I swear there is a troupe of goobers that roam across the country from one disaster to another: a flood, hurricane, tornado or earthquake. That sort of thing. When the national media moves onto the scene, the goobers do too. Male goobers are costumed in plaid flannel shirts, bib overalls, wide brimmed hats and dirty work boots. Women, are enclosed in well worn, stained “house” dresses from the fifties, stretched out cardigans, stockings rolled down and folded over white crews socks that rise from a pair of bunny slippers. Dentures are discretely removed when TV news reporters holding microphones approach with a cameramen trailing alongside.
The media seek out these “local” characters, to add color for their national audience. The interviews follow the same script, no matter where, or what the situation. The reporter asks for a reaction to the disaster and the goober says, “I lived here my whole life and ain’t never seen nothing like this! The actual residents see this on TV and groan, “Oh great! Doesn’t that make our community look pathetic?”
Another, but elite set of goobers, also move into town. This crowd takes center stage, the “official” response to the disaster, a carefully orchestrated news conference. The most interesting performance from this elite group happens when local police agencies share the stage with the FBI, who are hell bent to hog the limelight.
The news conference starts with a Governor who follows a standard script. “We are going to pull out all stops to fix this mess (natural disaster), or to get the perpetrator (major crime situation) and will prosecute to the fullest extent of the law!” This is followed by several statements about the wonderful cooperation of all the agencies involved. We know they have no love for each other and that it kills the local guys to be lined up with the county, state and federal law officials, yet they all bite their tongues and follow the script.
The regional FBI chief is introduced. He (it usually is a he) says the exact same thing the governor did. Then, a U.S. Senator takes the podium, to repeat yet again, what’s already been said and then introduces the lesser politicians, right down to the local mayor, all the while keeping a firm grip on the microphone. That done, the governor grabs the mic and offers to take questions from the reporters.
You never hear the questions at these events. The governor stands mute, listening, but no sound comes out of your TV; the reporters aren’t wired for sound. It doesn’t matter; the governor never answers the question anyhow, but simply hands the mic to the FBI chief who says he can’t respond because the situation is under investigation or it would be a violation of the privacy regulations.
Every question generates the same response. Eventually the reporters give up and the local police chief takes the mic to conclude the news conference. He says there will be an update at four o’clock. The news reporters scatter and invade the local diners to get “facts” from the residents and from the traveling goobers. Rumors are passed along as fact, but the media teams don’t care; they have a deadline to meet.
The lack of accuracy is covered up by attributing the “facts” to anonymous sources that have asked not to be identified. A few days later the goobers and the reporters leave town; then the local people go about the business of cleaning up the mess.
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