Skip to comments.Hyenas, Jackals and Monsters with Microphones
Posted on 01/04/2006 4:16:27 PM PST by Congressman Billybob
I often decry the laziness, incompetence and bias of the American press. Tuesday night in Sago, West Virginia, the press sank to an all-time low, in covering the mine disaster.
Working on the Internet, with a 24-hour news channel running, I heard the announcement that the original reports were false. Instead of one miner dead and 12 rescued, the reverse was true. Only one was found alive where they had barricaded themselves in, to await rescue.
An orgy of press coverage followed, in which reporters stuck microphones in the faces of grief-stricken survivors, seeking agonizing sound bites for the titillation of audiences. The coverage of the press conference by the spokesman for the mine was equally reprehensible.
A review of what happened: Communications from the rescuers working their way into the mine to seek survivors, came across a miners telephone. Unlike a regular telephone, messages apparently came through a squawk box in the mine shack, where anyone present could hear, or mis-hear, what was said in the mine.
Apparently, one of the rescuers said something like, There is one dead. There are survivors. That was interpreted by someone, but not any official spokesman for the mine nor the Governor, to mean that only one was dead and the others had survived. Official spokesmen were waiting for confirmation of how many were dead, and alive, and their names.
Probably via cell phone, that wrong message reached families and friends waiting for news in the Sago Baptist Church. Immediately, word spread of this miracle. People began rejoicing, singing hymns, and ringing the church bell.
It was about three hours later that hard and accurate information was obtained, and conveyed to the families, and the press descended on the survivors like a pack of hyenas.
The first error was the press reporting 12 survivors, without finding the source of that. Such errors are common when the press wants to believe a statement, and is lazy in checking it out. Examples include the election of Dewey over Truman, the murders of Black Panthers, and now the survival of 12 miners. The on-scene press failed to follow the motto of the Chicago City News, If your mother says she loves you, check it out.
How did this error? Anyone who has seen the 1974 Gene Hackman movie, The Conversation, knows the answer. Hackman plays a surveillance expert who records the conversation of a wife and her lover. Despite the fact that the couple is talking as they walk in a park, with a band playing, he records and washes word-for-word the entire conversation.
But he misses the inflection on two words that changes the entire meaning. People die and disaster follows from that failure over two words. A similar failure has just occurred in Sago.
Some would label the reporters who descended on the family and friends as vultures. But vultures are polite. They wait for their meals to die. Jackals and hyenas do not wait for death. They hunt in packs, and rip flesh from the bellies and haunches of their still-struggling victims. Thats what the press did in West Virginia.
They sought box office in blood, they found delight in death, they gloried in grief. They turned into a pack of Geraldo Riveras, every man and woman among them.
What should they have done instead?
In the almost three days that rescuers were trying to find these men alive, there was plenty of time for any major news organization to tell an entirely different story. Who were these men? Did they have families? Did they teach Sunday School? Were they Boy Scout leaders? How many had friends and relatives before them who had gone down in the mines, never to return?
Why was there not a single assignment editor for any TV medium who used the irreducible wait to tell the stories of these men whether they lived or died with facts carefully gathered? Why didnt just one outlet broadcast a story about these 13 men, so that when the survivors could bear it, they could watch a tape and say, yes, thats true. Thats why we loved him. Thats why we still miss him.
Instead, the press gathered in a pack to gnaw on the bleeding souls of the survivors, and dishonor the dead by savaging their family and friends in their darkest hour. This was the absolute bottom of the press barrel.
There is dignity in common folk. Every day there are press stories of men who went to work and never returned alive. Women who went to a store or a drive, and never returned. Children who went to school, and never returned. Such lives deserve to be honored and celebrated. Willie Lomans widow said this at his poor funeral, in Death of a Salesman:
Attention must be paid.
I think you'll find this interesting.
John / Billybob
This sounds like it could have the makin's of a good Bushfault!
I do my tiny part by not watching these vultures, including a large chunk of Fox News. I still can't believe they hired that embarrassing freak Geraldo.
thankyou for giving geraldo his well-earned due.......he works incessantly for it.....for decades, now.
I too avoided all news, including FNC, since day one knowing they'd somehow make a mess of things. Was flipping through the channels this morning and quickly zapped past Jerry.
Prayers to all of them.
I have never been so sickened in my life. I thought there would be some lessons from the hurricane reporting, but no. Within 5 minutes of waking up, I heard of their deaths, and within 5 minutes after that I was disgusted. Controversy, we have controversy!!! Exploit, exploit. I agree with everything you said.
Nothing has changed, the media is dysfunctional as always.
This deserves to be spread far and wide.
Now that's a scary thought!
I've washed my hands of all of them, have been weaning myself for months, but this was the last straw.
It's refreshing not to have the tv on in the background, actually. I'm enjoying it.
It helps hide the fact that this mine was known to be unsafe (208 safety violations).
I think it was Fox News Radio that said something about "triage" -- which made me think that while the miners had been reportedly found alive, they still might not recover. So when they said "triage," I was glad I had heard they had been found alive, but hesitated to celebrate.
Then in the next hour or two when they said that 12 of 13 were dead, I thought that's what happened -- that they were alive but very near death when found and didn't make it. Then as I heard the explanation, I realized that the original story was wrong.
Hmmm...my father worked in the coal mines before WWII -- made it to fire boss -- he said that if they closed the mine every time the gas levels were above the standards, the company wouldn't make any money, and of course the company twisted his arm so he wouldn't close the mine for the day.
So is strip mining the solution? Obviously it's quite a bit safer. I'm not sure that it's always possible. However, you can always repair the landscape; you can't bring those 12 miners back to life.
That's how you get promoted.
The safe method is the not nearly as expensive as they try to imply.
They are greedy, lazy, lying murderers.
That what it boils down to.
You can fluff it up and put any spin on it, but that's the remaining core fact.
That's a classic.
Sounds slightly like Rodney Dangerfield could have said that.
Who, other than myself, has implied that the safe method is prohibitively expensive?
Not the news media, nor the government, nor the coal execs, at least that I've heard.
No, your right, it's not widely mentioned so succinctly on the other side of the company fence, and that's a shame.