"Fraudcast News" is the 22nd and last episode of The Simpsons' fifteenth season, first aired on May 23, 2004 in the United States on the FOX network. The Writers Guild of America gave this episode a 2005 WGA Award, the Paul Selvin Award, which honors works that focus on First Amendment issues. It also marked the first reference towards being grounded since Season 7's "Marge Be Not Proud", marking the end of an eight-year period without such references.
Springfield holds a ceremony dedicating their newest national park, Geezer Rock, a rock formation which resembles the face of an old man in profile. As Lisa prepares to read a poem there at the behest of Mayor Quimby, she notices that there is a small tree growing in the eye of the rock. Fearing that it will destroy Geezer Rock over time, Homer, who claims that “It's time to do something I have never done—help an old man!”, rushes over and pulls it out, believing he is doing the right thing. Unfortunately, this causes Geezer Rock to fall apart, and everyone runs for their lives — except for Mr. Burns, who winds up in a landslide. Smithers fears he has lost Mr. Burns.
Lisa is saddened that no one ever heard her poem, and she publishes it on Marge's suggestion. Meanwhile, it turns out that Burns survived the horrible landslide through slithering his way out and subsisting on centipedes, insects and mole milk (he claimed the mole had nursed him as her own though he in fact picked one of her offspring and tossed it aside while he took his place and suckled on her, as shown in his flashback). However, Springfield's local news instead reports on the destruction of Geezer Rock and then labels Mr. Burns as being a hateful man nobody liked and signs off by thanking Geezer Rock for doing what everyone else was too scared to do and kill Mr. Burns. To improve his image, Mr. Burns decides to purchase every media outlet in Springfield, instead of being a kinder person reformed by a near-fatal rockslide.
Lisa distributes the very first issue of her newspaper, The Red Dress Press, which is well received. She enlists the help of Bart, Milhouse, Martin, Nelson, and Ralph among others, to publish her newspaper's second issue.
Burns acquires all media outlets in Springfield except Lisa's newspaper. His views are even promoted on Itchy & Scratchy (which he now writes and directs) in an episode promoting nuclear power. Later, Burns tries to bait Lisa with ponies in an attempt to acquire her newspaper, but she will not give up; this causes the ponies to hiss and bare their teeth at her to her shock, and she leaves. Lisa is saddened that all the others left her, but is relieved when Bart decides to stay and help Lisa publish more issues. Burns gets back at Lisa by cutting off the Simpsons' power, so Lisa is forced to write her next issue through an old mimeograph Principal Skinner used in Vietnam. Mr. Burns finally wins the war by having a talk with Homer (and even drugging him) so he can dish some dirt on Lisa; the following day's Springfield Shopper boasts the headline, “LISA’S A TOTAL WACKO, IMPLIES FATHER”, and goes further by humiliating Milhouse's crush upon her. Lisa writes her final "I Give Up" edition and shuts down the Red Dress Press, but Homer responds by creating his own newspaper, The Homer Times, and other people, such as Lenny, Groundskeeper Willie and Patty and Selma, also create their own newspapers to help her, thus showing that the little guy is not powerless against the media, cheering her up.
Burns gets upset that, while he succeeds in defeating Lisa and her journal, he soon finds that he cannot stop people criticizing him. As a result, he is forced to acknowledge that no one besides Rupert Murdoch can truly control the whole media. However, since Burns is too narcissistic to concede defeat (which he hates), he goes out on a shopping spree with Smithers for relief.
The falling rock formation is a parody of New Hampshire's Old Man of the Mountain, which was naturally destroyed in 2003.
In its original airing, this episode was watched by 9.2 million viewers.
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: "Fraudcast News"|