Last week, the McDonald’s Twitter account got into a bit of trouble when it sent a tweet to President Trump calling him a “disgusting excuse for a president”. We still don’t know what happened (McDonald’s said its account was “compromised”) but Fortune magazine noted that it wasn’t the first time that McDonald’s had been aggressive against a sitting president.
In an article on Friday, Fortune magazine cited a 1973 telegram sent from McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc to Nixon. The message? “RICHARD NIXON RETIRE BITCH.” But, of course, the telegram was fake.
Fake telegram designed to look like it was from 1973 and sent by Ray Kroc to the White House, reading “RICHARD NIXON RETIRE BITCH” (Twitter)
The fake telegram was created by Toronto Twitter user matttomic, and surprisingly, some people took issue with what seemed like an obvious fake. They blamed the fact that Fortune took the telegram’s authenticity at face value on matttomic rather than on Fortune writers not using a bit of common sense. One freelance writer for the Daily Mash (Britain’s attempt at emulating The Onion) was particularly displeased.
“You can blame ‘old’ media for not being social media-savvy enough yet. Or stop doing unhelpful faked tweets for sweet, sweet RTs. Your call,” Nick Pettigrew, the alleged comedy writer, tweeted.
But we have to side with the fake telegram creator in this case. People generate fake news all the time that’s meant to deceive. But anyone who thinks that the founder of McDonald’s actually sent President Nixon a telegram with the words “retire bitch” deserves a bit of ridicule. This was an obvious joke.
The original news item in Fortune read:
Few people need a weekend as badly as McDonald’s social media managers. Hackers cracked the company’s official Twitter account Thursday and used it to send an abusive message to President Trump. The company deleted the tweet and made its excuses before Trump supporters could raise a head of steam to boycott the company as they have done with, for example, Starbucks, which promised to hire more refugees in the wake of the proposed travel ban. The incident was an eerie echo of an episode in 1973, when a McDonald’s employee sent an abusive telegram (“RETIRE B***H”) to Richard Nixon under the name of then-CEO Ray Kroc, an avid Nixon supporter.
Oddly enough, this reporter for Fortune was smart enough to know that Ray Kroc supported Nixon, but couldn’t apply enough scepticism to realise that perhaps this was a modern creation of the internet.
Fortune eventually issued a correction:
CORRECTION: The original version of this article incorrectly referred to an earlier similar incident, which did not actually happen.
And it’s all too bad. It’d be fun to make people of the future believe that Richard Nixon received a telegram from the future that read “retire bitch”.
The phrase has decidedly 21st century origins, stemming from when actor Danny DeVito tweeted out “Antonin Scalia retire bitch” back in 2013. So not exactly something you’d hear in 1973, let alone from the CEO of a major corporation to the American president.
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