March 20th, 2014

Blah-blah-blahing about the unidentified debris in the southern Indian Ocean

When I turned off my computer late last night, it was only a fairly short while after the Australians had announced they were speeding to look at some debris located by satellite many many miles off their southwestern coast (and I had written about it). It was clear it would take a long time for search planes to arrive, and probably much much longer to locate the debris, if they ever did.

Understandably, the cable news networks were talking about it nonstop when I went to bed, and much of what they were saying was already repetitive: speculation, facts about how debris floats, the weather in the area, and repeats of many of the things we’ve already heard about Flight 370 and its history.

Today there is no new news of any import whatsoever. This is hardly unexpected, of course. But the coverage continues in exactly the same course, and appears to have gone on this way without a pause. I cannot imagine that much has been said in all that time that’s worth saying more than once.

Why has this news been fastened on, without new content? Obviously interest in the plane is high, but it still doesn’t explain the nonstop coverage of what is essentially only a possibility of a discovery at this point. Some people speculate it’s some sort of cover so we don’t attend to other news, and while that’s certainly possible, that’s not my leading theory. My leading theory is that mysteries and disasters sell, and that this is a story about a mystery within a disaster.

Much of the other news of the day—be it Obamacare (a particular obsession of mine), the Crimea takeover and Putin’s anschluss-type designs on other former Soviet satellites, Iran and its nuclear ambitions, or any other of several large stories both worldwide and domestic, are undoubtedly bigger and more important in any objective sense. But once they are covered they are covered, until something new happens. Each news outlet (all of them liberal except Fox) covers each story with whatever spin they have decided best serves its cause: Obamacare not so bad, Putin not so powerful (and Romney’s warnings unmentioned), Iran not so evil, and on and on and on in that vein. All very predictable in terms of the story and the angle of approach for the MSM, at least until the next event, which will be incorporated into the story with the same slant.

The Flight 370 saga is different. It’s a true mystery, at least so far. It’s international in scope. It’s less political, at least so far. Although it directly affects fewer than 300 people and their families, that’s a lot of people and we all can identify because nearly all of us fly in planes. That, and its aspect of Twilight-Zoneish unknown, grab people in a very different, and very visceral, way compared to a news story of the more conventional type.

So I understand intense coverage of the event and its aftermath; after all, I’ve done it myself, and plan to update as there is breaking news. But still, the last fourteen hours or so have been so over-the-top on this one possibility that it seems odd, to say the least. The cable news networks do this, though; they fasten on a story (often a disaster of some sort) and don’t let go of it. Then when it’s over, it’s over. My guess is that their market research tells them this drives ratings.

8 Responses to “Blah-blah-blahing about the unidentified debris in the southern Indian Ocean”

  1. Tesh Says:

    It seems to me to be the Squirrel! effect. It’s easy to talk about and make up wild theories because there’s no *there* there. It’s disaster porn mixed with gossip, with just the right hint of conspiracy and terrorism.

    Newsies can report on it without even needing to hide their ignorance. Just look concerned and spout some truthish factoids about the latest guesswork, and you’ve got it made.

    It’s easy for them to do, and they don’t have to work themselves in knots defending Obamacare or Putin.

  2. Hattip Says:

    They are just distracting the electorate away from Obama’s latest messes, most particularly his weakness with Putin.

    And, given how easily said electorate is distracted, who can blame them?

  3. Charles Says:

    Neo, you’ve summed up in one word what the press is doing with this story:


    They’ve done it so many times before (Duke Lacrosse players are rapists, Blacks are dying by the thousands because of Katrina, Bridgegate, etc.) and they will continue to do it again. sigh.

  4. Lurker Says:

    Well we got to hear Shep Smith say or-e-on for Orion about 50 times.

  5. blert Says:


    MH370 is about the ONLY fiasco that does not immediately redirect to Barry.

    “When you can’t say anything good about someone, then don’t say anything at all.”

    Consequently, tea party civility — strike that — political postures have left the press poodles speechless.

  6. NeoConScum Says:


    Yep, that’s where discussion of Obama’s weakness, scrawniness, cowardice, failure to lead and any sign of a set of even ant size cojones has been sucked. BLACK HOLE.

    Obam-Bam and the Hideous Kerry need to have a Non-Sex/Non-Gender Marriage.

  7. Wolla Dalbo Says:

    In the context of thinking about such huge coverage and focus on the hijacked aircraft to the exclusion of everything else, and particularly to the exclusion of any in depth coverage of the disastrous results–on all fronts–of Obama & Co.’s policies, what do we make of the reports that eight wall street traders/financiers have committed suicide in just the last couple of weeks?

    This unusual number of suicides so close together has been reported, but there is not any speculation that I can see about what they might signify.

    I wonder.

    Steeped in economic news and statistics as I assume they were, could it be that they might have known about or perceived something horrific on the horizon that we do not know about our economy and economic situation, and that drove them to do what they did?

  8. Ymarsakar Says:

    Assuming it was suicide and not something else.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.


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