Saturday, February 08, 2003

All War All the Time

by Theron Dash

Remember when...? Watching the purple city through infrared night cameras, as the scuds fell, the scud-busters rose and supposedly destroyed them? (It turns out they didn't but it was a good show anyway.)

And the interview in a bunker in Israel or somewhere, when word comes that a scud attack is imminent, and both female interviewer and male interviewee don gas masks, and when nothing much happens and there's only dead air, they continue the interview without taking off the masks? And sound just as cheesy as before, except slightly muffled?

Yeah, well you can bet they remember every thrilling moment at CNN. It was the height of their glory, when Sadamm and George Bush the First both watched them to see what the hell was going on. So did everybody else. The Gulf War made CNN into the global news network.

So it's little wonder that the prospect of Gulf War II has them salivating. CNN has fallen on hard times. They managed to outgun a couple of competitors though they felt some heat during the Get Clinton hysteria, but Fox News comes equipped with Murdoch long range missiles and satellites and stuff. Suddenly Fox is riding high and CNN decides to compete by getting rid of its actual reporters and filling the air with airheads like Rudi Bactiar, who smile winsomely at all the science news they don't understand, and emote appropriately for the sad stories, by at least the third time they report them. Never has a universally watched network become unwatchable so quickly. And especially unlistenable--those awful perky singsongs. But then, they all are now.

Strident Fox, the network of ugly white guys getting rich fawning over already rich stupid white men, with a few token easily outraged girl Fridays, except they aren't smart enough to be Fridays, they're more like Tuesdays. (Of course they have a few good folks. They all have a few good folks.) But they've got their niche---shameless radio call-in ranting with smirking faces! Manufactured conflict! What could be better?

Only one answer: a war. Boom, boom, cry, cry, hooray hooray.
So big surprise that CNN has been camped on an aircraft carrier for the last three months, panting for a war it can cover with minicams: the rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air, now the Gulf War II logo and the flag is still there! And live remotes with the authentic three second delay, even if the reporter stud or babe is in a hotel room. I love how TV news makes up "live" "remotes," like when the anchor says, let's go live to Jack Ace, live in our newsroom for a live update. And you see Jack, who is actually about fifty feet away, with his jacket off, looking all earnest and sweaty. Potent stuff.

And even less of a surprise that CNN (along with NBC and Fox) refused to run anti-war ads---slickly made, with celebs and legitimate product spokespersons like major clergy, and with cash in hand to pay the same price for the time as Budwiser or the Republican National Committee would. CNN made up a policy on the spot: "we do not accept international advocacy ads on regions in conflict." Region? Conflict? Either that leaves out exactly no region I know of (not even northwest Antarctica) or CNN is breaking the story---It's war! It's war! CNN is going to war!

Oh the nostalgia, oh the ambition, to recapture lost glory and save the collapsing Time-Warner-AOL empire! Yes, it's the empire strikes back, in more ways than one!

Tune in, America, it's all war, all the time! Peace is way too boring, not even our perky anchors can distract you from the foaming at the mouth over at Fox. And the beauty of it is, CNN has more footage of Gulf War I than anybody else. Show it again, Sam! Who'll know the difference! Un-mothball the Scud Stud! Bring back the good old days!