9/11 news: memorials or commercials?

Call me an anarchist, but I’m not feeling the 9/11 grief this year. Commercials distract me.

The Collegian office has televisions, and they’re tuned to CNN roughly 12 hours a day. That’s basically a whole workday, plus an hour of Oprah every other week or so.

Our business manager jokes she’s doing research.

I sat in a cubicle for at least three of those hours. I heard two hours of 9/11 coverage plus commercials and election 2008 updates.

Memorial services. Retrospectives. Profiles of the hijackers. Profiles of the victims. Old news packages. Old controversy.

There’s a point where recap of national grief — for ratings and commercial sponsorship — is just criminal. There’s a point where a brass band playing “Amazing Grace” just can’t transition to a Viagra commercial.

It wasn’t always this bad. It used to be worse — when 9/11 was still newsworthy and I was a sophomore in high school.

The news coverage then — on some 24-hour news network, maybe not CNN — had an anchor probing personal questions of relatively stoic family members. But probing wasn’t the intention. The intention was penetrating.

One woman held back tears, almost certainly aware that the anchor was trying to get her to react. Eventually, she just lost composure. What did our anchor do when her guest finally cried?

She cut to commercial. Gimmicks like that make Wally Thompson’s response in this fake man-on-street so bitterly funny.

I was tired of 9/11 coverage by 9/12, but at least the initial coverage was commercial-free — until the second-day weeping widows.

Seeing news anchors feign incredible, inhuman empathy because it boosts the price for Viagra’s 30-second spot? I feel dirty just watching it.

Grieve for the widows, or to the firefighters, or to how our tragedy of an administration took advantage of it to promote the Iraq war — after all, none of the hijackers were Iraqi, were they? — but I won’t grieve with network news.

More travesty than tragedy.

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