"This is not the Big One!"

California had a mild-to-moderate earthquake today, centered in a mostly rural area of the high desert, that could be felt as far away as Phoenix. For most Californians, a 5.4 temblor on the Richter scale would give just enough excuse to walk through some evacuation drills and revisit emergency resources. For the media, however, it provides an excuse for breathless reporting and some busy work in the Graphics department.


Here’s Shep Smith and Fox, with helicopters for some reason floating around downtown LA, far away from the actual quake:Why do they have helicopter shots of downtown LA? Nothing’s happening at all now, and there isn’t any damage there. There isn’t even any damage at the epicenter.

And here’s MS-NBC, giving us the Theme Park Report:

I’m a native Angeleno, and I know what a 5.4 quake means … mostly nothing. If it had occurred on the Whittier-Newport fault or under LA, it might have caused some damage, but this quake’s epicenter was in Chino Hills — at least 60 miles out of LA to the east. What’s in Chino Hills? Mostly dairies and farms, with a smallish bedroom community. At best, we’re talking about making some cows nauseous.

Duane Patterson fills us in from Orange County, where he’s currently taking shelter:

You can tell when it’s a relatively slow news day. A moderate earthquake strikes a remote area of Southern California, and the news channels are going wall to wall as if Katrina struck again. What’s maddening in their quest to find damage anywhere is that out of one side of their mouth, they’re pleading repeatedly with people to stay off their cell phone unless it’s an emergency to keep the cell system from jamming up. But the media’s exaggerated over-coverage of the story is causing people all over the country to jam the cell system with calls to relatives and friends in the “Hot Zone” to make sure they’re all right.

Here is what you need to know. Yes, we all felt it. As the amusement park commercials go, it was a nice 30 second ride – Six Flags – More Flags, More Fun. Yes, we are all fine, thanks for asking. No, nothing broke, unless you happen to live right above where it struck in Chino Hills. For those dairy farmers that inhabit much of Chino Hills, plates might make a fine Christmas gift. Yes, the cows are fine, too.


But hey … without that media deluge, we couldn’t have had Shep call the Chino Hills fire chief a “chill guy”. After that, my stomach’s feeling a little queasy, too.

Update: Apparently it was a 5.4, not a 5.8 … even less notable.

Update II: Maybe the cows enjoy it (h/t Mazztek in the comments):

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Ed Morrissey 4:41 PM on September 29, 2023