Today In Shitty Journalism: MSNBC, E! Online, Mail Online, And Hollywood Reporter Are Among Those Who Got Trolled By Fake Quote

If you're offended by Kate Winslet's nipple, you should not watch Heavenly Creatures, Jude, Titanic, Hideous Kinky, Holy Smoke, Quills, Iris, Little Children, or The Reader

Earlier this week I came across a story on Offbeat China about Kate Winslet’s breasts being censored in the Chinese theatrical release of Titanic 3D. Alia wrote, without citing a source (cite your sources, people; I’m looking at you too, Shanghaiist), that the reason they censored the breast was because,

“Considering the vivid 3D effects, we fear that viewers may reach out their hands for a touch and thus interrupt other people’s viewing. To avoid potential conflicts between viewers and out of consideration of building a harmonious ethical social environment, we’ve decided to cut off the nudity scenes,” according to an official at the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television.

Ministry of Tofu ran the same story a few hours later but pointed out that the above quote was satire. (I thought about — I really did — reaching out to Alia of Offbeat China about this. Turns out I really should have.) Quoting satire as fact would be like quoting from the China Daily Show, and if you were a “real” news agency with an express purpose of informing the public — instead of pushing pre- and misconceptions — it would make you, veritably, a fool.

Well, here are just some of the fools in the US and UK, as called out by Gawker‘s Caity Weaver:

MSNBC Entertainment: Peter Gicas writing for E! Online:

“Considering the vivid 3D effects, we fear that viewers may reach out their hands for a touch and thus interrupt other people’s viewing,” read a statement from China’s State Administration of Radio, Film and Television. “We’ve decided to cut off the nudity scenes.”

Mail Online:

An official at the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television said: ‘Considering the vivid 3D effects, we fear that viewers may reach out their hands for a touch and thus interrupt other people’s viewing.

Hollywood Reporter:

By way of explanation for the cuts, a spokesman for SARFT offered this rationale:

“Considering the vivid 3D effects, we fear that viewers may reach out their hands for a touch and thus interrupt other people’s viewing. To avoid potential conflicts between viewers and out of consideration of building a harmonious ethical social environment, we’ve decided to cut off the nudity scenes.”

Entertainment Weekly actually had enough media ethics training to cite its source. It was unfortunate that they cited Offbeat China, but we can almost let them off the hook for doing the bare minimum.

The lesson here? Check your facts, people. And if you’re not Entertainment Weekly: CITE YOUR SOURCES. It’s the least you could do, and if you’re a blog, it’s not just a gesture of courtesy (an important gesture): it’s a way of covering your own stupid ass.

9 Responses to “Today In Shitty Journalism: MSNBC, E! Online, Mail Online, And Hollywood Reporter Are Among Those Who Got Trolled By Fake Quote”

  1. Alia

    I though about – I really did – the possibility of this being a joke. But all the posts I saw on Weibo at the time citing the quote as from a SARFT official. I should have pointed out that I failed to find a source and it was unverified information. After seeing the quote appearing on some serious news sites, I was like “WTF…”

    Reply

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