The Not-So-Dirty Truth About C-SPAN's Dirty Programming Lineup

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No, C-SPAN didn't get hacked. And, no, America's bastion of decorum and occasional boredom was not playing a New Year's prank. But, yes, the network's online programming schedule did flash some scandalous book titles during the fiscal-cliff vote — and, yes, definitely, all the nerds got very excited about it.

If you were observant — or wonky — enough to have been looking at the left side of your screen while watching the Congressional deliberations over the New Year's holiday, you may have noticed C-SPAN's website looking something like this (via Romenesko): 

Or this, via Buzzfeed's Zeke Miller: 

It's almost like seeing your dog walk on hind legs: C-SPAN isn't supposed to have curse words — even if the Speaker of the House is walking around with a foul mouth. And this slip wasn't like when we all giggled at the C-SPAN caller who like to prank the network and drop bombs about Mitt Romney's penis. No, this was less obvious, which led people — or at least Politico — to wonder if C-SPAN had been hacked. It hadn't been. Those are actual book titles for the network's BookTV, and it was just a coincidence that those titles popped up. The network wrote in a statement:

You may have seen tweets and postings online asserting that C-SPAN’s website had been hacked over the New Year’s holiday, citing obscenities in the schedule. While the site was not hacked, our policy of using current nonfiction book titles verbatim in our schedule led to the unfortunate posting of content some might find offensive on We apologize for that and are taking steps to prevent it from happening again.


Unfortunately, two of our previously scheduled BookTV programs had titles that some might find offensive.

So there you have it, folks. Sorry to ruin your dreams of C-SPAN After Dark. 

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