Saturday, October 22, 2005

No News Is Good News: Bird Flu, Shark Attacks, Chandra Levy and Iraq

When I was a medical student on my neurology clerkship in the early 70's, I had a number of patients suffering from post-encephalitic Parkinsonism, a condition thought at the time (though the connection has never been proved conclusively) to have been a very late consequence of the influenza pandemic of 1918. Having worked with these patients, I am disinclined to minimize the seriousness of any possible future flu pandemic.

Nonetheless, the flurry of stories in the past month about the threat of avian influenza (which may be a very real threat) seems to me possibly to indicate that we are beginning to achieve some success in Iraq.

When we begin to see heavy coverage of shark attacks, we will know we are well on the road to success in our goal of bringing democracy (I know, I know -- it won't be perfect) to the Middle East. And when we are compelled to read endless speculation about the fate of pretty interns, the battle will have been won.

In all seriousness, I am proposing a rough "metric" (and Donald Rumsfeld himself expressed a desire not long ago for such a tool) for judging our progress in Iraq, and the war against Islamic fascism in general:

Preponderance of stories about potentially real, but still speculative, threats (e.g., avian flu) = good progress

Preponderance of stories about threats which are real, but confined to those foolish enough to expose themselves to said threat (e.g., shark attack in shark-infested waters) = excellent progress.

Preponderance of stories about regrettable events which threaten no one, and affect only a few individuals and their families, but have some salacious interest to capture our attention (e.g. Chandra Levy) = more or less complete success.

Let me emphasize that I do not mean to minimize the seriousness of the threat of avian flu, and that I mean no disrespect to Jesse Arbogast and his family, still less to the late Chandra Levy and hers.

But it seems to me that a much more refined tool along the lines I suggest could actually provide Mr. Rumsfeld with his metric.

And it could provide ordinary readers like us with a kind of indirect "good news"* about our progress, which we certainly aren't going to get from our "mainstream" media.

*I once worked on a committee with a former editor of a local paper, who told me that among reporters the usual cliché is inverted to Good news is no news.


David Thomson said...

I cynically contend that the MSM is unofficially a partner of the Democratic Party. They are simply the enemy which must be defeated---if Western Civilization is to survive. These are truly dangerous human beings. We must try to bankrupt them. And yes, they will focus on these other relatively minor stories when unable to bash the Bush administration, their number one existential reason for living.

terrye said...

I know that I do not watch as much cable news or read as many blogs as I did.

Once the election was won in Iraq it seems it is just to be dismissed as a failure on general terms. When the troops come home I suppsoe many will still perceive it that way.

I do know that there is in the news a certain strident quality that I find exhausting. Whether it be the unhappy Ms Miers who seems to be the favorite punching bag of just about everybody right now or some other bastard who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time they just can not help thesmselves.

There is of course the delicous anticipation with which the critics await possible indictments. It is almost obscene.

These people remind me of a realtor I used to work with. Seh would read obituaries and then show up at fneral homes during viewing hours to leave her know just in case they needed some assistance.

So as Iraq gets better they flitter about looking for new blood.

I intend to greatly cut back on my blog and TV time in the future.

It is too depressing.

David, I do think most media are on the side of the liberals, but I think that being in Washington and NYC has also made traitors of some on the right.

They forget there is life outseide of their little hive and to the rest of us they seem very strange.

Peter UK said...

Those troops can damn well stay there and get their annual plastic Christmas Turkey.
I am no epidemiologist,but I bet that if and when an epidemic strikes it, won't be bird flu and it won't be anything we are prepared for.
The MSM never considers anything that has already crossed over in to humans which is waiting for a chance at the big time.Not scary enough!

Why is nothing mentioned about the epidemic of botox on the brain which is rife amongst political and thespian circles.People go for months without a flicker of expression, then suddenly their faces split like lizard creatures as they burst into paroxisms of violent rage.
This can also be aggravated with the overzealous use of toupe tape.
This terror is amongst us now!

Anonymous said...

Nice post. FYI the "pretty interns" link is wrong.

Jamie Irons said...


Thanks. I fixed the link.

terrye said...

peter uk:

Hey there, welcome...

Syl said...


Good insight!

There's not all that much reporting from Iraq these days. Things must be going pretty well.

So that leaves them free to show their concern over a Cat 1 or 2 hurricane.

Honestly. It is to laugh.


"This can also be aggravated with the overzealous use of toupe tape."


Charlie Martin said...

You know, Jamie, I think you're on to something.

quark2 said...

Greetings Jeremy,

You're missed at Lgf. :)
As to your posting, Amen, Amen and Amen!
The people who enjoy reporting the bad news, and not the good news need to get a real life. Preferably away from
reporting, yellow dog journalism and writing at large.
Mebbe something that is longish with a shovel head at the end of it would be good for the lot of them.
You think they would make efficient ditch diggers?