Not Left for Dead

Or Why I Hate the “News” Media

A CNN headline this morning reads: “Don’t Do It, Americans Say.” And the article link with it says: “No Strike on Syria, Most Say,” followed by a teaser: “Eight in 10 Americans think Bashar al-Assad gassed his own people, but they don’t want to do anything about it, a new CNN/ORC International poll says.”

The situation is so much more nuanced than that, but the headline, title, and teaser are oh-so-clickable. And that’s their point. Not the news, not solid information about what people are thinking and why. Just something CNN hopes will go viral. (And I’m helping, I know.) I’m not going to click, and I’m not going to share.

Maybe just this once, we American people are learning from experience and history, and we’re paralyzed in a good way. If we bomb Syria, we are just as likely to hurt as many people as Assad hurt in the first place. It’s one step closer to troops on the ground in yet another Middle East mess; and then we’ll throw in our own sons and daughters too. Maybe we’re sick of death stew. Maybe we’re learning to think before we act.

But that story isn’t as sexy as “they don’t want to do anything about it.” Could people get outraged enough to click, and click, and click by learning that we want to work out the possible consequences before we dump a few thousand bombs on Syria? Who is going to share that maybe, for the first time, we want to find a different way of addressing these problems?

Nope, that doesn’t serve the newsertainment industry’s monetization ends. It doesn’t mesh with the military-industrial complex’s goals.

In a better world, the headline would read: “Think First, Americans Say.”

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