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May 14, 2008

Newscasters Gone Wild

Sue Simmons, WNBC’s longtime anchor and a grandmotherly fixture in New York’s local news scene, snapped during a teaser for the 11:00 news. The blurb began innocently enough, "At 11, paying more at the grocer but getting less. We'll tell you how to get the most." But then, Simmons hisses at an unknown irritant, "What the fuck are you doing?" (video below). NBC has been tight-lipped about what made the 64-year-old anchor lose her cool, and Simmons issued a contrite apology later in the broadcast. But the cat was out of the bag, and playing piano, and a new internet video sensation was born.

Simmons's Slip

Just last week, Gelf explored the intersection of the YouTube genres of "guy freaks out in public" and "man-on-machine violence." Now, we'll take a look at the equally popular "live television mishaps." The Simmons snipe is a textbook example of the exposed newscaster. These slips can occur when the person behind the desk doesn't realize that the mike is on, or simply loses it on air. This staid newsman gets tripped up, somewhat ironically, while discussing ADD. And in this popular clip, a woman behind the desk accidentally refers to a blind mountain climber as gay. In the early years, the guys at ESPN turned cracking up on set into an art form.

One thing alluded to in the ESPN clip is on-air fighting between correspondents or guests. Last time, one of our guy-freaks-out-in-public videos featured this CNN weatherman, yelling at the desk anchor. And there is also the legendary clip of Jon Stewart playing hardball on Crossfire. Here, we have a reporter and a Good Day New York anchor with some obvious history:

Reporter vs. Anchor

Sometimes the reporter's enemy isn't his colleague, but his subject. In this harrowing video, a reporter is brutally attacked by a man and his wife, while the camera looks on. And less threateningly, this reporter gets pushed by an Ohio State fan during halftime of the big game against Michigan. Interestingly, both of the attacked reporters work for Fox News.

The appeal of these clips lies in the thrill of the unexpected and the forbidden. People watch so much television, and so much of it conforms to rigid norms set by the FCC and medium itself. When Jim Cramer or Bill O'Reilly lose their heads on TV, it's sort of expected. But when Diane Keaton curses on Good Morning America, it's part of the ever popular sub-subgenre of internet video we'll call, "people saying 'fuck' on TV when they're not supposed to." In this field, Sue Simmons is joined by rock bands, sports umpires, and even Jeopardy contestants:

I'll take under-the-breath expletives for $2000, Alex

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- Media
- posted on May 14, 08

the ever popular sub-subgenre of internet video we'll call, "people saying 'fuck' on TV when they're not supposed to."

Would "Fuckcidentals" work as a name for the sub-subgenre?

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