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Ten Minutes of News

By       Message Gene M. Gordon     Permalink
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"The devil finds work for idle hands."

In my youth that was so often repeated to my tender ears that it scared me to no end. Naturally, not wanting to do even the slightest thing the devil desired motivated me to fill my hours like an intrepid lawyer determined to have no un-billable hours, minutes or seconds for that matter. From time to time I realized that I engaged in some activities not so much out of compelling interest but instead to simply fill my time and leave not a moment in which the devil could even think about to wedge himself. News mongers should do the same.

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The trouble with 24 hour coverage by cable news, at least in one aspect, is that they have to find work for idle hands--I mean tongues. They have all the time in the world and nothing to say so they allow themselves to say what they will and the devil gets in the detail. CNN for example, while purporting to be experts as they dialogue about the horrendous oil spill, which incidentally is a great deal more than a "spill," runs out of things to say. In their idleness, they begin an exploration of whether the president is angry enough. It is even suggested that perhaps he should show much more emotion. That, we know, would solve the problem--or at least de-oil the feathers of the birds of the air that have been grounded. Right! Perhaps he should adopt his street persona, that we all know he has, and tell the m*****f****** BP brass what to do and where to go. They actually said perhaps he should shake his fists. Remember when premier Nikita banged his shoe? How about hip-hop artists raising their fists? Should the President get Amadinijab angry or Hugo Chavez angry or maybe Kanye West angry?

Here is a man, the leader of the free world rationally looking at this huge problem trying to learn, to listen, to direct, to decide and to calm. I have always learned that to do critical thinking or problem solving one needs best to be composed and cover the range of possibilities while not go off half-cocked blaming, scapegoating, and being pissed off. He said he was upset but I suppose that just is not good enough. The people who need things to say to kill time if not kill the flow would destroy him if he really got angry. And angry at whom? BP, or Halliburton, the Tea-baggers, or Dick Cheney?

To keep things moving on CNN an argument is mounted that BP should have informed everyone that they had stopped applying the mud solution to stem the gushing crude some 16 hours earlier. "The American people are demanding to know..." and why are the "people" just finding out they ask. "We should have been told you interrupted the application and we demand to know why." Everybody knows how to fix this morass of a problem sufficient to tell the government and BP what they ought and ought not to do. Seems to me if everyone remained calm and found ways to help rather than tear down we would all rest a little easier.

So CNN turns to experts who slither out of crevices to spill their notions and devil-maycares. This expert spent 40 years in the oil drilling business we are told, and he is now a distinguished professor at mucky-muck University. Why is he not a part of the team working on the problem? Why does he even agree to address the subject? Why would he know exactly how to forestall the destruction of the wetlands and elect to talk about it on television, fill the idle time, and yet not step up and remedy the situation?

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It is not only CNN; I just happened to be watching them for a short while. Of course they dug up tape of President Bush, the father, HW, speaking after the Exxon-Valdez debacle and saying it would be investigated and changes would be made to prevent a reoccurrence. Following this, President Obama is shown saying pretty much the same thing today, many years later. The response of this same-old, same-old juxtaposition is met with derision complete with head shaking and eye rolling. Now I ask you, "What the heck else could or should be said? "We are not going to try to make any changes; we'll just maintain the status quo and hope for the best?" Even if it does not get done is it not good to at least try to set a goal?

It is not only CNN. I switched to Fox News only to find a day later that the intrepid "fair and balanced" journalists mounted the assertion that government should have done and should do more. In fact the president should have begun immediately, to stem the tide as it were. Furthermore, there was the bold statement that, "This (the tremendous effluence) is Obama's Katrina." The two occurrences, however, are quite dissimilar, so much so that an apt metaphor would be that putting them together is akin to trying to mix oil and water.

And then there is MSNBC whose experts suggested that the president's lack of emotion, again a familiar sentiment, could be mitigated by an oft heard "I feel your pain" from the mouth of President Bill Clinton. Why they would make such a statement when President Clinton was all but laughed at is hard to comprehend. But, then again, they could be correct and the general public would respond to that assertion with warm fuzzes.

I wonder whether the constant pictures and constant babble really adds to the public understanding or whether the proverbial "American people" give a hoot about how it's done; with mud or concrete or whatever. I have not polled them but I think they would say "Just get it done!"

Finally, there is a lot of verbiage about the government stepping in and moving BP to the side and fixing the problem as if the government is an oil producing entity. I wonder if this is the same government that interferes too much in peoples' lives, that should leave things to the states, and that never does anything correctly and is way too big. The devil needs to diversify and forge some other gap fillers as each media source tends to say the same things. Should the government hire a cadre of oil drilling experts and engage in a matching of wits with the BP folks? Perhaps we need to take a deep breath, and then count to ten so that with purpose of heart we let God be in the detail.

[Dr. Gene M. Gordon is faculty emeritus of Computer Information Systems at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania. He considers himself a generalist and dabbles in several areas of interest and expertise. He is a public speaker, a writer, and educator who also is an ordained minister. He resides in Bloomsburg, Pa., with his wife Eleanor (Scottie), a retired lawyer.]

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Walter Brasch is an award-winning journalist and professor of journalism emeritus. His current books are Before the First Snow: Stories from the Revolution , America's Unpatriotic Acts: The Federal Government's Violation of (more...)

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