Thursday, May 11, 2006

Fearing Fear and ABC's New Low in Exploitation

A letter-to-the-editor (LTE) writer, Debora F. Warren of Blacksburg, wrote in Wednesday's Roanoke Times ( that the only thing we have to fear is the fear-mongers. Warren suggests that the nation's fatalistic fear leads us to fear entire groups of people, see terrorists around every corner, and WMDs too. Indeed, such a distorted world view and an exaggerated notion of the real risk to most Americans, has driven hyper-aggressive policy, and the ill-conceived and needless "preumptive" war in Iraq, which is alienating even our allies. Warren reminds us of the famous FDR mantra, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." That seems a caution worth repeating.


The Bush administration knows that fear begets fear. This time, the administration and its enablers at ABC trumped up the fear with their "Bird Flu in America" fiction, and we now know that should fiction become even partly real, we are on our own. It hasn't been enough for Americans to suffer the Bush manipulation of under-protection before 9-11 and hyper "protection" afterward. Of course, Bush has also increased the risk of terrorism as he pumps up everyone's fear of "terror." We've experienced a barrage of phony alerts in recent years, conniving ups and downs of the terrorism alert system (a childish color code some contractor-crony probably got millions for), and the trotting out of OBL tapes whenever things are going badly for Bush, or he feared he'd lose in Nov., 2004.

All the new fear-mongering is no doubt connected to the precipitous decline is Bush's popularity. The only thing the public seems to respond to is fear. And on cue Bush will either trot out a "pandemic," tapes of "Al Zargawi" (who, it seems from the latest tape, can't even fire a gun) or OBL, as he did right before Nov, as He did in 2004.

At a time when politicians and media cry-wolfers are once again trying to get Americans to fall in line, first because we fear terrorism, and now because we fear bird flu, the most responsible thing was NOT to watch the ABC made-for-television movie. Denying the show ratings and the sponsor's an audience seems the minimum we could do. The next best thing is to tell everyone you know the truth: So far bird flu has not morphed into a virus spread by person-to-person contact. Only those handling birds or working in close proximity to birds have caught the disease. And in a world of billions, the risk is rather small. Only about 100 people worldwide have died thus far. That didn't stop the ABC ghouls from creating nightmarish scenario of America run amok, bodies everywhere, people getting shot, every person for himself, and God save us all. The message: "Be afraid. Be very afraid." The network ought to be ashamed.

Already we had had it up to "here" with "bird flu." It's bad enough that Bush exploits this hypothetical risk, but he has his band of merry television execs to help him hype fear even further. Every network has irresponsibly hyped bird flu in it's nightly pseudo-news. Cable "news" networks sandwich in bird flu stories with the latest escapades of Tom and Katie. But ABC as stooped to new lows.

Viewers of ABC's pathetic bird flu fear-mongering Tuesday night were treated to a pseudo ticker-tape running how many millions had "died." Concentration-camp-like fences cordoned off entire neighborhoods so no one could go in or out. Conveniently, the story writers feign this was the governor of Virginia's doing. People are killed, bodies are being burned to stem the "contagion." You get the hysterical drift. This might as well be right out of a Judith Miller germ tirade. I'm surprised she isn't out in the media once again drumming up the terror for the Bush administration.

And as fiction morphs into reality, the Associate Press ran a companion story (duly and parasitically noted on ABC's website) giving at least some credence to the fiction because it is at least a wake up call. The story did quote an expert who "frets" that a disservice may have been done by misrepresenting the facts and creating an exaggerated horror-film version to confuse everyone. Read it here.

But, implying inevitability, the writer showcased the "wake up call" comment more prominently than the reality check. Some wake up call. The Bush administration recently announced that every town in America is on its own. But it has a plan to triage (no doubt cronies will be first in line), isolate and sequester them. Whether or not a bird flu "pandemic" ever materializes, we can count on Bush to figure a way to exploit it again for his own purposes. And that is something to worry about.

To register a complaint: Go here. ABC plans to reair this travesty during, are you ready for this (?), sweeps week. I guess we weren't afraid enough for them. For shame to ABC execs, Bush-enablers all.