Shep Smith: It’s pathetic that some Americans are popping iodide pills over Japan’s nuke crisis

posted at 7:56 pm on March 17, 2011 by Allahpundit

When he’s right, he’s right, which is why I keep droning on about Obama using the bully pulpit to give the public a reality check about radiation. If you follow the news closely enough to know that a nuclear-related horror has befallen Japan but not closely enough to know about sub-lethal levels, wind dispersal, etc, then yes, you’re going to overreact. And even if you do know about sub-lethal levels, people cope with fear differently. Many of the iodide-poppers, I assume, are treating it as a de facto anti-anxiety drug. If they can’t get peace of mind from knowing that dangerous doses don’t travel 5,000 miles over water, maybe they can get it from a psychiatric placebo.

News within the past hour is that they’ve finally finished laying a new power line to the Fukushima plant, which means the cooling system might be about to come back online — if it still works, which no one seems to know. U.S. officials warn that the crisis could go on for weeks, but if the plant’s water pumps can run after juice is restored, “then we might look at that moment as the beginning of the end of this crisis.” And there’s more good news, just to make the run on iodide a little sillier:

The first readings from American data-collection flights over the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan show that the worst of the contamination has not spewed beyond the 18-mile range of highest concern established by Japanese authorities…

While the findings were reassuring in the short term, the United States declined to back away from its warning to Americans to stay at least 50 miles from the plant, a far larger perimeter than the Japanese government has established.

The news ain’t all good, though:

In interviews, American officials said their biggest worry about the Japanese plant was that a frenetic series of efforts by the Japanese military to get water into the four reactors there — including water cannons and fire-fighting helicopters that dumped water but appeared to largely miss their targets — showed few signs of working…

American officials were fixated on the temperature readings inside the three reactors that had been operating until the earthquake shut them down, and at the spent fuel pools, looking for any signs that they were decreasing. So far they saw none, but on the Web site of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations nuclear watchdog, it was clear that there were no readings at all from some critical areas. Part of the American effort, by satellites and aircraft, is to identify the hot-spots, something the Japanese have not been able to do in some cases.

The biggest worry is still the spent fuel rods in reactor four (you can see a photo of the cooling pool in which they’re housed here), but even there, the information is contradictory. U.S. nuclear chief Gregory Jaczko swore up and down yesterday that his sources say there’s no water in the pool, that the rods are exposed to the air and getting dangerously hot. Today, meanwhile, comes this:

French nuclear security regulators say that helicopter crews flying over the crippled nuclear reactors in Fukushima, Japan, have determined that a spent-fuel cooling pool does contain water, contrary to the public statement of the U.S.’s chief nuclear regulator.

Two statements by the Institut de Radioprotection et de Surete Nucleaire say Japanese helicopter crews carrying tons of water to the site saw that there was water in the cooling pool at reactor No. 4, enough water, in fact, that the choppers were diverted to reactor No. 3 to drop their loads. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko set off world-wide alarms Wednesday when he told a congressional panel that the cooling pool had dried up and high levels of radiation were being emitted.

The French observers added that the pools are boiling, so if Jaczko’s nightmare scenario isn’t here yet, it’s coming soon. Unless, of course, that power line does the trick. Cross those fingers. Exit quotation from a Nagasaki survivor: “I can’t say I’m not concerned, but I can’t say I’m all that nervous.”

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Bizarro No. 1 on March 17, 2011 at 10:35 PM

Fales analogy, Bizarro No. 1. Smith calling Americans sad, pathetic, crazy, and dumb (check the original story; all words used by Smith) is the opposite of Smith reforming and turning into a superb reporter.

J.E. Dyer on March 18, 2011 at 1:11 AM

One thing is crystal clear from the article: There is absolutely “nobody home” in the Obama administration.

Every pronouncement by this collection of buffoons is almost immediately contradicted by proven facts.

And the world is watching.

landlines on March 18, 2011 at 1:21 AM


windansea on March 17, 2011 at 9:53 PM

I ask your pardon. I did not realize you were the blog police, determining whose views are relevant and appropriate to a forum dedicated to stating opinions (as opposed to the traditional role of news readers to read news). I’ll be sure to run my views by you in the future so they get the coveted Windansea Seal of Approval.

DrMagnolias on March 18, 2011 at 2:06 AM

J.E. Dyer on March 18, 2011 at 1:11 AM

The weird thing is that Shepard Smith was adding to the hype before Tuesday, then all of the sudden his tone changed. He couldn’t understand how people had become so overwrought about the power plants.

Cindy Munford on March 18, 2011 at 2:32 AM

Fales analogy, Bizarro No. 1. Smith calling Americans sad, pathetic, crazy, and dumb (check the original story; all words used by Smith) is the opposite of Smith reforming and turning into a superb reporter.

J.E. Dyer on March 18, 2011 at 1:11 AM

“false analogy”? You claimed Shep will never be in a position to ridicule anyone because of his buffoonery during Katrina, did you not? Based upon your claim, my response was perfectly apropos. Now, if you want to continue to make a different point than what I responded to, fine, but don’t pretend that you didn’t say what you did.

I wasn’t interested in debating whether he’s doing a good job or not. Despite your opinion, I will admit I believe he is doing a good job, and if he were as restrained during his own show as he is right now in Japan, I wouldn’t avoid watching him the way I do.

Bizarro No. 1 on March 18, 2011 at 2:36 AM

I just saw Shep with Greta and I was really surprised at the effort to be level headed(at least at the beginning of the segment). And I usually do not care for him at all. Greta was really pushing him too.

I just got back from Tokyo. All of my work was canceled for the next couple of weeks, so there was no point in sticking around. It was a nightmare to get out though. Actually, looks like Shep is in Odaiba, very close to the immigration office I was at the day before. Surprised to see him there.

Dongemaharu on March 18, 2011 at 3:27 AM

I am ashamed of myself for what I am about to do, defend Obama.

When is the last time you TRUSTED the government to give you straight information you critically needed? Sadly, it has been a long time for me. For people younger than the Reagan era or the Goldwater era there really has not been a time that people really had a right to trust what the government said about many things.

How many older folks believed the hysteria over drugs we saw in “Reefer Madness” and the like, for example? I mostly believed Goldwater. He told hard truths when it hurt. I mostly trusted Reagan. I was mostly justified for those incidents, but not always. I trusted most of the other Presidents about as far as I could throw them before an SS agent flattened me. Bush I “sorta” trusted “a little” at first. Then I learned he really WASN’T in charge, it was events in charge. That’s not a POTUS.

With that in mind, would YOU trust this POTUS or his offices if they told you the Moon would come up tomorrow let alone if he said there’s no radiation danger from Fukushima here in the US?

Come OH fella? If he said that who on this planet would believe the creep?

This is a job for the media, and the media does not make its money promoting the fact there is no crisis or danger outside of the immediate Fukushima area. I think this one will fall on the blogs and word of mouth.

God help the US we’ve fallen into this pit of distrust and untrustworthy politicians. (How many giggled at that last bit from the Department of Redundancy Department?)


herself on March 18, 2011 at 3:50 AM

2 things- guy who worked on the steel liner for #4 says that it had a flaw from the get go (that he helped hide)

The paragraph about the Trade Commission- that had a dual role- to push for more energy and to oversee safety.

journeyintothewhirlwind on March 18, 2011 at 8:42 AM

Is it bad that I smirk at the thought of Shemp/ being sent to Japan for Fox?

Fallon on March 18, 2011 at 8:56 AM

I am totally fed up with talking heads on these so-called news programs that know nothing about what they are talking about. Specifically, all the fear mongering,and misinformation that these people are broadcasting. Even on Fox….. Why can’t these morons that only read TV monitors find real experts that will do more than conjecture? Everybody buying Geiger counters and iodine pills. The surgeon general confirms the opinion that she is an idiot, just like the rest of odumbo’s appointments. God help us, we have become a nation of sheep, or better still, like a flock of turkeys with their beaks open to the sky during a rainstorm….. we are all drowning.

ultracon on March 18, 2011 at 9:34 AM

Shep is part of the problem. The media has hyped this disaster with half truths, myths, wants, what ifs and remembrances of TMI. I thought they were despicable after Katrina, but this is worse. Thousands of people are missing after a tsunami and the media is scaring the sh#t out of the rest of the world.

Kissmygrits on March 18, 2011 at 9:52 AM

Sheppy is pathetic.

WoosterOh on March 18, 2011 at 9:55 AM

ultracon on March 18, 2011 at 9:34 AM

Careful now. Apparently if Roger Ailes is willing to pay someone a lot of money, you have no relevant opinion.

DrMagnolias on March 18, 2011 at 10:20 AM

Last night I saw Shep pathetically bring himself to tears comparing the situation in Japan to Katrina.

Brat on March 18, 2011 at 10:31 AM

Perhaps he’s right, however it is also true that Shep is pathetic.

kjl291 on March 18, 2011 at 11:17 AM

Latest NEI Updates
**NOTE: Refresh your Web browser periodically to ensure you receive the latest updates appearing on this page.**

Reactors 1, 2 and 3 at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant are in stable condition, with workers continuing to provide seawater cooling into the reactors. Containment integrity is believed to be intact on reactors 1, 2 and 3, and containment building pressures are elevated but are within design limits.

Site radiation doses have been decreasing since March 16. Radiation dose rates are fluctuating based on some of the relief operations, such as adding cooling water to the used fuel pools. Recent readings at the plant boundary are about 2 millirem per hour. Radiation dose rates at reactor 3 range between 2,500 and 5,000 millirem per hour.

The Japanese Self-Defense Force restarted cooling water spray into the Unit 3 reactor building and spent fuel pool at around 1 a.m. EDT on March 18. Plans are to spray 50 tons of water on the reactor 3 reactor building/spent fuel pool using seven fire-fighting trucks.

A diesel generator is supplying power to reactors 5 and 6. TEPCO is installing high voltage cables from a nearby transmission line to reactors 1 and 2. Once electricity supply is re-established, priority will be given to restoring power to reactor heat removal systems and cooling water pumps. Workers are seeking to install electrical cables to reactors 3 and 4 components in about two days.

There is a lot of good news to be read here. Power is coming back to the site. The reactors, while all three probably have extensive fuel element damage and release of fission products inside their coolant, all are keeping their fission product releases inside the building. No leaks of radiation (or only small amounts of the radiation) are coming from the worst case scenarios… the reactors themselves.

The fuel pool on Reactor 3 appears to me to be the major source of the radiation being released on the site. Otherwise the radiation levels at Reactors 1 and 2 wouldn’t be so much less than at 3. Whether the spent fuel pool in Reactor 4s roof is releasing radiation can’t be verified yet.

5 Rem per hour is not a trivial amount of radiation. But it also isn’t so dangerous that men can’t operate in the area, IF they have a plan for what they are doing and everything they need to do it with at hand. You don’t make forays into those kinds of radiation levels unless you have a purpose and have thought the plan out, because you will lose the use of that fellow afterwards as he will have used up his allowable exposure.

That is why they were reluctant to use helicopters, when they thought it might not work, and why the fire trucks seem to be the plan of the day, because those trucks worked, at least to some extent.

Once the cooling is reestablished, the only problems are how to get water into the spent fuel pools and this crisis is over except for cleanup. So probably by Monday, the news can go on to something bigger….. like claiming radiation was found on planes flying into the US from Japan, when the radiation came from medical equipment being shipped to the US in a cargo hold…….. proof that when you start actually looking for radiation, you find it everywhere.


Subsunk on March 18, 2011 at 2:28 PM

I wasn’t interested in debating whether he’s doing a good job or not. Despite your opinion, I will admit I believe he is doing a good job, and if he were as restrained during his own show as he is right now in Japan, I wouldn’t avoid watching him the way I do.

Bizarro No. 1 on March 18, 2011 at 2:36 AM

I live here in Tokyo and found Smith`s reporting to be quite refreshing. I agree he is doing a good job here.
And he is here at least.

Sherman1864 on March 18, 2011 at 7:32 PM