A week ago while listening to a five-live football programme the news came through of the Boston marathon bomb attack. The presenter of the radio programme went into hyperdrive. Anodyne questions poured across the airwaves. It was clear very quickly that no-one had much of a clue as to what had happened and the extent of casualties etc. Similarly no-one had an idea of who the perpetrators were.
On the basis of the flimsiest foundations, speculation followed conjecture mingled with opinion. The few facts there were did not survive repeated scrutiny.
Would that were an end to it.
Rolling news is making us thicker and less discerning. Analysis, of the thoughtful considered kind, provided by ‘From our own correspondent,’ is becoming rarer and rarer. Not only is there the headlong rush to put out something.....anything....now.....there is a swarm-like mentality to the coverage by media outlets. The Oklahoma bombers were wrongly identified as muslim culprits. Similarly the culprits at Boston were described as being ‘dark-skinned.’ Damage done in the first couple of days is largely uncorrected, because by the time the truth emerges, there is another hot story to drool over.
In the meantime stories with as much - if not more - validity, are ignored and consigned to the bin. For instance on the same day as the Boston bombings, 55 Iraqi citizens were killed in several bomb attacks. Many more Americans died on that same day from gunshot wounds.
Another element in all this hysteria is the burning desire to ‘go live’ to some poor soul, usually standing under an umbrella somewhere looking fed up. The added delight is that the presenter will tell us what the ‘live’ bod is going to tell us. The bod is then asked simple questions so that the bod confirms what we have been told. Every now and then we have the jaffa cake moment when the bod has to sadly report that ‘nothing has happened/no-one has said anything.’
The worry is that the political bubble dwellers who inhabit the same space as much of the mainstream media know exactly how to play the system. Get your version out quickly despite it being as flimsy as gossamer. Tell your lies big and often (adopt sincere tone and an air of gravitas). When challenged blame the messenger.
It worked for Goebbels.