I often feel like I can’t catch a break. For example, there I was Monday evening, just about to climb into bed. I was ready for some much-needed shut-eye. Monday had been a long day. A good day, but a long day. I thoroughly enjoyed the pampering that my makeover entailed. My husband presented me with a dozen roses and we, the “new” me and the fam, enjoyed a nice 24th Anniversary dinner.
I was exhausted though, owing to the little sleep I had gotten the night before — a result of the combination of pre-makeover jitters and the fact that I had to arise at the ungodly hour of 5:30 AM in order to make my 9:00 AM hair appointment on Madison Avenue. Getting across town to Madison Avenue from New Jersey while certainly better than getting downtown from New Jersey, still requires being transported by bus and by subway. I had just settled in, when BAM!, my good day ended on a sour note.
My life often feels like one big, honking, real-world application of Newton’s First Law of Motion, which states that “an object at rest will stay at rest, an object in motion will stay in motion until acted upon by an unbalanced force”. Monday evening turned out to be an excellent example of how I am routinely acted upon by unbalanced forces.
All I wanted to do was to remain at rest, but that was not to be. Outside forces of the unbalanced variety were set loose. The relative peace and quiet that I had expected would be available to me at nearly 10 PM that evening was disturbed — by an outside force of the most unbalanced variety. The Garden State Plaza Mall shooter.
The event itself was bad enough. Scary, even. What was worse, though, was the news coverage that we were graced with.
There was a time when we got our news from trusted sources, like Walter Cronkite, for example. Not so much anymore. Sure, Anderson Cooper is easy on the eyes, but he often has very little of value to impart to the viewing public. I take some small comfort in the fact that he’s better than that guy Shepard Smith. I swear THAT guy attended the “Ted Baxter School of News Reading”. At least Anderson Cooper can pronounce things properly.
The other evening, during the coverage of this “entirely too close for comfort” event, Anderson Cooper and the fine folks over at CNN picked up a news feed from a local affiliate, WPIX, who had a reporter on the scene. This was, quite possibly, the dopiest thing that I have ever seen pass for news coverage.
Somehow, WPIX had managed to find the MOST unreliable source of information in the known universe. That WPIX chose to air his story is one thing, that CNN gave it any credence was nothing short of amazing. Oh, and CNN aired it twice — just in case the home viewer had missed out on the idiocy the first time.
At about the same time as this nonsense was taking up space on the airwaves, my Facebook page went crazy — crazy with people who were, apparently, also watching CNN. The difference between me and them? They were encouraging people to “tune to CNN” for a “firsthand account” of the incidents. I was sitting in my bedroom shaking my head at how anyone anywhere could be taking this guy seriously.
I don’t want to accuse this kid, “the eyewitness”, of being stoned because there does exist an outside chance that he had simply missed a dose of the Adderall or the Ritalin that may be necessary for him to form something as simple as a sentence, to do something as basic as follow a thought. Either that or he was “on something”. Whatever the case, a crack team of journalists, broadcasters, and news producers, chose to take him seriously. As did some of my less pessimistic Facebook friends.
I expect to participate in “Adventures in Idiocy” at the grocery store, a place that just seems to be riddled with loony birds — everyone needs to eat, I suppose — but, COME ON, PEOPLE!, when a major news story is unfolding not half a mile from my front door, when no one could report with any accuracy whether there might be an armed gunman on the loose in my neighborhood, must I rely upon “Charlie the Crackhead” for information? Must I?
CNN, in their infinite wisdom, also had Anderson speaking with a young woman who, along with her co-workers, was locked in a storage room in one of the stores located at the crime scene. All I could think of was, “Oh, my God! Stop Talking! What if the gunman HEARS you!” Wouldn’t it have been smarter if Anderson or one of the producers had just given her their cell number so that she could TEXT them? This whole exchange made me extremely nervous.
At the end of the day, the gunman proved dangerous only to himself, but no one KNEW that as the story was unfolding. Was it wrong of me, of others, to expect that CNN and other trusted news outlets would use reliable sources of information? Even if the reliable sources had no answers, it would have been far better to report THAT than to fill the time with a bogus eyewitness account and the play-by-play of a scared young woman whose only frame of reference was a stock room.
If I learned little else on Monday evening, I suppose I learned that I don’t even have to get out of my pajamas or haul my cookies to the grocery store to have the unbalanced forces that exist in the world act upon me. It has been made abundantly clear to me, following the events of Monday evening, that all I have to do is lie abed, the unbalanced forces will find me.
photo credit: News van