GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

April 20, 2013

Letter: News media flunks the candor test


Gloucester Daily Times

---- — To the editor:

Once again, the issue of cowardice vs. bravery arises in the wake of the Boston Marathon attacks (the Times, letters, Thursday, April 18).

After the 9/11 attacks in 2001, Bill Maher was excoriated for saying it took courage to fly airplanes into three buildings and a field in Pennsylvania. While it is reasonable to condemn those kinds of attacks, we should acknowledge the dedication the 19 had to affirm their beliefs by their actions. They died for what they believed.

Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols were willing to kill after they drove away from the bomb blast in Oklahoma City. How much courage did that take? Now, we seem to have two, likely more, who simply deposited the bombs at the marathon finish line and walked away. How much courage did that take?

At least one local TV channel has been usurping national programs to waste time saying nothing new that had not already been said in the previous news hour. The no-longer news was repeated about six times over the course of the hour.

How much courage does it take a TV station to say, “There is no new information?” Perhaps I should ask a different set of questions. How much integrity is required to say, “We have no new news?” How much candor is required to state, “We are as clueless as you are. We need to be patient.”

Immediately after 9/11, the local Air National Guards and the U.S. Air Force flew a solitary fighter every evening over the D.C. suburbs. The plane flew low and slow. I could have taken a rifle, fired one round, and destroyed a jet engine with the loss of the pilot and the plane. It was a “feel good” exercise with no potential to thwart another attack.

Now, TV stations try to give us eye candy in the hope that it makes us feel safer. What makes me feel safer is the Boston FBI saying that the FBI wants and needs information from witnesses.

The FBI et al. speak candidly just as a police force should in a democracy. Thursday’s conference showed people who are looking tired and that also says they are working as hard as possible to identify who is responsible for such a horrid, craven attack.

The news outlets that deliberately misrepresent “progress” in identifying possible suspects or seek to stoke anxiety deserve no accolades. They do deserve to have their licenses terminated.

If forensic evaluations finally identify possible culprits, we can have a trial to determine the innocence or guilt of the accused. Until then, we all need to be patient, especially those in the 24-hour “newsy” media.

ARTHUR THOMAS

Gloucester