, especially as the act of sharing comprises both accidental and creative decontextualization. This paper contributes to a discussion of “fake news” by tracing the consequences of shifting digital contexts, the ambiguity of original intent, and the rhetoric of parody as put-on.

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