Monday, August 29, 2011

Quote of the Day, Jr.

"We're in the news business. We deal in doom."

-- WNBC anchor Chuck Scarborough, in a surprising moment of candor during the weekend's Hurricane Irene coverage in New York City

Matt Zoller Seitz's piece on the ridiculousness of some of the hurricane coverage is spot-on. This is my favorite quote from it because it sums it all up flawlessly:

"Newspapers and Internet-only news organizations are guilty of hype, too, but TV news is a different animal, and its excesses are of a different order of magnitude. TV news is not supposed to be processed in bits and pieces. It's designed to keep you mesmerized for hours with an endless series of voluptuously frightening images and worst-case scenarios. It's Cassandra in a box."

The question isn't whether the networks and locals were somehow irresponsible in the amount of coverage they gave to the impending arrival of Hurricane Irene and its strike along the coast; as predicted, the storm did very serious damage in some places and it's always best to hammer home to point that its potential dangers are not the kind of thing to simply be shrugged off. But the overall tone of the coverage, which is what Seitz is pillorying, was, as expected, deafeningly alarmist and over-the-top. Often needlessly so. And that brand of vaudevillian lunacy, in the long run, does more harm than good.


Not Sue Simmons said...

Chuck had that one show on NBC in the early 90s, pre-MSNBC. He should've been one of the faces of MSNBC. He fucking rules. Fuck, did I just say fuck? Speaking of News4NY, is Gabe Pressman still alive? ...indeed he is! He even as an account on the Twitter!

Sorry, you mentioned Chuck Scarborough, and it made me all tingly for when I lived in NY in the 80s.

Ref said...

Forty people dead, five billion dollars in damages? Sure, it wasn't Katrina, but given how crazy our weather is getting to be, telling a lot of Northeasterners that they survived a "hurricane" relatively unscathed just isn't very smart right now. What if the next one DOESN'T fall apart when it comes ashore, but millions of city-dwellers think there's no need to heed the calls for evacuation because Irene was just "hype?"

By the way, there are a lot of people in Vermont who are still taking it pretty seriously.

And yes, Todd is a dick.

Chez said...

I'm all for the amount of coverage; I think the storm was absolutely serious enough to warrant it. It's the frenzied fear-mongering -- instead of giving people calm and measured warnings about how serious the situation is and explaining to them clearly what they need to do and where they need to go -- that's the problem.

Ref said...

Okay, that's reasonable. Perhaps I missed the frenzied fear-mongering because I was just watching a local news channel. And Chuck Todd is still a dick.