Rich Tucker

News flash: We’re all going to die. Maybe not today. But soon. And suddenly. And horribly. At least, that’s the conclusion any regular CNN viewer should draw.

“The next great U.S. quake. It’s inevitable, but are we prepared?” asked anchor Kyra Phillips on Oct. 11. Actually, we’ll all be lucky if we live long enough to be killed by a quake. “Experts predict millions could die in an avian flu outbreak,” reporter Jeanne Meserve noted the next day.

And don’t forget our already devastated economy. “We’re definitely going to have to pay more to stay warm” this winter, reporter Kathleen Hayes explained. “Last year, the average household paid about $1,200 [for heating oil]. Now that will be up more than 30 percent, to nearly $1,600. It’s an increase of about $378.” Finally, “it just seems like there’s been disaster after disaster. Can all of these countries, the world, afford to help in paying for disaster relief?” anchor Betty Nguyen wondered.

CNN’s 11 p.m. show NewsNight summed up the theme: “Killer hurricanes, massive earthquakes, monstrous fires: Are these unpredictable acts of nature signs the end of days is near?” it asked on Oct. 12.

Whew. “The end” may not be near, but the end of television news ought to be, if such vague scare tactics are all it has left to offer. Unfortunately, even though viewership is going down -- deservedly so -- the old mainstream liberal media remains influential.

Of course, some people say that’s not going to be true for long. They point to the growth of blogs (Weblogs), which tend to be conservative.
Bloggers have enjoyed some notable successes. For example, blogs brought down Dan Rather last year when he peddled phony documents that supposedly showed President Bush had shirked his duty while in the National Guard.

But blogs won’t have truly arrived until they can manage to start a full-fledged media panic. Consider, for example, the flu. CNN’s not the only media outlet worried about it. A Google News search of “avian flu” turns up about 9,800 stories, including Health Officials Prepare For Bird Flu Pandemic (NewsHour Extra), Military taking steps to guard against avian flu (Stars and Stripes) and Is enough being done against bird flu? (BBC News).

Rich Tucker

Rich Tucker is a communications professional and a columnist for