October 19, 2009

Wolf Blitzer Is Not An Idiot

wolf blitzer.JPG

It's much worse than that.

Balloon Boy: homemade weather balloon allegedly takes off with 6 year old boy in it, balloon comes down, no boy.  The boy is later found hiding in the garage.

Then it is learned that the family are "storm chasers," they had previously been on a reality show called Wife Swap, the boy's name is Falcon and the dad looks like he's trying to look like another storm chaser:

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But the jig is up.  In an interview with Wolf Blitzer, who asks the child why he didn't come out of hiding when he knew people were looking for him, he looks at his mom and dad and says, hesitatingly, "you guys said... we were doing this for the show."

But Wolf doesn't pick up on it.  The father ("oh, man") muddles through the interview-- he's waiting for Wolf to start yelling at him.  But it never comes, 900 monitors in The Situation Room's and Wolf Blitzer misses the obvious.  The interview finally ends.

There was a flood of emails, apparently, and Wolf gets the family back for a follow up interview, "can you explain what the boy meant?"  but by that point the father has had a chance to straighten the kid out.

The conclusion is: The whole thing is a hoax, and Wolf is an idiot.


The other conclusion, if it hasn't already occurred to you it will before you finish reading this sentence, is that Wolf did pick up on it, but let it go anyway.

Here's an analogy, which may seem imperfect, but follow it through.   The analogy is when a coworker walks in on two people who are calling him a jerk.  Rather than confront the coworker, he pretends he didn't hear it.  So now everyone knows he heard it, but everyone is pretending it didn't happen.  It's not fear of the other guy, it's a fear of changing the delicate balance of the work environment.  All he wants is to get through each day, he didn't ask for drama, he didn't ask to get involved in office politics. None of that stuff matters; the goal is to hold your breath, get paid, go home.

So whenever they pass each other in the hall, they're not just civil, they overcompensate.    "What did you do this weekend, anything?"  "Oh, I went down to the bay, my father in law's got a boat."  "Yeah? Do you do any fishing?"  etc.

They both know it's fake; they both know they hate each other.  But if they want to keep working there, if they want the job to get done, then they're both going to have to pretend the thing didn't happen, to play their respective parts.  The show must go on.


While people are saying Wolf missed the obvious, in fact it is evident he did not.  Here's exactly what was said:

Boy: You guys said that we did this for the show.
Wolf: I- I- I  heard what he said-- but I'm not-- it wasn't really clear what was his reasoning why he... he heard you screaming Falcon, Falcon, and I'm sure he heard his mom screaming Falcon, Falcon, but why didn't he come out of the garage at that point?    

What happened is that Wolf was in the middle of a story some people suspected was a hoax, but was still being reported as a "thank god he was hiding in the garage" drama.  So he tried to protect the story.  He tried to pretend he missed the comment so that everyone could go on with the story as it was being told.

If you agree with this, then you have to also face the fact that Wolf didn't consciously plan, "no matter what happens in this interview, I'm going to cover it up"-- it was a reflex, an instinct.  Get a drink, think about this: a reporter's instinct wasn't to go for the truth, but to go with the scripted story.

You may think that I'm too much with the rum or too hard on Wolf-- "he seems like such a nice man" but it's not Wolf's fault.  He's a cog in the Matrix.  The next day Meredith Vieira interviews the family live on the Today show.  While the father is denying to her it was a hoax, the boy suddenly says, "mom, I need a cup" and vomits.  Vierra's response to this is nothing.   Forget about the implications of the boy's vomiting, she does not even acknowledge that he vomited.  Is she heartless?  No.  She's flustered: her instinct is to preserve the show, like a stage actress, keep the scene going no matter what else happens.

Now take your favorite political issue of the past, oh, I don't know, 25 years, think about all you think you know about it, think about where you truly learned it-- don't lie to yourself, go ahead and google the phrases you use in your arguments and see where they came from-- and despair.