Bill Murchison

The news -- let's own up to it -- is dreadful.

The glaciers are melting; the terrorists are advancing; Iran, after getting away with the kidnapping of 15 Britons, has begun enriching uranium; hardly anybody professes to like the president of the United States; Don Imus makes a bigger donkey of himself than he was by crawling to Al Sharpton, racial trickster extraordinaire, for forgiveness of a racial insult; and ... and ... I think that's enough for now.

It isn't that nothing good goes on. A lot of good goes on. We merely tune it out. Or, as more often is the case, the media tune it out for us, understanding as they do the human love of the awful.

We claim -- we, in the media -- not to be doing this. Instead, we claim just to be relating what's out there. Well, come on, bros. I've been in this business for nearly 40 years -- you can't fool me. We go to town on bad news.

Bad news is mother's milk to my proud profession. But it's more so now than ever, given the competition the Internet has opened up: 24-hour Websites, blogs of every kind and character, most straining as hard as possible to depress with the impossibility of the situation. Whoever gets there first with the worst gets the attention, hence the money.

This is life. We need to acknowledge as much. At the same time, we need to acknowledge that bad news creates moods and moods shape responses, or non-responses.

We could properly consider this moment to be one of great pessimism about ... everything. We have overdosed on bad news.

Iraq is lost!!!! Wasn't that just what you were saying? Nearly everyone, under the inspiration of Nancy Pelosi and The New York Times, is saying so -- one problem here being that a new strategy of beat-patrolling, rather like the strategy Rudy Giuliani's cops used to tame New York streets, shows signs of working both in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I didn't say is working -- I said it shows signs of working. A Wall Street Journal story this week opened the blinds a little bit on Afghanistan, recounting how American troops are winning trust while living, often bathless, next to ordinary Afghans. The game isn't up yet.

Nor is it in Iraq, where Gen. David Petraeus, our new commander, is actively implementing his own get-next-to-the-people strategy. Too late for all that? How would we know such a thing? Oh. We just sort of concluded it, hmm, from reading the blogs?


Bill Murchison

Bill Murchison is the former senior columns writer for The Dallas Morning News and author of There's More to Life Than Politics.
 
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