Friday, September 16, 2005

Was it Too Much To Ask?

Victor Davis Hanson --always clear and articulate--asks a pertinent question at the end of a great op-ed piece today:

But New Orleans also confirmed how a 24/7 hyper media create and then deflate controversies of the day, from the Aruba embarrassment to Cindy Sheehan's circus.

Thus reports of deaths changed by the hour — not by a magnitude of dozens, but by thousands. New alerts flashed that a toxic soup was nearly lethal to the touch even as we watched rescuers wade through it. We were assured that stagnant water would submerge the city for months, even as our screens showed dry, lighted streets, torrents pumped back out and pools evaporating under scorching heat.

Using its Iraqi template, the wired media's one constant is not amazing human resilience but hyped gloom. Later corrections and downgrades seldom make the headlines like their past blaring inaccuracies.

For all the media's efforts to turn the natural disaster of New Orleans into a racist nightmare, a death knell for one or the other political parties or an indictment of American culture at large, it was none of that at all. What we did endure instead were slick but poorly educated journalists, worried not about truth but about pre-empting their rivals with an ever-more-hysterical story, all in a fuzzy context of political correctness about race, the environment and the war.

Let ghoulish CNN file suit against the government to film all the bloated corpses it can find. Let a pontificating PBS "News-Hour" conduct more televised roundtables with grim-faced elites searching out purported national racism. But few any longer trust a frenzied media whose reporters and commentators continually prove as incompetent as they are disingenuous.

Was it too much to ask reporters to look to history to judge this recovery against other past disasters here and abroad? Could they have strived for accuracy instead of ratings — and at least made sure that the images from their cameras did not refute their own predetermined scripts?

Yes, it was apparently too much to ask.

I just this minute listened to Marvin Kalb opine on Fox News about how Katrina has changed journalism; and that now, journalists are finally willing to question the government!!!! Before this disaster, he contends, their patriotism prevented them from doing so. Before this, he stated with a straight face, journalists could not criticize Bush's leadership. But now that Bush has taken responsibility for everything, apparently it has given carte blanche to journalists to critique the administration.

Is this man out of his mind? What news reports has he been listening to for the last four years? What planet has he been living on?

It is truly amazing that there are none so blind as those who adamantly, determinedly and hysterically refuse to see.

Or, to put it more bluntly, there are none so blind as the majority of journalistic talking heads who we, the people, had entrusted to bring us the news; but who have instead promoted their own personal ideological agendas and scripts, and failed abysmally at their job in the last four years.

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