Chinese media has become another casualty of the Onion, citing the American satirical news source as serious. The story that fooled China's official Communist Party newspaper was a report on this year's Sexiest Man Alive. Taking the award this year: Kim Jong-Un, who beat out last year's Bashar al-Assad and 2010's Bernie Madoff.
Without suspecting that the trio of a Stalinist dictator, a murderous Middle Eastern strongman and the biggest financial fraudster in history might possibly be bogus, the People's Daily cited the Onion, running a photo spread of North Korea's young leader (and Chinese ally) Kim Jong-Un, with the headline "North Korea's top leader named the Onion's Sexiest Man Alive for 2012."
The report published online used multiple quotes from the the Onion's spoof article, including this one: "With a devastatingly handsome, round face, his boyish charm and his strong, sturdy frame, this Pyongyang-bred heartthrob is every woman's dream come true.
"Blessed with an air of power that masks an unmistakable cute, cuddly side, Kim made this newspaper's editorial board swoon with his impeccable fashion sense, chic short hairstyle and, of course, that famous smile," the People's Daily also quoted.
The People's Daily ran the article with a 55-page photo spread of Kim Jong-Un in all his best lights: riding a horse, holding a bouquet of flowers, waving in a parade and sporting his signature "fashion sense" and "chic short hairstyle."
The article still remains online, and no corrections have been made.
This isn't the first time an official news outlet was duped by the Onion. Earlier this year, Iran's Fars News Agency lifted an article by the spoof paper that cited Iran's president and published it as its own. The article "Gallup Poll: Rural Whites Prefer Ahmadinejad to Obama" was published on the agency's English-language Web site and also tweeted out.
Although the story had a dateline from Tehran, the article's contents were identical to those in the Onion.
"According to the results of a Gallup poll released Monday, the overwhelming majority of rural white Americans said they would rather vote for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad than U.S. President Barack Obama."
The Onion caught wind of the plagiarism and continued with the mockery, tweeting that Fars News Agency was in fact a subsidiary of the Onion, and shared content freely.
When contacted about the news of the Onion incident, first reported by the Daily Telegraph, the People's Daily said it was not aware of the report.