Story placement is always a bugaboo for print journalists. Sometimes the rule is the most important story of the day goes at the top. Other times, the editor reaches for one that will “grab” readers because it’s cute or funny or sensational. But my latest experience in lousy headline juxtaposition came the other day with these two. Side by side. Both treated equally.
“HENRY KISSINGER: WORLD ORDER IS CRUMBLING.”
“FASHION EXPERTS REVIEW PRESIDENT’S TAN SUIT”
Now I suppose the value – importance, if you will – found in those two items depends on how you look at world events. Personally, I find stories of cataclysms and threats to our worldly existence a tad more of interest than the color of Mr. Obama’s sartorial selection of the day. Apparently not so for the editors of The Huffington Post and nearly all other national media.
I checked seven national news sites after finding the breathless reviewers comments about that suit. All had similar stories: one had three! Only two mentioned “Doctor K’s” rather mind-numbing remarks.
Henry always has had a flair for being quotable if not just a bit over-the-top. In this instance, it’s hard not to agree with him. Look at a Congress where order has already crumbled into chaos and stupefying inaction. Check out Vladimir Putin’s barefaced international lies denying invasion of another country while his military does just that. At the moment, the civilized world is absolutely flummoxed about the merciless killing machine known as ISIS or ISIL and what to do about the mindless slaughter being perpetrated on thousands and thousands of innocent people.
If these world order-defying items don’t hit home, there’s always the climate change that’s redesigning and eliminating parts of the earth as we stand flatfooted and take no meaningful steps to reverse it. Or, the many longstanding racial injustices leaving young, dead bodies on the streets and thousands of innocent people in jail.
There’s the outright racial hatred of our duly elected President and the piling on of blame for anything and everything never exhibited with any other President in our nation’s history. Add some of the most ignorant and dangerous people elected to public office with no thought of the responsibilities they’ve sworn to undertake. They make a mockery of the very Constitution a lot of ‘em have never read but use repeatedly as a verbal dressing gown.
“Doctor K” was also referring to the widening disparity of economic well-being in this and other countries. Disparity brought about by self-indulgent thieves with billions of dollars at their disposal to buy whatever elected officeholder is necessary at the moment to gather more power and privilege. You can add to that category the sell-outs in public office who feel their own employment – and their own bank accounts – are more important than the honest conduct of the business they were elected to perform.
Kissinger’s discussion of national and world conditions was predicated on these and any other factors – breakdowns in political and economic orders – mayhem and lawlessness – elected impotence in this and other countries – wrongs against civilized nations going unpunished and a lot more. I read the details of his interview more than once. And – in the main – agree.
In his prime, Kissinger could have been lumped in with some of those irresponsible politicians. As it did with his bosses, Viet Nam spilled blood on his resume and made him a liar many times. He had many moments in his storied career he’d like to forget. Historians will not let that happen.
But, he also had moments of leadership and brilliant decision-making to handle many tough situations. Despite some flaws in the performance of his public duties, he was right a lot more than he was wrong. He’s right in his most recent public utterances. His words deserve a much larger audience.
In nearly universal fashion, the media – all media – is failing its most important reason for being – informing. Telling us what we NEED to know rather than what it thinks we WANT to know. The ratings-watching bean counters who worry more about return-on-investment or the economic interests of some vague group of stockholders are leading this decay in the traditional role of media information necessary in our society. They’re being ably assisted by too many media people more attuned to trivia than history – gossip than reality – too many unable to distinguish the important.
And that tan suit? I don’t give a damn if a president wears jeans, a t-shirt and is barefoot. What he says – how he says it – what it means. Those should be the criteria reported.
And speaking of clothing and fashion – check out the media next time you see some of those folks at one of your local news events. A tan suit would be more welcome.