In the past, Chinese media outlets have had some trouble in the past distinguishing satire from news. This time, the country’s largest news agency, Xinhua, published a photo slideshow about female executions with stills that appear to be taken from fetish pornography.
Last November, China’s official Communist Party newspaper, the People’s Daily, mistook an article by the Onion, a well-known satirical-news site, as fact. The Onion successfully convinced the Party newspaper that North Korea's leader, Kim Jong Un, was given the prestigious title of Sexiest Man Alive for 2012.
That editorial blunder almost seems understandable, compared to Xinhua’s gaffe. Though the images seem to have been taken down from Xinhua and Global Times, another Party newspaper, China-based blog Beijing Cream was still able to pick up the slideshow, titled “Actual Record of Female Inmate’s Execution -- Exposing the World’s Darkest Side,” which featured 40 screenshots from a pornographic fetish film released by PKF Studios, a company that produces, according to its website, “quality fetish horrorerotic movies.” More of the images used can be viewed at the Shanghai-based news-blog the Shanghaiist.
Unfortunately for Xinhua, the slideshow is not an “actual” execution and really only exposes the “world’s darkest side” of pornography. To be fair, pornography is blocked across mainland China, perhaps making staffers at Xinhua News less familiar with what a typical porn scene looks like. Still, it begs the question of how these pictures were even found, let alone mislabeled as real photos of a woman’s execution.
This news came on the same day that Xinhua mistook a satirical piece published in The New Yorker by comedy writer Andy Borowitz, which joked that Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ purchase of The Washington Post was a result of “an unintentional mouse click.”
“Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com, told reporters today that his reported purchase of the Washington Post was a ‘gigantic mix-up,’ explaining that he had clicked on the newspaper by mistake. ‘I guess I was just kind of browsing through their website and not paying close attention to what I was doing,’ he said. ‘No way did I intend to buy anything,’” Borowitz’s article read.
Xinhua translated the entire article and published in the International News section of the news outlet’s website. People’s Daily online, the Party newspaper’s website also republished the article as fact instead of satire.