n. Something that is outrageous, shocking, or upsetting, particularly a newspaper headline or article.
Also Seen As
On Saturday, Feb. 8, the New York Post went predictably bonkers with a story headlined "Nutty nudes protest war," about a group of naked people who registered their displeasure with the Iraq buildup by spelling out "No Bush" while lying in the snow in front of Central Park's Bethesda Fountain on Feb. 7.

It made for a fun read, one that played rather neatly into the Post's gung-ho attitude about an Iraqi invasion and its general glib dismissal of protesters, naked or not. But the full-color photo accompanying the piece was a little bit of a coffee-spitter, since even though it was a long-distance shot, it clearly contained multiple vaginas.
—Sridhar Pappu, “Libeskind Acolytes Barrage The Times Attacking Muschamp,” New York Observer, February 17, 2003
A Dorothy Parker for her time, Burchill has done for print journalism what Malcolm McLaren did for pop music. She is a thorn in the side of every sober-minded, flower-bed-pottering, well-educated reader of the broadsheet newspapers. Her column in The Guardian Saturday magazine is what I like to call a coffee-spitter. It irks, mocks and openly sneers at its own readers, and best of all, it doesn't bore you to bloody death.
—Leah McLaren, “Julie: The icon and the play,” The Globe and Mail (Canada), June 29, 2002
1997 (earliest)
It was one of those stories we in the business call by a variety of names — Hey, Martha'' (as in, Hey, Martha, look at this); a coffee spitter; an outrage story — because it is a compelling read that will get people talking.
—“Solutions to complex problems come one at a time,” Austin American-Statesman, October 27, 1997