Tuesday, August 23, 2011


The Atlantic Wire reports on a wingnut-media semi-freakout in reaction to today's earthquake, possibly with a where's-Obama? subtext:

... Tuesday's earthquake gave rise to a completely fantastic rumor that slowly seems to be gaining merit -- or at least earnest investigation: That the Washington Monument was tilting to one side. About 45 minutes after the 1:51 p.m. quake, Fox News started reporting that it had gotten reports the Washington Monument was leaning. "Megyn Kelly just shared word that a D.C. police officer told a Fox News producer that there is concern that the Washington Monument may tilting following a 5.9 magnitude earthquake," Fox News Insider reported. The Washington Times picked up the story....

It seems clear to us (though we aren't there), that the police officer who talked to Kelly was referring -- possibly in a semi-joke -- to the distant possibility that something had gone wrong with the monument. This tweet from CNN's Jim Acosta seems to support that: "park police have cleared the entire mall area surrounding the Washington monument. An officer quipped 'so it doesn't fall on anybody.'" ...

Let's see what's happened since then: AP reported at 2:44 that the Washington Monument is all right. The Washington Times updated its story to relay that news (as relayed from AP by The Hill).

Fox? Still no update, more than three hours after AP reported the all-clear, at Fox News Insider or in this FoxNews.com story, which still says,

Marine helicopters were seen hovering above the D.C, and there were reports that the Washington Monument may be tilting.

(Matt Drudge is also still running a small headline that reads, "WASHINGTON MONUMENT 'TILTING'?... DEVELOPING..." -- even though the link is to the WashTimes story that now says there's nothing to worry about.)

I guess the Fox reaction is old-school tabloid scaremongering -- or it's an attempt to make the event seem worse than it is as an implicit rebuke to the vacationing president.

And speaking of scaremongering, there's this at Fox News Insider:

Fox News anchor Bret Baier, who said that many sentiments heard on the ground involved a fear of a terrorist attack on the capital; Baier said those on the streets outside reflected on how the feelings of the earthquake and aftershocks took them back to the feelings directly after 9/11.

The Fox News D.C. bureau will remain evacuated through Tuesday, Bret saying he and the Special Report team will be bringing us tonight’s show live at 6p ET from outside of the bureau.

I guess the pants-wetting nature of the right extends to events that even vaguely seem like terrorist attacks.

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