Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Hail, Ants

In reading this Jonah Goldberg column about the MSM's insane rumor mongering and hysteria during Katrina, the famous "Space Shuttle" episode of the Simpson's immediately came to mind. I googled the phrase "Hail, Ants" to try to find an explanation of that episode that I could cut and paste into this post. It turns out that an old Jonah Goldberg column gives the best one:

Recall, if you will, the episode of the Simpsons when Homer is selected to be a space shuttle astronaut. News anchor Kent Brockman is scheduled to interview the shuttle crew while they are in orbit.

But just before they "switch live" to the crew of the corvair craft, there's a mishap on board. Homer, unaccustomed to weightlessness, is veering, out of control, straight toward the ant farm the crew brought along for study.

(the ants, seeing Homer homing in on them, break into a panic.

- Protect the Queen!

- Which one's the Queen?

- I'm the Queen.

- No you're not.

- Freedom!

- Horrible, horrible freedom!)

When news anchor Kent Brockman cuts to the live feed from the shuttle, the ants float by the camera lens — momentarily appearing gigantic. Then they lose the picture. Brockman instantaneously reports:

"Ladies and gentlemen, er, we've just lost the picture, but, uh, what we've seen speaks for itself. The Corvair spacecraft has been taken over — 'conquered', if you will — by a master race of giant space ants. It's difficult to tell from this vantage point whether they will consume the captive earth men or merely enslave them. One thing is for certain, there is no stopping them; the ants will soon be here. And I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords. I'd like to remind them that as a trusted TV personality, I can be helpful in rounding up others to...toil in their underground sugar caves."

When it becomes clear that the bugs are in fact not a "master race of giant space ants", Brockman quickly removes his "Hail Ants" sign hanging just behind him, covering the station logo.

Well, if this doesn't sum up MSM coverage of the Katrina disaster, I don't know what does.

Here's an excerpt from Jonah's latest:

We now know, thanks to valuable post-mortems by the Los Angeles Times and the New Orleans Times-Picayune, that a great deal of the "great reporting" was in fact great rumor mongering. The stories of rape and murder in the Superdome were all unfounded. Six people died in there, tragically. But nobody was murdered.

All of the major newspapers contributed to the hysterical environment, passing on one unconfirmed rumor after another. And, to be fair, almost everyone else in one way or another contributed to the climate as well. The blogosphere bought the hyperventilation hook, line, and sinker. The low point was almost certainly when Randall Robinson ominously disclosed on the Huffington Post that African-Americans in New Orleans had resorted to eating the flesh of corpses to stay alive. This was just days into the flood (it took the stranded Donner party weeks to resort to eating the dead). Yet this supposedly fact-checked blog found it credible that African Americans would eat the bloated carcasses floating in New Orleans' floodwaters almost the second they ran out of groceries.

What accounts for this journalistic fiasco?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Isn’t the reason for the MSM excesses obvious? They smelled a Katrinagate and let loose the dogs. It seemed that every sorrid story would be another nail in Bush’s coffin and they showed no restraint whatsoever. Also, ratings played a role. How could they resist the combination of bashing Bush and increasing ratings?