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Has the Onion gotten too mean?

It started on Oscar night. That's when the Onion, the online humor publication, tweeted about 9-year-old Academy Award nominee Quvenzhané Wallis, using a vulgar anatomical term.

The tweet sparked a controversy that practically overshadowed Wallis' achievement (she had been the youngest best actress competitor ever), on a night that was full of coarse humor at women's expense, as when Oscar host Seth MacFarlane rhapsodized about female attendees' "boobs" in his opening number. After years as a pitch-perfect and fiercely intelligent comedic voice with just the right amount of moral outrage, the Onion seemed, for a moment, like just another crass, knuckle-dragging comic. The company's CEO even apologized for the tweet, an astounding step for a satirical publication. The writers published a self-mocking piece: "[T]he last five or six days in particular constitute a veritable high watermark for the company."

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