Twitter hoax? CNN anchor ripped for apparently non-existent ‘Godzilla’ joke about Japanese earthquake

Jeff Poor Media Reporter
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While all of the details of this morning’s 8.9-magnitude earthquake in Japan are still somewhat unclear, sensitivities have hit a fever pitch, at least on the social networking website Twitter.

Early this morning, as details were still breaking, CNN anchor Rosemary Church was attacked on Twitter for making a “Godzilla” joke on-air. The incident popped up on Ad Age’s Simon Dumenco’s radar, who was skeptical of the claim. He pointed out that “literary blogger” Maud Newton, who describes herself as a “NPR contributor,” was encouraging people to watch Al-Jazeera over CNN:

And at the moment, Twitter’s search engine is showing that the most-retweeted recent tweet mentioning Godzilla is from @maudnewton, literary blogger Maud Newton (full disclosure: years ago I hired her to do a bit of consulting for a media start-up I was running), who wrote: “For news of the disaster, you might prefer streaming Al-Jazeera to watching CNN anchor giggle about Godzilla.” She then linked to a post by blog pioneer Jason Kottke titled “Al-Jazeera’s Coverage of the Japanese Earthquake,” in which he wrote,

If you haven’t already heard, Al-Jazeera had (and continues to have) some of the best coverage of earthquake and tsunami in Japan … Contrast with CNN, which was apparently home to giggles and Godzilla jokes as the quake was being reported. In the last three or four big events in the world, Al-Jazeera has had the best coverage … is this a changing of the guard?

Kottke linked to an outraged tweet from @somebadideas: “Fuck you @CNN your anchor is giggling & talking about monster movies while you’re showing waves sweep entire homes away.” But no one on Twitter (or YouTube, for that matter) seems to have a link to video of the alleged CNN lapse in judgment.

However, after a review of the 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. ET hours of CNN’s coverage of the Japanese earthquake, there appears to be no mention of Godzilla and no indication of joking or giggling. The only thing that came close was CNN correspondent Matt Alt’s account of the scene, describing it as a “monster movie.”

“Well, the epicenter of the earthquake was in a prefecture called Iwate, which is several hundred kilometers north of Tokyo,” Alt said. “And I think the footage that we are seeing largely of these waves of debris – it’s almost like a monster movie. You’re seeing this stuff wiping out entire sections of coastline and it’s all generally from that area. Also Hokkaidō, the northernmost island of Japan is taking a major hit and we’re seeing a lot of footage – water washing over farmland and other places near to the coastline. And there’s even been some heart-wrenching footage of cars racing away from the water. Unfortunately, we don’t know if those people made it away or not.”