Now I’m getting suspicious… Another case of COSMOS interruptus

There was this story about a glitch in the Cosmos broadcast earlier this week. I figured, hey, mistakes happen. Never assume malice when incompetence is more likely. Well… do they happen with other programs? (Yes) The news media and forums are pointing out the Cosmos effect seems to be disproportionate and occurs in distinct cultural areas.

WVUE technical glitch interrupts ‘Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey’ evolution sequence | NOLA.com.

An accidental WVUE technical glitch caused 1 minute and 24 seconds of Sunday’s (May 4) “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey” to be abruptly overrun with a news promo, a seat-belt-safety public-service announcement and commercials. The problem: The interruption occurred while host Neil DeGrasse Tyson was in the middle of a discussion about how global climate change millions of years ago set the stage for the primates-to-humans evolutionary journey.

Coincidence? Or intentional? Hmm.

Oklahoma Fox station accidentally cuts evolution scene from ‘Cosmos’ – Los Angeles Times.

All the interruptions are reportedly mistakes. A mistake alright…

The episodes are slated to reair.

Tip: Jeb Card

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  11 comments for “Now I’m getting suspicious… Another case of COSMOS interruptus

  1. spookyparadigm
    May 8, 2014 at 11:45 AM

    It is entirely possible these could be accidents that happen all the time, and the science-minded (who rightfully feel under attack in our current political climate) are connecting random dots.

    I’ll be much more likely to support such a hypothesis when this starts happening in New York, Boston, and San Francisco instead of teh heartland/South.

    Or when it is revealed Seth McFarlane is actually doing it as a prank. Is it a coincidence that the producer of the New Cosmos made this a few years ago? I think not.

    • Bill T.
      May 8, 2014 at 12:28 PM

      Really? How would these events happening on a more widely distributed basis be evidence supporting the speculation?

  2. May 8, 2014 at 11:54 AM

    It wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest to learn that this is being done deliberately. But two incidents aren’t enough to show a pattern.

    Though, to counter @spoolyparadigm, the heartland of America is precisely where I would expect to see this kind of thing happening.

    • spookyparadigm
      May 8, 2014 at 12:10 PM

      Three, actually. Oklahoma, Colorado Springs (home of the Air Force Academy which came under serious criticism in the 2000s for proselytizing radical evangelical Christianity at its cadets), and now Louisiana.

    • Andrew
      May 8, 2014 at 12:20 PM

      Have any of the other Cosmos episodes that have aired so far experienced similar interruptions? If so, have they been in the same geographical areas? Right now we have to treat these three incidents as purely coincidental, but the situation does encourage further monitoring.

  3. spookyparadigm
    May 8, 2014 at 12:14 PM

    It might be worth revisiting this article from 2005, where there was a pattern of science museums, again in the stereotypical places, refusing IMAX films that mention evolution.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2005/03/19/national/19imax.html

  4. Kathy Moyd
    May 8, 2014 at 12:47 PM

    Do the stations see the program ahead of the broadcast? If not, how would they know when to interrupt it?

    • Jim Speiser
      May 8, 2014 at 2:29 PM

      That’s a good point, Kathy. One possibility is that these stations, in the Central and Mountain time zones, have someone monitoring the Eastern time zone broadcast (1 -2 hours before their local time) to see what takes place, and then writing down the time index of the “offending” statements. This hypothesis would of course be disproved if such “accidental censorship” should take place on an eastern station.

  5. cosmic
    May 8, 2014 at 2:57 PM

    The screw-up at Oklahoma City’s FOX affiliate (KOKH) back in March occurred during the first episode of Cosmos. Some were quick to allege malice or censorship because Tyson was discussing evolution at the time, but neglected to notice that the bulk of the program’s second episode was devoted to evolution and it aired without incident. There are surely similar examples with the two other stations who’ve since goofed.

    I think many observers are just projecting what they want to see onto the situation.

  6. Jeffery
    May 9, 2014 at 6:15 AM

    I totally buy the accidental nature of these incidents. About a decade ago I had a part time job as Master Control Operator (best job title in the world, btw!) at my local FOX station. It was my duty to ensure a good, clean broadcast, make sure the local commercials ran on time, and to play the local shows. When we went to network, we would use the automation system run the local ads and promos according to the specific times provided by FOX earlier in the day. Here’s the thing, though. Those rundown sheets with the times on them were faxed each day. It was sometimes very hard to tell say a 5 from a 6. Sure enough, one day I read wrong, and ran our news promo over the climax of 24! Did we get calls? You bet we did! I felt silly, and got teased no end by the news staff. But that was it. It’s a real easy mistake to make, and I’m amazed I don’t see it more often.

    • eddi
      May 9, 2014 at 10:41 AM

      I think we may be suffering observer bias. This is a series we sit up and take notice of. So we also notice any problems. Other shows we might notice it but dismiss it as no big deal. Three incidents at three stations constitutes three separate events. Any apparent linkage should be treated with the same skepticism we would treat linking unrelated events in other cases.

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