The Onion have seemingly taken their shtick too far, but, considering it’s their unflinching, satirical take on the news that won them such a large audience in the first place, we’d be fools not to second guess their motives behind such an offensive tweet.

"Everyone else seems afraid to say it, but that Quvenzhané Wallis seems kind of a cunt, right? #oscars2013" came the tweet from the official Onion account. This is an online publication, which, if they’re to be believed, receives 40 million page views and roughly 7.5 million unique visitors per month – hallowed ground for any website. We can assume, then, that the people behind it, especially considering their brand, are smart, on-point and socially aware; social awareness is the cornerstone of their content. Now consider the worst thing that could happen when calling a 9-year-old girl a “c*nt”. Twitter outrage: obviously. A bunch of news stories about the onion: an obligatory consequence. Formal sanctions of any kind: not likely. See, with the anonymity involved – The Onion are yet to identify their writer – the very worst thing that can happen is increased exposure. Something any online content editor will tell you is no bad thing.

Quvenzhane Wallis - QVC Red Carpet Style at Four Seasons Hotel - Beverly Hills, California, United States

Quvenzhane Wallis holds a doggy-bag

We may have got this wrong, and there might be an erstwhile Onion staff writer trawling through the news ads in their pajamas as we speak, crying into their cereal but too poor to throw it away. Either way, ‘c*ntgate’ won’t have damaged The Onion’s traffic.