Today’s Take: Media Mayhem and Hurricane Irene

Hurricane Irene made its way up the US coast silencing out the entire country from external issues for more than 24 hours. This is not new. It is pretty rare that the US media truly covers anything that is going on outside of our borders unless of course it has to do with some evil guy like Saddam, Qaddafi or Bin Laden. Even if the American media gives us well-balanced stories, they are outweighed by nonsensical right or left pundits fighting it out with party talking points or worse yet Bill O’Reilly shouting down some guest.

The only thing good that the hurricane coverage did for Americans was drowned out Glenn Beck and Michele Bachman saying that the hurricane, and earthquake for that matter where “warnings from God.” No it’s not about gays this time, Bachmann says that God “ is telling Washington to change its policies.” Like we need God or Bachmann to tell us that? I don’t think so. I think if there is a God that he or she should send us better media so we don’t have to listen to their nonsensical rubbish.

At any rate, while every reporter on the East coast was telling us 24/7 about their experience in hurricane winds, the rest of the world kept turning. While Americans watched Irene, there were other catastrophes including Typhoon Nanmadol, which caused havoc in the Philippians, Taiwan and is moving to Chine. Sever rains caused so much flooding in Pakistan that villages were completely wiped out along with the people in them. So far I haven’t seen one journalist wading in those waters.

In other news, a UN headquarters in Nigeria got leveled by a suicide bomber killing 26 and injuring over 73 people (and it wasn’t Al Qaeda), it was announced that Japanese Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda would become the sixth prime minister in five years, a number soldiers in the Syrian city of Hom defected (although this has not stopped Bashir Al-Assad’s government from continuing to massacre people), and, after the US and NATO’s unwavering support of the Libyan Transitional Council, it is becoming evident that their rebel army is committing similar atrocities to those of the deposed Qaddafi regime. Good thing the US and its “allies” are now putting those guys in power (note the sarcasm).

All I can say is thank the television gods for stations like Al-Jazeera, RT TV and BBC or we all would have lost our minds listening to endless American journalists talking about winds, waves and mists. What ever happened to the emergency broadcast system giving evacuation orders and intermittent details instead of endless people in puddles? Without international channels and Wikileaks no one here would ever know what’s going on.

I just don’t get it. The US and European economies are in the crapper, America has no industry other than weapons, not to mention a major unemployment problem and US residents are watching endless reports on the “dramatic” and “severe” hurricane. Now I am not in any way minimizing the impact this storm had on so many people, but really, did we need to see it twenty-four hours straight? It reminded me of OJ Simpson’s white SUV that seemed to be traveling in circles for hours while the media and the world watched. Nothing else mattered.

All of these resources probably could have ended the famine in the Horn of Africa, which is killing about 12 million people in at least five countries. To put that into perspective that is more than all the people in New York City’s five boroughs. Why isn’t that being covered twenty-four seven. Unfortunately one television producer told me the answer. He said they “were all about ratings” and hurricane Irene was the drama they needed to attract viewership. I thought it sad. I guess millions dying isn’t dramatic enough nor is the truth about what the government is doing with your money.

I long for the old days of Nightline and CNN. When I could at least count on them to report the news in a somewhat fair a manner – at least as fair as an American news outlet could. They interviewed experts instead of talking heads and lobbyists and corporations didn’t take sides or fire people for telling the full story. Nightline anchor, Ted Koppel, asked tough balanced questions and sparked smart debate with informed experts. Was there propaganda and misinformation? Sure, but it was a quarter of what goes on today.

It in increasingly connected world, where just about everything in the world affects you and vise versa, it is pretty important for all of us to have high-quality information. Sadly it isn’t coming form mass corporate media. It is time for Americans to move beyond and dig for other outlets that provide good facts. If you want drama, watch TNT or go to the movies. At least there you may get something based on the truth instead of corporate self-interest and a slew of people doing nothing more than telling you how scared you should be from the wind.

Think before you parrot.

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