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October 30, 2005 - The "Week From Hell" Precipitates a Cliché Fest

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World's Laziest Journalist

October 31, 2005

By Bob Patterson


As the week of October 23-29, 2005 came to the end of the (US) business week, CBS radio news was reporting, on the 7 a.m. PDT broadcast, that a grand jury was just about to indict a guy who worked for Vice President Dick Cheney.  It brought to mind the 1975 movie Network, which showed a segment with a fortuneteller saying what was going to occur.  (As the time comes for this column to be filed, it turns out that the fellow was indicted.)


There used to be an old journalism tradition that, when faced with a binary choice possibility, folks would write two stories about both alternatives and then wait until the very last moment to decide which version to use.  The image of a triumphant Harry Truman holding a copy of the Chicago Tribune proclaiming "Dewey Defeats Truman," comes to mind.  Lately, it seems that more and more folks are saving energy by making assumptions based on "a reliable source."


Slowly, with cost-cutting mandated by the bean counters, the tradition has fallen by the wayside and the networks spend money like a drunken sailor only on the one possibility that the odds favor.


[The CJR Daily web site has declared war on clichés; so why don't they encourage innovation, creativity, and originality by touting the "Metaphor of the Week?"]


Take two: Slowly, with cost-cutting mandated by the accounting department's Bonzai attitude, the dual lede tradition has slowly gone "poof!" in a way that would put the Cheshire cat to shame.


A sports editor once admonished a police beat reporter - "Never, repeat never, say that a particular team can not win.  You can say that it seems very doubtful, but you can not say they will not win."  A few months later, Joe Nameth provided a textbook perfect, (whoops! sorry, CJR cliché monitor, lemme try that again) … provided shrewd journalists with a chance to make some money if they could only find a bookie.  (Weren't the odds 30 to 1?)


So, as the "What Me Worry?" team ended their "Week From Hell (WFH)," columnists were scrambling to meet deadlines and appear prescient before (cue the fat lady) it was time for Dracula to ride off into the sunset (that doesn't sound right) with the fair damsel and the words "And they all live happily ever after" superimposed on the scene.


The WFH also included the Miers nomination fiasco.  All the journalists did a lemming/Oklahoma land rush/cool-aide maneuver en masse, to brand the effort a failure.  None tried to assess it as a possible hustler-type ploy.  Lose a little to win a big pot, later.


[In the old days, when the Beatles hadn't run Elvis off the top ten list, it used to be that a fellow who was good at shooting pool could walk into a bar lose several dollars in a few games and then feign desperation and suggest much higher stakes.  At that point, the guy's true proficiency level would manifest itself and he (or she) could "run the table," collect the winnings, and head for the door.  It was called "hustling."]


As America's leading pundits got all their cliché ducks in a row (literally as well as figuratively), the possibility that the Miers nomination might have been designed to be a Svengali-esque way to – like a rodeo clown (Miers) – divert the bull's (journalists') attention away from the rider (indictments) goes completely unmentioned.  Later, another choice could be offered as a selection that is more palatable to the far right.  What are the odds that Alberto Gonzales can be confirmed by Thanksgiving?  (Hey, will he vote on birth control in a way that would piss off the pope or will he please the Christian base as much as a matador who is awarded the tail and both ears?  [Take that, you CJR cliché review committee!]) 


Speaking of criticism of the journalists, is it interline courtesy when all the folks who act like the Mainstream Media's (MSM) nanny, ignore things like a Time magazine guy who goes on Chris Matthew's weekly NBC program and emphatically reports that the Miers nomination will, like a rider on an enraged bull, see it through to completion, less than a week before the nomination gets dumped? 


Maybe the CJR site could initiate a series of awards (the "Crystal Balls?") for the worst prediction of the week?  I predict: they won't.


[As that week came to a conclusion, Life magazine featured a cover photo of Catherine Zeta-Jones, one of the most attractive women in films.  The picture they used would almost make a booking mug shoot seem flattering by comparison.  Why did they choose that shot?  Will the media chaperones (i.e. critics) question that judgment call?]


As the WFH series of developments drew to a close in Los Angeles, the Peterson Automobile Museum was promoting a Halloween weekend event which would feature "The World's Longest Hearse Procession."  Wow!  Will all the political pundits cover that as the perfect metaphor for the Bush Legacy during the WFH?  Will AP wirephotos' LA bureau send a staff photographer?  Will they pick up a shot from a member paper?  Will they have to buy something from a stringer?


A Packard Ambulance was on hand, but not part of an attempt to set the record for the longest Hearse Procession as part of the Halloween weekend at the Petersen Automotive Museum on Saturday October 29, 2005.  Tune in for details and more pictures in next week's issue of Just Above Sunset online magazine.

Packard Ambulance, Los Angeles, October 29, 2005

A columnist, who predicted in 2001, that the 2004 election would probably be rigged, might just as well try to get some attention by trying to do the "Kerouac in a Cobra" routine by asking folks if he could borrow their Ford powered classic sports car for a short time and write about driving it from LA to New York City and back again.   


Not bloody well likely, as the Just Above Sunset columnist (Hi, Mike!) in London (Great Britain, not Ontario Province) might say, but then again … maybe one of those companies that make Cobra replicas, like say Factory Five in Massachusetts, might like to provide a demo for the endeavor and reap the publicity bonanza?


UCLA, which has a sterling reputation for producing top-notch filmmakers who produce documentaries, is just up the road and perhaps one of their top draft picks would be interested in doing a ride-along with video equipment?  Have you ever seen any press coverage of the annual movie industry college draft pick ceremonies?  Aren't the annual Student Academy Awards the cinematic equivalent of football's Heisman Trophy awards?


Prediction time?  The spin will be that some dopey guy called "Scooter" was the VP's male secretary and, like a cliché ditsy blond, got mixed up about who told him something.  (You know: How can you tell when the blond has been using the computer?  Answer: There's White-Out on the screen!)


More predictions?  The conservative talk clones will say it's just like Bill's fib about his sex life.  The liberals in the MSM will counter by running endless quotes from that time frame from Republicans about just how reprehensible it is to lie under oath, for any reason.


On Friday, October 28, 2005 Bill O'Reilly, on his radio program was saying that the Libby indictment is not something the people will find interesting. 


When callers attempted to make the point that no one died when Clinton lied, he cavalierly dismissed the comparisons. 


Nietzsche wrote (in The Antichrist): "'Faith' means not wanting to know what is true."  Doesn't that explain Faith based votes without a paper trail?


Since this column appears in the Just Above Sunset Halloween edition, the disk jockey feels compelled (pay no attention to the knife we are holding up to your throat, fellah) to play Bobby "Boris" Pickett's hit The Monster Mash.  We'll lurch on out of here for this week, but please join us next week, because we will try provide some photo coverage of the Hearse Procession.  Until then, have an unpredictable week.




Copyright (including logo) © 2005 – Robert Patterson

Email the author at worldslaziestjournalist@yahoo.com





What the World's Laziest Journalist found on the streets of Los Angeles, October 21, 2005 -

Cobra on Los Angeles Street

What the World's Laziest Journalist found on the streets of Los Angeles, October 27, 2005

Cobra on Los Angeles Street

All photos Copyright © 2005 – Robert Patterson



Copyright © 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
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