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News Du Jour

by Ed Kowalski, published

I was ready to ask what became of Kim Jong Il and the North Korean threat when he made the news for one day by firing off a couple of missiles.  I thought his nuclear threat was a serious, imminent danger.  I've already begun my doomsday prepping!  (A suitcase full of water and $60 cash, I'm doomed.)

The media has had a lot on its plate in the last few weeks; the Boston marathon attack, the Jodi Arias trial, the women freed from captivity in Cleveland, the IRS scandal, the Benghazi controversy resurfacing (now that I mention it, the administration has a lot on its plate too), and the tragic tornadoes in Texas and Oklahoma.

Maybe normal people don't remember half those stories.  I'm a newsaholic.  (I watch both airings of Anderson Cooper, Piers Morgan and Nancy Grace every night among other helpings of daily news.)  Maybe that's my problem: I watch, and I remember.

A month ago the North Korean threat was alarming and urgent.  Imagine you're Kim Jong and you turn on CNN, I've heard he watches, one bleak Saturday morning in your palace (bleak for the citizens) to find out you're no longer a top story.  How do you top threats of nuclear assault to get yourself back in the news?  Maybe he needs to threaten to blow up the moon, or kiss Madonna on stage.

I understand news cycles change according to, well, the news.  I understand "if it bleeds, it leads", not to mention "sex sells".  I'm heart-broken for the victims of Castro in Cleveland (and the victims of Castro in Cuba), and as relieved as anyone that they were finally rescued (in Cleveland), but if he had imprisoned them and treated them to cupcakes and pedicures for ten years we'd probably have seen the story in maybe two news cycles; cupcakes and pedicures, not a bad life.

The media is simply shameless covering stories of death and sex.  I know it’s horrific and it’s news, but the problem I have (among others) is, either North Korea was and is a threat, or it wasn't, but the mainstream media had nothing better to cover for a few weeks, so they scared the bejeesus out of many of us with stories of potential Armageddon.

I have enough to angst over, between bills and work, working to pay bills, generating bills that require me to work, that neighbor who tries to steal my trash can, and writing this column, without worrying that after we solved the cold war nuclear threat we still have to worry about some nothing-to-lose crazy dictator lobbing one at our Western seaboard just because we won't give him money to make his palace bigger, or whatever Il wants it for.  It's not to feed his people, talk about "ill'in"…

If I still wanted a nuclear threat to worry about, all those Russian nukes are scattered throughout the Soviet blocks going to the highest bidders or the best thieves.  I hope someone's counting them.  Putin isn't.

How many media sources do we have in this country when you really think about it?  We have five, CNN, MSNBC, and the networks?  We have six if you count the Drudge Report, report first, ask questions later.  I'm not counting Huffington Post.  I said news, not propaganda.  CNN is bad enough.  Every time Soledad O’Brien hosts a special I feel like I should donate to the NAACP.  Am I the only one who thinks an African-American activism group shouldn't have the phrase colored people in its title?

Sure, we have the nation's newspapers and other news outlets, but the basic news is the same whoever gives it to you.  I toggle my remote between three channels.

 The mainstream media is a little like Spiderman:  with great power comes great responsibility, except without the power, and without the responsibility.  When Kim Jong builds a tornado machine, I guess I’ll worry, if the media covers it.

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