Friday, June 04, 2010
These days, television, in particular cable TV, seems to be increasingly able to shape public opinion. Be it the Israeli commandos rappelling down on a Turkish ship running the Gaza blockade … or a live shot of that broken British Petroleum “containment valve” one mile down spewing a cloud of evil oil into the pristine Gulf … or President Obama kneeling down on a Gulf of Mexico beach to examine a tar ball … it is all about the visuals that the news editors can effect on their viewing audience. The term that has gained current popularity for this phenomenon is “optics”. And, I don’t know about you, but I am getting a little tired of seeing that same ten yards of Gulf Coast wetlands with the BP oil slick lapping on its marsh reeds or those same Turkish militants (soon to be martyrs) wailing on the Israeli commandos. And now we are beginning to see oil coated pelicans (pelican?) consigned to bird heaven … covered in immoral BP petroleum.
These visuals can’t be the whole story by any stretch, but the gullible American public seems to be wedded to this form of information pabulum. I may be swimming against the tide here (so to speak), but 45 days into this BP drilling rig explosion, there seems to be remarkably little ecological damage (numerous pelicans die every day from shark attacks) relative to what we have been led to expect by the hysterical video and copy editors. (This morning on Morning Joe they graphically extrapolated the oil slick moving into the Atlantic and polluting shorelines all the way up to Cape Cod.) “A majority of Americans see the massive oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico as a major environmental disaster.” (The Pew Research Center on May 11th)
These dire predictions may in fact transpire if this leak is not contained for months to come, but I for one am skeptical … particularly when I see the environmentalist and politicians expeditiously stepping in to take advantage of the publics’ angst. Viz: President Obama has shut down all drilling for oil in the Gulf for six months (a far bigger economic disaster) and the Democrats in Congress are smacking their lips about using this incident to push through their Cap and Trade (read carbon tax) legislation this summer.
May I suggest that famous Clintonista line? “Let’s all step back and take a deep breath.”