Fifteen years of lingering torment have finally ended for Terri Schiavo.
Pity the news industry.
There will be a period of decompression now as the necrophiliac media struggles to drag this story out as long as they can with stories on the autopsy, interviews with politicians still trying (like the ghoulish Rick Santorum who raced to her bedside trying to get on TV while there was still time) to ride Schiavo’s bedsheets to public renown, and of course “investigations” into the continuing family strife over funeral arrangements. But eventually this story, like Schiavo herself, will pass.
Then the big dilemma confronting the American media will be: How do we fill up this massive news hole?
They can’t focus on the war in Iraq because that would mean reporting on death and mayhem and advertisers, who are happy to be sandwiched between shots of a drooling patient and praying fanatics, don’t like having their ads and commercials placed in that kind of grim setting. Dying white women and ranting Christians are one thing; dying Arabs and fanatic Muslim protesters are another.
They can’t focus on the Social Security story because doing an honest job of it, besides being a MEGO thing, would put them on a collision course with the president. After all, it’s getting pretty hard to avoid pointing out that the president’s privatization scheme has nothing at all to do with the alleged Social Security funding crisis, except to make it worse, or to avoid noting that those crowds of enthusiastic supporters on his marketing tour are pre-vetted (you have to get a ticket from the local Republican Senate or House member), and bussed in.
Lord knows they can’t report about the budget deficit or the shaky dollar.
Fortunately, there’s always Michael Jackson, whose pedophilia trial at least has the potential to become a new OJ-like event, even if there is no Johnny Cochrane any more to liven things up. I’m just waiting for a reenactment of the famous glove scene, only this time around featuring what the Brits call a sheath. “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit,” Jackson’s attorney could tell the jury, as Michael tries to put it on for the court.
But absent such a dramatic moment, how much Michael Jackson can viewers take?
No, something has to come along quick to help news executives out here.
Another war would be just the thing, with all those great free Pentagon visuals of aircraft takeoffs and landings, and those lovely nighttime bomb burst displays. Unfortunately there’s no military left to spare for an attack on Syria or North Korea or Cuba, and no targets left in Iraq.
Nature was kind enough to deliver another massive Indonesian earthquake, but people are tired of that story. Seen one, you’ve seen ’em all, and besides, there was no tsunami.
I guess they’ll just have to hope for another celebrity murder or a terrorist attack. I can’t see anything else that will keep viewers on the tube until prime time.
DAVE LINDORFF is the author of Killing Time: an Investigation into the Death Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. His new book of CounterPunch columns titled “This Can’t be Happening!” is published by Common Courage Press. Information about both books and other work by Lindorff can be found at www.thiscantbehappening.net.
He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org