Finest Hour, Or: The Matrix is a system of control
You know if we ever were to open Halffull up to the flames of the internet we’d be subject to constant criticisms about little things we say, such as me using a matrix phrase. There’d be a 60-comment long thread beneath this post just based on the title and the thread would become complex enough to have intelligence and would take over my computer, launch all of the nukes in the continental US and then say, “I’m sorry Dave”. Thank goodness we make people register to post comments.
Moving on to my rant. While speaking recently Dan Rather remarked that Hurricane Katrina was one of news’s finest hours, comparable to the news coverage of Watergate and the investigative journalism that went on there.
Let me at least try to understand his viewpoint. Yes, there were plenty of journalists. Yes, they were climbing over each other to see who could get in harm’s way the most. Yes, some stayed in miserable conditions. But the finest coverage ever? Maybe including field journalists in with anchors isn’t fair. The anchor coverage has been terrible. It’s been terrible for a while. We have to turn to the specialty shows to get anything approaching coverage, such as Greta Van Susteren, or that woman with the short hair on CNN. Even Bill O’Reilly or Hannity and Colmes or Hardball are piss-poor coverage of events. Why do I say this? You’re right, I should be more specific.
I want them to earn their salaries. I don’t want, “Coming up next: Could your ceiling fan be killing you?” then you tune in and they have some doctor from some institute and he says, “No.” and then him and the anchor argue for about ten minutes until they both thank each other profusely and the segment is over. Let me give a more serious example. “Coming up, we talk to FEMA director Michael Brown. Michael Brown, why do you suck?” “Well, actually, that’s a hard question to…” “Don’t dodge the question! Why do you suck! Look at me! I am a journalist with righteous anger! Why not just help the people?” “Help them how? We’ve got troops coming in…” “No fix it now! Complex problems, simple answers!”
Now I’m diverging, but this needs to be said. Clearly whatever plan was in existence was a failure. Once the plan fails though, there really is no way to fix it. Criticising the various government officials during the first week or so is somewhat pointless and they can do nothing to change the situation. If the troops aren’t mobilized, or worse, the food isn’t mobilized, no amount of action is going to get it there in a few hours.
However which anchor pointed this out? Which anchor gave us insightful coverage? I mean really insightful, not just “Hurricanes suck” or “It sucks that all the black people are poor” or “The government sucks” or “I blame this government official because he smells funny”. We got quips. We got sounds bytes. We got stock photos. We got constant updates on nothing happening. Why is this? Why, instead of being broken up into half hour or hour segments of investigative journalism, actual reporting, and insightful achoring, do we get constant updates on not much of anything? A superficial analysis of a complex problem. What did we do to deserve this?
Moreover, why didn’t Dan Rather point this out. He used to do the interesting stuff! You can debate how good he was and whether some of his segments were political, and I happen to think there’s good evidence to show he was biased. But the journalism was damn good! Even if I didn’t necessary like the flavor I could appreciate how excellent of a meal it was. Now I’m served french fries. Hardball and Bill O’Reilly and other long shows of nothing are like the cheeseburgers in this metaphor.
I want filet mignon again. I want John Stossel all day, every day.