Today, a bizarre headline on FoxNation.com sparked a chain reaction of shock, disgust, creativity and laughter as readers grappled with its intended meaning. It all began when Fox Nation, a news aggregator with even less editorial discretion than Fox News, published the unusual story "Obama's Hip-Hop BBQ Didn't Create Jobs." What's this about? Did President Obama host a flawed job summit with rapping keynote speakers and a barbecue spread? No. He had his 50th birthday party on Thursday and among invites such as secretaries Tim Geithner and Kathleen Sebelius, the list included comedian Chris Rock, former NBA star Charles Barkley and, yes, rapper Jay-Z. The item was pulled from a Politico exclusive about the details of the party. The odd line about not creating jobs stems from an off-hand remark press secretary Jay Carney gave saying the White House "doesn't create jobs."
The story quickly spread through Twitter with initial shock. "I heard about Fox Nation's 'Hip Hop BBQ' cover, but it has to be seen to be believed," tweeted Salon's editor-at-large Joan Walsh. "WTF is a hip hop BBQ?" added DC journalist Shani Hilton. Slate's Dave Weigel tried to give it the benefit of the doubt—and failed.
Let's be charitable... There was a DJ... who spun some hip-hop, but none of the people playing music were hip-hop artists! Look: When I'm promised a "Hip-Hop BBQ" in a headline, I expect nothing but hip-hop stars and enthusiasts eating BBQ. Instead, I learn that a collection of celebrities, some of them black, ate "chicken, ribs, hamburgers, hot dogs, pasta and salad" and then a bunch of pie before listening to Herbie Hancock. Fox Nation could have gone with the "Jazz BBQ Doesn't Create Jobs" hed, I guess, but why not cut to the chase with something like: "Uppity Blacks Eat Soul Food and Laugh While You Hunt for A Job You Can't Get Because of Welfare Queens, Affirmative Action, and Carjackers."
Then, somewhat brilliantly, Benjiy Sarlin, a political reporter at Talking Points Memo, turned a sad incident into a happy one: seeing an opportunity for a portmanteau hashtag joining barbeque food items and hip-hop acts. Thus #HipHopBBQActs was born.
These are just a mere handful of tweets that were spawned from the hashtag (search #HipHopBBQActs for the whole thing). As it continued to burn through the political Twitterverse, it even got a special guest:
Now that's how you make lemonades out of lemons. And just to make abundantly clear what was happening, ABC News' Tapper landed this finishing note: