Tag Archives: sensationalism

Unofficial Fame Day: Shep Smith

We make an effort here at Culture War Reporters to not only decry travesties but to celebrate advances in art, politics, music, and media. And in this day and age, the presence of an honest journalist isn’t so much an advancement as it is a flippin’ miracle. That such a journalist should emerge from the McCarthyite dystopia that is FOX News is more baffling still.

But lo and behold-

Shep ****ing Smith.

Now granted- Smith’s been around for a while. His career as a journalist started clear back in 1985, and Shep’s been a top-rated newsman since the mid-90s. Still, it would be a decade later, during the “war on terror” that a change seemed to occur.

What (if anything) prompted it, I do not know. When exactly it happened- who can say? Perhaps it had been building for a while, but whatever it was, Shep Smith frickin’ lost it.

In the best possible way.


Now that clip was from 2009, by which time the debate on America’s use of torture (“enhanced interrogation”, to use the official term for it) had already been going on for some time. Again, the exact causes of Shep’s outburst are a mystery to me, but it really doesn’t matter.

This, people. This is the kind of stuff we need more of. Continue reading

Shame Day: The History Channel

shamehistoryWhen I was growing up in Syria, we had two channels. One was the state-run propaganda channel, the other was the same channel, but with slightly less static. When my family did make an infrequent trip out of the country, the first thing on my agenda (after ratcheting up the AC to somewhere between “high” and “arctic gale”) was to plop down at the end of the bed and flip on the TV to see if they had Discovery or National Geographic or- best of all- The History Channel.

Of course, this was back before.

[Editor’s Note: Since 2009 The History Channel has gone by the one-word name “History.” Gordon will continue to refer to it by its original name for old times’ sake]

Now when I covered webcomic Sinfest for a Shame Day, I directly addressed the comic’s creator, Tatsuya Ishida, in the off-chance that he might stumble across what I had written. While I don’t think (1) anyone from the History channel is going to come across this post or (2) give a flying **** about it if they did, talking straight to the source came pretty naturally, so I’m going to be employing the same technique again. Continue reading

Evan and Gordon Kat Talk: Is The World Worse?

KAT: Hello friends, readers, bloggers. Hope you are all having a lovely week. I’ll be taking over for Gordon today as he is currently out on a hot date. That’s what I heard at least.

So, since Evan has let me suggest a topic for today I would like to ask you all (but for the sake of this conversation Evan) is society improving itself or getting worse?

EVAN: Before you elaborate on that, I’d just like to inform our readers that Kat will be dropping in every third E&GT, on the week she’s not writing a Shame or Fame Day.

I’m just assuming there are some of you who look forward to her writing, and I can not fault you for that at all.

The internet’s reaction whenever Kat writes a post.

Continue reading

DC Is Terrible, But They’re Not Homophobes

Look, let’s be clear, I’m not a fan of DC. To be a little more specific, I am not a fan of DC’s business practices and editorial decisions. All of that being said, yesterday the internet perpetuated one of my least favourite of its trends: snap judgement from journalists fishing for hits.

Late Wednesday night W. Haden Blackman and J.H. Williams III, the writer and artist of Batwoman, respectively, posted  a message on the former’s blog that they would be leaving the title. Here’s the section of that post that has received the most attention [emphasis added]:

Unfortunately, in recent months, DC has asked us to alter or completely discard many long-standing storylines in ways that we feel compromise the character and the series. We were told to ditch plans for Killer Croc’s origins; forced to drastically alter the original ending of our current arc, which would have defined Batwoman’s heroic future in bold new ways; and, most crushingly, prohibited from ever showing Kate and Maggie actually getting married. All of these editorial decisions came at the last minute, and always after a year or more of planning and plotting on our end.

From what I can tell, the news was first broken by The Outhouse, and was soon followed by all the other major comic book news outlets. ComicsAlliance and Newsarama both likewise delivered the news straight, but elsewhere this wasn’t the case. Continue reading

Hurricane Occurs, Media Freaks Out About Itself

As Hurricane Irene swept up the east coast, the President issued a warning for 10 states (plus DC and Puerto Rico), people stocked up on fresh water and condoms, and, importantly, vaguely famous country singers tweeted about it.

Another name ruined for at least another year.

But as the storm moved north and decreased in intensity, eventually being downgraded to a tropical storm, grumbling started among people who had spent two hours looking for bread, and New Yorkers especially began saying that the hurricane was gratuitously over-hyped. A New York Times article noted that, unlike the forewarnings, “Windows in skyscrapers did not shatter. Subway tunnels did not flood. Power was not shut off pre-emptively. The water grid did not burst. There were no reported fatalities in the five boroughs. And the rivers flanking Manhattan did not overrun their banks.”

People are generally accepting a better-safe-than-sorry-but-I’m-still-kind-of-annoyed attitude, like the building superintendent who said of NYC’s mayor, “Bloomberg, he did O.K., but he made people crazy and spend a lot of money.”

And there was quite a bit of hype about Irene, mostly in the northern states, where hurricanes are less common and therefore more exciting for meteorologists, like this poor weatherguy who pretends to be buffeted around as people hang out on the boardwalk:

(The worse part is when the anchor says “There are, like, people sightseeing behind you. We can see them.” and he says “That’s because they are hardcore weather-watchers!“)

George Will even had nuggets of wisdom to dispense on the topic, saying “[Journalism] shouldn’t subtract from the nation’s understanding and it certainly shouldn’t contribute to the manufacture of synthetic hysteria that is so much a part of modern life. And I think we may have done so with regard to this tropical storm as it now seems to be.”

New Yorker Editorialist Adam Gopnik called ‘startling’ “the relentless note of incipient hysteria, the invitation to panic, the ungrounded scenarios—the overwhelming and underlying desire for something truly terrible to happen so that you could have something really hot to talk about.”

Many commentators, like editorialist Howard Kurtz of The Daily Beast called out news stations for rabidly covering anything to do with the hurricane while failing to adequately cover the political events in Libya.

And of course, there have been deaths and significant losses in states all along the coast. Just because New York City didn’t collapse doesn’t mean that Irene wasn’t a significant disaster, and every time a columnist starts to talk about “sensationalism”, they are quickly reminded of this fact. But this just adds to the media’s kind of embarrassingly transparent public introspection that seems to be common now after significant unplanned events.


And just for fun, here’s that video of that reporter reporting while getting covered in sea gunk: