Wednesday, September 21, 2005

What Went Right?

Brian at Peeve Farm wants to know how the media will handle the Katrina story, now that the body count in New Orleans is smaller than expected and Mardi Gras is on schedule:

The MSM seems to have internalized some kind of admonishment, gnawing at them like a brain mite, that reporting good news is tantamount to propaganda—that if they were to focus on the positive aspects of a given news story and not the negative, even to just give the positive more prominence than the negative rather than to actually obscure or omit troubling details, means you're filling the shoes of Baghdad Bob. They feel that their role isn't to reassure people, but to remind them of the bleakness of reality. The idea presumably being that reassuring people means lulling them into a false sense of security, convincing themselves that things are going okay, and that change—that big shining concept in the sky, that cornerstone of platitudes from Sesame Street to Market Street—isn't necessary. And that wouldn't do. Change is good, we're taught to repeat until we're incapable of sympathizing with any status quo except the ones that say change is good.

In trying to keep myself focused on the apolitical parts of Katrina, I find myself wondering: would I be doing the same thing if I detested the people in charge? Wouldn't I be looking for an excuse to blame a President I disliked, even if the means by which to pin the aftermath of a horrific natural disaster upon him were ghostly at best? Would I be cheering the MSM's ghoulish coverage, CNN's claiming the right to film bloated bodies, Cindy Sheehan's indirect coining of the term "Occupied New Orleans"? (emphasis Brian's)

In Iraq, the press hangs around the hotel and runs whatever story everyone else is running. During and after Katrina, they hung around the Superdome and a couple of other places in New Orleans. There's nothing special about reporters, they're not experts in anything but being on television. Why do we look to them for information about the world?

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