When I was growing up, the household names in news broadcasting were Walter Cronkite, Douglas Edwards, Edward R Murrow and John Cameron Swayze. There was a 1/2 hour time slot for the news, usually around 6 o’clock. When it was eventually expanded to an hour, it was considered risky. Could the networks fill in an entire hour? Would they be able to hold an audience that long? The network execs sweated out the answers to those questions. But at that time it was still journalism. It was still news reporting in the strictest sense of the phrase. There was no opinion, no innuendo, and no political spin from the news anchor. If time permitted, at the end of the broadcast an editorial piece was offered. But it was billed as just that, an editorial opinion, totally separate from the news part of the hour. Very few people had even heard of the word “nuance,” let alone how it applied to a newscast.
Enter 24 hour cable news. I’ll be the first to admit it. When cable news first arrived in our lives, I was hooked right away. I had always been sort of a news junkie and now it was being served to me on a silver platter. But that was before I realized it was the beginning of the end of pure journalism. News broadcasting was soon to become a form of entertainment in itself. Stories that were once relegated to the back pages of the local newspaper became hot items for these broadcasts, used to fill in when there wasn’t enough bona fide mayhem happening in the rest of the world. I mean, do we really need to know about the latest drug or alcohol related arrest of every minion in Hollywood? Are you really more informed because you now know that Uncle Joe molested a little boy in East Podunk, Nebraska?
Then, and perhaps worst of all, the networks themselves became the news. The way they treated a story and the political slant they gave it was fodder for the other 24/7 networks to report. Fox News Network, the first network to openly display a conservative leaning, became the target of Presidential campaigns. MSNBC, which never met a liberal cause it didn’t endorse, became the bane of conservatives everywhere. Soon we were inundated with a chorus line of so-called experts or “talking heads” filling the screen with their take on the day’s events. It used to be that the definition of an expert was “anyone with a briefcase more than 50 miles from home.” That definition has obviously been relaxed for the purposes of cable news.
One of the saddest consequences of this constant barrage of news is in the area of crime reporting. People are tried and found guilty in the news before they have even been indicted by the justice system. The flames of vigilantism are currently being fanned by cable news regarding a racially tainted case in Florida. These reports used to be about facts. Now they are about rumor and unsubstantiated personal accounts. There’s danger in this. Just ask Dan Rather. I guess it’s in some way or another the result of the fast paced, high-tech world around us now, but occasionally I feel a little dirty after some of these broadcasts.
Today I was looking at some readers’ comments regarding an internet article on the tragedy in Florida when I came across the one I have printed below. I don’t know this gentleman, but I suspect he may be the 19 year-old in the story. No matter, he has summed up in a few eloquent words, what I have been struggling to say through the rather inept garble of this blog post. I hope you will read it.
You’re a 19-year-old kid.
You’re critically wounded and dying in the jungle somewhere in the Central Highlands of Viet Nam ..
It’s November 11, 1967.
LZ (landing zone) X-ray.
Your unit is outnumbered 8-1 and the enemy fire is so intense from 100 yards away, that your CO (commanding officer) has ordered the helicopters to stop coming in.
You’re lying there, listening to the enemy machine guns and you know you’re not getting out.
Your family is half way around the world, 12,000 miles away, and you’ll never see them again.
As the world starts to fade in and out, you know this is the day.
Then – over the machine gun noise – you faintly hear that sound of a helicopter.
You look up to see a Huey coming in. But.. It doesn’t seem real because no MedEvac markings are on it.
Captain Ed Freeman is coming in for you.
He’s not MedEvac so it’s not his job, but he heard the radio call and decided he’s flying his Huey down into the machine gun fire anyway.
Even after the MedEvacs were ordered not to come. He’s coming anyway.
And he drops it in and sits there in the machine gun fire, as they load 3 of you at a time on board.
Then he flies you up and out through the gunfire to the doctors and nurses and safety.
And, he kept coming back!! 13 more times!! Until all the wounded were out. No one knew until the mission was over that the Captain had been hit 4 times in the legs and left arm. He took 29 of you and your buddies out that day. Some would not have made it without the Captain and his Huey.
Medal of Honor Recipient, Captain Ed Freeman, United States Air Force, died last Wednesday at the age of 70, in Boise, Idaho
May God Bless and Rest His Soul.
I bet you didn’t hear about this hero’s passing, but we’ve sure heard a whole bunch about Whitney Houston, Lindsay Lohan, Dr. Murray, that sicko Sandusky, and a 72- day sham marriage.
Shame on the media !!!