Or, kiss any substantive media coverage of any substantive issue goodbye for the next four to six weeks--whereupon the media will start an almost endless series of horserace-and-handicap stories as we start the countdown to the midterm elections in November.
How do I know the silly season has started? The Royal Thai Police arrested a man wanted in connection with the murder of JonBenet Ramsay. New York City officials released more 911 and other tapes from 11 September 2001, a professional basketball player was arrested by the Secret Service when an unlicensed pistol was found in his back seat shortly after shots were fired in the vicinity of the White House, and, in a story that I believe was referred to by the anchor as "terror-related," a United Airlines flight from London to Washington was diverted to Boston under escort by armed fighter jets after a passenger had what appears to have been a panic attack. Those were the top stories I heard on NBC's evening newscast tonight, as I was sipping a glass of Merlot with my mom.
I'm sure we're going to hear non-stop JonBenet coverage for the next little while, and for the umpteenth time. I'm sorry she's dead, but really, how is this news, except perhaps in Boulder, and then only when the alleged suspect is actually tried and convicted? And, to echo a commenter at Big Orange, how many non-white, non-rich, non-American girls have suffered the same fate (or worse) in the 10 years since she was killed, who never got a column-inch in the newspapers, or five seconds of airtime on the nightly news?
Meanwhile, elsewhere in the world and on other news outlets, real events of real importance are taking place, and getting at least a little coverage. I happened to catch at least the tail end of a story about the arrest of Mexican drug-trafficker Javier Arellano-Felix on NPR's "All Things Considered" this evening as I was driving home. Considering it was only this morning that NPR, on one of the local segments during "Morning Edition," reported that Fat Denny Hastert wants to seal the U.S.'s borders tighter than a drum, I'd have thought the story of Arellano-Felix's arrest would have gotten more play. I'll probably have more to say on that Hastert thing in another post, tonight or tomorrow: it's too good to pass up.
A story that I heard on the local Chicago newscast, but not on the national news, is one that probably should be getting more coverage. A 16-year-old with Hodgkin's disease had to go to court in Virginia to secure his right to refuse chemotherapy--a right that should have been taken for granted all along, as it is an established principle of medical ethics that it is the patient's decision what treatment to pursue and when to stop it. It seems a nosey social worker didn't like the boy's decision about his treatment, and convinced a judge to find his parents guilty of child neglect and order the boy to report for chemotherapy. Excuse me? But when is it the business of the state or the local government to determine how a patient is treated? I thought we'd gotten that arrant nonsense out of our systems last summer with the Terri Schiavo mess. Apparently not.