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The Media Who Cried Wolf?

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The Media Who Cried Wolf?

The Media Who Cried Wolf?
September 05
15:17 2019

Since I live in Boca Raton, Florida – that was once the bull’s eye for Hurricane Dorian — I spent the better part of several days paying attention to the weather reporting.  I even watched the weather channel, which was a totally new experience for me.

In total, the reporting reaffirmed something that I had observed over the years whenever there is a major weather event.  The reporters make themselves the central symbol of the terrible – and even dangerous – weather.

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What is ironic is that they do what they are advising their viewers NOT to do.  They stand under a flimsy umbrella during a torrential rainstorm or they turn seasonal white as the flakes of a blinding snowstorm covers them.  Well the coverage of Dorian was no different.

As one example, I saw that CNN morning co-host John Berman (pictured above) flew all the way from New York City to Port St. Lucie, Florida to stand on the beach – in a mandatory evacuation zone, by the way – to offer up a drenched image of himself to the viewers.  There was irony.  In terms of his normal reporting, I have always considered Berman to be generally – in the colloquial meaning of the term – “all wet.”

I got a kick out of his interview with Florida Senator Rick Scott who admonished Berman for being in the evacuation zone – and suggested he leave that area. Not a bad scolding.  It always seemed to me that seeing all those weather reporters splashing around in areas they say are too dangerous for we common folk sets a very bad example – and encourages adventuresome people to take the risk.  How bad can it really be if CNN is willing to risk one of their million-dollar-per-year anchormen?

Then there is the problem of those exaggerated weather reports.

Now let us be perfectly clear.  Hurricanes are dangerous to life and property.  We have seen the tragic consequences of Grand Bahama.  It is a humanitarian disaster of the first magnitude.

Watching the reporting along the east coast of Florida – even AFTER Dorian had moved north and offshore was a bit excessive.  Seeing three inches of water on a sidewalk or a large flooded intersection is not unusual in Florida even when there are no hurricanes in sight.  It is not only hurricanes that cause those big waves to splash dramatically against cement abutments.

On FOX News, Shepard Smith told people to stay off the beaches “or you will die” – even as other channels were interviewing folks on the very same beaches.  Another reporter said the water on the walkway where she was standing was up to 18 inches high even as the camera showed it barely reached her ankles.

I am not referring to preparation BEFORE it is uncertain where the hurricane will travel.  We took in the outside furniture and closed the hurricane shutters as a measure of precaution. Rather, I am talking about the scare-the-children reporting AFTER it is obvious that the worst was not going to happen – and it was thankfully over.

Let’s put it this way.  If I had not seen any reporting in the past two weeks. I would have never known that Dorian existed.  The rain events where I live have been only slightly greater than we had been experiencing in the weeks prior to Dorian.  At that time, we had almost two weeks of daily rain.

If I had taken a camera and stood in a puddle during the periodic downpour, it would have looked a lot like what we saw on the weather newscasts – and what I saw on television weather reports in my area did not look anything like what we experienced.

Some may criticize my view in the spirit that you can never be too careful.  That sounds good but is simply not true.  In the extreme, being too careful is a psychological disorder.  We should all be APPROPRIATELY careful – and weather reporters should report appropriately, not for hyped drama.  I fear that such reporting only makes people distrust the dangers in the future – a bit of crying wolf too often.

So, there ‘tis.

About Author

Larry Horist

Larry Horist

Larry Horist is a conservative activist with an extensive background in economics, public policy and politics. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman, as well as the White House. He has testified as an expert witness before legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress, and lectured at major colleges and universities. An award-winning debater, his insightful and sometimes controversial commentaries appear frequently on the editorial pages of newspapers across the nation. He can be reached at lph@thomasandjoyce.com.

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  1. Mr. Ed
    Mr. Ed September 07, 18:38

    “Hyped drama”. That says it all right there. In their quest for higher ratings than their competitors, news channels are willing to sacrifice their staff and credibility. I’m surprised no film editor caught the footage (pun intended) of the reporter standing in ankle deep water while reporting it’s depth at 18”. In the race to be first to report, confirmation of facts is sacrificed on the alter of investigative journalism. Perhaps to step up the game of sensationalism, we should be seeing reporters risking it all by reporting from a dingy in the middle of the storm.

    Reply to this comment
  2. Slowalkintexan
    Slowalkintexan September 07, 21:32

    So much truth in this column. Will anyone pay attention and learn from it.??

    Reply to this comment
  3. Dr. John
    Dr. John September 07, 22:05

    The drama queens want to hype every storm so that people watch their channel. Then they show 18 models of where the storm may track, explaining that they do NOT know where it is going. The climate scientists tell us what is going to happen in 50 years, but not what will happen next week. Didn’t they listen to their Mothers….’Get out of the rain’….but that wouldn’t be dramatic.

    Reply to this comment
  4. Starliner
    Starliner September 07, 22:55

    I found the weather reporting hyped and excessive, as well as the Governor declaring a state of emergency way too soon. It resulted in gas lines at the pumps, and difficulty in obtaining (at times much-needed) gasoline. And in my town in FL, I never even knew there was a hurricane.

    Reply to this comment
  5. Defiant One
    Defiant One September 08, 03:54

    Further conditioning of the SHEEPLE! It also stimulates the economy; all the food, gas and lodging money and machinery that they urge you to invest in even though most of the time it is not required! Yes,if you’re in the direct path or in flood zones then this is most logical but they aren’t sure of the exact path and they hype the danger to an extreme Sheeple haven’t got common sense anymore to think for themselves!

    Reply to this comment
  6. Bill P.
    Bill P. September 08, 08:49

    In this hyperbolic age it’s actually refreshing to read an article such as this.

    Everything is horrible, according to the news media. Every manmade disaster is Armageddon, every natural disaster is historic, unprecedented.

    And then there are the politicians standing beside the sign-language interpreter telling us that the three inches of rain to come in the next 24 hours will melt us and everyone we hold dear.

    At some point doesn’t the boy cry “wolf” one too many times?

    Reply to this comment
  7. baggriff
    baggriff September 08, 15:44

    Here we go again with two quotes from Ben Franklin ” Some men are weather wise and some men are other wise” and ” when will you under stand that common sense is not common”.
    These people have been injured standing like a fool in high wind storms to show us what is happening. This is totally a lack of COMMON SENSE! and with a high pay check. Don’t stand in the rain!

    Reply to this comment

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