The Daa’ish Dildo Episode

"Isis flag spotted at gay pride parade": Real chyron from CNN, 27 June 2015, suggesting a Daa'ish protester was demonstrating at London's gay pride celebration.  The flag is an obvious parody, with drawings of sex toys in place of the sigil and script.

“The flag, I cannot stress this enough, was clearly covered with images of dildos and butt plugs. And was waving at a London gay pride rally.”

Max Fisher

This is CNN.

And, yes, this one takes some explaining, which noble endeavor Max Fisher undertook for Vox.

On Saturday, during coverage of a gay rights rally, CNN ran a segment with an alarming message. According to the chyron on the bottom of the screen, “ISIS FLAG SPOTTED AT GAY PRIDE PARADE.”

The supposed ISIS flag was in fact a parody, bearing outlined images of dildos and butt plugs in place of Arabic script.

Right.

The explanation looks something like this:

1) Are you pulling my leg or did CNN really confuse a dildo-covered gay pride banner with the official flag of ISIS?

I wish I were exaggerating here even a little but I am not. CNN dedicated an entire six and a half minutes to covering, in a tenor of total seriousness and extreme gravity, what they said was an ISIS flag being waved at a gay pride parade, when in fact it was readily and painfully obvious that the “ISIS flag” was in fact a joke flag covered with images of dildos and butt plugs.

“An unnerving sight today at a London gay pride celebration: an ISIS flag among a sea of rainbow colors,” CNN anchor Suzanne Malveaux announced. The word “unnerving” made several other appearances in the very long segment about a flag of dildos and butt plugs.

The segment went on to analyze the photo of the flag in great depth, zooming in especially on the man waving it. A London-based CNN reporter who called in — yes, there were multiple reporters on this, no one covers breaking news like CNN — pointed out with concern, “This man, quite distinctive from the rest of the crowd, he was dressed in black and white.”

The flag, I cannot stress this enough, was clearly covered with images of dildos and butt plugs. And was waving at a London gay pride rally.

And, you now, it really is the kind of thing you really ought not justly have more than one chance to write in a journalistic career, so, you know, he went on to write the phrase several times.

We might also add that while it is entirely possible to argue over the moral of the story, there probably isn’t one. To the other, a talking point? A something to think about? Sure, there is always that. And this is it:

CNN does not normally confuse ISIS flags with satirical dildo flags. This was clearly their JV team making a flub. But that flub was totally consistent with the network’s approach to terrorism, which for years has over-hyped threats, blasting viewers with hysterical warnings of imminent and omnipresent danger."Best part of CNN/ISIS/dildo flag story?  CNN producers will have to start asking 'is this thing we're about to report just a bunch of dildos?'" (Liam Stack, via Twitter, 27 June 2015) It is a network whose terrorism coverage has been not just clumsy and irresponsible but cynical, exploiting people’s earnest fears and the bloodshed of real victims in order to create a more titillating TV viewing experience.

In many ways, the CNN team responsible for this bit was just following normal protocol: over-hyping threats is, for the network, part of the daily routine. It just so happened that they went a little more overboard than usual here and got caught doing it. Usually, the act is not quite so obvious, and it’s not at all funny.

Something about Nutella and kittens goes here, but please don’t ask me to explain.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this is CNN.

____________________

Image notes: “Isis flag spotted at gay pride parade” ― “Isis flag spotted at gay pride parade”: Real chyron from CNN, 27 June 2015, suggesting a Daa’ish protester was demonstrating at London’s gay pride celebration. The flag is an obvious parody, with drawings of sex toys in place of sigil and script. “Best part of CNN/ISIS/dildo flag story? CNN producers will have to start asking ‘is this thing we’re about to report just a bunch of dildos?'” ― Tweet by Liam Stack, 27 June 2015.

Fisher, Max. “CNN’s most embarrassing flub ever? The ISIS dildo gay pride flag, explained.” Vox. 29 June 2015.

Stack, Liam. “Best part of CNN/ISIS/dildo flag story?” Twitter. 27 June 2015.

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