Friday, June 09, 2006

Death Is Patriotic




TV talking heads aren't terribly bright, however smooth their on-air delivery. During the first Gulf War, I did a lot of shows, both national and local, and I was mildly astonished by just how stupid many of those hosts were. Of course, they were conditioned to be that way, 'else they wouldn't have been given access to whatever level of mass communication they occupied. I once did a morning show in Connecticut, double-teamed by a flesh-and-blood Ken and Barbie, and tried to explain to them and their viewers why the corporate media acts as a state press during wartime (or anytime, for that matter). Glass eyes. Blank stares. I believe a tumbleweed blew across the faux living room set. They simply didn't understand what I was talking about, even though I spoke in English, and refrained from any high falutin' pomo rad-speak. When I went back to the Green Room to collect my coat and satchel, their next guest, Vincent Bugliosi, author of "Helter Skelter" and the man who claims he would've gotten O.J. Simpson convicted, shook my hand, patted me on the back, and said, "Boy, what a couple of dopes. Wish me luck." And off he went, game face on, to engage that dim, but finely manicured, duo.

To be honest, I don't mind that TV hosts are largely empty vessels through which conventional wisdom and related clich├ęs flow. The uncurious and gullible must earn a buck like the rest of us. But when hosts get aggressive or try to show that they know What's Going On, that's when you hit back and push them against the wall to remind them that their main purpose is to fill airtime between commercials. Chances are you'll be cut off by the producer or director, but that's okay. If you're gonna get the TV ax, do it on your terms. If nothing else, it gives the folks at home something interesting, perhaps even educational, to watch.

Michael Berg, father of Nicholas Berg, who was butchered, allegedly, by Musab al-Zarqawi, employed this tactic on CNN the other day; and it prompted host Soledad O'Brien to reveal her inner-jihadist as she prodded and pushed Berg to take some kind of pleasure in Zarqawi's death. It was one of the more despicable public displays I've seen of late, necro-porn and tribal hatred passing as "journalism." Of course, O'Brien, being a pro, tried to shade her rancid opinions by pretending she was playing devil's advocate. But it was clear that O'Brien was expressing her personal feelings, and Berg, to his credit, forcefully but diplomatically shoved O'Brien's bile back down her throat. He was a lot more patient than I would've been, that's for sure.

While it's easy to mock O'Brien for her public embrace of death, she certainly didn't set the prevailing mood. When the US Government is waving graphic pix of a dead Zarqawi in front of any available camera, what a dopey TV host does is of no serious importance -- it's mere ideological backwash. Still, it does help to remind us that American elites, and some not so elite, are as barbarous and vengeful as those they say are uncivilized (something I explored here). I'm somewhat surprised that US military officials didn't sever Zarqawi's head, pack it in ice, ship it overnight to DC and have Rumsfeld or Tony Snow or some other administration figure hold it up by the hair and encourage the Beltway press corps to file by and spit on it. God knows Soledad O'Brien would've been first in line, just to prove her patriotism if nothing else. Hey, there's still time. Think of the ratings!

Zarqawi was a thug and a murderer, and if there's any awareness after death, he's probably chuckling to himself about how the infidels are stealing his act.