Monday, November 29, 2004

Boring Weekend, Boring Coverage...
I found it absolutely FASCINATING hearing about Dick Ebersol for three hours this evening on the television news. Now, I didn't sit there and actually WATCH the talk fest, I did jump to other channels, but when I came back, it was all Dick, all the time.

Let's get something straight. Even on a "slow news" day, we still have a war in Iraq. There are serious allegations being made about graft and corruption at the U.N. The Iranians are thisclose to declaring that their nuclear reactors are merely those famous Middle-Eastern "Baby Milk Factories" with anti-aircraft missiles stationed on the roof, and armed Revolutionary Guards on 24-hour foot patrol. There's political unrest in the Ukraine, where we are witnessing on television, the birth of a democratic movement. Dan Rather is being run out of town on a rail.

And all the news folks can talk about is Dick Ebersol. Give me a fucking break.

About 0.9 in 10 Americans actually know who the guy is, and that's being generous. Yes, the man is a legend in sports programming, but was it necessary to devote that much time to the story with the facts available (which were: plane crashed, he survived, his son survived, one son missing. Injuries unknown, we don't know anything else). Ten years ago, that would have elicted a "more on this story as it comes in" kind of comment, but not now in the 24-hour-a-day news environment. They have air time to fill, and rather than do something useful, like send reporters out to do stories about stuff they can air on a slow news day, it seems they sit around and wait for the newswires to spit something out, and then hastily assemble a bunch of talking heads to roll around the same information for two hours.

I'm sorry about Mr. Ebersol. No one should have to go through the ordeal of a plane crash, and I hope his sons, and everyone else on that flight is fine, God willing. But, please, spare me the empty air time and the fake sympathy "for one of our own" that occurs everytime someone from the media should have something unfortunate happen to them. It's so phony, and it's self-serving.

What you would really like to do, but won't, is what happened in New York about 15 years ago. A traffic helicopter for NBC crashed into the Hudson River one evening, during the 6 PM local news broadcast, I believe, and there, on everyone's TV screen, in living color, was the NYFD trying to resuscitate the female traffic reporter. Her shirt was opened, her bra exposed, and she was dying on camera. The anchorman that night, Chuck Scarborough I believe, was all in a huff about not showing that footage because his colleague deserved a "little dignity". But he was never in enough of a huff to actually quit or do something of consequence about it. Secretly, I'll bet he had an erection. It was Great Television, as they say. The first reality-based show.

But at the end of the day, a traffic reporter is small potatoes. This is the sainted Dick Ebersol. He must be beatified right now, as if he had died, and we all must sing his praises! No, you must fill up three empty hours of airtime on a Sunday because you're too lazy to go out and find real news.

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