Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The relative importance of Mr. Karr's loopy Ls

Evidently last night Larry King is Alive had a long segment on whether the ransom notes that were received by the Ramsey family conformed to a writing sample in a high school yearbook that was once owned by the suspect. Is that an important issue or what? Before the extensive coverage of the ins and outs of handwriting analysis, we heard, in lurid detail, about the quality of the cuisine that Mr. Karr consumed when returning, in business class from Asia. It seems also that the traditional media has also thought it important to inform us of Mr. Karr's sartorial preferences - he likes those short sleeved shirts rather than the prison jump suits. Admittedly, all of those issues are of monumental importance to the American people. But for my preference, there might be some things which the media could cover that would be even more important.

Were television doing the things they should be doing, the following stories might be considered of higher interest or impact -

#1 -Three prominent African Americans in the country - social critic Shelby Steele , NPR correspondent Juan Williams and comedian Bill Cosby have raised serious questions about the leadership of the African American community. They have come to surprisingly common conclusions even though they didn't start from the same philosophical position. But the networks have not done any coverage about the issue and the ramifications of alternative policies. What would happen to the relative economic position of African Americans if the prescriptions of those false reverends like Jackson and Sharpton were ignored? Several policy analysts have concluded that the decade since welfare reform has produced positive changes. But has any network looked at the substance of the changes? Of course not.

#2 - The economic performance of the country is not well understood. There is plenty of evidence that the economic divisions in society are widening. But there is also a lot of evidence that the economy has had a pretty good run since the tax cuts at the start of the administration. How much is economic growth and what does it matter? How do we compare to Europe and other developed countries? What are the key indicators that every American should understand?

#3 - The Cato Institute has done a series of informative essays about the effects of immigration. There should be an interesting discussion about how a democracy deals with a massive influx of immigrants. But the networks deal in photos and bizarre drive by stories.

#4 - The situation in Iraq is being portrayed in one context only. What are the experts - who are actually in Iraq saying about our policies there. There is a rich discussion about both what we should do next and how we should deal with the challenges of a more assertive Islam. University of San Diego Professor Vali Nasr and Lawrence Wright have written two interesting books to get Americans to consider the ramifications of the Islamic revolutions. Shouldn't the media help generate a substantive discussion about alternatives?

#5 - Al Gore's movie on Global Warming has generated a lot of discussion but MIT professor Richard Lindzen has an alternative view about the importance of the issue - he questions whether the data on global warming is real. Isn't this an important enough issue to have some kind of public discussion?

#6 - The budget deficit seeming expanded in dramatic ways and then has begun to shrink. Any ideas about why that happened? What are the possible policies that produced those changes? How do we compare to other developed nations in terms of deficits, unemployment, tax policies?

But what is the media concerned about? Those loops in handwriting samples which might put some psycho in jail. Ultimately, whether Mr. Karr is guilty can be discovered and no matter how many "experts" are brought in the results will not change. Even with the Keystone Kops of Boulder running the investigation and evaluating the evidence - the trial process will eventually come to a conclusion.

Would the networks and the main stream media be as profitable if they took their job of reporting the news seriously? They might even be more profitable. Look only to the success of the blogosphere to understand that reality - but what do they care about those silly loops. That is clearly loopy!

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