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How We Got Even Dumber Watching TV 'News' On San Bernardino
Actual video of Wonkette newsroom
Jesus, but this story was an effing mess. Watching the major networks (primarily Fox, MSNBC, and CNN, although at one point we flipped to CBSNews for about 20 minutes because we needed a power nap), yr Wonkette was subjected to so many speculative iterations of so many theories ("THREE WHITE GUYS!""TERRORISM!""NOT TERRORISM!""DISGRUNTLED EMPLOYEE AT A SEMINAR OR MAYBE CHRISTMAS PARTY!") that the only thing we knew for certain was that no one knew anything.
It's true that the mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, on Wednesday -- killing 14 and injuring at least 21 more -- was and is a very unusual mass shooting story for a wide variety of reasons (and the depressing fact that we have a large enough sample size to make that call is another discussion entirely), but the sheer level of egregious fuckery as everyone shouted "FIRST!" and rushed to break the scoop was basically a real-time master class in the folly of modern media.
Leaving aside the egregious WTFery of The Daily Beast's TERRORIST RICE, which your lovely editrix has already handled so capably, it seemed every single news organization made an oopsie at some point yesterday. For a while there, we were pretty sure the culprit was Carly Fiorina. We have WATCHED THE VIDEO of her doing the terrorisms, and anyone who says the video doesn't exist needs to see the video before they can argue with us, so there, times infinity.
Here, then, is what we learned on our journey.
Nobody Could Figure Out What The Event Where The Shooting Took Place Actually Was
At various points of the day, news organizations described the event as a "holiday party," "Christmas party," "meeting," "banquet," and "seminar." An inordinate amount of airtime was devoted to making this determination. At one point, the following exchange actually happened on Fox:
Fox Idiot 1: "Is it a meeting or a Christmas party?"
Fox Idiot 2: "Well, it's a meeting where they had a Christmas party."
Of all of the myriad confusions yesterday, this may have been the most baffling. There were around 200 witnesses to this horror, and clearly media organizations were interviewing many of them; was not one of them able to confirm what the hell gathering had actually been attacked?
More importantly, why did this even merit discussion?
Raw Story's Headline About The Shooting
For about three hours, Raw Story's headline (now changed) about the shooting mentioned that it occurred "down the street from a Planned Parenthood," which, according to investigative Google mapping, showed that "down the street" meant about a mile and a half away. Also, at no time did authorities suggest this shooting was in any way related to the clinic miles away. Come on, Raw Story, you're better than that. Or not.
The Epic Ballad Of Closet Girl
During the manhunt for a possible third suspect, Fox repeatedly threw to a caller hiding in her closet in a house supposedly somewhere near the police shootout with the suspects. She had not seen anything, because she had been in her closet the whole time, and closets are typically not equipped with high-tech surveillance equipment. For hours , they continued to go back to Closet Girl to fill their airtime. "Let's go back to Closet Girl. Closet Girl, what's the deets?" "Shep, I thought I saw a shooter, but it turned out to be a coat. Back to you, Shep."
Toward the end of the evening, we started wondering if Closet Girl had been the third shooter the whole time and was just pretending to be Verbal Kint to garner sympathy and appear harmless. It was that kind of night.
You'll be relieved to know that when Bill O'Reilly took to the air to speculate wildly about ISLAMIC RADICAL ISIS TERRORISM, he paused to inform us Closet Girl had come out of the closet and been reunited with her husband.
Nevertheless, the epic poem of Closet Girl is clearly a ballad that demands to be sung from the hilltops, so big props to Fox for its vital work. Never Forget™.
Ooh, Gawker Done Fucked Up
At 4: 25 PM, Gawker reported that there was a shooting incident in nearby Pasadena, California, that was believed to be related to the Inland Regional Center shooting. Their tweet (since deleted, obvs) implied that NBC had confirmed the incident in Pasadena was related. Almost as Gawker was tweeting this, NBC confirmed on-air that it was not related. Hey, how's that full-time political blog thing working out for you, Gawker?
Yeah, I didn't enjoy writing this section at all. Perish the thought.
The Second Shooter Was The President Of Turkey For About 40 Minutes
At 8: 29 PST, Rick Serrano of the LA Times tweeted that police had released the name of one of the shooters as a Qatari citizen named Tayyeep Bin Ardogan. One tiny problem with this report was that it was complete and utter bullshit. It took Serrano nearly 40 minutes to acknowledge his boner:
Something might have seemed fishy to Serrano earlier if he'd bothered to Google the name "Tayyeep Bin Ardogan," as the search engine immediately asks you, "did you mean 'Tayyip bin Erdogan?'" Recep Tayyip Erdogan is the current president and former prime minister of Turkey. This seems an unlikely coincidence.
One plus side of this part of the story was that it did lead to this moment of perfection:
Regardless of that one bright spot, this would have been laughably shitty enough, but there's always someone who can make a shitty thing worse, and that person is always Sean Hannity. Hannity took the (very fake) name and ran with it, going on an extended tirade about how this is why we shouldn't let in Syrian refugees, because of course he did. Sean Hannity is and will remain the Omega Dingus.
Guess how many times he apologized for his rant after it became clear the name was bullshit (hint: it's zero).
Speaking Of Which, Fox Was Foxing Just As Hard As It Could
It's amazing that as high as Fox sets the bar for fuckery, it always seem to surpass expectations. It was a team-wide effort, too. Megyn Kelly said that the name Tayyeep bin Ardgoan had been confirmed, but that she couldn't confirm it, which ... seems inaccurate. At one point, the Fox crawl claimed shooting suspect Syed Rizwan Farook was 20 (he was 28). Every single thing Mark Fuhrman said made us want to put our face in the oven.
Bill O'Reilly, meanwhile, was Bill O'Reillying his non-existent heart out, pointing the finger at THE RADICAL MOOSLIMS through heavy implication and basically turning into that History Channel Aliens guy: "Look, I'm not saying it's ISIS, but it's ISIS." His guests agreed that it was clearly ISIS and that they were definitely ISISing real hard.
You do you, Fox.
Everything CNN Did, Just All Day Long
The following are actual quotes from CNN:
"Police exchanged fire with the suspects. I use suspects because that is the plural."
"It's very rare to have this sort of activity without nefarious motives."
At one point I fake-quoted Don Lemon blaming the attacks on #BlackLivesMatter protestors, and Kaili asked, "Wait, is that a joke or a real quote?" In that moment, we realized we really did need to ask that question.
Stay classy, CNN.
MSNBC Got In On It, Too
MSNBC's derp wasn't tuned as hard as Fox or CNN -- which isn't a shock -- but they definitely got in on the act. "If he got away, that would be bad," was an actual quote from an actual person paid actual money to say things on TV. At one point after the car shootout and during the manhunt (at the same time Fox was mired deep in the saga of Closet Girl), MSNBC claimed to be showing Two Active Scenes, when they were in fact showing Two Sides of One Church.
Later, as an MSNBC reporter tried to interview a woman who appeared to be a friend of a witness to the shooting, the woman just nonchalantly walked away. That woman is and will remain yr Wonkette's hero.
The day hits its nadir of gross and cruel when the Council on American-Islamic Relations felt the (sadly understandable) need to give a public press conference despite a) the names of the shooters not even being confirmed yet (at this point, we still thought the second shooter was the president of Turkey), and b) no clear link to any sort of RADICAL MOOSLIMY TERRORISM (there still isn't at the time of this posting). "Hi we are Muslims, we are here to say we don't think Muslims should kill people, you will hate us anyway, thank you."
It was hopelessly depressing, and all the moreso for the fact that experience has taught us it was absolutely necessary. We are disgusting and we should feel ashamed of ourselves.
Fishing For Terrorism
The cherry on the poop sundae came at the very end of the evening, during San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan's final presser around 10 PM PST, when unidentified reporters did everything short of beg him to give them a sweet, sweet hit of that terrorism. "Did the attackers shout anything (such as maybe "allahu akbar)?" They were all but begging Burguan to "PLEASE SAY ISIS, I NEED ME SOME OF THAT ISIS, I NEED MY FIX."
We've watched enough courtroom TV to know what leading the witness looks like, journalists. Get your shit together.
To Sum Up
Pretty much this:
Now, if you'll excuse us, yr Wonkette needs to go take some tranquilizers, curl up in the corner in the fetal position, and contemplate the state of modern media while gently singing "O-O-H Child" through pain-wracked sobs.