The Soapbox

This page written 18 December 1998.

Bang, I say, Bang!

I have been reading the Sydney Morning Herald on the web. Sadly, I get better news coverage reading the SMH at 5PM Sydney time than I get from CNN's cable reports.

I get just as decent a coverage from the NY Times, and I imagine it would be similar from the Washington Post, or the London Times, and none of the above would provide entertainment like Tony Blair reading out a speech from outside 10 Downing Street, enunciating like the Queen delivering the Christmas message, or the apallingly repetitive bozo carrying-on of politicians who want to make mileage out of the brief delay in presidential impeachment proceedings... I lost count at 6, the number of times he repeated "This is wrong", in a row. However, they do all mention something other than the Gulf activity and its immediate consequences. CNN does not.

Most of the rest is paltry, I admit. South Korea has sunk a North Korean Spy vessel in a "fierce firefight in South Korean waters which left at least one suspected infiltrator dead". Pinochet is gaining legal ground in England, Skase losing it in Spain. Not exciting, even described as fierce. The SMH also reports that the USA is approaching 500 capital punishments since reinstatement in 1976. The NY Times has rather more sport and financial stuff (Pinochet is passe, who the hell is Skase, and they will stick to football and money until the executions reach a round number) but about the same fraction is Gulf/Impeachment-related.

The success of CNN, who inform the informable (not via their cable channel) that all the viewers want is solid Gulf stuff, is undenyable. Back in the time of the Falklands war (1981-ish?) I recall that Andrew and I made a point of watching the ABC news each evening at 19:00 to get the latest in military footage, and that's the only time I have been at all dedicated to a TV event. I imagine the Falklands war got a good 15 of the 30 minutes of broadcast, and it was almost enough for us. CNN, although the "repeat time" is more than half an hour, is not saying much.

Most people with whom I have brooched the subject at HP are not unduly disturbed, so long as nobody does anything expensive. It is more of a statement about the US populace than international events, this news coverage. Either they haven't got anything better to do, or they haven't the brains to choose. Dow and Nasdaq are up, though, according to the NYT front page, so all is well.

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