The response to my last post was overwhelming. Hundreds, from all corners of the globe read it, and obviously people care about what happened to Michael Hastings. I guess I underestimated how influential he was. I even ran into people on the street this past week and they hadn’t really heard how he died but they knew of his work. It is a tribute to his professionalism that so many were touched by his reporting.
One follow-up to the last post about Michael Hastings’ death is that Richard Clarke, the former chief of counter-terrorism (he was the guy who before 9/11 said they need to be paying attention to Bin Laden and Cheney and Rice told him that they didn’t want to hear about that) came out and said that the NSA and FBI have figured out how to hack into cars. He openly stated that Hastings accident had the earmarks of a car that had been hacked into. Think about that next time you start the engine.
The fact details of Hastings death escaped people should be no surprise. NONE of the news outlets have carried any follow-up reports to his death. Huffington Post ran a couple recap articles. Rachel Maddow talked about how they were friends without ever questioning the events surrounding his death. Should I be surprised? Probably not for real news has almost come to a standstill here and for news junkies like me, it is frustrating.
We are inundated with crime tv on the news channels now. Jody Arias or now the trial down in Florida. Do you know how many people get killed on a daily basis in this country? We are the most violent country in the developed world so one person dying should almost be a non-news event when you have literally a dozen people shot down on any given weekend in Chicago alone.
It is a distraction. Spend 50 minutes talking about a trial instead of news and maybe you’ll forget something else is going on. It is all about perception. News in America means a ‘panel’ sitting around voicing their opinions on a subject. Opinions don’t equate to news. Walter Cronkite never sat around with 4 other people to give their opinion. No, they had guys in the field doing reports daily and often under dangerous conditions. A guy like Hastings would have felt right at home with the old CBS news crews or even CNN when Ted Turner first started the network. Now, many of the networks don’t even do foreign reporting. For instance, CNN has an international news network that broadcasts around the world EXCEPT in the US where you might, if you are lucky, get 30 seconds on a foreign story. The international stories are almost always shutout in the States.
This past week is a good example of what I am speaking about. The things you didn’t hear about this week included: any follow-up to Hastings death, any reports on NSA spying, FBI flying drones to spy on Americans (which they admitted to last week in a congressional hearing), no real mention of Snowden – the news anchors here openly mock him, the Bradley Manning trial, anything about Syria, the Turkish unrest that is going on, the fact John Kerry is trying to set up Middle East peace talks, the violence in Egypt or Iraq, the fact that Greece is broke again, that Cyprus has had a bank run in spite of withdrawal limits, the unrest in Brazil etc. That is a short list. Any of it sound like it might be more important than gavel to gavel coverage of a trial in Florida?
Like I said it is all about perception. News has almost become the ultimate distraction. I rarely make this comparison (even though it is a great book) but it is a bit like 1984 where the tv only tells you what they want you to hear and word it so that it is always a bit murky on what is really going on and yet if you don’t agree with their stance you’re the person who must be the problem. To some degree we have entered that 1984 phase. One now has to look for the truth if you want to get past the perception.