Aug 28 2011
Irene made fools of the media, the Pols and the nanny state. They all cried “wolf!” and no wolf showed up.
Stumbling and apparently buffeted by ferocious gusts, he took shelter next to a building. “This is our protection from the wind,” he explained. “It’s been truly remarkable to watch the power of the ocean here.”
The surf may have told a story but so too did the sight behind the reporter of people chatting and ambling along the sea front and just goofing around. There was a man in a t-shirt, a woman waving her arms and then walking backwards. Then someone on a bicycle glided past.
The images summed up Hurricane Irene – the media and the United States federal government trying to live up to their own doom-laden warnings and predictions while a sizeable number of ordinary Americans just carried on as normal and even made gentle fun of all the fuss.
With not much to report on the island of Manhattan, the cable news channels switched to places like Long Beach, Long Island, where such correspondents as NBC’s Al Roker and CNN’s John King delivered their wind-whipped reports. “It looks pretty hurricane-ish to me,” Fox anchor Shep Smith said as reporter Jonathan Hunt, British and breathless, showed a hotel parking lot under a foot and a half of water.
Long Beach, it should be noted, is a narrow barrier island three feet above sea level and prone to flooding.
Someone has to say it: cable news was utterly swept away by the notion that Irene would turn out to be Armageddon. National news organizations morphed into local eyewitness-news operations, going wall to wall for days with dire warnings about what would turn out to be a Category 1 hurricane, the lowest possible ranking. “Cable news is scaring the crap out of me, and I WORK in cable news,” Bloomberg correspondent Lizzie O’Leary tweeted.
Case 3 – Commander-in-Chief’s silly “In Command” photo-op:
It remains to be seen whether Irene turns out to be the Comet Kohoutek of hurricanes, but President Obama is taking no chances. He posed for a photo-op today, pretending to have something to do with the potentially-severe weather event. AFP headlined: “Obama takes charge at hurricane command center.”
We all miss the day when the weather warnings involved informing people where the storm would hit and respectfully reminding them to take it seriously and be prepared. Then the Americans of ‘ol, who soberly take care of themselves and their property without drama and hand wringing.
Now we have a bunch of journalism school graduates trying to explain weather and wind and flooding to people who probably know more than they do about the ins and outs of surviving weather. Trust me when I say my TV is off for the duration.