The award-winning cartoon series The Simpsons proved its long-standing relevance with a swipe at its parent network Fox News last week, animating a news helicopter with the fictional tagline “Fox News: Not racist, but #1 with racists.” With “a license to make any anti-corporate joke that is at their avail,” the show doubled-down last night with another jab at Fox: “Fox News: Unsuitable for viewers under 75.”
Despite giving the show license for mockery, it appears Fox may not be able to take the joke. Today, Webnewser pointed out that the latest jab has been removed from the online version. As Mediate notes, it is possible that the producers might have added the joke after the websites received their copy. However, Fox’s resident “culture warrior” Bill O’Reilly’s recent huff over last week’s joke couldn’t have gone unnoticed:
O’REILLY: Continuing to bite the hand that feeds part of it, Fox Broadcasting once again allows its cartoon characters to run wild. Pinheads? I believe so.
Certainly, The Simpsons has a well-established (and well-watched) record of swipes at “the most swipeable network on this planet,” so it is unclear why this episode in particular would require scrubbing now. However, Fox’s parent company News Corp certainly has toyed with its Hulu viewers before and, as Mediate’s Jon Bershad points out, “you’d think that the TV channels would get the shows before the websites so you never know.” Regardless of why, the absence of the joke doesn’t remove the truth behind it – Fox news is unbalanced, and yes, it’s not fair.
The Simpsons‘ executive producer Al Jean explained its “kinda-sorta feud with Fox News” to the New York Times today, ensuring that “neither he nor his ‘Simpsons’ colleagues have ever been told by their corporate Fox parents to stop making fun of Fox News.” Unable to let O’Reilly’s stuffy remark stand, the producers “rushed their second Fox News joke into Sunday’s episode — so late in the production process that the gag could only be inserted into the version shown in North America, but not into versions shown in foreign markets or on the Internet.”