American TV channel NBC is facing criticism after it followed the announcement of John McCain’s death by returning immediately to a talent show featuring two topless men dancing while wearing dolphin masks.
The juxtaposition was widely described as inappropriate and insensitive.
The station interrupted its regular programming to deliver the breaking news that the Arizona senator had died at the age of 81, following his decision to discontinue treatment for a brain tumour.
But after presenter Richard Lui had delivered the report – which featured early tributes to the former presidential candidate and Vietnam war hero – the channel cut straight back to what had previously been broadcasting.
This meant viewers saw a repeat of an America's Got Talent episode, featuring shirtless duo Yumbo Dump performing what they called a dolphin dance. There were no intervening black out or adverts between the two segments.
Social media users reacted with astonishment and some fury.
“This was a huge mistake,” wrote one Twitter user. “I get the sense that whoever made that decision won’t be making many more in the future.”
“Probably the most jarring experience of my life,” noted another.
Not everyone was quite so outraged, however. “McCain had a good sense of humour,” tweeted one observer. “I think he'd have laughed at this.”
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