It happened again. The mass media used three whole good summer days to waste my time. As I write, Sunday late afternoon, the networks are still trying to extract some unlikely catastrophe from….What was the name of that tropical storm, again?
Don’t misunderstand me, I am all in favor of mobilizing the mass media to protect people and their belongings from the ravages Mother Nature sends us frequently. It would be good if we could count on the networks to do a prudent, rational job of warning those who need warning of dangers that are both serious and probable. That’s not what we get, in fact. The major networks are actively competing to put on the ground drama queens of both sexes clad in rain-gear, some with hip-waders, trudging in half a foot of surge water. By the way, hasn’t anyone told those effete urban reporters that if your waders fill up with water, there is a good chance you are a goner? If you are wearing jeans, on the other hand, and the water rises more than expected, you are just wet, that’s all!
I spent three days without coverage of the important events in Libya and in Syria, also without sports coverage, because the airwaves were occupied by meteorological events and non-events taking place thousands of miles from where I live. Here, on the West Coast, for millions of Americans, it was a normal, sunny, warm end-of-summer day.
What’s the idea, anyway? Am I supposed to gain some merit, some moral stature, from being kept aware twenty-four/twenty-four of the coming and actual misfortunes of my fellow Americans a continent away? Or is the exaggerated coverage part of the political culture of this country? Was it the case that the Obama administration was hoping for the worst so that it could demonstrate its superior ability to handle and master a Katrina-like disaster? I almost wish this cynical supposition were correct. It would imply that the mass media have something like a collective brain. But, it is not to be: Fox News was right there on the front-line of the hoped-for horrors, elbow-to-elbow with CNN and MSNBC.
And, if you are tempted to think me insensitive, a monster, get this: America is a country exposed to the capricious actions of the old bitch, Mother Nature. There is nothing new about this. Americans have always coped. The fact helped forge the national character. Yes, there has been loss of property, maybe much loss of property. I am sorry for those who lost theirs. I hope they are insured. That’s one of the things insurance is for. The other thing is to replace many functions of government. This will be for another time.
And how about the loss of life, some of you are thinking with bitterness? Well, here is a little more cynicism and here is another instance of the mass media’s mass mindlessness: As of late Sunday afternoon Pacific Standard Time, there seems to be media agreement that the tropical storm was directly responsible for a little under 20 deaths. I will bet the first five volunteers $25 the following:
If you consider all the states with an Atlantic shoreline, the number of deaths they will have experienced between Friday 1 am and this evening, Sunday, 12 midnight will turn out to be inferior to the number of deaths for the same period last year, or the year before.
The winnings to go to Doctors Without Borders to be paid by check with losers’ names and addresses. Please, no cheating. This is a matter of honor. I swear I am making the bet without having looked up the facts. I will abstain from doing so for the next 24 hours. I don’t need to anyway, so sure am I of my prediction.
UPDATE: UNFORTUNATELY, THE CASUALTY COUNT HAS RISEN TO NEAR FORTY SINCE MONDAY. MY BET STANDS, NEVERTHELESS.