Obscenities invade C-SPAN website during fiscal cliff coverage

Alexis Levinson Political Reporter
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Someone is running amok at C-SPAN, the nonprofit network where political junkies get their kicks watching the inner workings of Congress.

In the wee hours of Tuesday morning, as most of the country partied away the first few hours of the 2013, anyone who was watching C-SPAN at 1:27 a.m., breathlessly waiting for the Senate to pass a deal on the fiscal cliff, would have seen a somewhat odd caption over Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin: “Just Plain Dick.”

The caption was memorialized by Erin Skinner Cochran on Twitter, and reported by Jim Romenesko on his media blog.

On Tuesday night, as the House took its turn debating the fiscal cliff deal, C-SPAN watchers got another treat. The schedule of programming listed Book TV: New Year’s Eve Prepackage Block B at 8 p.m. EST, Child Literacy Initiatives at 9 p.m. EST, and at 9:30 p.m. EST, “I want you to Shut the Fuck Up.”

That gem was memorialized on Twitter by Buzzfeed’s Zeke Miller, with a hat tip to Politico’s Steve Freiss.

C-SPAN explained what happened in a blog post Wednesday.

You may have seen tweets and postings online asserting that C-SPAN’s website had been hacked over the New Year’s holiday, citing obscenities in the schedule. While the site was not hacked, our policy of using current nonfiction book titles verbatim in our schedule led to the unfortunate posting of content some might find offensive on C-SPAN.org. We apologize for that and are taking steps to prevent it from happening again.

During the New Year’s “fiscal cliff” debates, our 100% commitment to cover the House and Senate live caused frequent interruptions to our previously scheduled programming. As such, on some occasions our pre-written TV schedule was not in sync with what was actually live on the air. When this happened, live congressional debate was accompanied by incorrect TV schedule information. Unfortunately, two of our previously scheduled BookTV programs had titles that some might find offensive.

Going forward, we will review our procedures and efforts will be taken to prevent incorrect and inappropriate schedule information from appearing.

“Just Plain Dick,” as it turns out, is the title of a book about former President Richard Nixon by Kevin Mattson: “Just Plain Dick: Richard Nixon’s Checkers Speech and the “Rocking, Socking” Election of 1952″.

“I Want You to Shut the Fuck Up” is the title of a book by D.L. Hughley. The full title is: “I Want You to Shut the Fuck Up: How the Audacity of Dopes Is Ruining America.”

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