Monday, April 16, 2007

Virginia Tech shootings, media spin, and politics.... I've been watching all day about the shootings that happened on the Virginia Tech college campus early yesterday morning...and I have to say if there is anything worse then the shootings themselves it would have to be the obvious media and political spin placed on every aspect simply to boost ratings and discourage law suits. I've been entrenched in this horrific incident since about 11 am yesterday morning...much like I was when 9/11 happened. TV on, flipping from news channel to news channel to get the latest, in search of answers for an incident that so defies clear explanation....I foolishly look to the media like so many others.

Just the facts ma'am. Plain and simple is the way we want it. Leave the yellow journalism for the uneducated masses of yester-year....

As a viewer who's tirelessly kept abreast of the events of the day you begin, after 15 hours of continuous coverage, to get a feeling for the disgusting game unfolding right before our very eyes....First hand reports and first impressions from witnesses on the scene perverted throughout the day, a shadow of the truth.

Lets take the kid with the cell cam bravely playing the role of the videographer in a war torn area, shots fired every few seconds - he becomes the new pseudo-correspondent for the largest news network this side of the Atlantic for the duration. Nice. Like some discovery channel special on the lion cubs long, arduous journey to head of the pride we witness the metamorphosis of college student turned CNN correspondent in hours - shaking and recounting his initial feelings that "life will go on" and little more upon undertaking his new role as "I Reporter" through composure and eventual spin, mentioning finally in the past few hours that the gunman confronted the police, bursting through the doors and then back in again...a fact never, ever relented previously. A fact so deviously and transparently spun through the glowing screen of the television screen that I was prompted to voice my disgust for the whole damn thing through the creation of this blog.

You never said that earlier, brave kid with the cell phone...why now?

Why now do the police speculate there were two gunmen? All eyewitness reports claim the same - one gunman, Chinese decent, tall, maroon cap, oh...and the jacket that was introduced 7 hours into talks with *the same eye witnesses*. Never any mention of a jacket a few hours into the investigation. Students calling in to speak with CNN, MSNBC, Fox news...not one mentioned a "vest that made him look like a boyscout" early on. We mention the maroon cap and the ethnicity but never the vest. All the sudden, after Virginia Tech and the president offer their news conferences, do these same people who gave very clear, very identical descriptions of the assailant change their stories. Ah, and we never actually hear the majority of these witnesses who were so ready to speak to the press early on with their initial recounts changing or adding to their stories later on - on news anchors telling us of these changes after the fact. I wonder why that is....

At 1pm calls poured into the major news channels and they lapped it up, asking every question from here till Sunday to obtain a scoop over the next guy. Calm and collected each eye witness gave their description. One even says she was there for the dorm shooting, knew it was a domestic fight between the gunman and his girlfriend, and the R.A got in the middle and both ended up shot and left for dead as the single gunman ran off - only to disappear for 2 and a half hours while campus officials rammed their thumbs up their rears and tried to figure out a way to notify the campus of the murders - murders students should have been made aware of from the get go - in a calm and collected way as not to incite mass hysteria.

So for 2 hours they polished their campus wide email and press release, allowing the assailant free reign. Time to collect more ammo. Time to grab the chains that he used to barricade the entrance with. Time to execute his next attack. Time for 31 students and faculty in Norris Hall to perish at the hands of a very prepared, very determined gunman with nothing to lose.

It's come up through all of this how very accountable the campus should be held for the inefficiency of security and their lax attitude toward the initial two murders in the dorms at 7:15 am of the girlfriend and the R.A - never ordering a lock down, never even contacting the rest of the campus about what had happened in the dorms until 9:26 am - 4 minutes before the gunman's second attack on the engineering building across the campus.

That's when the spin began.

All of the sudden speculation arises. The wheels turn and the search for the second gunman is on. They're still "searching" for him, whoever he may or may not be. Perhaps he's on the grassy knoll....

See, the thing with all of this, and with most bullshit spins executed throughout history, is it's usually caught by anyone within ear shot.

"You furnish the pictures, I'll furnish the war".

It went from one deranged individual to two to a terrorist attack within hours. It's all still "speculation" even though I'd be inclined to believe initial, unadulterated reports. They slaughtered the story just as the lone gunman slaughtered the victims in cold blood. I've heard everything today from a modern day Mexican standoff from our good friend the cell phone cam guy to ethnic connections between college campus gunmen and terrorist conspiracy theorized by CNN. There's a fascinating wiki on this very subject and the BBC even has its own "inside sources" to the incident. Everyone is "in the know". Has an "inside track". Even when stories begin to unravel and things just don't seem to add up - if it's packaged neatly enough and people only tune in for the end, the beginning is irrelevant...isn't it?

Right. If you believe that I have a bus ticket to Hawaii I am just dying to sell you real cheap.

Everyone wants something. The college wants a reason not to have the pants sued off of them. The police want to look like heroes so the Mexican standoff scenario is a brilliant speel to feed the hungry masses looking for even more drama then the actual story, that's dramatic and disgusting enough already, even when it is obvious from glorious video what really transpired. The media wants the next story of the year, no doubt sick of chewing the liquid fat of the worn out Anna Nicole story that is as dead as she is. Correspondents from here, there, and everywhere want a chance to psychologically profile the unidentified gunman, so rather than wait for confirmation they too speculate and add fuel to an already blazing fire. Even sweet old Jamal the cell phone camera dude wants recognition for his "brilliant" journalistic feat as honorary "I reporter" for CNN.

The spin is ridiculous and I personally find it disgusting. Do they really think we are that stupid? That blind? That ignorant?

Now I am not saying the witnesses have been corrupted, or the police or even the campus didn't do what they felt was right - but hind sight is 20/20. And they weren't right in the end. And now to spin it just to look better in the face of very real backlash and accountability is the lowest of the low. Take responsibility for your short comings. Yes, you should be sued. The school should have been locked down immediately after the school was made aware of the first murders in the dorms at 7:15 - emails over 2 hours later are not sufficient enough when a gunman is on the loose and *you don't know where he is*. Why it took everyone 2 hours to take anymore action then notifying those just in the dorm where the 2 initial murders took place is beyond comprehension - and someone needs to be held accountable.

31 people are dead because the ball was dropped and that's the bottom line. No political or media spin will negate that. You can't hide from the truth. I only hope the families of the victims demand more for their loved ones lost in this tragedy then officials and the media have. Because if the spin wins, that would be the greatest tragedy of all.

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