Thursday, January 14, 2010

Oh How I Hait It!

OK, I must admit upfront that I have mixed feelings about this topic. After the huge earthquake that struck Haiti a few days ago I was watching cable news and saw where the U.S. was "rushing aid" to that country. At this very moment I'm watching President Obama give a news conference telling all the world that we are on the way, sending supplies, equipment, rescue workers, food, water, doctors, and U.S. armed forces. Army, Navy, Marines. He also said we were giving Haiti $100-million in aid "immediately" and more money will follow as needed. ( It was later projected by reporters that before it is all over the U.S. will probably spend at least one billion dollars in aid ). Of course he said we would "partner" with other countries with the rescue/rebuilding effort. "America stands with you, the world stands with you". Check in later to see how much our "partners" spent in their relief effort.....

He continued with a lot more details but this is not about that speech. It's about how we, as a country, seem to be the first to rush anywhere to help any country with any disaster. We have two wars going on, an economy that is in the toilet, unemployment at a record high, a political system that is so split that you wonder if we will ever work together again to straighten out this country. And yet, here we go spending millions and millions of dollars and resources.

All of this to a country with a population of about 9-million and about the size of Maryland and it is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere with 80% of the population living below the poverty line. I even see where there are about 45,000 Americans living in Haiti! Why?

Before you think I have no compassion for Hiatians or any other country that has a disaster let me say I know we will rush there and give all that is required to help with the rescue and to help any way we can. And yes, we have to do that because that's what we do. Always. Everywhere. Every time. We always will I suppose until we run out of money, equipment, doctors, and we no longer have an army.

So my gripe is not that we are helping that country or spending money that we could use to help out own citizens. But it is with the way we cover the story. Yes, it is huge news and you know it will be covered by every news program on TV/cable/radio/newspapers etc. But it's almost like the news stations try to beat each other out with any story they can quickly conjure up with audio or video that will keep you glued to their program.

Large headlines across the television screen, a crawl at the bottom of the picture constantly repeating the same news over and over, or short snips of words that they love to use: "Dead, Missing, Aftershocks, Rescue, Experts, Aid", etc. Oh, and my favorite: "BREAKING NEWS". By the time they get all the graphics on the screen you actually only have about half of the screen left for the news anchor that is telling the story.

And here is what burns me up the most. As soon as the major networks can possibly get a plane fueled up they send their top news people to the location of the disaster! Perfect. Now we have even more people in the way of actual rescue workers. They will require food, water and a place to sleep that could be used by an actual victim! I'm watching Anderson Cooper right this second reporting on location wearing jeans and a T-shirt. (I guess they know that it would look ridiculous if he were wearing a suit and tie). He's reporting on rescue workers trying to pull people out from under rubble. Lots of shouting, screaming, crying, pictures of collapsed buildings, dead bodies covered by sheets, people crying. All the while Cooper is talking softly, slowly, as if he were reporting from a funeral home. Do you wonder if they get their food flown in by a catering company paid for by their news companies?

And yesterday I saw a report from Haiti with Brian Williams, Ann Curry and wait for it..... Al Roker! I was waiting for Al to give a live weather report but I must have tuned in too late to catch that. Yes, the anchor newsman for the NBC evening news and two of the Today Show hosts were already there in their casual clothes or safari shirts! I'm sure other anchors will be doing their evening news program live on location but I can't watch this on TV anymore. My head is exploding. I give up. They win.

From now on whenever a disaster occurs I'm sure I'll hear about it right afterwards as I'm surfing the 900 cable channels. I'll find out where, when, and why then as soon as I know what happened I'll switch back to have Barney make me laugh on the Andy Griffith Show. I will quickly fly past the news channels after that and if I need an update I'll get that from my local paper. At least it's silent with no graphics flying around the pages and I can scan what I want to read. Oh, and the paper doesn't show a picture of Katie Couric in dungarees!

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