This isn't a joke.
Steve Hannah, CEO of The Onion has issued a personal apology on behalf of the satirical news outlet for a tweet that someone on its staff sent out late Sunday night during the Oscars awards.
The subject was 9-year-old actress Quvenzhané Wallis, star of Beasts of the Southern Wild. The tweet read:
"Everyone else seems afraid to say it, but that Quvenzhané Wallis is kind of a [@#$%] right?"
Instead of @#$%, the tweet referred to a highly offensive four-letter word for female genitalia. (Note at 2:10 p.m. ET: Earlier, we said The Onion hadn't spelled out the offensive word. A screen grab posted by BuzzFeed Politics, though, indicates that the whole word was indeed there at least at first. BuzzFeed also says that former Onion staffers are angry that the news site has apologized.)
This morning, Hannah posted this on The Onion's Facebook page:
"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. It was crude and offensive — not to mention inconsistent with The Onion's commitment to parody and satire, however biting.
"No person should be subjected to such a senseless, humorless comment masquerading as satire.
"The tweet was taken down within an hour of publication. 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."
We've reached out to The Onion to ask if this is the first such apology it has ever issued. We'll update if we hear back.