||This article's tone or style may not reflect the encyclopedic tone used on Wikipedia. (November 2009)|
||This article includes a list of references, related reading or external links, but its sources remain unclear because it lacks inline citations. (December 2012)|
whitehouse.org was a parody website that Chickenhead Productions created in 2001, though the domain was first registered in 1995. The banner at the top of the website's front page read: "THE WHITE HOUSE" (and then in smaller print underneath) "OFFICIOUS WEBSITE OF PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH". The website was a parody of former U.S. President George W. Bush and his family, friends and administration. The website did not change its George W. Bush theme for more than a year after President Barack Obama took office on January 20, 2009, but has since changed the website address to whitehouse.georgewbush.org.
To avoid confusion between the parody and the bona fide White House website, the words "A Chickenhead Production parody" and a link to a disclaimer are listed at the bottom of each webpage. In spite of the site's authors' efforts to make the distinction obvious, some of the reader mail posted to the website indicates that some readers nevertheless believe (or at least pretend to believe) whitehouse.org is the real White House website. The actual White House site is at www.whitehouse.gov.
After six years of regular and frequent updates, the site ceased to be updated from September 14, 2007 until shortly before the inauguration of President Barack Obama. During the lengthy hiatus, on May 30, 2008, the site was briefly removed and replaced with a webpage giving an apparently serious warning that the site had been hacked and that recent visitors to the site may have been infected with trojan malware (although the warning was accompanied with the humorous suggestion that "communist Chineses" may be responsible) along with the announcement that there will be no new updates to the site until the web server is "back under our control". Currently, as of August 26th, 2012, the site is "suspended".
Chickenhead Productions has recently created a similar parody website for the George W. Bush Presidential Library at georgewbush.org/.
Humor and themes
One of the common strategies of the site is to publish news satire via fake press releases following a real event concerning the administration or its prominent supporters. Each fake press release purports to be the transcript of a speech, the minutes of a conversation or meeting, or an official governmental document. Each is accompanied by a severely doctored photograph providing a fictional visual scene for the occurrence. For example, after (in reality) Justice Antonin Scalia of the U.S. Supreme Court came under scrutiny for being a "hunting buddy" of U.S. Vice Pres. Dick Cheney while the Court was considering a case of Cheney's, Whitehouse.org included a fake dual statement titled "Joint Statement by Vice President Cheney and Justice Scalia Vigorously Defending the Propriety of Their Extracurricular Commingling" and accompanied with a false image of Cheney and Scalia together in a hot tub.
The authors depict the administration and their supporters as greedy, arrogant, overtly egotistical, culturally ignorant, nepotist, misogynist, racist, homophobic, xenophobic, anti-Semitic, anti-Catholic power-hungry warhawks who have absolutely no regard for any privacy or human rights other than their own. In keeping with those characterizations, women and ethnic and religious minorities who are in or favor the administration are ironically portrayed as unquestioning flock in (relatively) low-level job positions and who the caucasian men of the administration dislike but keep around for support. For example, former U.S. Secretary of Transportation Norm Mineta is listed as the "Chauffeur" and unfeatured anywhere but the list of members of the administration, while Justice Clarence Thomas of the U.S. Supreme Court is listed as the "Best Boy" and is fictionally quoted responding little if at all to any questions unrelated to pornography. U.S. Secy. of State Condoleezza Rice is an exception to the rule, but one of the aforementioned posters fictionally quotes her exclaiming, "I'm fighting for WHITEY!" Also in keeping with the themes, a spoof of the Seal of the President of the United States, with the bald eagle replaced with a vulture, appears on each webpage.
Conflict with the real office of the Vice President
Whitehouse.org gained some attention in the media in late 2002, when one page on the website was the center of a dispute between Cheney's Vice Presidential Counsel, David Addington, and John A. Wooden, the Editor in Chief of Chickenhead Productions. Addington made what was likely a litigation threat intended to scare the authors into censoring the website. Addington's effort, whatever the intent, backfired.
In December 2002, Addington sent a cease-and-desist letter to Wooden, which read as if an attorney had authored it (consisting entirely of academic language, and containing several researched references to judicial opinions). In the letter, Addington argued that certain characteristics of the fictional profile of Lynne Cheney (Dick Cheney's wife) on Whitehouse.org were cause for litigation should Second Lady Cheney decide to file a lawsuit against Chickenhead Productions. Among the characteristics cited: photographs of her were used for a for-profit website without her permission; she was portrayed in the false biography "in a false light"; and that "few people are likely to notice your disclaimer link" and "even fewer are likely to click on the link and actually see the disclaimer". Addington also cited the spoof of the Presidential seal was displayed on every page of the website, asserting such use of the seal was a violation of federal law. In conclusion, Addington demanded that Wooden delete the photographs and fictional text of the falsely biographical page, and to fax him with notifications of the changes, but clarified that "nothing in this request should be construed as expressing the lawfulness, wrongfulness or inappropriateness, or not, of any other aspect of your website."
Wooden then had "CENSORED" posted in large, red letters with respect to the webpage; for each aforementioned photograph, placed a fake red nose on Lynne Cheney and blackened some of her teeth; and inserted into the webpage a special disclaimer that read in part:
Mrs. Cheney's husband wishes you to be aware . . . that some/all of the biographic information . . . about Mrs. Cheney may not actually be true. . . . the editors of WHITEHOUSE.ORG are confident that any rumors about Mrs. Cheney formerly being a crystal meth pusher are 100% likely to be absolutely untrue. Similarly, any stories about her penchant for licking Brandy Alexanders off the hirsute belly of her spouse are all lies, lies, lies!—John A. Wooden
He then satirized the incident in a fake "Statement by the Vice President" on Whitehouse.org on Feb. 20th 2003 titled "Irate Vice President Cheney Issues a Punctilious, Legally Precise 'Oh, Wise Guy, Eh? Why I Oughta!' Letter to Nefarious 'Whitehouse.org' Terror Portal!".
Wooden also gave a copy of the letter to the New York City chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, who then went to the press to speak out in defense of Wooden's First Amendment rights. Wooden also spoke briefly of this to an editor for the Washington Post.
All those at the Vice President's office, except Addington, then tried to distance themselves from Addington's letter, telling the press that Addington acted without Dick or Lynne Cheney's knowledge and no action (past, present or future) was planned to be taken against the website.
- Addington, David (12 December 2002). "David S. Addington's letter to Mr. John A. Wooden".
- Grove, Lloyd (7 March 2003). "Vice President to Web Satirist: Oops, Never Mind!". Washington Post (Washington Post Co.).
- Berney, Jesse (8 March 2003). "Where's the accountability?". Wage Slave Journal. Archived from the original on 16 February 2005. Retrieved 10 February 2014.
- Welcome to the White House - http://whitehouse.org/ Archived version of www.whitehouse.org