You know, it's a good thing no big news has happened in the past two days
Why, just imagine if something had actually happened yesterday or the day before! All three South Florida papers wouldn't have been able to run schmaltzy 9/11 retreads for two days in a row, taking up almost the entire front page. Man, that would have sucked. Well, good thing there was no major news, like, say, primary elections in nine states today, or a massive shootout between the IDF and Palestinians in Gaza, or a space shuttle docking with the space station to hook up one of the largest additions to the station ever, or a freaking earthquake in the Gulf of Mexico.
Yeah, good thing none of that happened. One or all of the newspapers may have had to nix the masturbatory 9/11 hagiography. Hell, maybe with the extra room, one or all of them could have found the space to mention that 27 U.S. soldiers have been killed so far in September, putting us on par to have the highest monthly death rate since November of last year -- clearly, freedom is on the march. In fact, maybe that same would-be story could have mentioned that, on this anniversary of 9/11 we are fast approaching a morbid benchmark -- sometime soon, probably this year, more Americans will have been killed in Iraq than were killed on Sept. 11.
But there were some noteworthy moments in all the navel-gazing coverage of a five-year-old event.
Far and away the most moving commentary from the talking heads last night came from Keith Olbermann, whose damning indictment of the Bush administration was heavily shaded with the tone of Edward R. Murrow, Olbermann's obvious idol. There's little to say about the commentary -- res ipsa loquitur, as they say. Just watch this video. Olbermann was on fire.
Nicely done, Keith.
Olbermann's rant has already been dismissed by right-wing blogs as "demagoguery in its most virulent form," but it's difficult to call the response to demagoguery "demagoguery."
Even more predictably, left-wing blogs have gone completely gaga over the on-air editorial, which shamed Bush and even obliquely called for his impeachment. LiveJournalist Anysia called it "probably the most powerful commentary I have ever read/heard," while Blogspotter Digby's Hullabaloo referred to it as a "history-making condemnation of Bush's response to 9/11, which comes close to Edward R. Murrow's level of eloquence."
Ridiculously hyperbolic, of course, but it was a damn fine speech. It won't make history, and it's far from the most powerful commentary I've ever read/heard, but it's definitely worth watching. Given his emulation of Murrow, down to the "good night and good luck" send-off, one expects Olbermann's commentaries to have that sort of tone. He's gotten it down to a science now, though, and he has become the best thing on cable news. I can't even think of who would come in a distant second -- maybe Wolf Blitzer, if only for the occasional screed by resident angry old curmudgeon Jack Cafferty.
Speaking of TV news, anyone else notice the ratings for poor Katie Couric? Between Tuesday and Friday of last week, Couric's audience dropped by 45 freaking percent. I haven't seen a free fall like that since, well, 9/11.
In one of my first entries on this blog, one which I titled "Couricitis presages continual degredation of broadcast news" (Could be my best headline for a blog entry, but I digress) I commented on the hiring of Couric and held her to task not for her perkiness, but for her utter credulousness. And the problem with conventional wisdom about the incredible shrinking ratings of the CBS Evening News is that most people are blaming the happy, perky new attitude of the news for its falling ratings. This is wrong. When Couric has the president on and fails to ask a single probing follow-up question, that turns people off. When she has pundits ranging from Morgan Spurlock to Rush Limbaugh on and fails to counter any of their spin, that turns people off. Wanton, unbridled credulousness will be the death of the news business. There are not two sides to every story. There is only the truth. And just because someone says something happened a certain way doesn't make it so -- especially if that someone is a politician. I don't expect Couric to change her attitude about asking hard-hitting questions -- and even more importantly, hard-hitting follow-ups that call people on their bullshit. And in the end, that's what will keep the CBS Evening News in third place. It finished its debut week in first place, but it won't be there long. Count on it.
Good luck, Katie. As long as you act as a stenographer instead of a reporter, you'll need it.