"The U.S. could suffer a coast-to-coast blackout if saboteurs knocked out just nine of the country's 55,000 electric-transmission substations on a scorching summer day, according to a previously unreported federal analysis," the Wall Street Journal's Rebecca Smith reported on the front page of Thursday's paper. A set of "coordinated attacks in each of the nations' three separate electric systems could cause the entire power network to collapse," Smith noted, citing "people familiar with the [Federal Energy Regulatory Commission] research."
A development like this is quite newsworthy and a topic that makes for good TV news, yet the broadcast networks -- ABC, CBS, and NBC -- completely ignored the item both on the March 13 evening newscasts and the March 14 morning news programs. By contrast, they found air time for rather frivolous stories such as:
CNN correspondent Alina Cho loaded the regal language into her report on Wednesday’s American Morning about Europe’s “apparent love affair” with Michelle Obama. Besides the obligatory Jackie Kennedy references, Cho gave a preview of the first lady’s tea with Queen Elizabeth II: “On today’s schedule: tea with the queen, and insiders say the queen and America’s queen bee will be fast friends.” The correspondent even compared Mrs. Obama to Princess Diana. She also referred to the Obamas as the “royal family of the United States.”
Cho began her report by hyping the first lady’s popularity, how it apparently isn’t exclusive to the States, and how it could overshadow her husband the president: “Tina Brown, as you know, joked about an hour ago that Sara Brown is a beautiful girl but, you know, everybody sort of knows that right now, at least, she pales in comparison to Michelle Obama. Of course, the big question is, could she overshadow the president?...So, you know, there’s no denying that Michelle Obama is a rock star in America, but how is her style and personality playing abroad? Well, the early reviews are very good. The apparent love affair with the U.S. first lady is flourishing in Europe.”
The world's media are busy mourning the death of the Princess Diana ten years ago. But while they are mourning the fact that they lost a ready-made newsmaker who shared many of their goals, they have forgotten to remember the anniversary of a far more important event than the death of the former wife of Great Britain's heir to the throne. As I was reminded by Lead and Gold, today is the twenty-seventh anniversary of the Polish communist government agreeing to the demands of striking shipyard workers. This surrender by the Communist leadership of Poland presaged the breaking loose of the satellite nations of the Soviet Union's Iron Curtain and led directly to the fall of the U.S.S.R. As Lead and Gold writes,
The strike marked the beginning of the end of communist rule in Eastern Europe. Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher are, rightly, given the greatest share of credit for winning the Cold War. But Lech Walesa and John Paul II played indispensable roles. ...
MRC old timers like Geoff Dickens and Tim Graham will remember how in the late 1990s, MSNBC was largely a re-run channel. MSNBC's programming was largely "Time & Again" and "Headliners & Legends," two programs that relied heavily on canned news content and usually consisted of puffy profile pieces.
Well, now with the 10th anniversary of Princess Diana's death, MSNBC's gone back to the bad old days of stale newscasting, running highlights, as it were, from Diana's September 6, 1997 funeral, including Scripture readings and eulogies by British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Diana's brother Lord Earl Spencer.
MSNBC is justifying the gauche gimmick as a "Living History Event."