The Onion: In the era of Trump, satire and reality are interchangeable

According to the editor-in-chief of the classic satire publication The Onion, writing about the Trump administration is challenging because so much of what comes out of the White House already seems like satire.

“The other challenge about this administration is that so many of their policies and things, like for the EPA, they almost feel like satire,” Chad Nackers said in a Q&A interview with POLITICO.

“You’re just cutting everything that would protect the environment or making it easier for people to pollute,” Nackers said. “That’s the kind of thing that you would in the past make jokes about.”


As The Onion tries to find its footing in the Trump era, its writers have increasingly focused on the people around the president. Vice President Mike Pence is often depicted as a repressed religious fanatic who, in one memorable article, refused to be alone with a bottle of Mrs. Butterworth maple syrup until his wife arrived. Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr., known as the “Trump boys” in The Onion’s lexicon, are cast as bumbling simpletons whose misadventures — from setting up their own makeshift law firm in the White House’s electrical room to interrupting an intelligence briefing with sofa cushions duct-taped to their bodies — are the closest thing to the site’s wildly successful mockery of former Vice President Joe Biden.

Nackers added that the political divisions in the country also make covering Trump difficult.

“We’re so divided in this country politically right now that I feel like people can be very dismissive if they think you’re doing a joke that’s critical of Trump.”

“On the other hand, I think overly left-leaning people can be too on board with anything someone says, not even an Onion thing,” Nackers said.

Nackers added that the media does the public a disservice when they focus too much attention on the minutia of Trump’s personality.

“In a way, they’re doing exactly what he wants: freaking out about nothing,” Nackers said about the media covering Trump. “And that’s what’s been happening a lot in this country.

“They’re freaking out about small things and they’re not listening to each other and realizing that a lot of things that people tend to disagree about aren’t that far apart and it gets caught up in being really emotional.”

Featured image via screen grab/YouTube

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