Ebola Is Just the New Chandra Levy

Three weeks ago, Ebola was an all-consuming crisis that obsessed politicians and the media. But now, it’s just an old issue and old news.

People are still dying in droves in substandard medical facilities in West Africa, and nothing much has changed in terms of our efforts to insure that the disease is contained when infected individuals travel into the United States.

But compare the summary of the Sunday political news shows that The Hill provided several weeks ago [https://academeblog.org/2014/11/02/ebola-a-symptom-of-our-morbidly-diseased-media-and-politics/], with the summary of the topics covered on this past Sunday.



November 16, 2014



Top GOP senator won’t dismiss talk of shutdown over immigration: Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) said, “we’re having those discussions.”  http://ow.ly/ElHRJ

Lee: US ‘not heading into a government shutdown’: “There are a lot of reasons for that,” Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) said. http://ow.ly/Em4n2

McCaskill ‘not crazy’ about executive action on immigration: The Democrat called on Republicans to take up immigration reform in the House.  http://ow.ly/Em5GO

Cole: Obama being ‘political and cynical’ on immigration: The Republican predicted the GOP won’t take the “bait” and shut down the government. http://ow.ly/ElSwr

Becerra spars with former Bush AG on immigration action: The Democrat told Alberto Gonzales to think “if it were your child” being separated. http://ow.ly/ElOdl

Romney says there are ‘more productive ways’ to fight Obama than shutdown: “The American people spoke loud and clear,” he said. http://ow.ly/ElZsQ

Jindal: GOP should do ‘everything they can’ to stop Obama on immigration: “No, we shouldn’t shut down the government,” the governor said. http://ow.ly/ElXM4



HHS chief: ObamaCare ‘based on transparency’: Burwell said she fundamentally disagrees with Jonathan Gruber’s comments. http://ow.ly/ElTcb

HHS: 100K new O-Care applications on first day: The website appears to be working much better than it did last year. http://ow.ly/ElU2J



ISIS fight authorization vote can’t wait, key Democratic senator says: Durbin said a new video is a “tragic reminder of the savagery of ISIS.” http://ow.ly/ElGT6

Netanyahu: ISIS fight a ‘global conflict’: ISIS “has to be defeated,” the Israeli prime minister said. http://ow.ly/ElDXo



Israel and US ‘one family,’ Netanyahu says: He would not address comments from an Obama official who called him “chickens—.” http://ow.ly/ElDZF



Dem senator: No ‘hard assurance’ of Keystone veto: Whitehouse said he would “hope and expect” that Obama would veto the pipeline. http://ow.ly/ElKiP



Franken: ‘Sure’ there will be challenger to Hillary Clinton: “I’m sure someone will jump in,” the Minnesota Democrat said. http://ow.ly/ElKUu



Clapper crosses North Korea trip off bucket list: Clapper said he was “quite apprehensive” when touching down in Pyongyang. http://ow.ly/ElNEW


Our politicians and our media are giving a whole new meaning to the phrase “ambulance chasers.”

They inflate the significance of certain stories not because they want to provoke meaningful responses to or meaningful action on those issues but, instead, simply so that they can go through the motions of what not so long ago used to be a preliminary to such action.

They are desperate for headlines because a smaller and smaller portion of the population gives a damn what either group is saying. But it has become so transparently obvious that the chasing after headlines has no purpose beyond generating the headlines that the whole exercise is becoming increasingly counterproductive. Voters and viewers are not just tuning out; they are tuning out at an ever-accelerating rate.

So the whole exercise is being reduced to a sort of inside game. The media elevates something to the crisis of the moment. The political establishment responds accordingly in order to receive media attention. And the media bestows that attention and the attendant significance on the politicians who are willing to engage in the game.

But most of it is nothing more than empty words that float in the air like the dust in a shaft of sunlight slanting through a long-closed window.


4 thoughts on “Ebola Is Just the New Chandra Levy

  1. Beautiful lines: “But most of it is nothing more than empty words that float in the air like the dust in a shaft of sunlight slanting through a long-closed window.” And what you write above about media coverage is the truth! With apologies to Shelley :-), Ulf

    • Earlier in my career, I wrote much more poetry than I manage to write now, and I even had some success publishing my work in small literary journals. (I did manage to get poems published in several prestigious journals, but my forays into the “big time” were so intermittent as to be clearly anomalies.)

      It occurred to me after I posted this piece that I might have used the word “motes” in that last sentence–though it is very arguable whether that would have made the sentence better or simply would have reduced it very clearly to cliche.

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