Arrogance and Self Absorption – What? In America?
Every night on the news (I should clarify this, as an Over 55 person, I’m referring to “the News” on tv, either b’cast or cable – normally in the slot between a vodka martini and Jeopardy or “the Wheel”) they try in their 22 minutes to tell you what of consequence might have happened since the night before. They used to be very good at doing this. In fact, it probably was never better than the mid 70s when for the first time, the combination of satellite ‘casting and smart editors gave us the likes of Rather at the White House, Jennings in Lebanon (where is he when we REALLY need him there?), and Irving R Levine, somewhere in Wall Street or Main Street.. The advent of satellites meant that a report could be presented in a matter of hours from virtually anywhere in the world. Even during Vietnam, as I like to recall to photo-groups I occasionally lecture to, it was a several day process from Event to Reading/Watching Event in the media. We didn’t know at the time, but that delay tended to add a care and elegance to the News which was a positive force for accuracy and explanation. There was actually time to figure out what the hell had happened, and in doing so, try and get it right. For the past two decades, the most chilling phrase in the News business has been “… and now LIVE, here is Joe Schlobotnik…” Joe, of course would be (choose one): standing ankle deep in water in South Carolina, badly lit near the locale of a break-in, in front of a hospital where a victim might have ended up, or perhaps on the docks in New Orleans, in a slicker, hanging on to a tree while a 100 mph wind blows through. None of the above add anything to the real meaning of what the news ought to be about. Being LIVE and clueless somewhere doesn’t add any insights or knowledge to a situation, when the reporter in question is probably not too bright to begin with – but hey, they are LIVE, after all. It scares me to see how “the News” has plummeted in meaningful content in just the few short decades that I have been running a parallel track in the magazine world. (Magazines have plenty of their own problems, like trying to be ‘relevant’ in the age of TV and internet but that’s another Blob). In the end, the talking heads rule, and they seem to have dragged the whole sense of what “the News” might have been (imagine Ed Murrow in London ) to the crap that we are stuck with today (imagine Wolf Blitzer, the guy who was singularly wrong in nearly EVERYONE of his “live” broadcasts from the Bush I White House in the ’91 Gulf War, in his “situation room”… where the only situation seems to be that we can’t get rid of Wolf.) I know it’s a tiresome cry, and believe me, I don’t buy into the Rightist phraseology about the MSM (main stream media) that Ms.’s Coulter and Ingraham, among others, spout so venomously. But let’s be honest: when you can’t have an interview longer than three minutes (“… Gee, time is running short…”) with a major player from the “____fill in the blank________” crisis, and yet the Today Show gives Star Jones 29 minutes to discuss whether or not she really had her stomach stapled, well, something is amiss in the News room.
This became further evident to me earlier this week, when, trapped in a hotel room in Florida, packing my gear to come home, I was listening to Paula Zahn (on CNN) do one of those “… Armageddon, and the folks who see it coming…. Coming up in our next segment…” pieces. The guests were a smart thinking Reverend from some NY (Park Avenue, no doubt) church and Jerry Falwell. Gee, there is a really great combination! The topic was the “end of days” & “Armageddon” and how the Israeli attacks in Lebanon might encourage it, and Falwell, eager in his first sentence to say that he shared the opinion of Billy Graham and other great theologians, felt that of course there would be a time when the Lord will return, but only after the conflagration and tribulations. (Editors note: The Tribulations will NOT be a fun time.) Then they threw it to the other guest, the reasonable one, who said, rightly so, “I think that the book of Revelations is being taken out of context, misquoted, and misinterpreted by the current crop of fundamentalists who see it in their own interests that the Middle East explode”, and gee, maybe we ‘ll get lucky and it will be the end of the world, and the Rapture will take place.
Falwell then piped up in that incredibly annoying way he has of being Mr. KnowItAll, that “I believe in the literal interpretation of the bible which I believe Reverend “The Other Guy” apparently does not.
So, rather than ask a brilliant follow up question (see below) Paula just flogs it back and forth in yet another of those idiotic to and fro screaming matches which adds zero to the Knowledge Politic, and just serves, one presumes to help CNN to sell hamburgers and GEICO insurance.
The correct questions, by the way, would have been (and I’m quoting from the famous letter to Dr. Laura Schlesinger which made its way on the ‘net three years ago…) the following (according to strict interpretations of the Bible):
1. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a
pleasing odor for the Lord - Lev.1:9. The problem is my neighbors.
They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?
2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in
Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair
price for her?
3. I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in
her period of menstrual cleanliness - Lev.15:19-24. The problem is,
how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offence.
4. Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and
female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend
of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can
you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?
5. I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus
35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated
to kill him myself?
6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an
abomination - Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than
homosexuality. I don.t agree. Can you settle this?
7. Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I
have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading
glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room
8. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair
around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev.
19:27. How should they die?
My retort is perhaps not original, but I think it makes the point. Beyond all this, however what really irritates me is the attitude of those who just can’t wait for the “rapture.”
The world since Christ has been around for 2000 years. More than a hundred generations. Billions of people. Millions of worthy ones. And you think, just because you shop at Walmart or eat at Burger King and go to church on the occasional Sunday that this makes you worthy to be THE Generation which will be that of the Messiah? Un real. Don’t you think that perhaps Leonardo, or any one of the thousands of Saints of antiquity might have been a little more worthy? Driving a pick up truck or an SUV doesn’t make you worthy of the messiah, I dare to say (and this with my 8th Grade Utah Jewish education!) Give it up folks. The world is going to continue on, and carry on. Don’t rush the Messiah, I believe that He (or She) has plenty of work to do in the mean time, and that they don’t need to set their watches by the self-absorbed fawningly religious fools of our times. We're just sayin David