April 13, 2010

The Boy Who Cries Wolf



Lieutenant Colonel William "Bill" Kilgore was right. Charlie didn't surf. All Kilgore wanted to was to do was to go surfing; to have a good time with the boys. He cared nothing about the effect he and his men were having on the men women and children in the village they bombed back to the Stone Age.

His Air Cavalry Battalion troops loved him. His only concern what that the one day the war would end. And that bummed him out.

Completely over the top, much like CNN's news is played out, where every info byte has the same level of intensity. However, the way they report it, like it's life or death desensitizes us from stuff that is inconsequential versus news that has relevance to its viewers.


Colonel Kurtz was wrong. His integrity burdened him with the weight of the world on his shoulders. He wanted the war to be won. His followers also loved him, even with the fact that Kurtz would ruthlessly and indiscriminately murder them frequently, in groups ranging from a dozen to several hundred at a time.

Under the direction of Colonel Blitzer, Wolf's CNN and his 24/7 breaking news, the editors here vote that Wolf reflects the worst of both monsters.


CNN is no different than the American Army. They have a battle to win over as many TV viewers, just like the other new channels, except for the fact that they do it so much more effectively. They mesmerize people by keeping them glued to the TV with their military-like format.


They call their TV stage set as "The Situation Room." They pull most stories out of The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and the Associated Press and report it as "Breaking news" as if they are CNN journalistic exclusives.


Their opponents, mainly Fox News and MSNBC can be seen a mile away. Anyone who watches can see the whites of their eyes. Fox acts like the bully down the street, while MSNBC reports the "news" like the merry pranksters.


CNN's "Breaking News" is little more than the daily ebb and flow of contemporary culture, but they serve it up with a degree of authentic and believable righteousness that is far more disturbing than the others.


Case in point. About a year ago, while trotting on the treadmill at the gym, most everyone was either listening to their iPod or watching the 10 TV screens on the wall, all of which had CNN on.

The news story was anything but upbeat. It was about how some maniac got on to a college campus and went on a killing spree, indiscriminately as Kilgore and Kurtz did.

CNN was playing the limited 15 minutes of video that some college student had taped and sent to the network of the showdown between the local law enforcers and the killer. A couple of treadmills away, there was a woman who began running on one and began watching the news telecast. She was mesmerized by the "news coverage." We had already heard about the disaster, so my eyes were not glued to the TV. After about 20 minutes one could see that CNN was showing the same footage over and over again, yet never mentioned that the even happened hours earlier. The anchor would come in and out with the same "Breaking News" logo and exude a serious nature about the news made this woman think the incident was happening in real-time.


We learned that she started tearing up, got distracted from the treadmill and mis-stepped off it such that the speed of the machine threw her back and on to mat behind her. In the process, as she was flung back from the speed of the machine, her chin landed down on the back end of the treadmill. She landed very hard and broke her jaw.

Stunned everyone stopped and did what they could before the ambulance came. We were upset for her physical accident. However, we could not help but feel resentment to how CNN's "jawboning" desire to keep this person glued to the set ultimately led breaking hers. We spoke to the Gym Manager the next day and inquired about how the woman was doing. She had to have her jaw wired. He said that once she learned that the "Breaking News" CNN wasn't breaking at all. When she learned that the incident had happened several hours before, it made the pain even worse.


The best the Gym did after that was to turn their TV's on to another news channel and only turn on CNN if someone requested it on a monitor.

Who hasn't heard the story of the boy who cried wolf? Of how people rushed to his side every time he called for help, until they no longer believed him, just when his call for help was real.

Yet Wolf Blitzer cries wolf on every little thing and people actually rush to his side for every little news byte. Is CNN's "URGENT BREAKING NEWS" approach working? You bet it is. Ratings and ad $$ are doing much better than the others. Other news organizations are trying to copy it for themselves and in the process are pushing "the news" to the limits of deception, so that they can get in on the advertising (what little there is) bounty.


In the final analysis, Kilgore was the legalized version of Kurtz. They actions were identical. They maimed and killed indiscriminately. However, their motivations were different. It makes one wonder what Blitzer's mission is. Perhaps it doesn't exist.


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