Forecasters Predict a Destructive Front of Cable News Hysteria

Hurricane Irene is sidling up to the Eastern seaboard like a mean, fat biker chick sidling up to a bar, spoiling for a fight. She’s gonna kick a few asses, and break some glasses, and–probably fall into a drunken, snoring stupor.

Reduced to category 1, she’s already made landfall in the Carolinas and the damage is fractional compared to what was predicted by wide-eyed people impressed by the square-mileage of the hurricane. Not that I’d want to be in the midst of it–the hurricane will do some damage, even serious damage, in places. Power outages will be especially problematic. But compared to the near-apocalypse that was being predicted, well…

You can see the disappointment in the eyes of the anchors on CNN and MSNBC. They were so hoping for a real catastrophe. They try to put the letdown in its best light. “While the damage here wasn’t what was expected, several thousand dollars of window panes were destroyed at this resort and it may take a good long time to clean up…”

Part of the hysteria, and the over-preparation on the part of the Governor of New Jersey, was a result of the relative rarity of hurricanes in that part of the world. A hurricane so sprawlingly large rarely threatens areas as far north as New Jersey and New York. As it turns out, much of Irene’s energy is already spent and the likelihood of serious damage to Manhattan, for example, seems minimal. I could be wrong; I hope I’m right. I do think it won’t be as bad as expected.

One is instantly reminded of the hair-tearing coverage of the recent “Washington DC earthquake”, a quake that would scarcely have raised eyebrows in Los Angeles. Again, Cable News was palpably disappointed that the only result was a crack in the Washington Monument.

That “catastrophe”, too, caught everyone’s attention because natural disaster scenarios don’t often happen there, in the DC. Naturally, religious zealots jumped on the anomaly, claimed it was a warning from God. Just as some claimed that Katrina was the judgment of God about New Orleans partying.

Actually, as I’ve pointed out before, when blistering heat punishes Texas and we have mild temperatures in the San Francisco area, it indicates that God is a Democrat. Doubtless Irene is the Judgement of God against New Jersey for having a Republican governor. If they’d had a Democrat, Irene would have spent her fury on the Carolinas–states run by Republicans.

Anyhow, next time there’s an anomalous meteorological or geological event, CNN and MSNBC will again forget all about Afghanistan or Libya, or the economy, or the Presidential race, and pound the drums hysterically over their hoped-for apocalypse, usually making things worse for everyone. Their coverage of the recession made the recession worse, since frantic doomsday scenarios in the economy are self fulfilling prophecies, causing the stock market to plunge and investment to choke up; their coverage of Casey Anthony will see to it she has a great book deal; their coverage of the absurd Michelle Bachmann, purely because she’s colorful, increases her chances of being elected…And they spend significant amounts of air time reading people’s facebook posts and tweets to us…

Thank God cable news is there, covering what matters…

If you want to read about a real, kick-ass anomalous hurricane–an “extra tropical cyclone” in this case–check out The 1962 Columbus Day Storm. I was in it as a child. I remember it pretty vividly…Our chickens vanished into the sky, our oak tree came down, most of our barn did too. And that was after a mountain range had slowed it down.

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