Sunday, September 04, 2005

Media Unhinged

As I flew JetBlue Friday night, I was blessed (or was it cursed?) with constant news coverage of the Katrina aftermath thanks to the DirecTV that the airline provides at each seat. It's actually sponsored by Fox so I was not surprised to see CNN missing from the line-up (although MSNBC and Headline News were represented). I found myself watching Fox for most of my coverage because, despite its political leanings, they're quite good at actual news coverage and Katrina has been no exception.

One thing that particularly startled me was Geraldo Riveira, whom I recall drawing war plans in the sand in Iraq during the initial invasion and being decked out in a bulletproof vest during the elections there earlier this year, bawling at the sight of the hundreds of apparently abandoned evacuees. In fact, he was among them, he spoke to them, and memorably, tears running down his face, he held up a baby and shouted at Sean Hannity demanding that these people be allowed to leave. Apparently, as an equally outraged Shepard Smith would explain to Sean moments later, a checkpoint was set up preventing people from leaving the location (no doubt in the interest of security) and passing into another parish where food and water might be available to them. Reveira and Smith, usually reliable mouthpieces of the administration, had thrown the network off message, beautifully, by doing their job.

They were in the field and, as so many other journalists who were on the scene over the past week, could not maintain an ounce of the objective detachment (or in the case of these two, the right-leaning detachment) that they were supposed to have as journalists. So Sean Hannity was left alone to try to restore the good name of the administration that essentially employs him. You thought Sean Hannity came off as cold and heartless on a given night of Hannity and Colmes, in comparison to his devastated correspondents, he was downright villainous. He kept asking that they "put things in perspective", "let's get some perspective", "keep this in perspective", in other words his usual apologist bullshit, but Smith was having none of it. "Look at these people, Sean, look at these people, this is all the perspective you need!"

Watching Fox News a day later, I was interested to see Reveira again in tears, but this time at the image of military helicopters airlifting the very people he covered the night was joy this time that reduced Reveira to a quivering mass, and perhaps at the idea that his very breakdown the night before may have partially motivated the powers that be to get those very people out of there as fast as possible. In its outrage at the delayed response to the victims of Katrina, it seems the media has re-discovered its power, to affect change, to move people emotionally and to action. What's occured seems to me to be nothing short of a coup on the part of a media that up to now had, for the most part with few exceptions, treated the administration with kid gloves. Let's hope this newfound boldness will carry over long after New Orleans is dry and its former residents disappear into new and once again invisible lives.


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's occured seems to me to be nothing short of a coup on the part of a media that up to now had, for the most part with few exceptions, treated the administration with kid gloves.

Well, so much for any assertions that your criticism was even-handed and directed at all levels of government, regardless of partisan affiliation.

You're such a tool.

4:59 AM  
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