Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Covering Ted

Since Senator Ted Kennedy's seizure on Saturday and subsequent diagnosis with a malignant brain tumor, the media has expressed shock, sorrow, hopelessness and now, lacking anything more to say about the situation, has seen fit to just go on and eulogize the man. While he's out sailing in his sailboat.

It is but the latest example, in my opinion, of just what's wrong with today's 24-hour-a-day, seven-days-a-week endless talking head coverage on channels like CNN, CNBC and others. The never ending need for stories, whether they are newsworthy or not, has pushed the definition of "news" into a whole new realm. Now not only is the story the story, but also what someone THINKS about the story is news and what MIGHT happen is news and what will LIKELY happen is news. Even how everyone FEELS passes for news these days.

Many of the print stories are accompanied by pieces quoting this or that doctor painting a bleak picture of Kennedy's chances. The statistic I read most is that "half" of all patients with conditions similar to Kennedy's die within a year of treatment.

I'm not very good at math, but doesn't this mean Kennedy is just as likely as not to live another year? Maybe longer. The only thing Kennedy himself has said is that he is "optimistic".

In one CNBC "news" interview Brian Williams lauded Kennedy as the "nucleus of the American family" and speculated for a good five minutes on how the Kennedy family must be feeling right now. (Duh.) All of this chatting was accompanied by a large red graphic at the bottom of the screen that silently screeched "Breaking News". The whole discussion was called a "report".

And, you know, I'm sorry but the last time I checked? A breaking news report should be something more than idle speculation about how someone may feel. What I've just described here is a talk show, not news.

I count at least ten similar reports at CNBC alone, some of them speculating on possible treatment and outcomes, many of them reporting what other people said about the situation. They are calling Kennedy an "icon", and "the Senate's last lion" (McCain) and legislators are apparently openly weeping on the Senate floor.

Is it just me or does all this smack of "already dead" as opposed to "newly diagnosed"?

According to his wife, the optimistic Senator Kennedy himself is hoping to participate in an annual sailing race this weekend off Cape Cod. And I for one hope he does. Anything to keep him away from endlessly grim, unnecessary and downright inappropriate speculation of what passes for "the press" these days.

Obviously, Kennedy is a a well loved and important figure in American politics. And this is not a good diagnosis. Still, does he not deserve a chance to live until he dies? To hope until he can't? Can we not show the man a little respect in what may or may not be the twilight of his life?

I would encourage the maudlin media, the pre-eulogizing politicians and the sobbing Senators to put on their big boy or girl panties and have a little respect for a man they all profess to love and admire so much.

And shut the hell up already.

(Because I'm sure they're all reading.)


Sandra Ree said...



SuSaw said...

I just finished reading it to my husband. I told him this is why I like reading blogs. You say so well what I'm thinking but cannot put into words as well as you.

ChristaD said...

You are absolutely RIGHT ON. What passes for news these days is pathetic and an embarassment. Bravo.

Stephanie said...

I concur.

Brenda said...

Like susaw, I just finished reading this to MY husband. GREAT post!

Rhonda said...

Amen. (Flasback to the media's last victim, Anna Nicole, may she rest in peace)

Patience-please said...

One of my best friends had surgery to remove a glioblastoma last week. She has purposely stayed away from the internet searches on glioblastoma multiforme. Now all this on Senator Kennedy. It sucks.

keena said...

You're so totally right, and the funny thing is, I never even realized this insidious trend in the media. After the Heath shooting I remember everything they printed was innaccurate, as was the show about the incident on some a&e series.

You should definately send that piece to many papers as a guest editorial. DO IT DO IT!!

I think I can write a little bit, but you got the knack.

I am just sitting in my sisters unfinished cabin watching the rain fall, and being thankful that at least i'm not in my tent.

I renewed my car regitstration by mail so you should be getting that in 5 to 7 business days. And that's a direct quote.

I was so devastated when JohnJohn flew away, now Teddy. They have a public profile for sure, but give the guy a break. Perhaps all this will have the effect of making him live a long time, just to show those muckrakers what's what.

Love, Christina

Suz said...

THANK YOU for saying it, and saying it so well.

Suzanne said...

Thanks for all the feedback on this post! I'm glad to know I'm not alone. Sometimes you start to wonder...