Back in 1999, CNN decided to see in the new millennium in style. The network announced in a news release that it would provide, “100 hours of comprehensive, global news coverage of millennium-related events and turn-of-the-century issues, including live reports from almost 60 CNN correspondents positioned at key locations around the world.”
It may seem odd that a news organization is sending out a news release -- shouldn’t it be CNN’s job to report the news, not make it? But let’s set that aside.
The network’s rolling live coverage kicked off at 4:30 a.m. (Eastern) on New Year’s Eve, “giving users an opportunity to watch the virtual first dawn of the year 2000 and to follow celebrations worldwide,” as the network put it. Ah, but by the time I reported to work at 8 p.m. that day, it was already clear there would be no story. That is, the story was that nothing happened.
Computers didn’t shut down. Bank vaults didn’t pop open and spew forth cash. Nuclear missiles didn’t launch themselves. After the billions of dollars spent to retrofit computer programs, the New Year brought us Dick Clark and drunken revelers in Times Square -- nothing more. Y2K was a bust.
Sometime on Jan. 1 (before most viewers had even recovered from their hangovers), less than 48 hours into the vaunted 100 hours of coverage, CNN called it all off and returned to regular programming. It was the shortest 100 hours in history.
We’re now in the midst of the longest.
During the election campaign last fall, Nancy Pelosi and the House Democratic leadership announced they intended to do six things to “meet the everyday needs of all Americans.” In her own words, she promised to:
? Enact all of the 9/11 Commission’s recommendations.
? Increase the minimum wage.
? Expand stem cell research.
? Negotiate for lower prescription drug prices.
? Cut interest rates on student loans.
? End subsidies for Big Oil and invest in renewable energy.
And to make sure her agenda passed before her post-election popularity could evaporate, Rep. Pelosi vowed to pass all the above within 100 hours.
Now, we can quibble about Pelosi’s agenda. For example, for most of us, “winning the war in Iraq and the greater war on terror” would be a top-6 issue we’d like to see Congress address. That’s certainly more important than, say, subsidized student loans. And instead of focusing on simply lowering drug prices, it would certainly be better to completely reform Medicare.