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I received an email from the Associated Press at 2:42pm, EST, saying that Representative Gabrielle Giffords was dead. Killed by an unnamed gunman "at a public event" in Arizona earlier today, according to "law enforcement officials" who told NPR and CNN.

How exciting that must have been. Who got the scoop? Who will get credit for reporting the death? Which of you other bastards in the media didn't put your logo on your air?

Forty-six minutes later, another email from the AP came in: Representative Giffords was alive, and in critical condition.

She had been shot in the head, which they didn't know before.

MSNBC.com's front page said five people were dead including a federal judge, but they didn't know who.

You don't know who is dead, but it includes a federal judge?

CNN is live streaming KGUN, a local TV station in Arizona. They didn't know anything about anything and everything was unconfirmed, so don't ask us. But here's a live aireal shot of the area where the shooting occurred.

My mother told me that earlier in the evening that she heard on NPR that law enforcement officials suspected the gunman was part of a conspiracy and they were searching for suspects.

On Twitter a debate began raging. We can call this a terrorist attack or is it just a crazy guy shooting people?

Back on NPR they were now certain he was a lone gunman.

On Twitter, consensus on my Twitter stream had emerged that because people got scared, this was a terrorist attack.

I'm not kidding.

This behavior perfectly illustrates the retched state of the American media, which shows virtually no interest in journalistic ethics anymore. Not even a pretense or apology later.

What the media did today and is still doing right now isn't reporting news, it's spreading rumors. That's all any of them can actually do during a breaking event when solid information only tends to surface during press conferences that don't come until 2am in the morning. Wall-to-wall coverage isn't possible when there's only a few minutes worth of information to report spread across an hour-long block of programming.

There are only two choices: go back to regular news coverage and only break in when new information is available, perhaps every half hour or so, or provide live interviews with "analysts" who don't know anything, local reporters who don't know anything but may have heard something from the national guys, national media stars who don't know anything but may have heard something from the locals, local law enforcement who know a little but can't tell you anything, and even the President of the United States holding a press conference in which he says he really doesn't know anything, but gee this sure does suck.

You can only fill so much airtime with this kind of bullshit.

The full story won't be written about for weeks, or even months. In the back pages of Rolling Stone or Vanity Fair, long after we've all forgotten about the lives irreparably harmed through careless reporting, and those who died in the incident itself.

There's a reason for that. It takes actual effort, time, and respect for the truth to put all the pieces together. It can't be done live on CNN or MSNBC between Hardball and a Glenn Beck repeat, and it shouldn't.

Instead of doing their jobs, media stars fill airtime with guests recounting anecdotes from a book they wrote last year about a very similar event. What an amazing coincidence!

24 hour news networks show live footage from a helicopter a few miles away, but you can't really see anything. Pundits and blowhards exploit the tragedy to flog their pet cause: too many guns, and people taking advantage of their second amendment remedies. President Obama looks troubled in the White House situation room – typically used for national security matters – where wouldn't you know it, there's a photographer handy to get the Shot Of The Day.

That's not journalism, it's entertainment. It's disgusting, embarrassing, and exactly what we all expect from the vaunted American media.

Originally posted to Of Questionable Seriousness on Sat Jan 08, 2011 at 04:50 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Disagree. (0+ / 0-)

    But you're entitled to your opinion.

  •  Thank you. I would like to say again (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gooserock, amk for obama, annominous

    because it has become so clear to me:  we clamor about Limbaugh, Hannity, Beck and others but we are not going after their bosses.

    It's time to end the empire of Ailes and Murdoch.  They are responsible for turning these megaphones of hate on the airwaves.

    Enough is enough.  Regulate, break up, give the frequencies back to the citizens who own them.

    "Never, desist till we ... extinguish this bloody traffic, of which our posterity, will scarce believe that it suffered a disgrace and dishonor to this country.

    by Regina in a Sears Kit House on Sat Jan 08, 2011 at 05:02:28 PM PST

    •  The Citizens Don't Own Cable. That Would Require (0+ / 0-)

      nationalization of all broadcast infrastructure, to make them like the national highway system and therefore able to be covered by ownership and licensing regs as the early broadcast stations once were.

      I don't think that would be enough though. The news industry has had 30 years to learn how to run for profit, and we've had information tech come in. It may be that even small and diversely owned news companies because of the breadth of the 1st amendment would find propaganda and infotainment still the only viable business model.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Sat Jan 08, 2011 at 05:06:14 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  good evening, I thought they bought (0+ / 0-)

        the frequencies  they run on in auctions of frequencies.  And that essentially the bandwidth belongs to the country.  Oversimplifying maybe I am.

        "Never, desist till we ... extinguish this bloody traffic, of which our posterity, will scarce believe that it suffered a disgrace and dishonor to this country.

        by Regina in a Sears Kit House on Sat Jan 08, 2011 at 05:43:16 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  This Is How the 1st Amendment Works In Our Time (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    corvo, amk for obama, Ezekial 23 20

    These are giant corporations, they have the specifically-corporate freedom of press, and also freedom of speech.

    There is no area in which it's safe to give large corporations blanket freedoms. Especially those that are most precious to the humans.

    There are ideas kicking around about what to do with corporate speech. Nobody seems to be thinking yet that press freedom could have problems.

    The original intentions were brilliant. Now what can we do with them to at least make America safe to the planet?

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sat Jan 08, 2011 at 05:03:20 PM PST

  •  Yes, the decaying American media (0+ / 0-)

    are in a wretched state, but their coverage of late-breaking news today isn't a very good example of this.  In fact, this was one of their better moments, because they were actually trying to figure out a story in real time rather than place a corporate spin on established facts.  

    Which will, I assume, start soon enough.

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