Breaking the News
November 19, 2009 3:23 PM   Subscribe

I'm trying to compile a list of stories that cable news went insane for. OJ, Elizabeth Smart, Jon Benet Ramsay, Di's death, balloon boy, 9/11, Chandra Levy, Clinton/Lewinsky, Katrina . What other breaking stories have provoked saturation coverage on CNN/Fox/MSNBC, even if only for a couple of days?
posted by unSane to Media & Arts (67 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
Bernie Madoff?
posted by losvedir at 3:27 PM on November 19, 2009


terri schiavo
posted by bajema at 3:29 PM on November 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


Elian Gonzalez.
posted by thejoshu at 3:29 PM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ted Kennedy's death. Don't get my wrong: Sad as hell, but did we need to have a helicopter hovering over the Kennedy compound for days?
posted by krudiger at 3:30 PM on November 19, 2009


Beltway Sniper
posted by fire&wings at 3:31 PM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Michael Jackson's death.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 3:32 PM on November 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


Columbine.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 3:33 PM on November 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


Branch Davidians.
posted by mudpuppie at 3:33 PM on November 19, 2009


Pretty much all of the 2008 Presidential campaign

Michael Jackson

Paris Hilton's DUI
posted by bearwife at 3:33 PM on November 19, 2009


Baby Jessica in the well, is one of the first of these.
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:34 PM on November 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


Jennifer Carol Wilbanks AKA Runaway Bride
posted by milarepa at 3:34 PM on November 19, 2009


Valerie Plame.
posted by punchdrunkhistory at 3:34 PM on November 19, 2009


Balloon boy?
posted by mhum at 3:35 PM on November 19, 2009


JFK Jr death in 1994.
posted by bookmammal at 3:35 PM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Anna Nicole Smith's death
Hurricane Katrina, but I'm assuming you want things that are not actual news stories but manufactured things?
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:36 PM on November 19, 2009


I don't know what your goal is, but 9/11 and Katrina jump out from your list because they actually, you know, deserved 24/7 coverage.
posted by rokusan at 3:36 PM on November 19, 2009 [7 favorites]


That this list will be endless speaks volumes about "cable news" over the last 20 years, but I digress and you're not asking that question.

What stands out for me until I started ignoring cable news: Oklahoma City bombing, Columbine, Jon Benet Ramsey, the girl down the well in Texas, Challenger explosion, Columbia shuttle disaster, the missing white girl in Aruba, 2000 Presidential vote recount/controversy, anthrax letters.
posted by mrbarrett.com at 3:37 PM on November 19, 2009


swint flu
posted by cmcmcm at 3:42 PM on November 19, 2009


I mean swine flu
posted by cmcmcm at 3:43 PM on November 19, 2009


Lady astronaut/kidnapper in a nappy.
posted by roger ackroyd at 3:44 PM on November 19, 2009


missing white woman syndrome lists several high profile kidnappings/murders that have gotten a lot of coverage, mostly in the last ten years or so.
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:46 PM on November 19, 2009


The tsunami in 2004.
posted by katemonster at 3:48 PM on November 19, 2009


Andrew Cunanan. (A huge personal favorite of mine.)
posted by jayder at 3:49 PM on November 19, 2009


Baby Jessica in the well, is one of the first of these.

I was about to say. That's the first instance that I recall of wall to wall media coverage for days over one particular incident.
posted by jokeefe at 3:52 PM on November 19, 2009


Sarah Palin.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:53 PM on November 19, 2009


Challenger explosion.

Berlin Wall falling

The end of the USSR

German reunification
posted by dfriedman at 3:54 PM on November 19, 2009


london bombings
jackson pedo-trial
virginia tech
walter reed
trapped miners
tsunami disaster
nyc blackout
SARS
gay marriage
saddam's hanging
posted by mrmarley at 3:55 PM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Heaven's Gate suicides.
posted by milarepa at 3:55 PM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


John Kennedy Jr.'s death.
posted by JanetLand at 3:55 PM on November 19, 2009


I seem to recall Nixon's and Jackie Onassis's deaths getting a lot of coverage.

Also: Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley's marriage.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:58 PM on November 19, 2009


katemonster: "The tsunami in 2004."

To be fair: 230,000 people died.

I think we need a clarification from the OP on what exactly qualifies, because cable news channels seem to eventually saturate a topic by the very nature of needing to fill 24 hours. But, to me, there's a big difference between taking a legitimate news story (a terribly destructive tsunami) to saturation ("Are we in danger of tsunamis here!?!?!") and Anna Nicole Smith's death, which probably should have just been a five second blurb on entertainment news shows and that's it.
posted by sharkfu at 3:59 PM on November 19, 2009


'89 SF earthquake.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:02 PM on November 19, 2009


Tianenmen Square.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:04 PM on November 19, 2009


Susan Smith, Andrea Yates, other women killing their own children
Lorena Bobbitt
the polygamous sect in Texas getting raided last year
the Jena Six case, nooses at a high school, subsequent fistfights
VA Tech shootings
2007 Boston bomb scare/ Aqua Teen Hunger Force ad campaign
Ashley Todd, McCain supporter who falsely said she had been attacked by an Obama supporter

A systematic way of searching for these is to go through wikipedia's year-by-year news summaries - eg 2007 in the United States
posted by LobsterMitten at 4:05 PM on November 19, 2009


Dick Cheney shooting that guy in the face.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:07 PM on November 19, 2009


OP here. These are all great. I am not making a distinction between stories which were 'worth' covering and ones which 'weren't worth' covering. I'm just trying to compile a list of stories which dominated cable news in a memorable way, as all of the above did. Please keep 'em coming!
posted by unSane at 4:12 PM on November 19, 2009


Caylee Anthony kidnap/murder
posted by cda at 4:14 PM on November 19, 2009


Tim Russert's death
posted by downing street memo at 4:24 PM on November 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


The Menendez Brothers, Princess Di's fatal car accident, Tonya Harding knee-capping Nancy Kerrigan, The Atlanta Olympic Bombing.
posted by Jon-o at 4:30 PM on November 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


Mary Kay Letourneau
posted by Sys Rq at 4:31 PM on November 19, 2009


Just noticed "Di's Death" in the OP. Scratch that... Replace with the Rodney King trial and LA riots...
posted by Jon-o at 4:31 PM on November 19, 2009


Oklahoma City bombing.
posted by 6:1 at 4:46 PM on November 19, 2009


Some of these may not qualify as full-on news saturation, but here goes...

The pulling down of the Saddam statute, the Dean scream, Maine DUI revelation about Bush immediately before the 2000 election, Tina Fey as Sarah Palin, Bristol Palin's pregnancy, Palin's resignation, Obama's Nobel Peace Prize, US Airways Hudson River ditching, Michael Jackson child molestation trial, when Ross Perot's campaign really got going in 1992 (around the time of the infomercials), Reagan's death, last episodes of Cheers, Seinfeld, Friends, last Harry Potter book release, Bill and Hillary Clinton's failed health care reform, Obama health care reform/town hall crazies, tea party/tea bag protests, Obama's inauguration, the millenium, Britney's Vegas marriage to Jason Alexander, Waco.
posted by peanut butter milkshake at 4:54 PM on November 19, 2009


Natalee Holloway
posted by notswedish at 4:54 PM on November 19, 2009


Somali pirates.
posted by casualinference at 4:56 PM on November 19, 2009


Reagan's death and funeral.

The Scott Peterson murder case

The Michael Jackson trial

Periodically, California fire season

Saddam's capture
posted by bearwife at 4:58 PM on November 19, 2009


Ronald Reagan's death basically obliterated coverage of the 60th anniversary of D-Day.
posted by Nick Verstayne at 5:18 PM on November 19, 2009


Octo-mom
posted by tamitang at 6:06 PM on November 19, 2009


The starlets! Britney locking herself in the bathroom with her son(s) seemed to hit harder than a lot of her other 'antics'.

Not so much saturated as just kind of a sick/sad situation involving the media: just days after the Chris Brown/Rihanna thing went down (which in itself is one of these), there was an assault suspect in a 3-hour Bentley chase and subsequent standoff where the driver (presumed Chris Brown at first, then DJ Khaled) ended up killing himself. Due to the high-profile nature that the situation started out as, there were multiple helicopters and all sorts of news agencies and paparazzi on the scene. While this was only being aired locally, online media outlets went nuts with the initial assumptions about it being Brown/Khaled and there were likely thousands of people were watching the two or three live video feeds online. DJ Khaled ended up phoning in to a Florida radio station during the standoff to let everyone know he was fine.

Jon & Kate.

That infamous Justin/Janet Superbowl Halftime Show2.

Michael Vick.
posted by june made him a gemini at 6:38 PM on November 19, 2009


LA Riots/Rodney King police beating
posted by NikitaNikita at 7:00 PM on November 19, 2009


The first Gulf War *made* CNN. I would argue that this was the first "cable news" story to be covered in-depth.
posted by rocketman at 7:00 PM on November 19, 2009


sharkfu posts in the thread but doesn't mention the summer of sharks?
posted by mmascolino at 7:00 PM on November 19, 2009


I also vaguely remember the Iran-Contra affair saturating the media.
posted by NikitaNikita at 7:03 PM on November 19, 2009


Was there really cable news wall-to-wall for Clinton/Lewinsky? Fox had barely gotten off the ground then and nobody was watching it. MSNBC probably about the same.
posted by citron at 7:18 PM on November 19, 2009


The first Gulf War *made* CNN.

And vice-versa.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:19 PM on November 19, 2009


Was there really cable news wall-to-wall for Clinton/Lewinsky?

Oh HELL yes. It was a sex scandal involving the current president. Clinton was being impeached. It was kind of a big deal.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:21 PM on November 19, 2009


Sinéad O'Connor on SNL.

Clarence "Who has put pubic hair on my Coke?" Thomas' Supreme Court Nomination.

O.J. Simpson's low speed freeway chase.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 7:58 PM on November 19, 2009


The O.J. Simpson trial.
posted by marble at 8:35 PM on November 19, 2009


The first Gulf War was the first thing I thought of.

-Drew Peterson (which plays out in my hometown!)
-Everything having to do with Y2K.
-Enron
-Amy Fisher ("Long Island Lolita")
-Jeffrey Dahmer
-Magic Johnson announcing he is HIV positive.
-John Wayne Gacy's execution
-Michael Fay
posted by SisterHavana at 8:58 PM on November 19, 2009


I'm not saying Clinton/Lewinsky wasn't a big deal, I'm saying at the time, there was basically CNN, because very few viewers actually got Fox or MSNBC, both of which didn't even exist until they launched in 1996, but a launch doesn't make it available to too many viewers, and fewer people had cable TV anyway. Until at least the early 2000s pretty much nobody watched Fox.

So today you're going to have three cable news channels showing Balloon Boy live for a solid hour and a half and a ton of followups, but back in the late 90's, most people just had CNN, so whatever you remember would probably be saturation coverage on CNN, if you even had cable. I guess there was also the evening news and whatever of those entertainment shows and investigative shows and news magazines were on the networks, but that wasn't cable news.

I do recall in the past year, cable news, not to mention a bunch of bloggers and political operatives and whatever, going utterly bonkers over lipstick on a pig. SO DUMB.
posted by citron at 10:19 PM on November 19, 2009


The hijacking of TWA Flight 847 in 1985. CNN covered this story live.
posted by iviken at 1:26 AM on November 20, 2009


The death of Princess Diana
posted by essexjan at 4:00 AM on November 20, 2009


William Kennedy Smith's rape trial
posted by jmmpangaea at 7:19 AM on November 20, 2009


Gianni Versace's murder. I remember seeing Andrew Cunanan all over the place for several days, which is why I remember his name.
posted by bluishorange at 8:44 AM on November 20, 2009


Private Jessica Lynch's capture during the beginning of the war in Iraq.

I had completely forgotten about the insane amount of coverage her story generated until reading Where Men Win Glory.
posted by garden hoe at 11:47 AM on November 20, 2009


mmascolino: "sharkfu posts in the thread but doesn't mention the summer of sharks?"

Silly mmascolino, there is no such thing as news saturation of sharks. Sharks should have their own 24 hour news channel to keep us posted on their many shark activities, such as swimming and biting things and biting other things.


To keep this on topic: Miss Teen USA 2007 South Carolina's pageant answer ("like such as...")
posted by sharkfu at 1:03 PM on November 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


-Midwest flood in 1993 and Iowa flood in 2008
-McCaughey septuplets
posted by SisterHavana at 5:45 PM on November 20, 2009


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