10 of the Worst Cable News Moments of 2015


Another year is about to pass, which means we’ve managed to survive 12 months of cable news—and endure some fantastically awful segments that the networks churned out. But that doesn’t mean we emerged unscathed! Whether it was calling the president of the United States a “pussy” on live television or relentlessly covering Donald Trump’s circuslike presidential campaign, cable news had plenty of lowlights in 2015. Here are some of the most memorable ones:

San Bernardino shooting
Days after the shooting in San Bernardino, California, several media outlets were able to get inside the home of the two suspected shooters—access that involved a crowbar and a cooperative landlord. Despite the questionable circumstances, reporters from a slew of networks, including CNN and MSNBC, swarmed the residence. The resulting circus of cable TV coverage even disturbed some network hosts.

“I’m having chills down my spine, what I’m seeing here,” said CNN security analyst Harry Houck, as reporters on the scene continued to film throughout the home. “This apartment is clearly full of evidence.”

At one point, an MSNBC reporter zoomed in on a driver’s license that likely belonged to one of the suspects’ relatives.

Insulting the president
A Fox News contributor abandoned every sense of decorum when he slammed President Barack Obama’s terrorism strategy and called him a “pussy” on live television. The network suspended him for two weeks, finally answering the question we’ve all wondered: “Just what does it take to get suspended from Fox News?” 

Migrant crisis and Syrian refugees
The international effort to resettle Syrian refugees sparked widespread concern about how refugees are vetted when they seek to be admitted into the United States, particularly in light of the deadly attacks in Paris. Instead of taking time to explain the complex and rigorous process, cable news shows often appeared to inflame safety concerns with misleading portrayals of refugees escaping violence in Europe and the Middle East:

Fox News also appeared to lend legitimacy to a biblical prophecy that some have used speculate that the Syrian crisis may signal the end of times. Watch the report on the “spooky passage” below:

Gun control and mass shootings
Amid calls to strengthen gun control laws and end the gun violence epidemic, Fox & Friends aired a segment about how to teach kids how to take down an active shooter with these self-defense skills:

Freddie Gray
When protests erupted in Baltimore over the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old Baltimore resident who died from a spinal cord injury while in police custody, CNN chose to ignore the demonstrations in favor of covering every second of the White House Correspondents’ Dinner.

If you were seeking coverage of the rallies, contributor Errol Louis suggested viewers could “find a live feed” somewhere else.

When the network did report on Gray later, CNN led one online story by describing Gray as the “son of an illiterate heroin addict.” 

Donald Trump
There are myriad factors that have led to the rise of Donald Trump as a major GOP presidential candidate. The media’s insatiable appetite (including our own, at times) to cover his inflammatory campaign rhetoric is definitely one of them. On cable news, Trump was practically unavoidable.

After announcing his plan to bar all Muslims from entering the United States if elected president, a slew of cable news shows scrambled to talk to Trump about the proposal, which gave Trump a huge platform for his offensive ideas:

Leggings
In one of the creepier clips of the year, Fox News featured an all-male panel to opine on how a woman should dress in public. The clothing item in question was leggings. In the segment, the official “Panel of Fathers” ruminates over “lady parts” and whether they’re comfortable with the “women in their life parading in public with leggings, because they ain’t pants.”

“Guardian Angels”
In which Fox News, a news organization, lends legitimacy to this photo of a “guardian angel.”

Happy holidays!

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That’s what a civil rights lawyer wrote to Julia Lurie, the day after her major investigation into a psychiatric hospital chain that uses foster children as “cash cows” published, letting her know he was using her findings that same day in a hearing to keep a child out of one of the facilities we investigated.

That’s awesome. As is the fact that Julia, who spent a full year reporting this challenging story, promptly heard from a Senate committee that will use her work in their own investigation of Universal Health Services. There’s no doubt her revelations will continue to have a big impact in the months and years to come.

Like another story about Mother Jones’ real-world impact.

This one, a multiyear investigation, published in 2021, exposed conditions in sugar work camps in the Dominican Republic owned by Central Romana—the conglomerate behind brands like C&H and Domino, whose product ends up in our Hershey bars and other sweets. A year ago, the Biden administration banned sugar imports from Central Romana. And just recently, we learned of a previously undisclosed investigation from the Department of Homeland Security, looking into working conditions at Central Romana. How big of a deal is this?

“This could be the first time a corporation would be held criminally liable for forced labor in their own supply chains,” according to a retired special agent we talked to.

Wow.

And it is only because Mother Jones is funded primarily by donations from readers that we can mount ambitious, yearlong—or more—investigations like these two stories that are making waves.

About that: It’s unfathomably hard in the news business right now, and we came up about $28,000 short during our recent fall fundraising campaign. We simply have to make that up soon to avoid falling further behind than can be made up for, or needing to somehow trim $1 million from our budget, like happened last year.

If you can, please support the reporting you get from Mother Jones—that exists to make a difference, not a profit—with a donation of any amount today. We need more donations than normal to come in from this specific blurb to help close our funding gap before it gets any bigger.

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WHO DOESN’T LOVE A POSITIVE STORY—OR TWO?

“Great journalism really does make a difference in this world: it can even save kids.”

That’s what a civil rights lawyer wrote to Julia Lurie, the day after her major investigation into a psychiatric hospital chain that uses foster children as “cash cows” published, letting her know he was using her findings that same day in a hearing to keep a child out of one of the facilities we investigated.

That’s awesome. As is the fact that Julia, who spent a full year reporting this challenging story, promptly heard from a Senate committee that will use her work in their own investigation of Universal Health Services. There’s no doubt her revelations will continue to have a big impact in the months and years to come.

Like another story about Mother Jones’ real-world impact.

This one, a multiyear investigation, published in 2021, exposed conditions in sugar work camps in the Dominican Republic owned by Central Romana—the conglomerate behind brands like C&H and Domino, whose product ends up in our Hershey bars and other sweets. A year ago, the Biden administration banned sugar imports from Central Romana. And just recently, we learned of a previously undisclosed investigation from the Department of Homeland Security, looking into working conditions at Central Romana. How big of a deal is this?

“This could be the first time a corporation would be held criminally liable for forced labor in their own supply chains,” according to a retired special agent we talked to.

Wow.

And it is only because Mother Jones is funded primarily by donations from readers that we can mount ambitious, yearlong—or more—investigations like these two stories that are making waves.

About that: It’s unfathomably hard in the news business right now, and we came up about $28,000 short during our recent fall fundraising campaign. We simply have to make that up soon to avoid falling further behind than can be made up for, or needing to somehow trim $1 million from our budget, like happened last year.

If you can, please support the reporting you get from Mother Jones—that exists to make a difference, not a profit—with a donation of any amount today. We need more donations than normal to come in from this specific blurb to help close our funding gap before it gets any bigger.

payment methods

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