Daily Currant: Who's to Blame When Real News Outlets Report Fake News?

Much like their respective vegetables, everyone knows about The Onion, but very few people could correctly identify their Daily Currant.

Recently, Dylan Byers of Politico blasted the Daily Currant, an online satirical fictional-news site, for not being “funny” enough. His ire came from the fact that news outlets regularly pick up Daily Currant stories as legitimate news, most recently with the Drudge Report stating that Mayor Bloomberg was denied a second slice of pizza at a Brooklyn restaurant as a protest against Bloomberg’s soda ban. The article cited a Daily Currant piece as its source.

Byers blames this repeated pattern on the Daily Currant by comparing it to The Onion, a similar but better-known website. The Onion, he says, has outrageous headlines and ridiculous stories that make their point while still clearly coming off as satire. And while there are still some who believe its stories (like Rep. John Fleming (R-LA) who tweeted in outrage at Planned Parenthood’s $8 billion Abortionplex), they are generally mocked for being gullible.

The Daily Currant has a much more subtle tone, thereby failing in their role as a satire site, or so Byers says. Compare headlines and you’ll see the subtlety: The Onion’s “'F— You,' Obama Says in Hilarious Correspondents' Dinner Speech" versus the Daily Currant’s "Obama Instantly Backs Off Plan to Close Guantanamo."

But since when has satire been required to fall into LOL-ing territory? The Onion is by far the more obvious and ridiculous of the two websites, but the Daily Currant’s subtlety fills a different niche in the satire website genre.

For one thing, while The Onion’s most popular pieces are often political, the vast majority of its pieces focus on funny but mundane events in the form of a fake news story. The Daily Currant, on the other hand, focuses only on international news and “issues of social relevance,” ranging from politics to technology. It’s arguably a more serious website to begin with, exemplified by the fact that many articles end with a “Take Action” link, embodying their message that satire can be an important tool for creating awareness.

The writing style of the Daily Currant also focuses more on narrative, not “focus[ing] on one-liners in our headlines,” while maintaining the satirical touch. Personally, I find something refreshing about a satire that requires you to read the piece to gets its humor. And that’s not to mention that the realization that a satirical piece and the real-world news are so similar really illuminates the insanity that the Daily Currant is mocking. Dare I say it, the Daily Currant makes satire a little more highbrow.

Lastly, the blame for the news sites that use Daily Currant pieces as legitimate sources falls squarely and only on the journalists and their editors. In today’s day and age of the 24/7 news cycle, it may be difficult to check every single article, but a proper source (or at least, a real source) is the very basis of journalism. When journalists can’t even get that right, we have a bigger problem than a subtlely-satirical news site on our hands.