News Bloopers: Stay Classy, Planet Earth

blawsome by blawsome on Sep. 22, 2014

WHERE CAN I SEE SOME QUALITY NEWS BLOOPERS?

This just in: You can do that right here! Sorry. But seriously, you can watch plenty of news bloopers right here on this very page. As for their quality, provided you don’t mean visual quality, these are all personally curated and individually selected for maximum laughter and a minimum of actual useful information. Let’s start with a quick one:

It’s a little hard to tell what happened there. The thing about TV is that we only see what’s in front of the camera, and have little to no idea what’s going on outside the frame. But I think it’s safe to assume that that homespun corn on the cob didn’t taste as good as this local newscaster was expecting. But she does handle the situation in the most professional way imaginable: By grinning and staring into the camera until they finally take her off the air.

That last news blooper is of subgenre – the “hot-shot newsperson fails to grasp an important aspect of rural culture she’s supposed to be appreciating” subgenre, to be exact. And even though that’s a very sought-after form of news blooper, there’s another even better category that this next one falls under. It’s “innocent newscaster inadvertently uses a sexual phrase on the air, hilarity ensues,” and it’s a pretty shining example of the form:

Arguably even better than the unintentional sex pun is the completely intentional one, at least when it’s delivered by a newsman with the comic timing and wit of NBC’s Brian Williams. The NBC Nightly News is usually a very serious and somber affair, but Williams occasionally finds time for his sense of humor anyway. The only reason this counts as a blooper is because of the minor controversy it caused after it happened, but I say it’s pretty brilliant:

SPEAKING OF INTENTIONAL HUMOR ON THE NEWS, HOW ABOUT SOME VIDEOS WITH OTHER PEOPLE INTENTIONALLY MESSING WITH NEWS BROADCASTS?

Great question, as you’ve just hit on another great category of news blooper. It’s when regular citizens, not members of the fourth estate, take it upon themselves to spice up their local newscasts by acting a fool on camera. It usually happens during remote segments, where the tight control of a studio environment is nowhere to be found. And in any discussion of this category, you just have to mention a (NSFW) trope that’s sprung up recently. I’ll identify it by its initials: FHRITP, and you can see what that stands for not once but twice in the video below.

Like all great FHRITP-bombs, the best part about that one is the newscaster’s reaction. Just a slight sigh and a look of exasperation into the camera, which is really all you need.

There other contexts for using the dreaded F-word, every news producer’s nightmare, when speaking to a news reporter. One of them is if all of your stuff has been damaged or destroyed in an earthquake, like the guy’s in this next clip. Unlike “FHRITP”-shouters, he asks for his language to be excused before he says it, but the newsperson interviewing him doesn’t seem too pleased with him, despite the disclaimer:

Completing this trilogy of F-bomb news bloopers (although they’re far from being the only times the F-word has been used on live TV) is a very recent blooper out of Alaska. TV reporter Charlo Greene was delivering a story on a mysterious Alaska Cannabis Club and its unknown president and owner. After a minute or two of normal-seeming copy, Greene makes the announcement (or should that be a report?) that SHE is the actual head of the Alaska Cannabis Club, and that furthermore she’s quitting her job and devoting all of her energy to legalizing marijuana in the state of Alaska. That would have been awesome enough, but she then puts a nice official period on her resignation with perhaps the greatest sign-off in the history of TV news:

I think we all wish that we could quit our jobs like that.

THESE NEWS BLOOPERS ARE FUNNY, BUT DO YOU HAVE ANY WITH A LITTLE BIT MORE EDGE?

Sure! Not all news bloopers are just frivolous pieces of unintentional comedy – some of them are serious business. This next one is about as serious as a news blooper can be.

One of the perennial problems with TV news coverage is the stereotyped portrayals of black males as dangerous criminals. And in some footage collected by a local news team that somehow surfaced after the story was broadcast, the people in TV news were shown to be more than just passive reporters of stories. It’s best to just watch the clip, but in short an off-camera interviewer is heard goading a young black child to say on camera that he’s not afraid of guns and when he gets older he wants to have one. As if that weren’t bad enough, when the child goes on to say that he wants to be a cop when he grows up, this part of the interview is edited out, leaving an undeniably misleading portion of the talk on the air. Here’s the video:

It isn’t just metaphorical bombs that can go off in your face when you’re in the field of TV news. This reporter for CNN was reporting on bombings in Gaza when a bomb went off much closer than usual during preparation for a remote segment. Newscasters have a tendency to think that their cameras and microphones make them invincible in war zones or outside in natural disasters, but a “blooper” like this shows that they’re as close to dying as anyone. Or, maybe this confirms that fallacy, since the guy doesn’t actually get hurt in the blast. Decide for yourself:

Then there’s this next infamous blooper, from the usually tight ship that is CNBC (at least when Jim Cramer isn’t around). It isn’t really funny so much as it is painfully/deliciously awkward, and it all happens when one of CNBC’s on-air talent makes the mistaken assumption that Apple CEO Tim Cook is indeed openly gay. Unintentional outing certainly isn’t as big a deal as it used to be, but still kind of uncomfortable in a basic faux pas kind of way:

OK, NOW I’M DEPRESSED, DO YOU HAVE ANYTHING GOOD FOR A PICK-ME-UP?

Yeah, how about some more news bloopers? This one is of the immortal classic “Freudian slip” variety, with an anchor delivering a report on ghost sightings at Alcatraz. But she appears to have a very different subject wedged somewhere in her subconscious:

And here’s another blooper with a member of the public going out of his way to disrupt a newscast. This is another F-bomb drop, but it seems sort of playful and almost nice, in its own rude way. And the target of the interruption seems to take it in stride, so this would appear to be good clean drunken fun all the way around:

ARE THERE ANY GOOD COMPILATIONS OF NEWS BLOOPERS?

I think news bloopers have more compilations than dub, reggae, and doo-wop combined. There are too many to sift through, and they come out at the rate of about 100 a week, but a quick internet search of your favorite online video site (Break.com perhaps?) will reveal plenty of compilation videos that have dozens of news bloopers all packed together in one video for your viewing pleasure. Here are a couple, just to get you started:

The only downsides to watching videos like this is that A, they’re addictive, and B, they might warp the way you watch TV news. If you watch too many of them, it might be somewhat shocking to turn on the nightly news and see absolutely nothing go hilariously wrong.

WHAT IS THE GREATEST NEWS BLOOPER OF ALL TIME?

To, as they say in TV news, “close us out,” I will attempt to answer this question definitively. Now, I’m aware that this is purely a matter of opinion, but I think that in my many years as a connoisseur of the news blooper my opinion does have some weight.

So, without any further commercial breaks or station identification, here is the greatest news blooper of all time. This is the Citizen Kane of news bloopers, mostly due to the subtlety of it. The source of the blooper may not even realize he has been on live TV, and once he does become aware (if he does), it’s too late. But enough words, it’s best to just bask in the clip’s brilliance on its own:

And there you have it. There are, it goes without saying, plenty of other news bloopers out there, and plenty more being made all the time (after all, live TV is a very tough business). But this article has hopefully given you a brief primer on the art of the news blooper, and given you a little bit of insight that you can use in viewing and appreciating both other classic news bloopers and the news bloopers of the future.