Thursday, September 04, 2008

Vulture culture

My wife came up with this phrase, but it aptly describes the behavior of some of the national media.

Think about a flock of vultures, circling round and round, awaiting something bad to happen. In the case of birds, they are waiting for something to die, so they can have a meal. Vultures are very patient. After they have identified their potential meal, they are content to wait.

During this election year, some of the national media truly resemble a flock of vultures. They too are waiting for something bad to happen. In their case, they are waiting for, hoping for, almost desperately searching for a scandal or a controversy they can milk for two or three stories they can write without having to work hard. So they circle round and round the candidates, the conventions and meetings, like omens of doom, waiting for their chance.

It is almost comical to watch the media vultures as they look, search, probe and dig for a little nugget, something no other reporter has.

If there is nothing hard and fast, then maybe an insinuation, an unsupported assumption, a clever little offhand remark, or a misquote will be enough to create a nugget. Media vultures are usually not too concerned about the veracity of their stories. What is important is that they have a story to help fill those hundreds of newspapers columns and those thousand hours of television time. So what if their story is not exactly true? By the time someone questions it, the reporter is off on another story, perhaps equally untrue.

Do you remember an old cartoon showing two vultures perched in a dead tree? One says, “Patience, hell! I’m going out and kill something.” Media vultures also have been known to kick-start a scandal or controversy, just to their own advantage.

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