I make my living off the evening news
Just give me something,
something I can use
People love it when you lose,
they love dirty laundry
-- Don Henley
When we take a few days off we generally like to get away from the news. We don't watch it on TV and try to avoid the newspapers as much as possible so we can decompress from the daily grind. No such luck this time.
We'd been off the plane less than an hour. No sooner did we turn on the satellite radio in the rental car than we were assaulted by the sound of a Libyan woman allegedly being sexually tortured while a CNN reporter described the cell-phone video. In a suitably concerned tone, the "reporter" gave a detailed play-by-play of the violent rape and graciously translated the victim's screams and pleas while she was sodomized with a broomstick.
From CNN's transcript of its report: "I can't bear it! I can't bear it!" the woman cries. "Let's push it farther," a male voice says off-camera. "No, no, that's enough!" the woman begs.
Eventually, one of the men puts his sock-covered foot on her face. In Arab culture, that is considered a major insult. But in this case, it pales in comparison to what the victim is already enduring.
At that moment, all of CNN's audience was enduring a different kind of violence, a brand of sensationalized porn-as-news that should cost the network it's license it was so depraved. And the prolonged piece was played over and over again last week, just in case some potential news consumer missed the screaming and begging and blow-by-blow description of the unspeakable act.
Let me get this straight, we can't see the face of an executed Osama bin Laden because exposure to that image might be too disturbing, but we can listen -- at length -- to a woman screaming in agony, her pixilated image writing on the screen, begging for mercy . . . . and that's okay with everybody? No ethical concerns at all?
We shrink at photographs of GITMO detainees stacked in naked human pyramids, but a real video of a naked woman held face-down on the floor and raped with a broomstick? Pass the popcorn . . . .
There has been surprisingly little blowback from this extremely disturbing "news" package. Where is NOW on this issue? Or Code Pink? The relative silence speaks volumes. Are we so inured to televised violence in general and televised violence against women specifically that this level of misogynistic mass-media self-marketing is acceptable? This is "journalism" the way a Charlie Sheen sex tape is suitable for submission at Cannes.
It's difficult to decide if CNN is resorting to desperate measures due to sliding ratings -- hoping to steal Fox "news'" mono-browed audience with this depraved display -- or if the goal is to assist the Obama administration in its justification of US involvement in yet another foreign war zone.
Either way, shame on CNN for this horrific, exploitative, repeated display of propagandized pornography last week. What an embarrassing insult to the media.