Let me start this post by strongly suggesting you skip it and just go listen to Johnny High Ground‘s “Slow News Day“. It says this better than I’m about to, and with more humor and less vitriol.

In the gym today, the sole TV was turned to CNN’s coverage of the Earthquake in Japan. Just as I was getting on the treadmill, coverage switched over to Wolf Blitzer. He had, as his guest, Ichiro Fujisaki, the Japanese Ambassador to the United States. Blitzer opened the segment by asking the ambassador if there was any chance of a nuclear meltdown at one of the nuclear facilities that had been damaged by the earthquake and later suffered an explosion at one of the reactor buildings. The ambassador replied that no, there wasn’t. That the situation had been concerning, but that the reactor was stabilized and the risk was minimal.

Wolf Blitzer then proceeded to reiterate and ask in essence, the same question. The Ambassador responded similarly. What ensued was a several minute debacle with Wolf prying and prying trying to insinuate that there was some great risk from the reactor, even at one point calling into question how current the Ambassador’s information was. (He was being updated hourly, he said.) He then cut away to “Homeland Security Correspondent” who proceeded to call into question, citing sources she didn’t name, the Ambassador’s statement. (Some brief work with the Googles tells me that it was probably Jeanne Meserve, but I didn’t catch her name during the report.)

Wolf took this at face value, asserted that there was “mixed reports”, and proceeded to once again try to get the Ambassador to talk about the grave situation at the nuclear facility.

I came away from the several minute conversation absolutely disgusted. When given access to a statesman from a country suffering a horrible tragedy, Wolf Blitzer could think of nothing better to do then go looking for more bodies, more danger, and more extravagant headlines. All of this, of course, was interspersed with several reminders (I counted four in maybe 15 minutes of coverage) of how many had died, always followed by a reminder that the deathtoll is expected to climb. (“Could be as much as 1800! 9500 missing!”) It almost sounded gleeful.

So many questions they could be asking, about responses, about relief efforts, about social effects, about expected government and private responses, and they chose to spent 15 minutes digging for more blood and more bodies.

Disgusting.

So if you’re looking for a bunch of carnage-seeking ghouls, then tune in to CNN. A lot more sane, insightful, and compassionate coverage has been coming from Al Jazeera’s English-language affiliate, AJE. Their coverage on some topics is pretty wonky, but on this they’ve done a superlative job.

In the meantime, if you’re looking to help, I strongly recommend donating to the Red Cross or other reputable charitable organization. Amazon.com has put a Red Cross link up on their front page, which makes it easy to donate as much as you feel you can spare. It works through Amazon payments, so it’s easy and secure. I already had Amazon Payments set up, so I think donating took me all of a minute.


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