Politics & Media
Jun 11, 2008, 07:10AM

CNN: The Leader In Dungeon Incest News

With their sensationalist headline coverage of the most disturbing events, cable news keeps dragging the media industry dangerously close to torture porn.

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Photo from WWE

The hyperlink on CNN.com reads, “Incest cellar girl wakes up from coma.” Now, if you’re slightly offended by the insensitivity of this phrasing, don’t worry because the actual article’s headline is totally different: “Incest dungeon girl wakes up from coma.”  Nice touch. “Incest dungeon girl” has a much better ring to it than “incest cellar girl.”

For those of you wondering what I’m talking about, here’s the link to the article. Here’s a summary: Fat Cat from Chip n’ Dale Rescue Rangers is alive and living in Austria under the name “Josef Fritzl.” Actually, I don’t mean to make light of a horrible situation (although he does look like Fat Cat). Rather, it is my intention to make fun of the insensitive way that this article covers the story. Basically, this crazy person imprisoned and raped his daughter in a dungeon that he had built under his home, and he produced several children with her, some of whom he kept captive and some of whom he allowed out into the world. Ideally, he’s going to go to jail for the rest of his life. End of story, no need for the media to bother these people any more.

Yet, given the reality of today’s 24-hour news cycle CNN can’t allow a story this shocking and juicy to just wither up and die (be on the lookout next year for “One-year anniversary, where are they now—rape incest dungeon lady”). One of the children/grandchildren of Fritzl has been in a coma since he was arrested and just recently woke up. If this were an article celebrating the fact that the girl isn’t going to die, then that would be fine by me. However, CNN believes that this “could shed new light on what occurred in the basement were she was held captive for decades.” Okay, this has a weird torture-porn vibe to it. Why do we need to shed new light on what this guy did when he already confessed and presumably will get the book thrown at him? I don’t mean that figuratively—in Austria, most criminal punishment comes in the form of book-throwing: if you commit a misdemeanor, you get an STD pamphlet or a children’s book lightly tossed at your arm; this guy Fritzl should get Nolan Ryan throwing a hardback of War and Peace at his testicles. It’s kind of like an intellectual upgrade on stoning. I can’t help but think that CNN is (gasp) just doing this for the shock value.

And “[i]ncest dungeon girl”? Really, dudes? What is that, the worst superhero in history?  It’s bad enough that she has had one of the shittiest lives on Earth, but now she’s being referred to as not just a “dungeon girl” (which I’m sure is some sort of kinky fetish) but as an ‘incest dungeon girl’ (which I’m sure is some sort of illegal kinky fetish). That’s like setting someone on fire and referring to him as “arson guy.” It sounds like she actively chose these things. And yes, I’m fully aware that all I’m doing is whining about one measly title of an article, but it’s a microcosm of how so many news organizations strive for shock value rather than actual important news. I like to call it the WWE-ification of the media.

  • I'm glad someone's finally saying that CNN blows. Just as biased as Fox (from the other side), just as sensationalistic, and just as much a waste of time. Saving grace: they don't have the horrendous Keith Olbermann.

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  • while i think cnn is trash because 90% of its output is stupid celebrity news detailing who fellated Frankie Muniz this week, i have trouble believing that it has as strong a left bias as fox news. I think the byline (or whatever you call it) slightly overstates the problem: "media industry dangerously close to torture porn."

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  • Don't know, Billy, seems like Larry King is pretty close to "torture porn."

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  • how about I send you some torture porn and then we talk more about it

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  • Cool. I assume it's footage from under the grandstands at NASCAR races?

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  • For the record, I didn't write the by-line. Also, I honestly don't think CNN is left-leaning (not that you accused the article of stating that). I think they are stupid-leaning and, as you said, prefer to focus on tabloid-like news stories that don't really matter. To be honest, I think CNN is way too worried about *seeming* left-leaning, and that's why they give shows to robots like Wolf Blitzer who never have anything bad to say about anyone or anything. I saw Wolf Blitzer give a college graduation speech once, and I have serious doubts that he actually has a central nervous system. He was like "Hi. Congratulations. You should try journalism. It's fun. I like apples. Bye!"

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  • Good one about Wolf Blitzer. It almost makes you wish Sam Donaldson, relatively controversial when I was a kid, was back at CNN. That said, I rarely watch network or cable tv. Too many commercials, too much canned debate. A few years ago, the powers-that-be at my office took down the overhead tv in the company's main room. No one batted an eye.

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  • http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/europe/06/11/austria.fritzl/index.html?imw=Y haha i thought of this when i saw the title. and yeah wolf blitzer seems about as interesting as a damp towel. funny article though.

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  • "Incest Dungeon Girl" sounds like a headline from Weekly World News. Maybe CNN will have Bat Boy as a commentator soon.

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