have in common?

paris peterson michael oj 

They all functioned, serially, as the objects of the obsessive compulsive focus of the popular, ravenous, continuous-coverage, media circus that is CNN-MSNBC-FOX.

For a while, I joked that their real purpose was to be (each in turn), the canary in the coal mine. For those not familiar with the concept, in the days before there was sensitive safety equipment to monitor the safety of the air in a coal mine, miners would keep a canary at key locations. Canaries are very sensitive to changes in the oxygen level and to the presence of methane. A canary will succumb to the presence of methane (a reduction in the oxygen content) long before it becomes dangerous to the minors. So, the canary in the coal mine was a safety device. If the canary was still sitting on his perch, the air was still safe.

While the Hilton-Peterson-Jackson-OJ dramas were going on, they were the canaries in the coal mine. If you got off of an airplane, or wandered into a restaurant or hotel lobby, a glance at the TV screen would tell you instantly whether anything really newsworthy had happened anywere in the world. If Hilton-Peterson-Jackson-OJ were on the screen, you were safe. Nothing bad or significant had happened anywhere.

However, if Hilton-Peterson-Jackson-OJ were NOT on the screen, then they’d been pre-empted by something that really was important.

There’s an old wry, cynical observation that runs thus: “Isn’t it amazing, how every day, just enough stuff happens to fill up the newspaper?”

Now you know just how much attention to pay to the obsessions of CNN-MSNBC-FOX.

-Rob Shearer
  Director, Schaeffer Study Center

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