Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The Incredible Bad Luck of the ABC News Anchormen, and Its Importance in the General Scheme of Things

We’ll get to today’s column in just a moment.. But first a word from our non sponsor…

Hi I’m Nate, and I am here today to tell you about my cool new HP all in one Office Jet 6210. My lovely trophy wife had been getting on my case to get a new fax machine since the one we had been using dated back to the late 80s and still used thermal paper. Off we went to the local McElectronics store and purchased the all in one. Its pretty nifty.. It’s a printer, fax, scanner and picture printer. It can even core a apple. But there’s one major flaw… you can only use it if it is hooked up right near the jack… otherwise you are outta luck.

Allow me to explain. Telephone cords used to have 2 wires running inside them,… but when the 2 line homes got popular, manufacturers replaced them with cords containing 4 wires.. At the same time, corded phones and internet dial up hookups have grown increasingly obsolete, and it became less important where the phone was plugged into the wall.. As a result, people don’t need the very long telephone cords anymore.

At this point it is important to point out to the consumer that the HP all in one only works with a 2 wire phone cord.. which comes with the unit. But it is a short little five foot wire. And, when we got the machine.. we decided to place it at the wall across from the jack. Of course, the fax didn’t work. So, off I went to get a 25 foot 2 wire cord.. And after several stops culminating in a Pre Super Bowl visit to Radio Shack that caused me to miss the kickoff… I found out… nobody makes 2 wire 25 foot cords anymore! They’re as obsolete as beta players, nehru jackets, 8 tracks, and the older brother in the comic strip Zits. And if Radio Shack doesn’t have it.. nobody besides eBay has it! However, as it turns out I had an old old 2 wire cord from the early 90s that I saved for whatever reason… and today my fax machine is humming along! Just keep that in mind if you want to buy one of these, just in case the feng shui of your room calls for the machine to be placed anywhere but near the jack!

Now, time for today’s blog!

I was originally going to write about the Top 14 Game Shows of all time, but a conversation I overheard the other day led to my changing my mind to write about something more cerebral. Two old yentas were sitting at a fast food place and as they sat chomping on their French fries and sipping their diet cokes that were part of their senior citizens value meal discount, one blue haired alta cocker looked at the other one and proclaimed…

“Can you believe how badly Bob Woodruff was injured? Can you imagine how horrible it would have been if he had died. Oy, first Peter Jennings, now Bob Woodruff…. Oy oy poor ABC News”

I think my Yoda 1.99 Burger King watch actually stopped at this proclamation. I listened to the old ladies go on and on and on,.. until the conversation evolved into some gossip about one of their mah-jong friends’ daughters who recently announced she was a lesbian AND was about to adopt a Russian baby. As the ladies gabbed on about lesbians and their husbands inability to please them with or without Viagra, I started to think about the sad plight of ABC.

Woodruff’s injuries are apparently pretty nasty, although you don’t hear much about the details, He may have been so badly injured that (assuming he is not brain damaged), his TV career may be over. After all only handsome men anchor the news on TV with a few exceptions such as Gabe Pressman who is kind of cute in a Yoda-esque way…. But for the most part, every anchorman this side of JJ Gonzales has always been a pretty boy. There’s always ABC Radio News for Bob if the TV viewers can’t “accept” him.

And I do feel bad for Bob, believe me. Some military people though are a little ticked off that Bob’s injuries are getting so much attention, as compared to the ones that their own people have suffered while doing some actual fighting. I guess it takes a pretty boy anchorman’s injury to draw attention to what has been going on overseas. And, as I pointed out last week, the Woodruff injury may bring the attention needed to this absurd war that all of the other thousands of deaths and injuries apparently couldn’t accomplish. Assuming a Democrat wins in 2008, his first action as he lowers his hand at the inauguration should be uttering the words….”OK folks, this war is over… lets bring the troops home!”

Do reporters belong there? Not if they’re putting their lives (and those of others) in danger. Ordinarily I would say keep ‘em home and let them just tell the story without this embedded craziness. But then you have someone like Christianne Ammanpour come along (and she is the best in the business) saying that Americans still don’t get enough info about what goes on in this war, and we should see what has been going on there.. That briefly give me second thoughts about my opinion about not allowing the media to embed themselves, and allow the troops to do their jobs. I’m sure the media must get in the way no matter how unobtrusive they try to get when everyone is cramped into such close quarters. Unless of course you embed Lara Logan and give all the guys free digital cameras to snap away at will.

And with all the attention being paid to Mr. Woodruff won’t it just be a matter of time before the crazy right wingers say it’s a media conspiracy to turn people against the war? They already mock Cindy Sheehan with such glee that they actually arrested her outside of the President’s State of the Union address when her Iraq war death toll T-Shirt told you more about the State of the Union than his speech. (And UPN had scheduled a special episode of Veronica Mars, but Channel 9 got some sweet revenge for losing its network affiliation, by pre-empting UPN’s only water cooler program in order to show the Fox News feed of the speech which was also shown on Channel 5) When will that blow hard Bill O’Reilly make a Woodruff fueled media conspiracy one of his talking points on his hideous show? And can you believe I actually used to watch this guy when he was a news anchorman on Channel 2 back in 1980? What went wrong with him? Why didn't Jim Jensen and Rolland Smith take him under his wing and steer him away from the horrible direction his career has taken?

And, getting back to the yentas talking about Peter Jennings… he died of lung cancer on August 7th. It was a weekend and Larry King actually came in to do his show live that night to discuss Jenning's death with other media hotshots. Then all day and all week all the news programs went all Jennings all the time… interrupting the summer of Natalee Holloway while the Smiths continued to plan their wedding and ill-fated honeymoon cruise which would give the 3 news networks something to talk about in the fall. People then started watching ABC with curiosity to see when they would drop Jennings name from the World News Tonight title… kind of like the sign changing ritual Match Game employed in the 70s at the annual change the sign show… goodbye 76... Hellooooooo 77”…. Ok, the changing of the guard had a bit less fanfare and you didn’t have Brett Somers balance a scotch with a Peter Jennings sign while Charles Nelson Reilly attempted to screw in the new Woodruff and Vargas neon sign while balloons dropped form the rafters.

And then the lung cancer stories started… Why it did take Peter Jennings’ death for people to start discussing smoking and lung cancer? It was exactly 2 years before Jennings death that I got a call while I was sitting in a rainstorm at Giants Stadium at a Bon Jovi concert that my buddy’s dad had died of lung cancer. Yet there was no special Larry King episode, the news didn’t run stories about him, and ABC didn’t run little spots about him with sad music in the background. Aside from a blurb in the local paper it didn’t really have a media impact. Yet upon arriving at the funeral the next day I noticed how heart broken and teary eyed the attendees were. And yet even though this wasn’t a news story… this man’s life apparently affected many others.. (I actually still have a Grundig stereo he sold me in 1982, and I still carry a lucky dollar he gave me several years ago). Since his death, the entrance to his synagogue has been dedicated in his memory…. The news networks may not have deemed his death "important" enough… but in the place where it counted the most.. his synagogue… he was important enough, so that everyone entering the synagogue will always remember him. And to me, that is a tribute that beats a Larry King panel discussion with Tom Brokaw and Dan Rather..

Which raises the age old question… why do things that happen to famous people seem more important than when it happens to us?

I don’t have an answer to that one… but it seems like the alta kockers cared more about Woodruff’s recovery and the actuary charts for Charlie Gibson than the contents of Sheehan’s T-Shirt. Hmm.. They don’t seem to be the only ones…


Pumpstra D. said...

I have two words for you: "poster children". Celebrities make big news and create trends for every generation, but new faces are needed almost every year to refresh the poor memories of the public and to generate ratings, sales and income for networks, studios and their stars. So Yul Brynner (who's that?) remains in history's grave, and Mr. Jennings becomes the new face for the anti-smoking lung cancer campaign (which is currently attempting to edit the cigarettes out of Bogart films, James Bond novels and "Goodnight, Moon").

Now Pete Townshend, who's nearly deaf, is speaking out against excessive iPod use and its long-term effects on hearing. So a guy just filed a lawsuit against Apple; problem is, he hasn't suffered any hearing loss from his iPod, but he's claiming he will, someday! (http://news.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/02/05/wipod05.xml) With that rationale, I, the Amazing Pumpstradamus, should bring a lawsuit for injuries I'll sustain in a car accident in 2013.... not to mention a defamation lawsuit against an anti-Semitic political cartoonist who will portray me as a filthy hook-nosed Jew this coming June, after I lead the FBI to capture Bin Laden who will be discovered hiding in my storage closet... but you know what, I'll probably decide to incite violence, instead.

Nate said...

First of all, remind me not to let you drive the carpool in 2013.

As for these crazy cartoons, I see how the Iranian prez wants to start a Holocaust cartoon. Imagine that paper... Hey Billy and Jeffy... Dolly has another date with Adolf Eichmann.

I'd like to see a cartoon in Iran showing what the Nazi hunters did to the Nazis after the Holocaust. I wouldn't mind seeing the Iranian Prez get a taste of his own medicine. Hope the liberals don't get too offended!

Pumpstra D. said...

Actually, I won't be driving. I predict, a Boy in a Suit will be behind the wheel....