02 November 2006

By Many A Wind Instrument

    I've been thinking lately about Goodnight and Good Luck --- and the legacy of chaps like Murrow, including Cronkite, McNeil and Lehrer--- as stories like this one dominate the Canadian news media and the American media wail endlessly about John Kerry's foot-in-mouth disease.  It's no surprise that the Culture of Injurement prevails so certainly in these cases, but it makes me wonder what the onetime Deans of journalism would think of this sick fascination with non-stories with which people can be mock-offended. 

    Not really offended, of course; one dolt referring to another dolt as a bitch or a former Presidential candidate's ineptitude with expression don't directly offend anyone, except insofar as people want to be offended by these idiocies so they can assume the stance of righteous umbrage.  I wonder if Murrow or Cronkite or any of their ilk would have been so ready to organize news priorities around such wilful victimizations that are really nothing more than platforms for people to grumble, grouse, and by extension, aggrandize themselves to others with their supposed superiority.  Yes, everyone; we know you'd never call a woman a bitch, even though you use the term regularly, and you'd never screw-up a bad joke, much less one at someone else's expense, even though you do it all the time.  We know you're above those things, so let's move on and shut down this circus of sanctimony before someone responding to you recalls the time you called so-and-so a bitch and exacerbates this headache-inducing stupidity. 

    It's tempting to say that the news media have more in common with Barnum and Bailey than they do with Murrow and Cronkite.  It's tempting.  The apter comparison, though, wouldn't be with those notorious figures of spectacle and noise, but with Iago and Lady Macbeth, baiting us to behave against our better instincts.  And oh how foolish we are when we fall for it--- and become downright bitchy as a result.  Such endemic outrage serves mostly to sour our tempers, and to distract us from the things we should really be noticing.  What do you think is more important, John Kerry making an ass of himself, or this all-but-unreported event?  (Unreported in North America, anyway.)  One has the capacity to change the geopolitical climate as we know it.  The other, really, is just an opportunity for aerothermal release.  See if you can figure out which is which--- for thereby hangs a tale about what we choose to hear, the continuous clowning of wind instruments, winding us up with aggravating and distracting airs.

    But never mind; Kerry on, as you were.  Until later, good morrow and good luck. 

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