It's the first rule of politics: make sure you've got your facts right before you start broadcasting your strident views.
But one Louisiana Congressman was left rather embarrassed after he took to Facebook to express outrage over plans for an $8billion 'Abortionplex' to be built by Planned Parenthood -- only to discover it was based on a satirical article written by The Onion.
To make matters worse, the spoof news report had been written a year earlier.
John Fleming -- or someone on his staff -- added a link to The Onion story 'Planned Parenthood Opens $8 Billion Abortionplex' on his official Facebook page with the comment 'More on Planned Parenthood, abortion by the wholesale.'
The link was quickly removed from his page, but not before it was captured by the blog Literally Unbelievable, which specializes in embarrassing people who repeat stories from the Onion without realizing it is a fake news outlet.
The Onion story, which was published in May, says the building is a '900,000-square-foot facility has more than 2,000 rooms dedicated to the abortion procedure.'
'The Abortionplex's high-tech machinery is capable of terminating one pregnancy every three seconds. That's almost a million abortions every month. We're so thrilled!' Planned Parenthood's president is 'quoted' as saying.
The Onion, which wrote the story in light of last year's fight in Congress over federal funding for the group, republished the story in light of Susan G. Komen Foundation controversy, which saw the charity pull its support for Planned Parenthood only to reverse its decision.
A spokesman for Fleming, a second-term Republican and family practice doctor, confirmed that the link was posted but said it was taken down. He would not comment further.
Eight constituents had commented by the time Literally Unbelievable caught the post. One of them pointed out: 'The Onion is satire. How exactly did you get elected?'
Joe Randazzo, the editor of the Onion, played his response to the row as tongue-in-cheek as his newspaper's stories.
'We’re delighted to hear that Rep. Fleming is a regular reader of America’s Finest News Source and doesn’t bother himself with The New York Times, Washington Post, the mediums of television and radio, or any other lesser journalism outlets,' he said in a statement to Politico.
Hudson Hongo, who runs the Literally Unbelievable blog, told Politico he finds it 'extremely satisfying to see a politician being made the rube by just the kind of sensationalism (in this case satiric) that they seem so adept at manufacturing these days.'
Fleming represents Louisiana's Fourth District, which includes Shreveport.