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Politics of Distraction?

By Dr. AS Nakadar

If you want to predict how the future society or a nation will be, look at their present younger generation: their priority issues, their attitude in dealing with those issues, and their educational level… These are the determining factors that measure the level of a society or nation.

If this is so, the news of the last couple of weeks indicates the future direction the American society and nation will take. If the present trend is not an aberration but a fact–we are headed for big trouble.

Following the young Anna Nicole Smith’s death, the major TV channels, radio, and print media, spent more time on this issue than any more relevant or important national issues.

Her death, the conjecture that swirled around it, considerations of the custody of her body, and speculation on who is the father of her daughter, all incessantly occupied the air and print media.

By contrast, the daily gruesome killings in Iraq and the bombings in the so-called “sectarian fighting” all took a back seat during this period. World-important events like potential agreements on North Korea’s nuclear development program and Iran’s declaration of intent to continue pursuing nuclear energy development, received less attention.

The news of Smith’s death was important to report, that is true, but not to the extent of making her a pin-up idol. Certainly she should not be a role model for our younger generation. Her sad life of alcohol, licquor, and promiscuity is one we may feel embarrassed even to witness.

During the focus on Smith, there appeared to be a deliberate and eerie silence on other issues of importance to the U.S.

For instance, there was an offer to build anti-missile bases in Poland to supplement existing missile-shield installations in Alaska and California. The given explanation is to intercept hostile missiles from the Middle and Far East.

And what was Russia’s response? Russia threatened, if Warsaw agrees to host the US missiles, to respond by installing medium range ballistic missiles in the Baltic region on Poland’s northern border.

Nah, this news can’t be as important as Britney Spears shaving her head!

The news of who is the father of Anna Nicole’s baby took precedence over the insurgents’ downing 8 helicopters. Nor was it important to take note of the report that one in every 837 babies born last year tested positive for one of the 34 diseases the states tests for.

And did you notice there was hardly any mention of the sudden rise in gasoline prices and home heating fuel? The media kept up the public interest by raising their unnecessary curiosity by repeatedly asking who is going to get the custody of Anna Nicole’s body.

The climax was the teary-eyed scene of a weeping judge overwrought by the Smith tragedy. I don’t know how many others wept.

Most Americans believe the press has gone overboard in covering the recent death of Anna Nicole Smith. That event received more attention then any of the presidential candidates speaking on issues of national importance.

Most people believe, including the press, that press went overboard in covering her death. According to the Pew Research Center, 61% say the Anna Nicole story received too much coverage–far more than that of any other recent story. In other words, the media sets the agenda of the public’s news interests, rather than the public setting the agenda for the news coverage. The gender gap is becoming obvious too. 72% of women closely followed the story of Anna Nicole’s death.

Compare this to another equally important story–the looming sentencing of former White House aide Scooter Libby, that stirred very little media interest. And the story that competed with that is of Lisa Novak, the astronaut accused of attempted murder. People felt this story was given too much coverage as well.

We have empowered the media with the responsibility, authority and resources to carry out responsible missions of educating the public on issues of interest to the individual, family, society and the nation. Accountability comes with responsibility, and if this is how the media is going to be responsible and accountable, than God help the individual, family, society and the nation.

We have a huge responsibility and a lot to offer to our compatriots for the betterment of the society and the nation.


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