Justice

Louis C.K. Just Made a Great Point about Overhyping Weather

January 27th 2015

By:
ATTN: Staff

Comedian Louis C.K. zinged the National Weather Service today in an email to fans. In it, Louis explained that he was cancelling his performance in New York tonight due to the approaching snow storm. But he also made a pointed remark about weather alarmism:

In any case, there seems to be a massive storm approaching New York City. They are calling this storm “historic” which…. Well I didn’t know you could call a thing historic if it hasn’t happened yet. But I’m not one to defy future historic events. And I have to be respectful of the responsibility I have to the 15,000 people who are holding tickets to the show and could be stranded somewhere historically trying to get to or from my show. I think it’s clearly better that I alter history in the name of safety and cancel.

Louis takes a shot here at the National Weather Service, but its often the media that is accused of overhyping storms in order to increase ratings. (There's a reason that we all laugh at the image of a television news correspondent standing outside in ridiculous storms.) This line of attack was popular in 2011 after Hurricane Irene's arrival on the eastern seaboard failed to live up to the media's warnings. There was another example in 2013 when a veteran TV weatherman in Denver apologized for his station's overhyping a snowstorm.

“There’s this weather apocalypse thing now where every storm is going to destroy [your city],” said stormchaser Lee Sandlin in an interview with WBBM-Chicago. “The weather coverage tends to be a little overdramatic so that every big storm is treated in terms of the end of civilization. That really devalues the notion of dangerous weather.”

Both the media and the National Weather Service play an important role in informing the pubic about dangerous weather. They were essential, for example, for coverage of storms such as Hurricane Sandy or Hurricane Katrina. That means it's vital that the public trusts that these reports are not merely plays for attention. 

Here's the rest of Louis C.K.'s letter:

Dear friend,

Hi. It’s Louis CK here to make sure everyone knows that my show tomorrow at Madison Square Garden has been canceled. All ticket holders will automatically get a refund. I am really sorry about this and I am surprised to learn as I write this that there is only one L in the word canceled. I’ll have to take my phone’s word for it. But it doesn’t look right to me.

In any case, there seems to be a massive storm approaching New York City. They are calling this storm “historic” which…. Well I didn’t know you could call a thing historic if it hasn’t happened yet. But I’m not one to defy future historic events. And I have to be respectful of the responsibility I have to the 15,000 people who are holding tickets to the show and could be stranded somewhere historically trying to get to or from my show. I think it’s clearly better that I alter history in the name of safety and cancel. Besides, if you’ve ever tried to get your deposit back when you rent a banquet hall for a wedding that gets snowed out, you don’t want to even know what the deposit is on Madison Square Jesus Christing Garden is.

So. No show. I will be on Letterman tonight, though. So you can yell boo right at my stupid and very handsome face on your tv screen or on your paper towel or your watch or whatever you view Letterman on.

Also I will be contacting you very soon about my new standup special which will be historically available only on my website louisck.net very soon.

I really want to thank everyone who came to the shows at MSG. It was an incredible experience. The audiences were great. And the crew at MSG is classy and professional.

Okay. That’s it. I have to do some laundry now.

Take care of yourself and don’t be a jerk to people.

Louis CK.