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A Magazine Fell For A Fake Telegram From McDonald's Telling President Nixon To "Retire Bitch"

It took a few hours for Fortune to put up a correction

Posted on March 21, 2017, at 9:21 p.m. ET

McDonald's made a splash last week when its Twitter account called Donald Trump "a disgusting excuse of a president."

Twitter / Via Twitter: @McDonaldsCorp

The company later said their account was compromised, but that did little to thwart the online reaction.

One resulting joke, tweeted by Torontonian Matthew English, got a lot of traction. He created a fake 1973 telegram from McDonald's founder Ray Kroc to Richard Nixon, telling him to "retire bitch."

This isn't even the first time McDonald's has done this

The tweet was so popular, someone even made an 1865 version to President Lincoln.

@matttomic @drewmagary keep going back

People loved it.

Some heroes wear french fries.

But apparently not everyone got the joke.

And then, incredibly, Fortune magazine included a reference to the fake Nixon letter in a round-up of news items aimed at CEOs.

@mattomic / Twitter / Via Twitter: @matttomic

The magazine said the offensive McDonald's tweet "was an eerie reminder of an episode in 1973," and cited the fake telegram.

English, the creator of the joke image, couldn't believe it.

Holy shit. Fortune Magazine thought my obviously-incredibly-fake McDonald's telegram from 1973 was real.…

The sentence referring to the fake 1973 telegram was later removed, but no correction or clarification was posted. Geoff Smith, one of the authors of the post, told BuzzFeed News he was alerted to the mistake just as he was leaving the office, so he initially removed it without adding a correction.

"As I was in a rush to pick up my children, I only completed the correction at the first opportunity when I got home," he said.

Fortune did eventually add a correction to the story, hours after English's tweet.

But the mistake did not go unnoticed, including by some who were unimpressed with the joke.

You can blame 'old' media for not being social media-savvy enough yet. Or stop doing unhelpful faked tweets for swe…

And others who were jokingly unimpressed.

we need to stop doing jokes it is too dangerous.

English told BuzzFeed News it was all in good fun and there were some glaring errors in his Photoshop job that anyone paying close attention would have caught. He said he didn't expect anyone to fall for it, and called it a joke rather than a hoax.

"Never stop making jokes, that's my take," English said.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.