Monday, March 14, 2011

Hope Japanese News Media Has Perspective on Earthquake

As of this morning, there are officially 1,900 dead because of the massive earthquake that hit Japan last Friday, and it is feared that the final body count could be over 10,000.

When confronted by incredible tragic situations like this, you want perspective and proportion from the news media.  I hope the Japanese media has that outlook because I know the American news media does not when such a massive natural disaster strikes our nation.

According to our modern day American news media, nothing should ever go wrong, and if it does, the news media will declare a villain or villains and verbally beat the issue to death.  There are really no guarantees in life,  but the news media actually believes there should be, and that is the premise from which they report every major aberration of nature.

Hurricanes, floods, earthquakes and tornadoes will inflict damage and pain on the areas they strike, and freak snow storms will bring even the best prepared  municipality  to a standstill for at least a short period of time.  It is pure BS to suggest otherwise. 

It is inherently absurd to even operate under a premise that any human entity can guarantee that nothing will go wrong in life again, and if something does go wrong, government can be prepared to bring life back to normal immediately.  

Nevertheless, our country has a news media that for decades now has pretended that it is possible to do so.  If a freak snow storm hits, the streets should be in pristine condition by the next day.  If an area gets savaged by one of the largest hurricanes of all time, everyone should be cared for within 48 hours.  If remedies are not immediately available to bring everything back to normal in record time, the news media will target the public official or officials it doesn't like for blame.

Fueled by political communications advocates and activists who literally hated President George W. Bush, much of the news media blamed the Bush Administration for virtually everything that went wrong in the aftermath of one of the worst hurricanes to ever hit land in the United States, Hurricane Katrina.  It didn’t matter that there were other layers of government involved in this natural disaster, including the Democratic governor of Louisiana, Kathleen Blanco, and the Democratic mayor of New Orleans, Ray Nagin.

I’m not suggesting that either Blanco or Nagin should be slammed for what they did or did not do to avert the disaster.  On the contrary, I believe all government officials at all levels did what they could do with the information they had at the time.  

On the Saturday before the hurricane hit, Louisiana Gov. Blanco asked President Bush to declare a federal state of emergency for the state, and he did.  On the Sunday before the hurricane struck, New Orleans’ Mayor Nagin declared that there be a mandatory evacuation of the city and also declared a state of emergency for his citizens.  I can remember the numerous times I saw the news conferences of Nagin during which he repeated that this was not a false alarm and implored citizens to evacuate the city.

You would never know that by reading, listening or watching the media coverage that occurred after the hurricane hit New Orleans that ultimately less than 2,000 were officially declared dead in Louisiana and Mississippi as a direct result of the hurricane.  Other estimates add  2,500 or so that may have perished as an indirect result of the massive storm.

It didn't matter what the facts were. The news media in the United States told all of us that we better have 10,000 to 20,000 body bags for all the fatalities and declared that government at all levels, but especially at the national level, was not sufficiently prepared.
How does any human entity possibly prepare for every scenario that can result from such massive tragic events, such as Hurricane Katrina or the unprecedented earthquake and subsequent Tsunamis that have hit Japan?  I' m just hoping that the Japanese new media isn't following the lead of the American media and wasting its time to target public officials for condemnation.  There is no way to fully prepare for such vast devastation, and it will take an enormous amount of time to get back to normal no matter how many resources are committed to the recovery.

Someday in the future that big earthquake that has been predicted for decades may hit the California coast.  No matter how well prepared governments at all levels are for that big quake, there is likely to be untold damage, and the death toll may be counted in the millions, not thousands. And should such a disaster strike, it won't be the fault of a Democratic Administration or Republican Administration.  It may very well be the San Andreas Fault. 

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