The Onion News Network: Cable News Gone Rogue

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Does the world need another inane, dubiously sourced, and paranoid cable news channel? Yes, please! In what began as occasional fake news riffs online, the Onion News Network promises “9 billion viewers across 811 countries, and cameras watching over 80% of the world’s population.” The show premieres tonight on IFC as a half-hour weekly show, promising to be just as salacious as its cable companions. The show’s main vehicle is the “FactZone,” a fake real-news show that’s a mashup of Nancy Grace, Stephen Colbert, and Fox-News fearmongering all rolled up into a laser-packed collection of slick graphics and manufactured mayhem. In one episode pundits debate the merits of Kim Jong Il’s proposition to exchange nukes for a starring role in the next Batman (“risky…but we shouldn’t ignore the possibility that Kim Jong Il could be fantastic as Batman”), and a political analyst talks about presidential hopeful Sarah Palin’s newly released Choose Your Own Adventure book where “she could change the drinking age to 14, annex Mexico, or…”

When did cable news shows become a parody of themselves? The Onion‘s foray into makeup under the hot lights suggests that Fox, CNN, and friends jumped that shark long ago; The Onion‘s just taking the joke to a new satirical high. The show is sensational, insane to the point of hilarious, and totally full of malarkey, in other words, classic Onion. From its focus on dumb news (missing tire, found!), to entertainment plugs (Suri Cruise’s time-traveling kidnappers), to fear-based reporting (most everything else), ONN can break the news with the best of them. And viewers know what they’re in for, nothing but untruths, no foolin’. How refreshing!

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REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

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