Courtesy of reverser's pages of reverse engineering
Super-Samantha wrote the following on my messageboard on 24 July 1999

"We had only positive feedback after we questioned the media's assault on Kennedy trivia and the torrent of "national grief" which was
spoon fed to us for one solid week as the rest of the world news respectfully stood still. One has to wonder if the cure for war, pestilence
and poverty could be achieved simply by flying one Kennedy into the sea each week. If television news and specials can be used as an indicator, the answer is a resounding "yes". Hardly a mention of anything else was heard for seven days and we must assume there was a complete halt to hostilities in Kosovo and all was well with the rest of the world.

I opt for Teddy to be next week's offering.

One last editorial comment and we shall leave the subject:
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A CASE STUDY IN SELF-LOVE

This week was a big revenue booster for the networks and a high stage for their talkinghead netwonks. Not since Princess Diana's Mercedes
Benz decelerated from 120mph into a Paris tunnel abutment has so much media hype been heaped on a deceased member of the glitterati.

The numbers released by Nielsen indicate that viewership of CNN, MSNBC and FNC nonstop Kennedy coverage exceeded previous highs set after Princess Di's death. Are congratulations in order?

The death of kindred social celebrities sparks endless fascination among media celebrities -- undoubtedly because these elites view themselves in such esteem as to think they are eternal fixtures, invincible. But such "news" coverage obfuscates the line between journalists and paparazzi, if such a line still exists. More
importantly, it exposes the celebrity media's preoccupation with itself.

One can speculate whether or not the coverage afforded young John Kennedy would be afforded, say, conservative radio talk-show host Michael Reagan, son of President Reagan, should he meet an untimely demise. We estimate the latter would rate little more than a footnote. (Sorry, Michael.) He just does not fit the media elite's
self-image.

The coverage of Princess Diana's death provided a template for understanding the media's vicarious projection of its own thin values. To wit: Who else died that fateful week in 1997? (Hint: Her name was at least as widely known as that of the princess.) Does Mother Teresa come to mind? If not, perhaps it is because the talkingheads barely gave lip service to her lifetime of achievement during the flood of Diana coverage.

Of course, Mother Teresa did not die en route to Martha's Vineyard or rushing to her yacht after an evening at the Ritz in Paris. She died quietly, surrounded by members of her Catholic order in a barren room in Calcutta, leaving a personal estate of three blue-bordered saris in
the colors of her Missionaries of Charity. The glitterati can't identify with that. And the TV media were not alone in their disproportionate coverage. A summary of pages in the hallowed weekly print media dedicated to Princess Diana and Mother Teresa, respectively: Newsweek 47 vs. 4, Time 41 vs. 7, and U.S. News & World Report 16 vs. 2.

The ACU's Craig Shirley noted at the time, "By the end of the week, I felt certain Diana would be transformed by the media from royal celebrity to martyred saint. I was wrong. The transformation took less than 24 hours." And that brings us back to John-John, who, as media editor Wes Pruden notes, "at 38...had the gifts of good looks, charm and enough wealth to indulge harmless hobbies, among them his airplane and his magazine, George."

Consider these tributes: "It's been decades since the label of 'Our Royal Family' was applied to the Kennedys. But now with another generation climbing the political ladder with another unbelievable meeting of joy and sorrow, this may be one of the rare times when a manufactured media label may actually be close to the mark." --CNN's Jeff Greenfield. ++ "Now of the young family that once made the White House into Camelot, only one is still among us -- Caroline." --ABC's Beth Nissen with another "manufactured media label." ++ "JFK Jr. was the closest thing this country had to a prince." --Today's Matt Lauer ++ "I suppose...he was the prince for all of us." --ABC's Sam Donaldson ++ "A tribute to America's son. ... We Americans...have
long been fascinated by the Kennedy mystique." --CBS's Dan Rather

"Royal family"? "Camelot"? "Prince for us all"? These are all images conjured by the media -- a luxurious trough for glitterati wallowing
and mesmerizing the masses. Columnist Michael Kelly concludes, "Indeed, the absence of true grief is what makes it possible to wallow in vicarious grief. The media understand and exploit this. People are product. The more symbolic the person, the greater value of the product. (This is why Hillary Clinton on the cover guarantees
newsstand sales; she is almost pure symbol.) Everything that happens to symbolic people is product. Especially death; nothing sells like
symbolic death."

The most arrogant of the media elites set about exploiting the tragedy as a catalyst for historical revision. Almost 30 years to the day
after a drunken Ted Kennedy drove his car off a small bridge on Martha's Vineyard, only miles from where his nephew met his end, ABC News listed among "Kennedy Family Tragedies" -- "1969: Ted Kennedy in car crash in Chappaquiddick in which Mary Jo Kopechne died." We were under the impression that was a Kopechne family tragedy.

ABC even crowned the "royal family's" patriarch, president. Referring to Ted Kennedy, Peter Jennings reported, "Also in his statement today,
President Kennedy said what Kennedys have said before on occasions like this, this family sort of helps to appease its grief if you will, he said by putting its faith in God." ABC's Barbara Walters followed with, "Prime Minister Barak...was very pleased with his visit with
President Kennedy...." (We checked, and Mr. Kennedy is still a Senator.)

Wes Pruden concludes, " 'Losing the horizon' is not a phenomenon peculiar to novice pilots, but a common affliction of our celebrity culture. Nobody loses the horizon faster, or has more trouble determining which end is up, than the talkingheads on television when entertainment tragedy strikes."

The irony is that John Kennedy, like Princess Diana, loathed gratuitous media exploitation of the variety which followed their deaths. Under the false pretense of such exploitation, the humanity of the exploited is desecrated. Of course, the talkingheads counter that couch potatoes are to blame because they demand all the celebrity hype -- a "chicken or egg" proposition. But how does such an accusation distinguish journalist from paparazzi?


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