The Onion Predicted Media's Handling of Steubenville Rape

PHOTO: Screenshot from The Onion SportsDomes report on a college basketball players rape case.YouTube/Krister Johnson
Screenshot from The Onion SportsDome's report on a college basketball player's rape case.

While The Onion has been on the receiving end of criticism recently due to its tweet about 9-year-old Oscar-nominated actress Quvenzhané Wallis, when it gets it right, it really gets it right.

Case in point: Its take on how the media covers rape cases.

The Steubenville rape case is a prime example of how the media can missplace its focus when covering sexual assault cases, particularly when it involves "upstanding members of the community," like celebrated football players.

As points out, CNN's Poppy Harlow, Candy Cowley, and Paul Callan spent several minutes lamenting how a guilty verdict will "haunt" the two young football players found guilty of raping a 16-year-old girl in 2012. Rather than discussing the justice served or on the crimes they committed, these journalists spent six minutes discussing the young men and their reactions in court, including how the father of one of the teens told him "I love you" for the first time.

Soon after CNN's report aired, Krister Johnson, a former writer for The Onion SportsDome, shared a segment he'd written that bore some striking similarities. "I was a staff writer on the Onion's show "SportsDome" which aired on Comedy Central in 2011," Johnson wrote on YouTube. "This is one of the stories we did -- full credit to David Iscoe ( for the idea and script. It could have been produced by the CNN team covering the Steubenville rape verdict."

The segment tells the story of a college basketball star whose "greatest achievement came off the court" when he "overcame the trauma of committing a terrible rape." You can watch the video here.

Here are some other examples of The Onion inadvertantly predicting actual events:

1. The headline: F*** Everything, We're Doing Five Blades

The story: In 2004, The Onion published a satirical take on the marketing of useless products. In this story, Gillette introduced a five-blade razor featuring two aloe strips (one of which lathers). "Don't question it," wrote the company's president and CEO (liberal use of air quotes here, obviously). "Don't say a word. Just key the music, and call the chorus girls, because we're on the edge—the razor's edge—and I feel like dancing."

The reality: In 2005, Gillette really did come out with a 5-blade razor.

2. The headline: Irrepressible Bad Boy Slays Seven

The story: Back in 2001, The Onion chronicled "bad boy" actor Jordan Jeffries' legal troubles after he gunned down several innocent bystanders while out partying in Hollywood. Jeffries' manager is quoted as hoping that "if we can sufficiently prove psychological instability, an insanity verdict can be reached in time for him to complete shooting on G-Force IV: Maximum Thrust."

The reality: Ahem.

3. The headline: '9/11 Conspiracy Theories Ridiculous' - Al Qaeda

The story: In 2008, The Onion featured a sketch about a 9/11 truther named William Gerard who thoroughly annoys an Al Qaeda operative after questioning the veracity of the attacks he helped carry out. Why, the operative asks Gerard, would the Bush administration "kill 3,000 of their own infidels?"

The reality: In 2011, an Al Qaeda operative named Abu Suhail penned an angry op-ed piece taking on Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for suggesting that the U.S. government had a role in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. "Iran and the Shi'a in general," he wrote, "do not want to give al-Qaeda credit for the greatest and biggest operation ever committed against America."

4. The headline: Lance Armstrong Wants To Tell Nation Something But Nation Has To Promise Not To Get Mad

The story: In 2010, The Onion published a report about a press conference during which Lance Armstrong seemed to want to share something important about his multiple Tour de France wins. "Okay, here goes," Armstrong is quoted as saying. "Um, in the late '90s and early 2000s, I took, um… You see, in order to give myself a better chance of winning, I… Yes, there were instances during the Tour when…"

The reality: Just as the story insinuated, Armstrong did indeed admit to using performance-enhacing drugs during his career.