Saturday, July 23, 2016

The (Electronic) Fourth Estate and Cop Killers

I use the term The Fourth Estate, a term variously defined in the course of history, in the modern sense: a highfalutin term for the press, or the news media, as a whole. Wikipedia has a concise and interesting entry (well, interesting to me at least, your dilettante about town) concerning the meaning and history of the phrase. It even includes a quote by Oscar Wilde, no fan of the press... Sorry, it's not you, it's me.

Moving on. It was late last Sunday afternoon, 7.17.16. Three more cops had been murdered in Baton Rouge for the crime of being cops. One "suspect" was dead and two others were (or were not) in the wind. At that point in time, besides the fact that three other cops were wounded, that's all we knew.

It was pretty much the same thing we were constantly being reinformed of by the 24x7 cable/satellite news channels since the story broke shortly after it happened, early that morning. They were still repeating the same (provisional) facts. Different words, different angles, different people (well, some of them anyway) -- same tentative facts.

Which is fine I guess.

After all, perhaps you had stayed up all night doing things that you'd rather not tell your mom about and having recently regained consciousness had decided to check in with your favorite news channel because you're sorta/kinda into politics. You wanted to see if an aggrieved member of the Multiculti Militia that had congregated in Cleveland, hoping for a chance to club a re-pub, had engaged in any pointless rioting yet. Perhaps a dude/dudette with excessive Islamitude had blown themselves up and was already enjoying the company of their allotted slate of 72 virgins.

[Aside: I know you're asking yourself, do dudettes get 72 male virgins? A quick check revealed that Muslim scholars and clerics don't have much to say about that (what a surprise). It gets better. Some scholars believe that something got lost in translation and that the promised reward is 72 raisins. Seriously. Look it up. Raisins.]

I'm not a regular viewer of any of the cable/sat news channels in that I don't (often can't, yuck) watch them for more than a few minutes at a time. I do check in regularly to see what's going on -- it's part of my job. Or rather, I wish it was. Actually, it's my work. Your work and your job are, more often than not, not the same thing for most people.

"Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life." -Probably not Confucius. The secret of happiness is someone(s) to love that loves you back and interesting work. This column is my interesting work. It would be my job if I could make a comfortable living from it, which I don't, at least not yet. However, I have a vague plan and big dreams, which also are a component of a happy life, but the secret of happiness is the subject of next week's column. Stay tuned. 

Therefore let us carefully back out of this dead end street (damn Google Maps...). As a token of my appreciation for your patience please accept a free gift: The secret of life is that life is just high school with money. More on that the week after next.   

What I find fascinating/appalling about cable/sat news channels is that right after something happens that's important enough to guarantee a large audience, they begin speculating their bums off. But they justify it by constantly reminding us -- that they are speculating their bums off. Broadcast news operations do this as well, but less egregiously.

"I must remind our viewers that while _______ hasn't confirmed the appalling/disgusting/titillating fact I just threw out there, it might be true, but then again it may not be. After all, as I'm sure you know, once we do get the story straight it's often different than what we've been going on and on and on and on about. That said, instead of returning to the real news stories we think might be accurate, and of course no shortage of celebrity news and stories about (often reprehensible) people that are famous for being famous, we'll carry on with our endless speculating, right after we run yet another bunch of profitable commercials.

[At this point a lengthy block of advertising commences. It consists mainly of the current ads for the same products that turn up (between brief amounts of actual content) almost everywhere you go in the cable/sat universe because lengthy blocks of advertising that consist mainly of the current ads for the same products must be run -- repeatedly, and everywhere -- if they are to have any effect in a cable/sat universe saturated by lengthy blocks of advertising that consist mainly of the current ads for the same products.]

Welcome back. This is _______, recently named as the interim director of _______. While acknowledging that what I said just prior to the commercial break may not be true, that is, blahblahblah, if it does turn out to be true, Mr./Ms. _______, what would be some of the possible ramifications?"

[Gentlereaders -- while the quoted material above is obviously a product of my imagination, it nevertheless accurately depicts the coverage I watched that morning.]


[Why isn't there a punctuation mark that indicates shrugged shoulders? In case you're not one of my gazillions of regular readers, and since I can't remember where I used and defined this word recently, permit me to explain. It's not one that I created nor is it one that someone else recently created but is ill-defined enough for me to um, appropriate. It's a word from the early 20th century that means, according to the Urban Dictionary, no worries _, or, who cares?. Now do you see why we need a punctuation mark that indicates a shrug? Fear not, gentlereaders, I'm on it! See, I told you it's not you.]

Ishkabibble_ (Insert yet to be created punctuation mark here.) Since this was the second recent cold-blooded assassination of cops for being cops, since there was a bit less carnage than in Dallas, since one of the slain officers was black, since the Electronic Fourth Estate must reflect a culture with an ever-declining attention span to keep profits up -- Ishkabibble_

After all, the newest episode of the Donald's reality show was about to start.

Have an OK Day.

©Mark Mehlmauer 2016

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