03/01/2013 12:44 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Celebrities Insulted By The Media: When Criticism Goes Too Far

Many felt The Onion took its fictional coverage too far this week when the news site tweeted a disparaging remark about 9-year-old Quvenzhané Wallis. It's not the first time the media has come under scrutiny for such behavior. Here are several examples of public insults hurled at celebrities in recent years.

The Onion calls Quvenzhané Wallis the C-word
celebrities insulted by the media
It’s not easy for The Onion to find a spot on this list. Known for its unbelievable satire, the fictional news site can practically get away with genocide when it comes to its so-called coverage. But that didn’t protect it when it spewed venom at the expense of 9-year-old Best Actress nominee Quvenzhané Wallis after the 2013 Academy Awards. The Internet erupted with outrage when The Onion tweeted, “Everyone else seems afraid to say it, but that Quvenzhane Wallis is kind of a c---, right?” The Onion’s CEO issued a public apology the following day, and the vice president of creative development said in an interview that the outlet sent an apology note to Wallis’ family. He went on to say, “She’s a big star now. I think she can take it.” But should a 9-year-old -- or anyone, really -- ever have to take it?

The New York Times' takedown of Guy Fieri's restaurant
celebrities insulted by the media
Few doubted that New York Times restaurant critic Pete Wells' brutal desecration of celebrity chef Guy Fieri’s Times Square restaurant was funny. But some wondered whether the review, written entirely in snarky questions, was actually fair. Here’s a sample of a few questions posed in the 1,100-word review: “Were you struck by how very far from awesome the Awesome Pretzel Chicken Tenders are?” “Any idea why [that blue drink] tastes like some combination of radiator fluid and formaldehyde?” “Why did the toasted marshmallow taste like fish?”

Film critic calls Melissa McCarthy a "hippo"
celebrities insulted by the media
You can debate the merits of Pete Wells’ blatancy, but it’s hard to argue that these particular comments were at all appropriate. In an era where women are being championed for accepting their unconventional body sizes, veteran New York Observer film critic Rex Reed seemed to shove the conversation back several years in his review for the Melissa McCarthy comedy “Identity Thief.” In the review, Rex called McCarthy “tractor-sized,” “a humongous creep” and “a female hippo.” Hollywood then became the critics, as Reed was roundly panned for his disparaging remarks.

Rush Limbaugh calls Sandra Fluke a "slut"
celebrities insulted by the media
Sandra Fluke probably never intended to become a celebrity figure. But she did in her own right after Rush Limbaugh called her a “slut” and a “prostitute” on his syndicated radio show. Fluke, a Georgetown University law student, took to House Democrats at a congressional hearing to urge them to support a health-care mandate that provides insurance coverage for contraceptives. The conservative talk-show host’s lewd comments were the source of much criticism, and in the end Limbaugh reportedly lost dozens of local and national sponsors. Limbaugh later apologized for the comments.

Donald Trump slams Rosie O'Donnell during feud
celebrities insulted by the media
Take sides all you want in this ridiculous back-and-forth that played out on our TV screens and throughout magazines in December 2006. But leave it to the one and only Donald Trump to make this feud personal. It started with Rosie O’Donnell criticizing the business mogul’s decision not to dismiss Miss USA Tara Conner, who had tested positive for cocaine, heroin and crystal meth. The verbal brawl escalated for days, with each star lobbing one insult after the next at each other, until the Donald perhaps took it to an excess. Trump called O’Donnell “fat” and “disgusting,” comparing her to “a truck driver” and saying, “Rosie failed, I’m happy about it,” referring to her canceled talk show and magazine.

Perez Hilton calls Michael Jackson’s medical condition a publicity stunt
celebrities insulted by the media
Similar to The Onion, Perez Hilton gets away with a lot thanks to the image he has perpetuated for himself, especially before he vowed in 2010 to tame the insults he hurls at celebrities. But he’s not without his fair share of controversies or intense critics, and that all came to a head in 2009 when he wrote that Michael Jackson going into cardiac arrest was a publicity stunt. Jackson’s fans were outraged, and Hilton quickly removed his sardonic posts and replaced them with links to actual stories about Jackson’s condition. The singer died shortly thereafter.

The New York Times insults Snooki's intelligence
celebrities insulted by the media
The New York Times is no stranger to boldly honest write-ups, but take a look at these words from a 2010 profile of “Jersey Store” star Snooki: “But trying to hold a conversation with Snooki is a little like getting down on your hands and knees with a child. You have to come down to her level, and sometimes you almost think you need to bribe her with a piece of candy to coax her to be more responsive.” The words are fashion critic Cathy Horyn’s, but something about these harsh descriptives being attached to Snooki, the butt of an abundance of punch lines, didn’t seem to strike much of a nerve, at least not with Huffington Post readers. In a poll conducted on the site, 44 percent called Horyn’s profile “generous,” while 30 percent said it was “overly rude” and 26 percent said it’s “fine” as is.



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