The Onion issued a lengthy apology on Monday for publishing an offensive tweet during Sunday's Oscars telecast about Quvenzhané Wallis, the 9-year-old actress nominated for an Academy Award for her performance in “Beasts of the Southern Wild.”
“On behalf of The Onion, I offer my personal apology to Quvenzhané Wallis and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for the tweet that was circulated last night during the Oscars,” Steve Hannah, the satirical newspaper's chief executive, wrote in a post on the publication's Facebook page. “It was crude and offensive—not to mention inconsistent with The Onion’s commitment to parody and satire, however biting."
The tweet—“Everyone else seems afraid to say it, but that Quvenzhané Wallis is kind of a c---, right?"—was deleted about an hour after it was posted, Hannah said. But not before sparking an understandable backlash.
"The Wire" actor Wendell Pierce demanded on Twitter that the publication identify the author of the offensive tweet. "Let him defend that abhorrent verbal attack of a child," Pierce tweeted. "You call it humor, I call it horrendous."
Pierce added, "It doesn't matter what the intent was, it was offensive and they should apologize to Quvenzhane."
“No person should be subjected to such a senseless, humorless comment masquerading as satire," Hannah continued. "We have instituted new and tighter Twitter procedures to ensure that this kind of mistake does not occur again. In addition, we are taking immediate steps to discipline those individuals responsible. Miss Wallis, you are young and talented and deserve better. All of us at The Onion are deeply sorry.”
It wasn't the only Oscar joke about Wallis to draw criticism. During the broadcast, host Seth MacFarlane joked that “it’ll be 16 years before she’s too old" for George Clooney—a line that was met with audible groans both inside the Dolby Theatre and out.
The Onion, for its part, continued to push the envelope with its Oscars coverage on Monday, publishing a red carpet fashion report ("Kathryn Bigelow Stuns On Red Carpet Wearing Blood-Soaked Rags Osama Bin Laden Was Killed In") and satirical op-ed by Daniel Day-Lewis ("While I'm Glad I Won, I Personally Believe Abraham Lincoln Deserved To Die").