Sunday, September 11, 2005

#195 - The Real Body Count

Legacy media types will now be falling over themselves to demonstrate just how insensitive they truly are. Bad enough that they indulge in the sort of grandstanding that we've come to expect from certain celebrities during a crisis of any sort. Now they have pressed for, and won, the opportunity to film dead bodies for their increasingly sensationalistic reports.

This would appear to hearken back to a time when newspapers gleefully published photos of gangster related crime. The bread and butter shots were of those gangsters who themselves were on the receiving end of several automatic rifles. In fact, the gorier the shot, the better it sold. Capitalism at its finest, I suppose. By the time I was growing up, however, the media had implemented a different code. Whether by compulsory or self-inflicted means (I'm no historian on this topic, so I'm not sure) the media had scruples against showing dead bodies in their reports. The closest we ever came to seeing a dead body was when it was completely covered by a blanket while being loaded in the Coroner's van. Crime scenes were verboten unless the body were removed, so that all we ever saw was the chalk outline.

These images - tame though they are by today's standards - were plenty powerful to an impressionable young mind such as mine. I had no need (or, truly, desire) to see an actual body to appreciate the horror associated with whatever shortened that individual's life.

Our consciences have become seared, however, over time. More and more we have become so desensitized to death and destruction, that we (the generic "we") now crave ever more graphic depictions of the violence that surrounds us every day. And the media are the baying hounds who can't wait to unleash that horror into our living rooms.

Two statements stand out in CNN's report of this issue:
CNN's brief argued, "It is not the place of government to replace its own internal judgment for that of a free and independent media."

Perhaps not. But is my right and obligation to exercise discretion as to which media I use to glean my information. That's what free market truly represents, and, I notice, CNN's share is dropping.
Because of controversy about how FEMA and other agencies handled the disaster response, CNN lawyers argued, "it is even more vitally important for the public, Congress and the administration to have an independent view of the conduct of this important phase of the operation."

Or, stated more truthfully, it is vitally important that the news-consuming public have CNN's opinion of the conduct of this important phase of the operation.

I have said it before and I will say it again. What once represented the noble cause of reporting events as they occur has now devolved into a need to shape American political ideology and public opinion using the liberal religion of zero personal accountability.

Is there culpability to be impugned over the fiasco that was Katrina? You bet. Let's start with the media, and work our way up from there.

You certainly can't work any lower.

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