I know there are so many more problems in the world than as-it-happens news coverage of major natural disasters. But as large swathes of the East Coast tuned in last Monday for information about Hurricane Sandy as it slammed into lower Manhattan and wrecked havoc along the Eastern seaboard I had to ask, aloud … and to a room filled with husband and dog, (the kids had already gone to bed and were pretending to be asleep) if it's finally time for major news organizations such as CNN to get rid of (or at least diminish the presence of) people reporting live and on-camera from the storm surge.
I mean ...
Every time one rain-coated anchor split screens with another rain-coated reporter who -- screaming against the wind –- was remarking about how eerily dark the city was or how high the waves were, I was almost angry.
On the edge of seething, even.
Houses on fire. A facade collapse. A hospital generator failure that was sending workers into the street with premature infants.
And in my living room a guy was clinging to a road sign and fighting gusts of wind for the limelight, all the while telling viewers that no one should be traveling around (like he was). I was slack-jawed as another reporter -- after I'd switched channels -- recounted how many injuries his crew had suffered. The result, he said, of blowing signs and debris -- even though they were "taking precautions" and being "safe".
The talking heads inside the relative safety of high-rise studios don't seem like much of an improvement with their oh-so-helpful banter: “Please tell that guy to bring his dog inside,” said one anchor to her storm chaser in Battery Park as a man walking a dog glided through the shot.
I shook my head, picturing Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog, delivering the disagreeable answer: “Yes... I would love to be back inside, on the hardwood floors, for me to poop on!!!”
I should learn to let this roll of my back. Like rain.
Arm-chair quarterbacking. Backseat driving. Why am I complaining?
It's not as if any of this is scripted. They're all just telling it as they see it and repeating an earpiece full of Googled facts, hoping for something new to report. Something -- anything -- that will shift the dialog to something more substantial.
I start flipping channels. Clicking screens. Scrolling through the all the new networks at my disposal.
"What about the hospitals?"
"What about the fires?"
"What about climate change?"
"Why is CNN wasting time with some guy in front of a casino on a mostly deserted street?"
"Do people REALLY want to see this person swept away?"
My husband just shook his head in abject disagreement with my indignant frustration … and chuckled:
"I'll tell you what I want to see. I want to see an alligator from the sewer swallow him up."
"Or a shark ... washed in from the river?" I offered in jest.
“I'd just settle for the rain to stop.”
“No one likes a quitter.”