Mexican TV uses Simpsons episode to teach a lesson about sensational disaster coverage.

A Mexican TV Network Used a Simpsons Episode to Criticize a Competitor’s Sensational Earthquake Coverage

A Mexican TV Network Used a Simpsons Episode to Criticize a Competitor’s Sensational Earthquake Coverage

Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog
Sept. 22 2017 12:09 PM

A Mexican TV Network Used a Simpsons Episode to Criticize a Competitor’s Sensational Earthquake Coverage

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Kent Brockman reporting live from near the well in which made-up orphan Timmy O'Toole is trapped.

Screengrab from "Radio Bart."

With efforts still underway to rescue people crushed by rubble following Mexico City’s 7.1 magnutiude earthquake, people across the country are outraged by the fact that TV network Televisa devoted extensive coverage to the story of Frida Sofia, a little girl allegedly trapped under the remains of her elementary school. Televisa’s rescue effort live-stream went on through the night, according to the Daily Beast, and included heartwrenching details, such as Frida Sofia waving her tiny hand and saying she was tired. But Frida Sofia, it turned out, never existed, leaving viewers who had been watching and praying for the girl feeling duped and manipulated for ratings.

According to Regeneración, TV Azteca trolled Televisa on Thursday by broadcasting the 1992 Simpsons episode “Radio Bart,“ in which Bart tricks the good people of Springfield into believing that an orphan boy named Timmy O’Toole is trapped down a well. Much like Frida Sofia, “Timmy” is covered extensively by Kent Brockman’s Channel 6 News, earning the prayers and sympathy of the entire town—prayers and sympathy that turn to outrage when Bart’s prank is revealed. The episode, which has been named among the Simpsons’ 10 best, featured one of the show's most memorable songs, a Sting-Krusty benefit song entitled, "We're Sending Our Love Down the Well."

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“Timmy O’Toole” began trending in Mexico when it became clear that the girl in everyone’s prayers was fake, meaning TV Azteca’s Simpsons-esque dig is likely intentional. The airing of the episode, though, may not have been entirely in jest—since it actually does make a serious point about the risks of spreading misinformation and overdramatization during disaster reporting.