Radio talk show host Michael Savage led off his Monday night show with a collage of sound bites from the weekend network television news shows. The empty skirts and empty suits -- as he calls the news anchors -- were heard filled with news about Washington's new baby panda, the "disappointingly" mild Hurricane Dennis, the continuing non-news from Aruba, the latest media thoughts on Karl Rove's statements from two years ago and other similar topics.
What drove Dr. Savage (and me) to distraction was the de minimis level of news about the terrorist attack on London -- which had happened only 48 hours previously. CBSNBCABCCNNMSNBCFOX had all returned to regular programming -- as it were -- within hours of this historic and appalling event.
When the media thinks something is truly important, they find a way to keep the story intensely reported. A few years ago, New York Times Editor Howell Raines thought the failure of Augusta National Golf course to let women join their club was terribly important, so he put the same story on the front page of the Times incessantly. The lack of news coming out of Aruba has not stopped cable television from putting on wall-to-wall coverage of that non-event for almost a month now. But network reporting of the Islamist terrorist attack on London subsided within hours, and only re-appears when there are hard news events -- such as finding the bodies of the terrorists.
But the media is certainly getting an un-useful cue from government officials. Almost every top British official seemed to be taking the attack far too well in stride. They have taken "stiff upper lip" to the point of parody.
A very disturbing pattern of response in the West is developing to terrorist attacks. Within hours of the event -- almost literally once the dust has settled -- intensity of reporting slackens. Government officials, perhaps still concerned about panicking a manifestly somnambulant public and governing class, understate the danger and concern, and talk about the terrorist attack largely as just another police investigation.
And, of course, the evil influence of political correctness quickly suppresses honest language and clarity of thought. In the immediate aftermath of the terror attack, reporters blurt out the truth. "In terribilis veritas." Once they have calmed down, political correctness regains control.
Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.
In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.