I have a problem with TV news… I am increasingly bothered by the sensationalism and lack of depth of coverage of the main cable and network news channels. Many years ago I stopped watching the local news because I had determined there was nothing of value for me in that twenty minutes of wasted air time, so I started watching cable news exclusively. First CNN, then finally FOX came around.
But it all sucks.
I noticed the lack of any “real” news in the “news” and had been progressively annoyed with the amount of hype and bullshit in the media… FOX usually seemed the worst, with their crazy attention grabbing sound effects for every single “breaking” story … but the others were all close behind. Then in the last couple weeks, I read Gavin DeBecker’s
book, Fear Less
, where DeBecker discusses the media’s influence on the way Americans view terrorism and personal safety in out post 9-11 world.
Tonight I saw a wonderful example of purposefully generated false fear
by the media. Katie Couric: in spite of her perky breasts, I think we can all agree she is a complete bubble head. She came on the evening news with a story about the possible sinking of the USS San Juan (one of our nuclear subs.) I’ll jump right to the part that Katie and her breasts skipped… the sub is fine and none of those sailors are dead!
Katie and the twins went through the entire news story, giving a detailed timeline of the problems with the San Juan… first a flare was shot into the sky (a signal for “oh crap our expensive sub is wetter than it’s supposed to be”) then the battle group in the area tried to reach the subs in the area, and the San Juan was the only one not to answer up, then at 0300 hrs or so a distress signal “SUB SUNK” went out. (Even my decidedly un-nautical self can guess that “SUB SUNK” is a bad signal to get.) The Navy woke up the SECDEF and began frantically searching for their sunk sub. There was some mention by Katie about a surface ship reporting the sounds of crunching metal on sonar or some such nonsense.
At this point, I’ve lost all ability to focus on Katie’s sublime breasts, and I’m staring at the TV thinking, “Holy crap … how many sailors were on board?” I have a co-worker who has a son in the Navy, and I’m thinking about him, “I think he’s on the Reagan, I don’t think he’s in a sub…”
Finally Katie manages to get to the end of the timeline, which is “At 5:30 a.m. the San Juan checked in at it’s regularly scheduled time” … Katie added that the sub was fine, the sailors were all fine, and no one really knows why the Navy got all jacked up over nothing.
Perhaps this just seems like one of my 2:00 a.m. rants, but here’s what bothered me… families of those sailors were watching the news … a fact I was able to confirm for myself on CBS’s own website where their article on the San Juan includes comments from the families of sailors
who were freaked out by Katie’s fear mongering.
Congrat’s CBS … you finally managed to get some viewers to stick to the TV and pay attention to something more than your news-babe’s funbags. And you did it at the expense of the families of American Sailors.
(Oh, and for more on media fear mongering, I'd recommend reading DeBecker's book linked above, or at least read this piece by DeBecker.