I watch the "Today" show every morning. I don't necessarily admit this proudly. It started when Channel 20 stopped having good cartoons on in the morning. There was a time when I used to watch "Jonny Quest" in the early hours but those days are gone. So I switched over to the news. I've never been a fan of the news and actually to this day will watch anything but the local news if I can. But "Today" appeals to me for some reason. Maybe it's Katie's recent change in wardrobe to include fabulous footwear.
There are some who say the "Today" show is not news. And they would be partly right. I used to recite factoids to my parents then have to explain to them when asked that I'd gotten my info from the comic strip Sylvia (which incidentally often has lots of very interesting factoids, the validity of which I don't doubt). Now I talk about the stories I've heard--you need to take 10,000 steps a day to be healthy I heard some old doctor say, there's a light bulb in a firehouse in Maine or somewhere that's 100 years old and still burning--and my parents look at me just as skeptically when I tell them I got the info from the "Today" show. But no one can argue that I don't know my events. I knew about the plane going down in China nearly the moment it happened; I knew about the submarine hitting the Japanese fishing boat just as instantly; and I know every little thing that "President" W does and says (whether I want to or not--it just makes the whole thing seem more real). I also happen to know more than I care to about Angelina Jolie, Sugar Ray, and Tatiana Ali (not to mention Katie, Matt, Al, Ann, and occasionally Willard (who I'm convinced is a little old pervert from the way he flirts grotesquely with Katie, but I digress)). Regardless, I'm actually better informed than many of the people I know. And I'm much better informed than I was when I watched "Jonny Quest."
Well, I was watching "Today" as usual yesterday and heard Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City federal building bomber, had been put to death finally. I suppose I should have felt the moral outrage others who oppose the death penalty felt but as usual I just sort of thought 'Well, it's wrong for us to kill him, but he certainly deserved it.' It was one of those cases where no one had any doubt that he did the crime and he himself felt he deserved to die. He killed 168 people, including children in the day care center of the building, when he bombed the building at 9:15 in the morning, a time he knew the building would be full of people. There's been much said about this event, much mourning, a memorial put up with a chair representing each of the people killed, and plenty of media coverage. I've listened with a vague ear to reports over the last few weeks of execution delays, trial misconduct, and "Today" interviewing everyone from Tim's lawyer to his next door neighbor when he was a kid. I know more about the fellow and the case than I'd like, really. And I honestly didn't care that he was killed, though I would tell you it was wrong if you asked. But I was really outraged watching "Today" yesterday.
I suppose I started watching it around 7:15. I left the house around 8 (late as usual). That whole time was spent with interview after interview with people who had watched Timothy McVeigh die. Over and over again I heard descriptions of Tim glancing at the spectators behind the glass; searching the faces for someone, but no one knowing who; looking slightly frightened, looking strangely calm, looking angry--basically looking however the person describing the scene wanted him to look. I heard descriptions of him falling asleep. I heard the doctor who examined the body tell what she found, whether he had felt any pain, getting the impression that Matt Lauer wanted to hear that Tim had felt pain. Katie talked to survivors or the family members of those who didn't survive the bombing, asking them to describe again covering up bodies of dead children, a man telling his wife not to hug him because his back was full of glass, asking a mother who lost her daughter what she had felt watching McVeigh die. It was disturbing, very disturbing to me, not because of the images they pulled up though they were of course unpleasant. But because there was no pleasure, no release, no sense of closure to the voices of these people. They didn't seem happy or relieved or vindicated that this man was finally dead--they just seemed uncomfortable talking about it. What sticks in my mind is Katie asking the woman who covered up all the dead children if the image of McVeigh dying would replace the images of the dead children. I couldn't tell if she was suggesting that watching the man die would finally release her from that memory or if she was being carefully accusatory, suggesting the horror of watching the man die would take the place of the memory of the already dead. The woman's simple answer was no.
I was also disturbed because we've heard these stories a hundred times, or at least I have, over the 6 years since the bombing happened. And to see these people reliving this horrible experience over and over, interviewers asking what seem to me insensitive questions, is just painful now. They devoted an entire "Today" show to the erecting of the monument last year, interviewing everyone involved. Now they've devoted an entire "Today" show to sitting in front of that monument again, going over what seem like the same stories again, searching for something new and meaningful to say about the situation. There's a point where journalism stops and exploitation starts and I think they crossed that line. It's not the first time and I'm sure it's not the last time, but it was one of those days I was missing "Jonny Quest."
Speaking of news...
I'm taking a cue from my sister's site http://www.eleganthack.com/gleanings and sharing some interesting stuff I've found lately.
Bad Movies and The People Who Love Them
Some advertising execs made up a film critic who gave great reviews to the movies the execs were promoting. People are now suing, who went to "A Knight's Tale" based on the fictional critic's reviews. First of all, Hollywood's all about fiction so it's hard to blame these guys for going the extra fictional mile. Secondly, suing seems strange to me, considering a review of a film is simply someone's opinion and you really shouldn't be going to a movie based on someone whose opinions you know nothing about... For instance, I went to see "A Knight's Tale" simply because Heath Ledger is a babe, and I would recommend the film simply because Heath Ledger is a babe. Should my straight male friend Tony see this film based on my recommendation? I think not...
And The Winner Is
My nomination for the news story with the least possible number of facts...
"Forget rheumatic fever, kidney stones, heart disease, pneumonia and even poisoning. What may have really killed Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart were pork cutlets."
While I especially love hearing about the dangers of eating meat, my favorite part of the story is this quote, from "Dr. Faith Fitzgerald, a University of California-Davis professor of medicine," yes, a doctor:
"I personally think that he died because they needed a new choirmaster in heaven."
I guess that's why her name is Faith.
No Women On Mars
Ok, this just pisses me off...
"Women are likely to be barred from any Russian mission to Mars because they would increase the "probability of conflicts" among the crew, says a Russian space official."
I especially love this part: "Dr Grigoryev says that a single-sex crew is likely to be more "serene" with a lower probability of conflicts." Aside from the fact that putting a bunch of men in an isolated ship for 9 months each way with no women and only each other as company is unlikely to be serene, they don't even stop to consider that single-sex could mean all-women. From what I know of men and women, an all-woman flight would be far more likely to land on earth not speaking to one another but a lot less likely to land with broken noses questioning their sexuality.
I would explain why you should read this story but I can't stop laughing...
"Stone Hubby Enters the Dragon
by Josh Grossberg
Jun 11, 2001, 9:30 AM PT
In the movies, Sharon Stone prefers an ice pick to dispatch significant others. In real life, she apparently goes with...dragons?!"
Find any interesting news/whatever stories while surfing? Feel free to email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks.Posted by Alyssa at June 12, 2001 06:38 PM