Chicken Little busy crying wolf
September 26, 2005
Not only is the foolish little fowl alive and well, he-she-it is diligently working long hours at more than one major network to make sure that you, the American consumer of all things media-produced in 10-second sound bites or less, are full of more sensationalistic steer guano on a daily basis than Dennis Kozlowski attempting to convince a judge that he should be able to keep his home in Beaver Creek so he “has a place to lay his head” when he gets out of prison sometime around 2014.I spent most of the day last Friday glued to the TV – not to watch soaps or porn while my wife was out of town – but to follow the networks as they desperately tried to convince the nation that this week’s “end of the world as we know it” was again coming in the form of a low pressure system that massively redistributes thermal energy.Yes, it was a lot of hot air.But none of that stopped the networks from hyperbolizing the perceived threat (and the conspiratorial causes lurking behind the curtain of evil, rich white men) in order to whip the “po’ folk” of coastal Texas and Louisiana to rush to the gas pumps and ATMs and load up on fuel and cash before “everything they own could be under 20 feet of water in the next 24 hours.”The spectacular quote you just read came from FOX News putz, Shepard Smith, who stood at a nondescript street corner in Texas wearing a FOX News rain jacket and a silly FOX News baseball cap backwards in an apparent attempt to show the world that not just stupid teenagers and aging jocks can do so.”The fourth-largest metropolitan area in the United States is virtually deserted,” he claimed, although one couldn’t help but notice that each time a moving vehicle would begin to speed its way into the frame, the camera would quickly shift in an attempt to perpetuate their “deserted” theme.There is a big difference between an area being evacuated and one that is deserted. Four million people did not abandon their homes to flee the oncoming Armageddon, but 100,000 or so did from Galveston Island and surrounding low-lying areas, and of course with valid reason.However, my brother lives in Katy, a suburb of Houston, and we talked on the phone during the afternoon, laughing at the absurdity of what the talking heads were pontificating at that very moment.”Hardly anyone in Houston has left,” he said. “It only looks deserted on TV because those with more intelligence than a FOX News umbrella are inside their homes, not standing out in the rain waiting to get broadsided by a broken tree limb.”A CNN reporter also provided fascinating tidbits into the real world of disaster preparation with this gem “live” from a convenience store: “Loaves of Mrs. Baird’s white bread, $1.49, gone. Not a single loaf left. So if you want to make a sandwich, you’re going to have to find other means.”Oh my, whatever will we do with all this peanut butter? And why did she point out “white” bread? Wasn’t that racist?In perhaps the biggest understatement since New Orleans’ founding fathers said, “Hey, do you think we should build the town above, or below, the ocean,” about 1:30 p.m. Shepard Smith said, “Maybe the entire ordeal, so far, is a bit of hype.” Yeah, and it was shear coincidence that his cap had miraculously shifted forward.Blowhard Texas Gov. Rick Perry magnified the hoopla by claiming it was a “miracle” that people were evacuated and asked the country to “say a prayer for Texas.”Hey Guv, this ain’t the Alamo. It was a storm. Deal with it like a rational adult instead of calling on your predecessor’s obsession with magical beings. Organized planning helped those that needed to evacuate, nothing more.”The devil brings the hurricane. God brings the Red Cross,” was attributed to an interview on MSNBC.Nope, sorry. Nature brings one while money brings the other.And Mother Nature (only referred to as feminine due to the birthing metaphors associated therein) doesn’t respect borders, politics, genders, sexual orientations and certainly not religions, nor does she aim for oil rigs and poor people. She doesn’t get angry, mad, happy, sad, or express emotions of any sort. She just simply reacts to chemical changes in her composition, aka, Newton’s Third Law of Motion. Sensationalistic scare tactics are used and abused by the media as a protection mode to make sure they are not accused of missing the “big picture,” thus looking silly in front of millions (and losing billions in ad revenues). If the government reacts like it did toward Osama in the ’90s and the storm behaves like Hiroshima in the ’40s, they are condemned for not doing enough and wasting money. If they overreact and the storm fizzles, they are condemned for doing too much and wasting money.Either way, with the media and the government running around like Chicken Little with his head cut off every time someone is threatened with so much as a paper cut, the American people and common sense both lose.Richard Carnes of Edwards writes a weekly column for the Daily. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. This column, as with all personal columns, does not necessarily reflect the views of the Vail Daily.