It's now day 50-something of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The amount of sensationalism going on in the media is astounding. A couple years from now, Wikipedia is going to accurately sum up the entire multi-month event in a few short pages of text and timelines, yet somehow the media (especially CNN) manages to keep the topic on TV nearly 24 hours a day. They drone on and on, repeating the same useless headlines, and making funny faces at the same "horrid" video feed footage.
Let's cut to the chase and sum up everything that needs to be said about the oil spill, which I think we can all agree on or are factual...
- Oil spills are bad.
- There is an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
- The spill started when the oil drilling rig exploded, burned for a couple days, then sank.
- There were things that could have been done before the explosion that might have prevented the incident. (And, hindsight is 20/20.)
- BP has made several different attempts to plug the well, stop the oil flow, or divert the flow into containers.
- BP is drilling relief wells which, in a few months, will finally be able to curb the flow of oil from the damaged well.
- BP is attempting to make payments to people who are financially affected by the spill (e.g. fisherman).
- Oil has made it to coastal waters.
- Wildlife (e.g. birds) have begun to be coated in oil, which is a precarious situation for them.
- Response teams have begun locating, retrieving, and treating affected wildlife.
I think that pretty much sums it up. Yet I can turn on CNN just about any time of day, and they will be broadcasting another report, in the same panicked and anxious tone, about any one of these topics.
I was stunned when Rick Sanchez actually laughed mockingly on his broadcast I happened to catch today, because he was not allowed to video tape birds being cleaned in a treatment center. He mocked that BP must be behind the secrecy, and that birds have no feelings to hurt and wouldn't be embarrassed by being filmed covered in oil. Who cares? We've already seen footage of birds being cleaned, and I think we can already agree that there are indeed birds covered in oil and birds being cleaned. The real irony, for me, is that he would have such a dramatic reaction that BP would want to save face, when he just wants to film to add sensationalism, so they're both equally opposed. He should have little reasonable expectation that filming oily birds is going to produce any meaningful new information.
That's just a single example though. The news manages to talk so much, with so little information, about the same topic, that I'm almost impressed. Maybe the pity should be on the public, that continue to have their attention captured by the news that is in fact reporting nothing. If you let your guard down for just a second, the media may actually convince you that they're reporting something. It's no wonder that recent studies have shown that a large portion of the public now gets their news from The Daily Show, yet still don't know a whole lot.