Fact Check: It's NOT Real: 1927 News Article 'Showing America Was Sold To 5 Billionaires'

Fact Check

  • by: Kaiyah Clarke
Fact Check: It's NOT Real: 1927 News Article 'Showing America Was Sold To 5 Billionaires' Satire Article

Is a 1927 news article saying that America was sold to five billionaires real? No, that's not true: This is a photo of a fake headline from a book published by The Onion, a website whose disclaimer says their content is "satirized."

The claim appeared in a Facebook post (archived here) on January 13, 2022. Above the image of an old newspaper page with the headline, "BILLIONAIRES BUY U.S. FROM MILLIONAIRES, Future of Nation in Yet Wealthier Hands," a block of text says:

This is a 1927 News Article Showing America was sold to 5 Billionaires. The Rothschild's, Rockefellers, DuPont's, Harriman's and Warburg's

This is what the Facebook post looked like on January 20, 2022:

1927 News Article America Billionaires Image.png

(Source: Screenshot taken on Thur Jan 20 14:44:44 2022 UTC)

This March 10, 2019, tweet has a clearer image of the headline on what appears to be an old-style newspaper front page. "THE ONION," which appears as the newspaper name, is displayed and circled in orange.

onion article billionaires image.png

The archived version of this headline, as it originally appeared on the website, can be seen here.

An online forum suggests that the article comes from a book by The Onion. An Amazon search revealed a March 23, 1999, print publication titled, "Our Dumb Century: The Onion Presents 100 Years of Headlines from America's Finest News Source."

The Onion's About page has a section that serves as a disclaimer titled, "What if I want to sue The Onion?" that reads:

Please do not do that. The First Amendment protects satire as a form of free speech and expression. The Onion uses invented names in all of its stories, except in cases where public figures are being satirized. Any other use of real names is accidental and coincidental. The Onion is not intended for readers under 18 years of age.

The Onion has also been identified as a satirical media company by several entities, including the U.S. Library of Congress:

The Onion is an American satirical digital media company and newspaper organization that publishes articles on international, national, and local news. The company is based in Chicago but originated as a weekly print publication on August 29, 1988 in Madison, Wisconsin. In 2013, The Onion ceased publishing its print edition.

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  Kaiyah Clarke

Kaiyah Clarke is a fact-checker at Lead Stories. She is a graduate of Florida A&M University with a B.S. in Broadcast Journalism and is currently pursuing an M.S. in Journalism. When she is not fact-checking or researching counter-narratives in society, she is often found reading a book on the New York Times Bestseller List.

Read more about or contact Kaiyah Clarke

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