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When The Media Goes Too Far
Devastation in Haiti
I'm probably going to get myself into a lot of trouble here but I just had to get this off my proverbial chest because I'm wondering if anyone else out there saw what I saw on CNN last night. I was trying to catch up on the news from Haiti and I turned on CNN. I was sitting there watching in horror because as Anderson Cooper was broadcasting, down below him in the park, where everyone had been sleeping, someone apparently started a rumor that had people jumping up and running in panic. Something about water was being touted as the 'catch word' - was it a tsunami or was it a flood - no one knew. They just started en masse to flee the park - leaving behind their few possessions.
As it turned out, that was the whole idea! Someone was clever enough to decide to loot everyone - as if their lives weren't sad enough already or their trauma had not been substantial enough. My problem with this whole thing is that I felt like somewhat of a peeping tom watching all this. It somehow really unsettled me to see people being taken advantage of and being schlepped right there in front of me on TV! As if the disaster hadn't been enough of a bad week already, now they got to lose what little they had left. I don't know about you but watching people suffer PTSD on TV was a little more than unnerving.
It only got worse, however. I have to preface this whole thing with this fact - I love Anderson Cooper! I have no grudge against Anderson Cooper and I think his reporting is (usually) above reproach. I love his style and I love how he gets into the heart of things - his coverage of Katrina was wonderful and his courage goes beyond the call of duty in my humble opinion. Not to mention, he is one of the most handsome newscasters out there. However, last night, I was a little disappointed and I have to say it.
The thing that bothered me (you can see it on the video here yourself) was that he came upon a group of people trying to dig out a teenage girl who had been trapped for hours under the rubble. As it turns out, she had been in there long enough to hear people dying below her all through the night but she was steadfastly clinging to the hope that she would be rescued (she was thankfully). She did not panic but the people who were trying to rescue her were screaming and shouting because they were frantic. All the while mind you, her little feet and legs are showing underneath all the debris obviously crushing her.
Here is my problem with this - Anderson Cooper is pointing out the tragedy (I might add after we've been viewing dead bodies lying on the street for some time because they simply have no place to put them). It was all very sad and very moving. You begin to realize now that the fact that this young child is still alive is a miracle in itself. However, what got to me and made me almost burst into tears was that Anderson Cooper and the crew just calmly approach all these screaming people (who are pretty oblivious to anyone and are just trying to get the girl out) and begin talking/broadcasting. He at one point had to raise his voice above the din of the people screaming to be heard. The people gathered around the debris were just interested in getting her free, presumably before anything else shifted.
At this point, I kind of looked over at my husband on the other couch and said 'isn't that weird?' It was like they needed to keep filming over the 'roar of the crowd' - only in this case, there happened to be a little girl trapped under God knows how many tons of debris! My first thought was 'Anderson - didn't you see her legs sticking out - put down the microphone and HELP for God's sake!' I'm sorry but that just stuck in my mind. I could not believe that the entire crew of who knows how many or how few were just going on about their filming because I would like to think if I were there (which I would not be but still) I WOULD try and help and maybe THEN film. Or why didn't the camera man keep filming and we could have seen Anderson Cooper join in the rescue?
A lot of times, I stand alone in my opinions or 'takes' on things but I have to say in this instance and this time, even Bob thought it was a little 'odd' for them to be filming something so personal and so tragic as if they were calling a game or something - 'let's just stand here and watch and see how they pull this one out!' (literally) It just seemed weird. It felt like a kind of voyeurism to be watching someone else's pain and suffering and know that some of our people were standing right there - meanwhile all evening long they had been talking about the incredible need for help and how all the Haitians were suffering. We both just kept going 'huh?'
When I looked at the video today on the Internet, I still felt the same - but I noticed that there were nothing but positive comments - which is good. I'm usually in the minority I find but I am holding my ground on this one just because it didn't feel 'right' to me. I think our media goes places and brings us news and views of things that are just incredible. But then on the other hand, I think they sometimes go too far! At least I got the feeling that Sanjay Gupta was very upset and was probably going to dig in and try and help at the hospitals that had collapsed. Maybe Anderson Cooper was going to go off later on a search-and-rescue expedition on his own and pull someone else out of the rubble, but I kind of wanted him to get in there and try and help right then - even for a moment! It would have made me feel better somehow, like someone was doing something to help. It is wonderful to see what is happening I suppose, but then in my humble opinion it is even worse knowing that you can do nothing but watch someone else's tragedy.
Fortunately for that little girl, it had a happy ending - and it came to us on CNN. When I think about it and all that we watched, it was an incredible thing. A sad thing, but an incredible thing. It is a double-edged sword to be able to see so much and then to be so helpless in what you can do from your living room to help except in terms of donations and prayer. Bless all the people that are over there and I do admire their courage and their dedication to other people less fortunate than we are. I just would like to see a little less of some aspects of it I think and more empathy.
Of course, it brought up old wounds and made us both think of Katrina and how people in our own country suffered for days before anyone even bothered to help them. That still irks me no end and I know even yet, we have people suffering in this country who never have recovered from that devastation. In all fairness, I have to say God bless the people who have the courage to go to these places, whether it is to cover the stories and bring us back information or to lend a hand in the rescue and rebuilding. These people have my deepest admiration. I still can't quit thinking though that I wish Anderson had reached in a hand there and shown himself to be the man I thought he was. As in all things though, I have to give him the benefit of the doubt and 'A' for effort for having the courage to go there. Hopefully he'll do many more 'Cooperish' things and I'll forget all about this one tiny thing.
It certainly makes you think of that saying though 'there but for the grace of God go I'. Because of who they are, where they live and the poverty of earthquake readiness in their country, their nation has suffered an unimaginable blow. It is hard to comprehend such tragedy on such a huge scale. My thoughts and prayers are with everyone over there, and yes, Anderson Cooper especially.