One Thousand Words on Idiots on the News

When George W. Bush was elected to a second term as president, I stopped watching the national news.

I just couldn’t stand four more years of listening to the poorly constructed sentences he delivered in that annoying accent with a frat boy smirk.

Every time I heard his voice the saying, “fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me” came to mind.

I still read the news, so I wasn’t completely out of the loop, and I’d occasionally watch the local news, but no Nightly News, no Today Show, no All Things Considered.

It’s amazing how little you miss by avoiding the news. The only major event that occurred during that time that might have convinced me to turn the news back on was Hurricane Katrina.

Then I started reading stories about people having to leave their pets behind because our government wouldn’t let them take them on transports, and decided against I probably should leave the television set off.

I didn’t need to see picture of people standing on roofs or crowded into stadiums to understand the devastation. Or hear pathetic excuses for why the government wasn’t helping.

Say what you want about our current president, but at least Barack Obama is a talented orator. I can listen to his speeches and my ears don’t bleed so gradually, after he took office, I have returned to the news although I only watch it occasionally.

I had the local broadcast on tonight and frankly I was tempted to revive my moratorium in news. There are just too many stupid people in the world and, somehow, most of them end up on the news.

The first annoying story was about a couple who went missing from their home almost a year ago. Because of my fascination with disappearing into the ether, I’ve been following this story a little, secretly rooting for them to be out of the country living a new, happy life while their family and friends look for them.

But apparently that isn’t the case because the police department is searching a landfill for “evidence.” They didn’t say that evidence was bodies, but the station certainly implied it.

They had an “expert” on who had no connection to the case, but had plenty to say about it.

The newscaster asked if the family was likely to receive updates from the police about the status of the case or if they watching the news like everyone else.

The so-called expert said that the family probably wasn’t getting much direct information because the police could only share information with them that they were willing to let go public.

The reporter then asked why the police would want to hold back some details. (She obviously had never watched an episode of Law and Order, or she would have known the answer.)

The expert said that once details are made available, people who know nothing about the case start claiming to have information or to be responsible for the crime.

He said, “If someone was shot and that information wasn’t released, the police can easily eliminate someone who confesses to stabbing the victim.

Here’s where the stupid people come into play.

Who calls up the police to confess to a crime they didn’t commit? Or offer evidence they don’t have? Or share completely irrelevant information?

I honestly don’t understand the motivation here. Is it to get attention? Because it seems like there are better ways to find your fifteen minutes of fame.

I picture these people, glued to their television sets or police scanners, just waiting for some crime they can claim.

Gas station robbed? I did it. Bicycle stolen? I did that too. Vandalism? That was me. Jaywalking? Me again.

Really people, get a life.

The next stupid person on the news was some minor criminal who was stopped by the police for a traffic violation.

While the policeman was checking his license and registration, the guy “rolled up his window and drove away, leading the police on a high speed chase.”

I love that they told us he rolled up his window first so we wouldn’t worry that he was messing up his hair during the chase.

The cops sped after him for a while but then they decided that it was too dangerous because of the amount of traffic so they stopped.

And caught up with him a little while later.

This happened not once or twice, but three times. Three times the cops let him go only to catch up with him further on down the road.

That sounds more like hide and seek than a high speed chase to me.

The game ended when the guy ran out of gas.

Three times the police stopped following him and let him drive off, but he never thought to stop for gas?

My mother taught me to always keep my tank at least half full in case of emergencies. I wonder if she was talking about a high speed chase. And I bet that guy wishes he had a mother like mine.

Like false confessions, I also don’t understand why people undertake the high speed chase. Do they ever work out for the criminal?

I’ve never heard a news report that said, “A man led the police on a high speed chase today and got away.”

They always end up in a crash, or running out of gas and taking off on foot. And if a chase in a car doesn’t work, you know aren’t going to fare much better in a foot race.

I wonder if there is a primal instant that make criminal drive off like that. Fight or flight or some such.

I’m sure that guy didn’t think. “Maybe if I roll up my window and drive away really fast, they won’t catch me.”

He probably did it without thinking.

And there lies the problem with most people who end up on the news, whether they’re outlaws or politicians. They just don’t think enough.

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