Media Monsters

Family Security MattersMarilyn Penn

Those who are concerned that the decibels of our political rhetoric are affecting outbursts of violence in America should consider how glorifying the face of a mass murderer in an oversized, color, front page spread in the New York Times will impact other deranged copycat killers. What spells success to an isolated psychopath, more than capturing the attention of the world with 24/7 coverage of every aspect of his life and thoughts? Since Saturday, every television channel has sent its reporters to stand in Tucson and repeat the same miniscule bits of information ad nauseam and ad infinitum. Worse, political figures have seized an opportunity to increase their own visibility by proximity to Gabrielle Giffords in a shameful and exploitative manner. Yesterday morning’s news had Kristin Gillebrand and another blonde congresswoman from Florida describing their touching girlfriend session with the stricken victim – a human interest story aimed at their self-importance more than anything else. Wouldn’t a really good friend pay a quiet visit without broadcasting it to a troupe of cameras and newscasters? Hanging out with Chuck Schumer has apparently infected Ms. Gillebrand with his photophilia-itis

We have an epidemic of non-stop news-chatter that both alarms viewers and de-sensitizes them to the relative significance of events. An impending snowstorm is reported with the intensity of a looming tsunami or earthquake; a tragic mass murder is reduced to treacly interviews with victims whose grief should be respected by distance and privacy. Inducing the parents of Christina Green to talk about their feelings to millions of strangers has no upside for anyone – it only demeans what is truly tragic to the level of a tear-jerking Barbara Walters segment best reserved for celebrities in rehab. Read More: