Friday, November 11, 2005

Nothing News Under the Sun



"But this nation is now in competition with malignant forces of evil who are using every instrument at their command to empty the minds of their subjects and fill those minds with slogans, determination and faith in the future. If we go on as we are, we are protecting the mind of the American public from any real contact with the menacing world that squeezes in upon us. We are engaged in a great experiment to discover whether a free public opinion can devise and direct methods of managing the affairs of the nation. We may fail. But we are handicapping ourselves needlessly."


---Edward R. Murrow,
RTNDA Convention
Chicago
October 15, 1958




While this is but a piece of Murrow's speech, and not spoken by David Straithairn (left, as Murrow) in the wonderful new film Good Night and Good Luck it carries a resonance equal to the speech excerpts shown in the film.

Reading the entire speech staggers any sentient being; for Murrow to have been so prescient in describing both the potential heights and obvious lows of television as it exits today forces recognition of an ongoing epic struggle as yet unwon. Perhaps never to be won.

As the score sits now, we're losing.

Ceaseless cable news channels with perky overcoiffed readers fail to illuminate. A ticker crawls across the bottom of the screen dispassionately announcing the real story in numbers as another vapid talking head crows about the Dow Jones numbers or reduces politics to a matter of cheering different sports teams.



Nothing News Under the Sun


Crisp leaves, bright sun flood the Shoreway
Sights, nights, days blend seamlessly
Michelle -that's Me, not Mih-chelle Norris
On the car radio says in other news
We regret to inform you

Twenty people were killed in Jordan
Tomorrow in Palestine, another roadside bomb
Took out ten Marines today in Iraq
In other news Thanksgiving's 'round the corner
With Christmas not far away

If you're wondering what's for dinner
Grocery circular's in the mail, religion
is making a resurgence in other news
We're sorry to say
Insurgency still rages

The Dow gained today up twenty-two points
My neighbor waves as she rakes
Leaves float down,littering the yard
Refusing not to blow back
We're just getting this news:

White phosphorus burns the skin
Leaving clothes intact, maybe modestly
keeping up appearances but in other news
We regret to inform you
It's considered acceptable

Brightly colored voices reassuring
moms are right to be choosy, spend hours
deciding on Jif or Skippy for pacification
is not an option, it's time for more war
We're sorry to announce

Seventy-two channels are nothing
To sneeze at though I have hundreds
by which to sleep, and now our sponsors
Serta and their bleating sheep
We'll be right back with other news

And in other news what will you buy
the person who has everything
would really love a Carnival cruise
the corporate excess we fight for
another breaking bit of other news

One day's cable-knit cycle drones
into another so soothing, same faces
none fallen, no innocents lost on ABC
at 9 on Wednesdays, but in other news
We regret to inform you

So we don't.


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