How CBS News Covered a Vulgar Twitter Hashtag

A morning network news show tries to cover an off-color phrase appropriately

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As lawmakers in Washington inch closer to the deadline and have yet to reach anything close to an agreement, Americans are expressing their frustration on Twitter, appending #fuckyouwashington to their angry tweets. This morning, the already explosive hashtag got national attention, nabbing a feature on CBS's The Early Show. The hashtag has given tweeters a forum to express their disappointment with lawmakers, who have yet to reach a debt-ceiling deal as time runs out. But as Tweeters attach the expletive, how did CBS manage to cover the off-color phrase? Let's see how the morning network news program fared.

Before we even get to hear hashtag creator, journalism professor at City University New York Jeff Jarvis, explain the genesis of the phrase (he also gives a full explanation over at  BuzzMachine) to CBS's Jeff Axelrod, CBS gives us an entire screen's worth of f-bombs. As you can see below, one sits visible at the top left of the screen and four baby ones are stacked atop one another along the right rail. That's five fucks right there.

Perhaps CBS thought it appropriate to maintain the integrity of the hashtag en masse, because again at the end of the segment we see more #fuckyouwashingtons scattered across the screen, as you can see below.

However, when CBS singles out specific Tweets, exemplifying how angered Americans have taken to Twitter, they appropriately blur out the expletive.

The word itself is only said outloud twice in the segment, first by Jarvis as he explains his first angry tweet. Around the 43 second mark he drops a the f-bomb, "So I said hey Washington, it's our economy, our money, so fuck you." CBS bleeps him out. The second instance the word is used by Axelrod as he reads example tweets, around the minute mark. Otherwise Axelrod evades the word using euphemisms like "off-color," "nerve of outrage," and "specifics," throughout the segment.

CBS also manages to cover the phrase by filling a good ten seconds of the two-minute segment with a clip of Howard Beale, an angry journalist character from the movie Network, and then another ten seconds with people (all women) "using modern technology to express themselves."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.