Japan Nuclear Crisis: Nancy Grace vs. Science = ZOMGROFL

[Video Link]

I predicted this. But I was joking.

In the clip above: Nancy Grace, my absolute favorite television personality, goes to war with a CNN weatherman over fears that radiation leaked at Fukushima is an imminent mortal threat to people in the continental United States.

The de facto voice of science and reason in this clip is Bernie Rayno, an Accuweather meteorologist. Under barrage by Ms. Grace, he tries to explain there are some 6,000 or so miles between the US and Japan, and that the radioactive particles leaked in Japan pose no immediate danger to America.

Ms. Grace lashes back at this logic with the same tone she typically reserves for murderers, pedophiles and rapists on her show—though, watching the clip again, I wonder if she doesn't loathe "Japanese radiation" even more.

Science reporter Andrew Revkin of the New York Times laments what a pathetic nadir this represents:

The network claims to be about both "news and views." I think the word news should be dropped for now.
Once upon a time, my children, CNN had a science and technology desk. I remember fondly those bygone days.

(via @milesobrien)


  1. I saw this clip somewhere else and, not giving it much attention, assumed it was Fox. This is just depressing.

  2. So did they deliberately put these two together to start a fight on-air? Because it sounds like they’ve had this argument before.

    It might also have helped his case to point out the incredible disparity between the amount of radiation being released and the volume of the Pacific Ocean available for it to get lost in.

      1. OMG, Snig, that comment captures it entirely.

        And another quote comes to mind: “My mind is made up. Don’t confuse me with the facts.”

  3. CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, and the ilk are all one thing:

    Reality Television.

    Entertainment, pure and simple. Journalism it is not.

    1. I totally agree! You can watch for hrs. on any of these “news” outlets and not get basic facts.

      Nancy has a “JD” and got her big break during the (first) O.J. Simpson trial. Her nightly show is pure sensationalism, and a bit depressing.

      Bring back Dr. Science–He has a Masters in Science!!

  4. Out of curiosity do any of the sundry decay products of uranium have the capability to bioaccumulate in sea life the way mercury does, and if so is their half life long enough for that to even matter?

  5. Man this makes me sad. I started watching CNN during the quake because the Australian media was providing such crap coverage, and I thought I could start to trust CNN for my news.

    Changed my mind now.

  6. Nancy Grace is a shrill harpy. Why CNN has her on the air is still a mystery to me. And why should she be worried? Surely that lacquered helmet she calls hair will protect her…

    1. Since the end of equal time, there are no such things as standards — oh, wait, broadcasters still get fined for the seven sinful statements.

    2. Feedback sent, and I could careless about what is going on cable television. I really hope people cannot really be this out of touch with reality that they watch this sort of thing.

  7. This is one of the reasons I stopped paying for cable television. Every month, part of your subscription goes to support sensationalist logic raping like this.

  8. I cannot. Have not. Watched NG for more than 15 seconds willingly.

    What an irritating woman. In my perfect world, she should be banished to: The Island.

    A not too comfortable semi-tropical island with few (but not no) deadly predators and parasites.

    And ZERO muti-media recording devices!

    Other possible residents: Glenn Beck. Any number of ‘Judge whoevers’. Bill O’Reilly. . .though, something about that man. . .we might have some things to talk about. . .anyway, after two beers: The Island!!!

    Can you think of any more deserving candidates?

  9. Fucking hell, it’s the news version of pro-wrestling. Prop their eyes open with matchsticks, and make them watch Newsnight and Al-Jazeera till they beg for mercy.

  10. Please make effective feedback on this. Grousing here is all fine and good, but CNN’s corporate staff probably don’t read BoingBoing.

    Send CNN a comment through their web form.

    Go to the New York Times article and comment there.

    Call CNN and tell them what you think about this.

    Send them paper letters.

    The more of these things you do the more they’re likely to take it seriously.

    If you can think of other blogs to post this on or link to, tweet about this, whatever: Please do, but make sure you urge people to actually do something (off the list above, or any other reasonable feedback mechanism).

    1. Comment posted:

      I never had that high an opinion of your network, but I always considered it several degrees more bearable than the unwatchable filth that is Fox News… no more.

      Nancy Grace’s demented ravings about Japan’s radiation, defying the voice of reason from her weather guy, was exactly the kind of fearmongering, hysterical anti-science drivel I expect from Fox.

      If you really think it’s worth the price of credibility among right-thinking people to push those cynically populist idiot buttons, you deserve a place in Hell right next to Fox.

      ‘Idiocracy’ was scarily prophetic… only Mike Judge had no idea it would happen so quick.

      +1 Hosidax; fuck agreeing to disagree.

    2. @George

      I emailed them as well. It’s something I’ve long thought and figured they should know, but until now have never communicated. May they get her off the air, or sell her to Fox where that kind of “journalism” belongs.

  11. I can’t remember who said it, maybe Henry Rollins, but you never see Nancy Grace and Glenn Beck in the same place at the same time.

    1. “I can’t remember who said it, maybe Henry Rollins, but you never see Nancy Grace and Glenn Beck in the same place at the same time.”

      Let me guess. That’s because if they did, the crazy would reach critical mass and… boom!

  12. “Okay, Bernie. Your mouth, to God’s ear. Your mouth. To God’s ear.”

    Ah, the epitome of logical reasoning.

      1. If it is – and it probably is – then its use would be ill-advised in some places ( ie, those outside the US “bible belt” and/or South.)

        And I suspect that even there, some don’t appreciate lawyers and/or other mouthpieces presuming to drag the Deity into their little fights, either.

  13. Ugh. Do people even take television seriously anymore? I don’t. This is why.

    And the meteorologist tried, but shame on him for saying “let’s agree to disagree” as if her batsh*t crazy paranoia is equal to actual scientific fact. blechh.

  14. When I saw this elsewhere I sincerely thought it was FOX. We all forget that CNN was the birthplace of Lou Dobbs, Glenn Beck, and many other right wing commentators.

  15. Where’s her accent from? She sounds like she’s trying (badly) to do an English accent.

    (I’m English BTW)

  16. Hirose Takashi: The Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant Accident and the State of the Media, Asahi NewStar, March 17, 2011:

    Translation by Douglas Lummis

    … [Interviewer] Yo: Every day the local government is measuring the radioactivity. All the television stations are saying that while radiation is rising, it is still not high enough to be a danger to health. They compare it to a stomach x-ray, or if it goes up, to a CT scan. What is the truth of the matter?

    Hirose: For example, yesterday. Around Fukushima Daiichi Station they measured 400 millisieverts – that’s per hour. With this measurement (Chief Cabinet Secretary) Edano admitted for the first time that there was a danger to health, but he didn’t explain what this means. All of the information media are at fault here I think. They are saying stupid things like, why, we are exposed to radiation all the time in our daily life, we get radiation from outer space. But that’s one millisievert per year. A year has 365 days, a day has 24 hours; multiply 365 by 24, you get 8760. Multiply the 400 millisieverts by that, you get 3,500,000 the normal dose. You call that safe? And what media have reported this? None. They compare it to a CT scan, which is over in an instant; that has nothing to do with it. The reason radioactivity can be measured is that radioactive material is escaping. What is dangerous is when that material enters your body and irradiates it from inside. These industry-mouthpiece scholars come on TV and what to they say? They say as you move away the radiation is reduced in inverse ratio to the square of the distance. I want to say the reverse. Internal irradiation happens when radioactive material is ingested into the body. What happens? Say there is a nuclear particle one meter away from you. You breathe it in, it sticks inside your body; the distance between you and it is now at the micron level. One meter is 1000 millimeters, one micron is one thousandth of a millimeter. That’s a thousand times a thousand squared. That’s the real meaning of “inverse ratio of the square of the distance.” Radiation exposure is increased by a factor of a trillion. Inhaling even the tiniest particle, that’s the danger.

    Yo: So making comparisons with X-rays and CT scans has no meaning. Because you can breathe in radioactive material.

    Hirose: That’s right. When it enters your body, there’s no telling where it will go. The biggest danger is women, especially pregnant women, and little children. Now they’re talking about iodine and cesium, but that’s only part of it, they’re not using the proper detection instruments. What they call monitoring means only measuring the amount of radiation in the air. Their instruments don’t eat. What they measure has no connection with the amount of radioactive material. . . .

  17. Half the mercury in the atmosphere over the entire US originates in China.
    by Keating Willcox on Friday, March 25, 2011 at 4:17pm

    Administration spokespeople continuously claim “no threat” from the radiation reaching the US from Japan, just as they did with oil hemorrhaging into the Gulf. Perhaps we should all whistle “Don’t worry, be happy” in unison. A thorough review of the science, however, begs a second opinion.

    That the radiation is being released 5,000 miles away isn’t as comforting as it seems…. Every day, the jet stream carries pollution from Asian smoke stacks and dust from the Gobi Desert to our West Coast, contributing 10 to 60 percent of the total pollution breathed by Californians, depending on the time of year. Mercury is probably the second most toxic substance known after plutonium. Half the mercury in the atmosphere over the entire US originates in China. It, too, is 5,000 miles away. A week after a nuclear weapons test in China, iodine 131 could be detected in the thyroid glands of deer in Colorado, although it could not be detected in the air or in nearby vegetation.

  18. I haven’t been a TV watcher since I was a kid in the 50s and 60s, but the other night I turned on the TV (usually used only for movies) to see what was happening. I am really appalled at the crap that runs on normal networks, in prime time. It’s no wonder this country is such a mess. I have usually thought of Boing Boing readers as being reasonably smart people. What are you people doing even having cable in your homes?

  19. “From your mouth, to Godzear”.

    Who the hell is Godzear? Is he some relative of Godzilla? Her knowledge of Japanese culture is as deep as her scientific expertise.

    The only time I want to see or hear Nancy Grace is when she is in the ring mud wrestling with Dr. Laura. Those are two of the shrillest, most mean spirited “personalities” I’m aware of (and I wish I wasn’t).

  20. Nancy Grace is from the U.S. state of Georgia, and her accent (though not her demeanor) are fairly typical for such an origin.

    Nancy Grace famously drove interviewee Melinda Duckett to commit suicide and was unapologetic. It pretty clear that she and her employer are immune to any sense of shame.

    1. “Nancy Grace famously drove interviewee Melinda Duckett to commit suicide and was unapologetic. It pretty clear that she and her employer are immune to any sense of shame.”

      Urgh. I’ve looked at photos of Melinda Duckett and what I’m thinking is: all that “Japanese radiation” verbiage from Grace can’t be pure ignorance. *headdesk*

  21. Watching that, I was shocked she didn’t break into the classic “Speaking as a mother” type argument/logic.

    Then I wondered if anyone would actually breed with her. (someone did).

    *I’d love to link a video, but I can’t find one, search for “speaking as a mother” on this page.

  22. I’m so glad CNN International spares me this shit. Not that there wouldn’t be loads of loath on that just as well these days, but this it has not. And yeah Xeni, once upon a time, in the pre-firing-of-Miles days…

  23. State of emergency? Yes. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency but that’s because millions of dollars of damage were done in some ports. It has nothing to do with radiation. Is she a bloody idiot or is this calculated fearmongering? I’ve always said “don’t attribute to maliciousness what could be attributed to stupidity” but I’m sort of having to reverse that here. WTF is wrong with this woman? I don’t watch CNN and don’t plan to. Jeez. This is beyond dumb.

  24. The 24-hour news cycle and so many outlets competing for your attention inevitably results in OMG SOMETHING SOMETHING! The more fear mongering and sensationalism involved the better (for teh ratingz.) Libya, for example, is WAY OVER THERE and sort of boring, right? We don’t have journalists, because that takes too much time, effort, and intelligence. We have personalities, and you see what kind of mess it creates. Sure, it can be entertaining, but it becomes dangerous when people actually take these broadcasts seriously and mistake them for actual news. Just like talk radio.

  25. She has been going on about this for days and claimed she wouldn’t trust the government, like trusting the government was the worse thing possible (even though she used the represent the government as a prosecutor). The absolute best part, though, is when she shows a graphic of all of the sushi restaurants in the US and advises her audience to avoid sushi…as if it actually is all flown in from Japan.

  26. Once upon a time, my children, CNN had a science and technology desk. I remember fondly those bygone days.

    Don’t front, Xeni! You’re not THAT old!

    Myself, on the other hand…

    Bygone days, indeed!

  27. I almost wish Boing Boing was similar to 4chan in that we could make a difference with our collective reasoning power. But in a respectable, positive way.

    Maybe if we got rid of the captcha.

  28. Xeni,
    Sorry, but I disagree about Nancy Grace. As far as I can see, she is most ignorant, uninformed, unintelligent, inflexible, stubborn and un-helpful.
    I seriously wonder how the hell she got to be on a “news” network in the first place.

    The fact that there are probably millions of people who take her seriously makes me sick.

  29. “Ms. Grace lashes back at this logic with the same tone she typically reserves for murderers, pedophiles and rapists”

    …and their victims.

    I think she only has one tone.

  30. Nancy Grace will never be removed from television. There is a very good reason for this: she brings in ratings. You have to realize that these entertainment networks rely on ratings to make money. Thanks to profit motive, networks such as CNN, MSNBC, Fox, etc, will continue to push this ignorance because sensational ignorance sells. It makes lots and lots of money. This bitch may irritate you, but there are many other people that hear what she says and agrees wholeheartedly, especially when she mentions god.

    As long as there is a profit motive at the network, it is an entertainment network, not a news network.

  31. I live in Tokyo with my Japanese wife. Because she’s six weeks pregnant, and Tokyo has deemed the water unsafe for infants, resulting in bottled water being impossible to find, I thought it best and safest to send my wife to live with my family in the US for the first two trimesters.

    After watching this video, my wife is now scared to go. She thinks she will be discriminated against by ignorant Americans who will think she’s radioactive.

    I didn’t know what to say to her.

    1. Tell her not all Americans are nuts. Some of us don’t watch this drivel, and are reasonable people that would like to help.

    2. I didn’t know what to say to her.

      How about, “Honey, you’re probably right”?

      (ZOMG! America faces a new threat: radioactive pregnant Japanese women!)

    3. So sorry you guys are going through this. We’re talking about this because it’s a man bites dog story, vs. a dog bites man story. Nancy Grace is exceptionally crazy, which is our concern. Being rude to a pregnant woman is about as bad a thing as you can do. A large number of Americans would be quite offended to see it happening. If anyone asks, you will be going through radiation detection on your way into the country (everyone does, not just Japanese), and you won’t have set anything off. The vast majority of Americans are quite sympathetic to what Japan is going through, and google and yahoo and other big sites have had links up for people to contribute to the Red Cross for Japan. For people as smart as Nancy Grace, she could say she was Chinese. Or French.

    4. Please show her some of the comments here. Obviously not everyone that comments on BoingBoing is from the United States but in regards to this article I would say many of them are coming from this direction. . .

  32. Nancy Grace is on my very short list of people that are harder to have to listen to than Michelle Bachmann. Bachmann’s scarier, because she actually has some authority and not just a microphone. Ann Coulter is wronger than Bachmann, but she’s an entertainer who’s over-the-top wrong on purpose, and quite good at it. Limbaugh’s somewhere in between – he stopped being entertaining around when Bush got elected and he went from being the opposition to a cheerleader for the party in power.

    It’s disappointing that a network that did a good job of covering the Iran-Contra hearings and the Bush I Iraq War has fallen this far. (To some extent the seemed to have been cheerleaders for it, but on the other hand, somebody picked Don Henley’s “End of the Innocence” instrumental as the theme music for their war coverage, which earned them massive style points.)

  33. Can we sue her for libel? I mean ‘we’ as the state. The same state that prosecutes murderers because having them run around is bad for the world. Because damn is is isn’t bad for the world.

    Or at least inciting panic.

  34. The thing is I’m sending her to Georgia, which is the state that created this horrible person.

    1. @jtegnell: please don’t hold the State of Georgia responsible for the likes of Nancy Grace. We’re not all bat-shit crazy.

      1. Hear, hear! Although I sometimes wonder if bat-shit crazy isn’t one of our chief exports.

  35. Meanwhile, over here in Austria, Distributors of Geiger Counters reported being out of stock last week due to a surge in demand. It appears Japanese radiation and stupidity know no borders.

    1. Good advice, but be careful when you do that – money can flow through some very loathsome (and dangerous) places.

  36. It’s weird watching american news. The anchors spews their personal opinions, argues at length with guests, argues with other “journalists” and so forth. It reminds me of a reality show or something. Where I’m from, news is news. Anchors guides us through a variety of stories, perhaps interviews a guest in the studio and lets the weatherman report the weather uninterrupted before they say good night.

    We have one 24 hour news channel, but that’s about the same, only with more live coverage of events, more guests and more reruns of the same stories.

    And we have old fashioned debate shows every day. Thank god for public broadcasting!

    1. Top google result from a search for your quoted string:


      “It means that what you said is wonderful and the listener makes it almost like a prayer so that God will make it come true.”

      Commonly goes something like:

      A: Thanks for all the help setting up my whatsis, your boss should give you a raise.

      B: From your mouth to god’s ear!

      So, basically, she was saying that it would be great if weatherdude was correct, but she thought it was wishful thinking.

  37. This stupid Japanese radiation is coming over to America and stealing food from the mouths of good ol’ American radiation’s children.

  38. Wait ’til Colbert gets ahold of this. Her whole schpiel almost sounds like a plant by some of his writers. “WHO NEEDS FACTS, WHEN YOU HAVE ME?!”

    And, thanks for the link to CNN.com. I posted my 2 cents worth.

  39. This lady shows that if you want to believe in pink elephants, Santa Claus or the tooth fairy, no one will ever convince you on the contrary. Stubborn woman she is.

  40. “Dear CNN,
    I am writing this to let you know that some asshole is dressing up like Nancy Grace and saying crazy shit on TV.

    Yours, &c…”

  41. Grace slithered out of Georgia.

    The only reason for her existance is so you can use the
    word hystrionic in feedback to CNN.

  42. This woman reminds me of the opening in the posterior of a horse from which waste issues. I’m being kind. Really.

  43. Wow.

    “Are you friends with Nancy?” Is this a joke?

    And why didn’t anyone ever teach her that it’s impolite to the max to disrupt other people while they are talking? Her behaviour is simply unacceptable. The clip is unwatchable.

  44. I should point out that Nancy Grace is actually on HLN (one of CNN’s “sister networks”) and not on CNN proper. I don’t watch HLN (and for good reason); but my impression of it has always been that it was created for the benefit of those viewers who find CNN boring because it spends more time talking about Libya and Japan than about Charlie Sheen and Lindsay Lohan. Perhaps a polite way of putting it would be to say that HLN is a more “populist” version of CNN. A less polite way of putting it would be to say that HLN is a dumbed down and hyper-sensationalistic version of CNN. Basically, the sort of people who watch HLN are the sort of people who love Nancy Grace. But personally, I find her utterly revolting. She is one of the few people who I literally can’t stand even looking at because of the attitude she exudes – and I actually have to look away from the television whenever they show a promo for her show. (Ann Coulter has the same effect on me.)

    While I’ll admit that CNN deserves criticism for many things, the truth is that there’s no one on CNN proper who is even remotely as godawful as Nancy Grace (at least not since Lou Dobbs left the network). Of course, there’s no one on CNN who is even remotely as brilliant as Rachel Maddow on MSNBC, either (with the exception of Fareed Zakaria – though his is a weekly show, whereas Maddow’s is a nightly show); but CNN has some fairly decent journalists. For example, I’d put Anderson Cooper in the same league as the big-three broadcast network anchors (Sawyer, Couric, and Williams).

    Let’s face it, we all know that American TV news sucks. (The best evidence of this is the fact that Jon Stewart is often considered to be the most trusted “journalist” in the country.) But the fact that our TV news sucks doesn’t mean that it all sucks equally. CNN, for all its shortcomings, is not FOX. (And even at FOX you can draw a distinction between, say, Shep Smith on the one hand, Steve Doocy on the other, and Glenn Beck on a third, mutant hand.) And, although HLN is affiliated with CNN, it would be unfair to blame CNN proper for what goes on on their [wicked step-]sister network. Yes, Nancy Grace is a disgrace to everything that journalism is supposed to be about. Yes, if this were a perfect world she’d be off the air. So would Glenn Beck. In fact, in a perfect world, neither HLN nor FOX would even exist, and CNN and MSNBC would each routinely put out the sort of quality TV journalism that you find on the BBC and al-Jazeera. But, alas, this isn’t a perfect world. And in our imperfect world, Nancy Grace will almost certainly remain on the air for one simple reason: She’s popular. She brings in ratings (and thus advertising revenue) to HLN because, love her or hate her, lots of people love to watch her. And that’s probably the saddest aspect of this whole story – sadder even than the dangerous combination of ignorance and hubris that she displayed in this clip.

    1. my impression of it has always been that it was created for the benefit of those viewers who find CNN boring because it spends more time talking about Libya and Japan than about Charlie Sheen and Lindsay Lohan.

      Actually, back in the antedeluvian 1980s, Headline News was just what its name implies: a half-hour “current headlines” show running in an endless loop. Similar to a broadcast network’s ‘nightly news roundup’ show or the front page of a daily newspaper – but updated every 30 minutes, and available every half hour, 24/7.

      That freed up CNN’s main channel to do in-depth features without having to constantly interrupt to update breaking stories; and allowed viewers to get a quick summary of the most current news headlines at any tine, without waiting for a scheduled ‘top stories’ program.

      It has, of course, devolved considerably since then.

  45. Were I a missing child, I would want Nancy Grace looking for me. Sadly, were Nancy Grace missing…

  46. Nancy Grace fulfills a vital purpose: when people start to forget how vapid network news is, she’s there to remind them.

    BTW “Let’s agree to disagree” translates as “You’re so full of it, but you’re also way more powerful than me, and I’m too old to flip burgers”.

  47. Every time Nancy Grace says anything I am amazed she was able to pass the bar exam to be a lawyer. I usually assume that you need at least some level of intelligence, and the ability to think critically and analytically. You don’t need to be a science to sort this one out, you merely need to have paid attention in grade 8

  48. But wait! Toward the west, where Japan is located, the sun appears to be sinking right into the ocean! And the sun gives off radiation! Therefore, radiation is going directly into the ocean and contaminating all the water on the planet and we’re all gonna die! Aaaaaaaaauuuugggggghhhhhhhh!!!!!!!

    Well, we are. Eventually.

  49. I love how Bernie Rayno actually says “Ohhhh boy, here we go.”

    Nancy Grace, I will volunteer to be sent to Hawaii for the next three months to be an early warning system, just in case radioactive materials start crossing the Pacific. I promise to take daily samples of ocean water and sea-level air. I’ll even selflessly eat fresh local fruit, vegetables, and sashimi.

    It’ll be a sacrifice, but I’m willing to do it. I’m sure you can get CNN to cough up the money.

  50. Has nobody noticed? The most distracting media conservatives have the most Dickensian stage names.

    Grace? So very full of….
    Rush? Exactly, woooooooo
    Beck? and call of his master.
    Savage? often quite.
    Coulter? truly the sharp end of the plow.

  51. I seems like they were already having the argument off camera before they stuck them on TV together. I’ve never seen this lady before but clearly she wanted to hear none of what the guy had to say and was being crazy. Like as soon as they said his name, she was all “I hate this guy’s words I’m going to stick my head in the sand now!!” XKCD’s infographic needs to be mailed to her: http://xkcd.com/radiation/

  52. I did what someone suggested and fired off a complaint to CNN. Even here in the UK I thought what took place was nothing short of ridiculous and damaged the reputation of CNN, not just in the US but worldwide. Shocking. Though sadly, there is a lot of bad journalism out there.

  53. Who still considers CNN credible anyway? Off hand I don’t know a “24 hour” news network that I’ve considered credible in years. I would say fox is less credible than CNN, but on a scale of 1 to 10, I’m talking the difference between -2 and -5.

  54. I actually stopped watch CNN because of this lady – she is crazy and likes to “scare” people!

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