Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Why is the corporate media obsessed . . . .

with this plane crash in San Francisco? I was watching the ball game on Saturday and idly switched to CNN during a commercial when I first saw the completely static video of the tailless plane sitting on the runway -- a shot that seemed to stay up about 80% of the time while CNN went totally wall to wall with this for two whole days. MSNBC also dusted off Ed Schulz to go wall to wall with this in place of their usual weekend lineup of tabloid psycho-porn. The local and network newscasts on both weekends were devoted almost entirely to this story -- in which nothing was happening and there were no significant developments -- as were all of the major news websites pretty much right through Monday, and it's still just barely tapering off.

As plane crashes go, this was as minimal as it gets -- two people dead. The basics of what had happened were immediately obvious -- the plane landed short and its tail hit the seawall at the edge of the airport and broke off. We knew that five minutes after it happened. That's still what we know.

Meanwhile, they had another perfectly good, far more consequential and even more photogenic industrial disaster available to obsess over, the train derailment in Quebec that destroyed an entire downtown, was still very attractively on fire, killed dozens of people, and has important public policy significance. But it didn't interest them in the slightest. The turmoil in Egypt, abortion controversy in Texas, imminent implementation of the Affordable Care Act and associated difficulties, you name it, they ignored it. For three whole days. Instead, they sat there and talked about the absolutely nothing that was happening in connection with a minor event that was long over.

I suppose it's the weird media magnetism of plane crashes that has made Al Qaeda so obsessed with causing them. And yeah, TV talking heads make a lot of money and fly a lot so that probably makes them care about it. But I don't really get it. To most of the audience, this must be just as boring and pointless as it is to me.


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