By Korina Lopez and Maria Puente, USA TODAY
The Onion's CEO Steve Hannah posted an apology on behalf of the staff members who sent a vile tweet targeting Oscar nominee Quevenzhané Wallis, 9. But the mea culpa came hours after the offensive tweet and after they posted a tweet this morning on a completely unrelated subject, suggesting that The Onion had chosen to ignore complaints.
Twitter exploded in rage after the tweet at 11:42 pm Sunday. "Everyone else seems afraid to say it, but that Quvenzhané Wallis is kind of a (four-letter word that begins with C), right?" it read.
There was no apparent reason that prompted the tweet.
Almost immediately, furious tweets began to fly. Almost immediately, the tweet was taken down, but it didn't matter. By 1 a.m. Monday, dozens of tweets per second were being posted, virtually all of them expressing contempt, incredulity or outrage.
Tweeters demanded The Onion apologize.
Tweeters demanded followers unfollow the magazine's Twitter feed, while others said that wasn't enough. The Twitterverse was being urged to make calls, send e-mails and boycott the magazine in protest.
"Not that they would care, but I have no plans of ever following @theonion for their HORRIFIC tweet about a nine year old Oscar nominee," tweeted Oscar-winning actress Marlee Matlin.
The Onion is notorious for its cutting satire, but it's usually at least a little funny. But, as a zillion tweets kept repeating, this remark wasn't funny.