Friday, June 26, 2009

The best reason to hate the 24-hour news cycle - Michael Jackson

Yesterday my girlfriend ran downstairs to tell me that Michael Jackson was dead. Well, not really dead, or not yet, but maybe, and probably, and he wasn't breathing, or at least she thinks, and possibly in the hospital or perhaps not and he may or may not be in cardiac arrest. She wanted me to come upstairs and help her watch television, since I know what channels are all-news. A "Breaking News Announcement" had interrupted whatever Oprah-related show she was watching, then disappeared. So I started flipping between CNN, MSNBC and FOX "News". At the time, there wasn't much happening except for the news ticker at the bottom of the screen. Wolf Blitzer was wheezing his way through a piece about Iran, Chris Matthews was taking a deeper look at the philandering Governor Sanford, and Glenn Beck was having a "who's-crazier contest" with the (possibly) equally insane, (and definitely more stupid) Michelle Bachmann.

As the Michael Jackson story took off, Blitzer was the first to switch to constant coverage. Still breathless and wheezing, he turned the screen over to a few people who may or may not have had any information about the incident. All they really knew was that he had been taken to a hospital, and that there was a chance he wasn't breathing. However, they had to fill the next half hour. So I got to see an animated explanation of cardiac arrest. There was this big artery on the screen, you see...and Blitzer was going through the various things that could have caused Michael Jackson's cardiac arrest, if he had indeed suffered a cardiac arrest, but of course we still don't know for sure...

Then I started seeing people comparing Michael Jackson to Farrah Fawcett, who had also died earlier in the day, and how "we Hollywood watchers" were expecting the death of Fawcett, but not the illness of Jackson, and he was thinking about a comeback so we all thought he was OK...blah blah blah...you can find pundits for everything. I do feel bad for Farrah Fawcett though - this was a pretty big upstaging here. But seriously. How many times can people tell me that Michael Jackson's Thriller was a popular album? Or that he was once acquitted of child molestation? Or that he was famous for his white glove? I know this. I don't need it forty times while the networks wait for an actual story to develop. Go on with your scheduled programming until you have an actual story.

I ended up going to bed long before he actually died. Or, at least, long before his death was actually reported. And the long, boring coverage had apparently been going all that time. Now I see, this morning, (on wikipedia!) that his cause of death was "cardiac arrest". Seriously. Thanks, wikipedia, but "cardiac arrest" cannot possibly be the cause of death. Something else has to cause the "cardiac arrest". How do I know this? From Wolf Blitzer's helpful little animation! Cardiac arrest is merely the stopping of the heart, which happens during death anyway, but could be caused by a myriad of factors - heart attack, bear attack, snack attack, stroke, lung failure, skin failure, shock, rattlesnake bite, eating rat poison, or a few other things. Thanks Wolf Blitzer! The only thing I hate more than your 24-hour news cycle is wikipedia.

1 comment:

  1. you should have just shut off your tv set, for christ's sake!

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