Thursday, February 8, 2007

Scewed Values

Could someone please explain to me why the death of Anna Nicole Smith warrants "breaking news" status? The woman used her assets to secure a small fortune, but her brain capacity was never going to contribute anything to the betterment of the world. Yet our all-news radio station broke its regular programing to go to a press conference in Florida about this death.

Florida is the state of the week. First a major tornado, then an unhinged astronaut, now this. I've been meaning to call my friend Michael Cassutt, who has written about the space program, to get his take on Ms. Nowack. He's met many of our astronauts and the Russian cosmonauts. I had dinner with astronaut Dr. Bernard Harris ten years ago thanks to Michael. It was a most pleasant evening at the Science Fiction Writers of America's Nebula Awards banquet in Kansas City and Dr. Harris was the keynote speaker (Jane Yolen was the toast mistress.) Dr. Harris is a far more entertaining and humorous gent than Buzz Aldrin, whom I had previously met. Still, astronauts are our real-life superheros, and superheros aren't supposed to be screwed up unless it's a Vertigo comic or one written by a Brit. At least the news coverage indicates this kind of bias, as if they aren't human beings first and under a considerable looking-glass all the time.

I recommend the website for FAIR, which discusses news coverage and is particularly concerned with fairness in the news, which has suffered under globalization, vertical integration, and not-my-president's administration. I want real news, not tabloids pretending to cover the news, be it print, broadcast, or electronic. I think the fact that two people have been convicted of screwing up the election recount in Ohio in 2004 is a much bigger story that the few inside inches it was given two weeks ago, yet what I get is Anna Nicole Smith bigger than life.

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