So the headlines trumpetting “Chemical Weapons Found!” were smeared across website after website in hysterical fonts, and everywhere, news editors widdled themselves in delight. And then about an hour after that, the report came in that no, chemical weapons HADN’T been found, it was a bloody herbicide because they have–gasp–agriculture in Iraq, and by some amazing coincidence, they store it in big metal drums, almost exactly like we do. And the news sites are rather slower to pick this up, because obviously “No chemical weapons found yet” is not as cool and sexy a report and does not lend itself as well to hysterical fonts, so half the country is probably still doing the I-told-you-so dance even though nobody’s found jack yet that’s been confirmed.
Now, my bitch is not about the war, since everyone knows how I feel about that. Nor is it about chemical weapons–it won’t surprise me in the least if they’ve got ’em, and I honestly couldn’t tell you whether I hope they find ’em. My feelings, as always, are lethally mixed between the hope that finding ’em might restore some shreds of our international standing, and the belief that this will only make Bush even more of an insufferable solipsist bent on shoving his redneck version of the Monroe Doctrine down the world’s collective throat. About the only thing I’m really clear on is that I hope they don’t get used on our troops, which would be a very bad thing.
No, my gripe is about speed of news.
I don’t need to know, today, whether or not there’s kegs of sarin in Iraq. My life is not affected by it. I’m not reloading Reuters every three minutes to get the latest. If I was a soldier in the field, it might be different, but I really hope that the commanders of the army aren’t getting their news off CNN. Why must the suspicion of chemical weapons go up with the speed of a chili pepper through an elderly colon, only to have retractions an hour later? Why not wait the bloody hour or so to get the test confirmed so that we don’t spray the world with misinformation? Why not double-check so that you don’t look like a moron? I don’t mind waiting the extra hour. In fact, if it takes you all night to check it, then go right ahead. There is absolutely NO reason that the civilian populace needs to know right this instant. I’d rather you came to me with a slowly researched confirmation than a fast wild guess. We’ve had enough hysterical jumping to conclusions already in this war, believe me.
I know why this happens. I mean, really, I do, it’s ratings and networks fighting to get the scoop and so forth. I know the reasons. Nobody has to tell me that it’s the nature of the media. It’s just pissin’ me off that they can’t wait. Sloppy reporting is worse than no reporting, and getting everyone’s panties in a knot prematurely with no proof is just…words fail. Although if I had to find words, “Really fucking irritating me” might be good ones.
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