Remember twelve scant months ago, when Hurricane Katrina ripped open the Gulf Coast and our nation’s leaders tried to pretend it didn’t happen? Chances are even more people would have died in the days following that deluge had it not been for the dedication and verve of - gulp! - The Media. While politicians slapped each other on the back and the military polished their brass, an army of broadcasters invaded the stricken region and filed gut-wrenching reports on the travesty at hand. Corpses rotting in wheelchairs, whole families stranded on rooftops, infants wallowing in forgotten filth… Middle America could barely believe their eyes as normally glossed-over correspondents toured the Third World conditions in day-old clothes and demanded the government do something, anything to help our fellow citizens. It was perhaps the Fourth Estate’s finest hour and it prompted me to post a few words detailing the Media’s sudden redemption.
Well, I’d like to take it all back.
Over the past week, the upper echelon of my chosen profession has proven itself to be nothing more than a pack of scurrilous dogs, ripping away at the still-warm bones of a ten year old tragedy known as the JonBenet Ramsey case. I suppose you could credit John Mark Karr, the skeevy little worm whose troublesome confession has sparked this latest firestorm of broadcast speculation. But even that apparent pedophile cannot be blamed for the crass behavior and orgasmic glee of the chattering class in the past six days. Networks and cable alike descended on Boulder, Bangkok and L.A. - engorged on salacious details and ravenous assumptions. Whatever respect we garnered in the wake of Katrina evaporated in an instant as over-coiffed reporters stationed themselves in front of the slain child’s final resting place and reached for gravitas. What’s next? Chopper shots from the exhumation? Live slab-side reports from the autopsy table? Hey, how about bringing back the victim’s withered spleen for a set-prop? Something for Chet Graytemples to hold up under the studio lights while he acts all concerned-like...
Heckuva job, fellas. Heckuva job.