[I worked on this issue.]

That stupid Brenda Warner joke was made worse by the fact that the original headline was slated to read, "Kurt Warner Cheered To Victory By Wire-Haired Man-Goblin." My memory is a little foggy on this, but I believe we'd sent the paper to bed early so we could watch the Super Bowl on a day when we'd otherwise be in the office, but then the Patriots' upset forced us to frantically change it before the papers could be printed. (Yes, we thought of ourselves as a paper first and a website second, and no, I don't believe any of us actually got to yell, "Stop the presses!" But this one came close. If nothing else, this anecdote should give you a sense of how unexpected that first Tom Brady Super Bowl win really was.)

As for the one about the senator forced to dance for the tobacco industry's amusement, this seemingly innocuous joke involves maybe the single greatest editing save I've ever made in my life. The senator in the story is John Edwards, because they *really* wanted it to be a Southern Democrat. When we dinged Edwards in the piece that ran, his staff and supporters got SO MAD, in part because Edwards had made "taking on the tobacco industry as a crusading lawyer" so central to his brand in North Carolina. What no one knew is that the Southern Democrat the writers originally picked for the story -- I swear this is true -- had lost both of his legs in Vietnam and thus wasn't dancing for anyone's amusement. You might know the story of the since-departed U.S. Sen. Max Cleland (D-GA), but in early 2002, The Onion's writers hadn't quite caught up.

Expand full comment