C-SPAN has apologized after its live coverage of the “fiscal cliff” congressional negotiations included what many have interpreted as inappropriate book titles in the on-screen captions.
During its live online coverage of the House and Senate floors, C-SPAN promoted its Book TV programming on its other networks with book title captions in the top-left corner of the screen.Just Plain Dick and I Want You to Shut the F–k Up were the two shortened titles that drew the most attention, given the particular moments they were flashed on the screen.
“Just Plain Dick,” the caption meant to promote Kevin Mattson‘s Just Plain Dick: Richard Nixon’s Checkers Speech and the “Rocking, Socking” Election of 1952, appeared on the screen around 1:30 a.m. ET on January 1 while Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) spoke before the Senate. For obvious reasons, the shortened caption appearing during Harkin’s speech was interpreted as either wildly inappropriate or humorous. (See caption in the image above.)
The “I Want You to Shut the F–k Up” caption appeared later that night, intending to promote the Book TV discussion of D.L. Hughley‘s I Want You to Shut the F#ck Up: How the Audacity of Dopes Is Ruining America. However, given the context of the ongoing “fiscal cliff” negotiations, people interpreted the coincidence as offensive and the potential work of an online hacker.