Back in August, Andy Borowitz, The New Yorker's resident digital comedian, fooled Chinese state media, which picked up one of his pieces claiming that Jeff Bezos bought the Washington Post after an errant mouse click. "I think we’re not so much doing fake news as like we’re just early," he told the Wire at the reception following Monday evening's PEN Literary Awards, which he was emceeing. He added that his theory also applies to places like The Onion as well.
Still, not everyone finds a lot to laugh about in Borowitz's brand of fake news parody which has been based at NewYorker.com since last July when the magazine purchased his blog The Borowitz Report. Alex Pareene of Salon declared Borowitz simply "not funny," writing, "Andy Borowitz makes dad jokes for self-satisfied liberals." And following the Bezos-China mixup, Peter Coy of Bloomberg Businessweek wrote: "Memo to Andy Borowitz: China has about 50 nuclear missiles capable of reaching the continental United States. Just something to keep in mind next time you’re writing a fake news story. Sometimes the humor gets lost in translation."
Last night, Borowitz told us, "Usually when the Chinese pick something up, that I’ve made up, who’s to say that it isn’t true. I think it might be, it just may not have happened yet. So that’s my feeling about that."
Borowitz's brand of fake news may have seemed a bit of an odd fit for The New Yorker and its famous fact-checking department. However, Borowitz, who rose to fame as the creator of 1990s TV hit The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, has been contributing humor to the magazine since 1998. "My stories will be as slipshod and inaccurate as they always have been," he told Emma Bazilian of Adweek after last year's deal. But a little over a year after moving in, Borowitz said (or jokes?) that he's finding the news more fantastical than his satire. "For example, today I wrote piece about Edward Snowden offering his services to fix the healthcare website, and then my editor sent me a story that actually showed that the Republicans had been approaching John McAfee," Borowitz explained. "In that case actually the real story was much crazier than my fake news story."