All this getting blown around needlessly cheapens the very much worth it risks that journalists take every day to report news we couldn’t get any other way.
Watching cable coverage of Hurricane Irma was kind of like watching one of those Survivor-type reality shows where the contestants eat bugs and crawl through mud, or maybe the other way around, for our viewing pleasure.
In one live shot after another, rained on reporters were tossed around by the wind, worrying aloud about flying street lamp covers, and telling viewers in the path of the storm not to even think of trying this at home.
The low point of this display may have come when CNN’s Sara Sidner, live from Daytona Beach, Fla., told anchor Don Lemon, “I am not a small woman; as you know, Don, I’m a chunky girl, and it’s blowing me around when the gusts come really really hard, so this is nothing to play around with.”
“You are a beautiful woman, no matter what size you are,’’ Lemon reassured her, in much the same way contestants on Big Brother or Project Runway customarily overdo it in bucking up a rival. “And there’s nothing wrong with having a little curve.”
Chunkiness aside, however, there is something wrong with this whole spectacle.
Reporters have been lashing themselves to trees to show how hard the wind is blowing since a young Dan Rather covered Hurricane Carla that way from Galveston, Texas, in 1961. I’ve taken some chances that weren’t strictly necessary in covering natural disasters, too, like that time in San Salvador when I crawled underneath a five-story building that had been flattened in an earthquake, with a rescue worker known for his ability to slip into spaces others couldn’t.
I nearly got trapped under there myself in an aftershock, and worst of all, when we did make it out, I didn’t even get to write about what I had seen in the wreckage. The editors hadn’t been expecting the story, they said, and so hadn’t saved any space for it. (And how embarrassing would that have been, dying for a piece my newspaper didn’t even want?)
Yet at a time when President Trump casts journalists as “sick…