This morning I find myself struck above all by the degree to which society's obsessive need to see everything through rose-colored glasses, to put a smiley face on even the most downbeat events—in sum, the Bullshitification of Life—has now infected normally saturnine media coverage. On the morning after General Motors files for bankruptcy, which surely in a figurative sense must be regarded as the low-water mark in American business history (as well as a melancholy bookend to the dawn of the Industrial Revolution), my local paper, the Morning Call, is one of any number of media outlets that have opted to headline that development as follows:
You've got to be kidding me. That's the story here? GM—a symbol if not the symbol of all that was American corporate might—goes down in flames...and the news is that we can "rise again"? Editors would probably defend the validity of their headline by stating, truthfully, that they're just quoting Obama. So what? What would you expect the U.S. president to say at a moment like this? ("My fellow Americans... We're f**ked.") I thought the era of press-release journalism, wherein the media served as obliging government stooges by uncritically spewing White House spin, ended with Watergate. That's what we like to tell our bright-eyed journalism students, anyway.
(What's that you say? What the country needs most right now is optimism? A sense that there's some light at the end of the tunnel? Sorry, folks. It's not the media's job to provide hope. For the record, it's not their job to sell gloom and doom, either. Just report what happened.)
I'm a little surprised that Call editors didn't headline their story about that French plane that disappeared over the Atlantic thusly:
Victory for the ecosystem: Hungry sharks saved by sudden food influx
In fact, if it turns out that North Korea's nuclear program is farther along than we thought, such that one day soon that nation's demented diminutive dictator makes good on his vow to unleash the full fury of his nuclear arsenal on his mortal enemies, I guess the headline would be:
Bridge and tunnel congestion at record low...