Sunday, August 20, 2006

All JonBenet, All The Time

In the news this morning we have yet another bloodbath in Iraq, as gunmen shoot up a Shiite religious procession in Baghdad, killing at least 16 people and injuring 230. More American troops have been killed in Afghanistan by Taliban insurgents -- guess we didn’t really get rid of the Taliban before George W. Bush's Iraq disaster was started -- and there's renewed trouble in the tenuous Middle East cease-fire.

And what's the top story on all the cable news channels this Sunday morning?

The JonBenet Ramsey case and the gripping fact that newly-discovered suspect John Mark Karr is on a plane and coming back to the United States.

Are you kidding me? Really. Are you freaking kidding me?

Don't get me wrong: I'm the father of a nine-year-old boy and I can appreciate the horror of any child being murdered. But this case is one child, it's over a decade old and, at this point, there are serious questions over whether Karr will even turn out to be a viable suspect in the killings.

This may be an important regional story in Colorado, where the killing occurred and, perhaps, the seventh or eighth story told to a national audience. But considering everything else of real importance, that truly affects the stability of our planet and real peoples' lives, this is nowhere near the top story on our national news.

Adding to what will continue to be an ongoing media obsession with this case -- in which our single-threaded Corporate Media finds this to be the only story they can cover -- is the fact that it's now been revealed that Karr was a patient at a Bangkok clinic that specializes in… sex-change operations! And it looks like Karr went there for treatments.

Oh, boy. The only way this gets knocked out of the news now is if some winsome blonde chick goes missing in the Caribbean.

So here's a chicken-and-egg question: Have the American people become so dumbed-down because this is the kind of non-story that the Corporate Media beats into the ground for hours on end and for days at a time? Or does the media do it because we have become so vacant and disinterested in real news that this kind of stuff is all we really care about?

There's a lot of speculation going on about whether Karr's story even makes sense and a friend of mine who is both a lawyer and a writer said he would not report more than a one-liner about this until DNA evidence or other indisputable proof verifies that Karr caused this little girl's death.

For the sake of our national awareness and intellect, I hope DNA testing is done quickly and whoever should be caring so intensely gets to the bottom of this case. Even if Karr does turn out to be the killer, this is not the top story in the world right now. It's not even close.

And what if it's discovered that he's just an attention-seeking nutcase that had nothing to do with it?

At this point, the media has pushed this as the story we should all care about to the exclusion of all others. They've made the decision that a suspect in a 10-year-old murder case and the fact that he is getting on an airplane is more important than the incendiary situation in the Middle East, a civil war in Iraq that's killing an average of 100 people a day and the way our own involvement in that quagmire drags our country further into the toilet every day. And even if they did focus on those real stories, they should still find time to talk about 46 million Americans with no health insurance and a looming oil crisis that will have a severe impact on people as winter approaches. That's what journalists are supposed to do for a living.

But in defiance of all of that, we are now assaulted with all JonBenet, all the time.

In their warped news judgment, the media is deciding for all of us that we should be more concerned about the minute-by-minute developments with John Mark Karr than the fact that our brave men and women continue to be lost in Iraq and Afghanistan. They are making a decision every hour that a story of such incredibly specious importance, is more relevant than the deaths of our men and women serving in uniform overseas.

And, for that alone, they should be profoundly ashamed.

You can reach Bob Geiger at