Jokes vs. Reality: The Petraeus Scandal Edition

Alexander Abad-Santos
The Atlantic Wire
Jokes vs. Reality: The Petraeus Scandal Edition

On Friday, the bottom fell out on the news cycle. After the election, we really thought we were in for weeks heaped on top of weeks of Fiscal Cliff sorting, explaining and whatnot. And then there was this shiny Petraeus was gifted from the gods of slow news days, which now involves showrunners from Law And Order SVU. Wait what? 

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Well yes, an SVU thing did happen. And it is part of this case (more on that later), but it just shows you how weird and tumbly this whole thing got. We're at the point where the line between facts and jokes regarding this case are blurred. 

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That said, we want to help. Here's a smattering of some of the most outrageous things to come out of this scandal (for more in-depth coverage check out our coverage here) so far (both jokes and facts) and the truth behind them: 

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This has something to do with Elmo. 

Verdict: No. That was a joke. But it has to do with emails, which the voice of Elmo did use inappropriately. 

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There are shirtless pictures.

Verdict: True. But they aren't of old generals. They're actually from a not-so-shy FBI agent who was involved in the whole thing.

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Washington, D.C. and Virginia have been evacuated.

Verdict: Nope, just a joke.

The New York Post has run a "Love Pentagon" headline. 

Verdict: False. And not yet. But they did go with "Cloak and Shag Her."

A news organization accidentally used a doctored version of Broadwell's All In biography of Petraeus.

Verdict: True. And to be clear it was a Denver ABC affiliate who used a doctored image which had the title of Broadwell's book.

There is actually a world of fetishists out there who love old, wrinkly generals, and Katie Roiphe wrote about them.

Verdict: Half-true. No word yet on the fetish, and we'll find out soon enough if that world exists. But, troll goddess Katie Roiphe does have a column telling everyone to get over this affair.

There's a Real Housewives of Tampa in the works. 

Verdict: Nope. This is a joke which hinges on the whistleblower, Jill Kelley, living in Tampa and the awful Bravo franchise.

The team at Law and Order: SVU, which knows how to deal with ridiculousness, can't even keep up with the ridiculousness of this all

Verdict: Truth wrapped in a joke. This is a joke from a showrunner for SVU: 

Memo to:FBI/CIA/NATO/SesameStreet From:SVU Writers' Room--Please slow it down, we're having a hard time getting this all down.

— Warren Leight (@warrenleightTV) November 13, 2012

David Petraeus got a promotion.

Verdict: False. You're probably thinking of the video game Call of Dutyin its newest installment, he's portrayed as the Secretary of Defense.

There's an evil twin sister

Verdict: Half true. Jill Kelley has a twin sister and she has been called "unstable" but she isn't "evil."

Paula Broadwell is neighbors with John Edwards's mistress Rielle Hunter. 

Verdict: True. It's not like Hunter lives in Antarctica. Someone has to be her neighbor. But apparently Paula Broadwell lives about 1.6 miles away from Hunter, according to the Daily Beast.

You're involved in the Petraeus scandal. 

Verdict: Maybe. It's too soon to tell.