Those familiar with The Onion understand that its political satire functions as social commentary, that its fictionalized stories are intended to shed light upon that which is serious and real and problematic.
In short, it creates fictions that are just as true – if not truer – than what is happening in the real world. (Or, as Tim O'Brien writes in The Things They Carried, "Story-truth is sometimes truer than happening-truth.")
In many ways, right-wing journalism is often identical to The Onion, in that it creates fictionalized news, making up stories that don't actually exist. Intentionally. In this respect, right-wing outlets are equal to The Onion.
However, unlike The Onion, right-wing outlets create fictions hoping that they will be believed as truth, fictions that will actually be read as news rather than the unintentional, self-deprecating satire they actually are. In other words: the motivation is to trick rather than to treat.
A prime example of this was seen last week with the sensational "Friends of Hamas" story about Chuck Hagel. The story was created by Ben Shapiro, Brietbart News's Editor-at-Large, who claimed in a mere three paragraphs that a pro-Hamas group called "Friends of Hamas" was found to be a Hagel donor.
The story immediately caught fire on the right as conservative bloggers and news outlets, intent on tarring President Obama's nominee for Secretary of Defense with anti-Israel smears, repeated and amplified the story.
The only problem? It's not true. No such group even exists.
Jon Stewart famously explained how this dynamic works at Fox News, how the opinion side of the network creates speculative stories for the "news" side to run with and cover as though they are actual stories.
This is how it has come to work in the entire right-wing "journalism" industry, only the so-called journalists have become more efficient, bypassing the need to wait for speculative fictions by simply creating them as original news pieces sourced anonymously.
And this is where The Onion and right-wing outlets diverge. While The Onion critiques our political world with fiction, right-wing outlets create fictions that are worthy of critique.
While The Onion tries to amplify the truth with its fictions, right-wing outlets try to amply their fictions with more fictions.