A bizarre spate of television presenters dissolving into on-air gibberish has sparked claims that the U.S. military could be to blame.
In four high-profile cases, the latest involving fast-talking Judge Judy, the presenters have started off speaking properly but have then descended into undecipherable nonsense - looking confused and unstable.
The frequency of the 'attacks' - and the fact that recorded examples of the mental meltdowns have been popular on websites - has led to conspiracy theorists pointing the finger at shadowy government experiments.
Latest victim: Judge Judy Sheindlin had to stop her courtroom TV show on Wednesday after descending into nonsensical language
A popular theory being circulated online blames the U.S. Military’s supposed research into using microwaves as a mind control weapon.
America has never admitted conducting such research but proponents say the effects - produced by microwave signals stimulating the brain with fake images and voices - exactly mimic those displayed in the recent on-air breakdowns.
As to why the Pentagon might be targeting U.S. television presenters, the microwave theorists are less clear.
The phenomenon, which has provided internet video sites with some of the oddest footage for months, has now claimed one of America’s most highly paid broadcasters.
Targeted? Serene Branson's garbled Grammys report became an internet sensation, while WISCTV's Sarah Carlson suffered a similar meltdown in January
Judith Sheindlin, the fast-talking judge on Judge Judy, was taken to hospital on Wednesday after she began speaking a nonsensical string of words during a live recording of her courtroom TV show.
Studio insiders said Sheindlin, who earns £28 million a year for a show that is the most watched programme on American daytime TV, was sitting on camera and 'started saying things that didn’t make any sense'.
Sheindlin then announced she needed to stop as she didn’t feel well and asked a crew member to call an ambulance.
The 68-year-old lawyer was released from hospital the following day but a spokesman said medical tests had not revealed what caused her garbled speech and double vision.
Over the border: Mark McAllister, of Canadian Global Toronto News, soldiered on with his report on Libya, despite his words being unintelligible
Her verbal breakdown is the fourth such recent case and the odd coincidence has prompted feverish speculation over the cause.
No video has been released of the Judge Judy incident but footage of the other three has rapidly gone viral on the internet.
The first victim was Serene Branson, a Los Angeles reporter for CBS, who delivered a completely incoherent piece to camera on the Grammy music awards last month.
The presenter was unable to get out her words and continued to struggle to speak for around 10 seconds outside the Staples Centre before producers cut to a video.
She said later: 'My head was definitely pounding and I was very uncomfortable, and I knew something wasn’t right. I was terrified and confused.'
'My head was definitely pounding and I was very uncomfortable, and I knew something wasn’t right. I was terrified and confused'
Her doctor later said she had suffered a complex migraine whose symptoms mimic a stroke.
Her case was followed by a Canadian news reporter whose report on his country’s contribution to the military campaign in Libya suddenly collapsed into gibberish.
Mark McAllister of Global Toronto News told viewers that the Canadian defence minister had confirmed that 'more than sifty four 18 fighter jets are spending about as much as 20 and ready to assist 600 hundred, hundred deployed over the an-amount needed'.
His piece-to-camera went on to become even more odd before he signed off.
His employers later confirmed there had been no problem with the autocue but McAllister had also suffered from a migraine.
In January, Sarah Carlson of WISC-TV in Wisconsin was also struck. She started out fine in her report on Wisconsin’s challenge to Barack Obama’s health care reforms, but it soon became apparent that she was having trouble forming words and the camera switched to a startled-looking co-presenter.
Unlike the others, Carlson, 35, has a history of seizures, but America’s army of conspiracy theorists are unconvinced by the medical explanations.
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