Stormy weather

The journalistic addiction to exaggeration resists all treatment.

Consider how frequently we find some burst of public criticism described as a “firestorm”:

And in 1993, ABC's NYPD Blue set off a firestorm by showing the bare posteriors of various characters.

In a move that even Republicans said would spark a firestorm, President Bush spared I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby Jr. from prison

[Paris Hilton’s] early release caused a firestorm of criticism over whether she was getting special treatment because of her wealth and fame.

In a firestorm, the intense heat of an explosion or series of explosions ignites all combustible material. The resulting updraft draws in oxygen from the surrounding area, making the fire larger and even more intense.

Though firestorms can develop in large forest fires, the term has become more commonly associated with great fires in cities. An atomic bomb can create a firestorm. In the Second World War, the Allied incendiary bombings of Japanese and German cities created immense firestorms. If you have read the account of the bombing of Dresden in the late Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five, you have a sense of what a firestorm amounts to, with survivors walking across a vast ashen crust discovering human bodies reduced to charred chunks.

To suggest that Dennis Franz’s ass or Paris Hilton’s release from jail can generate a firestorm trivializes the term.

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