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I dearly wish I had a tape of the 10 p.m. Fox “news” coverage of the Dec. 9, 2003, moderate earthquake centered in the Richmond area. My household has learned to ignore Channel 5’s tactic of airing alarming previews to suck viewers into watching their ridiculously sensationalist evening “news” (“Eight Reasons to Watch Fox 5,” 10/1). But on that particular night, we caught the start of the program, and we were howling so hard with laughter, we just couldn’t turn it off.
The “news” team devoted nearly the entire half-hour to the earthquake story, though the effects had been negligible. Breathless reporters tried desperately to cast the event as a disaster, and the interviewees as survivors, but all they had were a bunch of folks saying, “It felt like a big truck driving by” or “I didn’t really notice it”—and videotape of a crack in a wall allegedly caused by the quake. Best of all was the interview with a person who described Christmas cards falling off the mantelpiece and a framed photo toppling over on a table. The camera panning the now-replaced items shook violently, and a hand reached out and flipped the framed photo onto its face in a dramatic re-creation of the deadly tremor!
The most exciting footage of the evening being the falling frame and the crack (also taped with the “quaking camera” technique), those scenes ran again and again under the dialogue throughout the show.
Takoma Park, Md.