June 14, 2003

The news they don't show on tv

Yeah. Let's see, I was flipping through channels the other day and came upon a news report by the BBC. I can't remember what channel it was -- CNN, MSNBC, BBC America -- it wasn't Fox News, every time I turn that on they are having that Greta Van Susteren (however you spell her name) creature yacking about Martha Stewart or the Hillary Horror, or Hannity and Colmes is on and they are yelling at each other (or some other guy) about the Democrats. Anyway, I came upon this "news report" out of Baghdad. I put the quotes there for a reason. The reporter/journalist/presenter/whatever was some blond British woman whose name I didn't pay attention to. She was interviewing an Iraqi. Naturally the subject was how everything sucks in Iraq because of those Bad Americans and their war. Why, during the battle an American tank fired on a "crowd of innocent bystanders" and the man's son was "caught in the crossfire." Then we cut to the interior of somebody's house (the interviewee's, supposedly) where the man had his son lying face down so his father could pull up the boy's shirt dramatically and show the cameras a bandage patching the back of one of the boy's shoulders. This was supposedly where the kid caught one of Uncle Sam's bullets, though the bandage was about the size of my palm, no bigger than the one the doctor put on a boil I'd had lanced last summer. In fact, the boil was on about the same place on my shoulder blade as where the kid's injury was.

The fact that this Iraqi had been "a policeman" during Saddam Hussein's reign was mentioned as if it was no big deal, and had nothing to do with the fact that of all the Iraqi people to interview the BBC just happened to choose this guy. I guess it never occurred to the wide-eyed innocent reporters on the scene that the fact that this fellow was an ex-member of Saddam-era "law inforcement" might have had a lot more to do with the man's unhappiness with current events than his son's non-life-threatening injury. In any case I wasn't surprised that the kid never showed his face (he kept it buried in his arms throughout the ordeal) -- I can only imagine what it must have felt like to the kid -- he seemed no older than fourteen -- to have to act all pitiful and victimized in front of a foreign female. He had probably been using his wound as teenage bragging material. (I can see it now: "Hey! Hassan! Ali! Guess what! I got shot by the Americans!" "Wow! No way! Did it hurt?" "Nah! I hardly felt a thing!" "Let me see!" "Dude, you're gonna have a scar! Cool!") Then he gets home to find out his dad is having the reporters over and he would have to play the Pitiful Injured Boy. I would have died. I wouldn't blame the kid if he ran away from home.

Anyway, on that note, Denny Wilson has a letter From Baghdad (scroll down) which recounts that all is not ill-will and whining among the Iraqis. But you won't see that in the teevee news, most likely -- nor will we see anything recounting what the Army Corps of Engineers is doing for the Iraqi people. Dipnut has the details.

Another thing I saw as I was flipping through channels was one of those religious commercial things on one of the Christian channels. Some guy was saying how the most common disease among children and teenagers was not AIDs or anything like that, it was pessimism. Leaving aside the source of the comment and the postmodern notion of "pessimism" being a disease, I am not surprised that most teenagers are depressed. Just think of what is on the teevee news: either inane "local interest" goo or all the ways in which the world sucks and how (often implied if not stated outright) it is all America's, or at least Western Civilization's, fault. I'm not a fan of the "hide bad things from the Children™" nonsense, but sometimes I wonder if the Concerned Ones responsible for our Do-Gooder media, with their worries about how everything is connected in some sort of sticky metaphysical web, has really given any thought to the effect that their doomsaying is having on actual living people. No, don't answer that -- it was a rhetorical question.

Posted by Andrea Harris at June 14, 2003 12:59 AM