The News Monday: Shock, Then Fear, Then Sadness, Then Healing in America Nightly Network News Review


These are the worst nights to critique the US national TV network news programs, those being ABC World News Tonight, CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News.

I’ve only been writing this Network News Recap blog for a few months, but I’ve watched the nightly news as long as I can remember, and even worked on a local Chicago nightly news program, so I have this feeling about what’s coming.

Network news usually does shock first, then fear comes, and next is grief, followed by healing.

Friday, the shock was thick. As we’ve had a weekend, they’re likely to move from fear into sadness tonight.

ABC warns us that they’re in fear and sadness mode by playing their new theme music slowed down. Apparently, when they contracted the new theme music, they got a whole array of versions depending on the news event.

I would love to hear the entire ABC World News Tonight soundtrack. I wonder if the theme they have for when our alien overlords overwhelm us sounds like Kraftwerk?

ABC reporter Dan Harris tells us some parents in Newtown won’t let their kids out of their sight tonight. Either that entire town is in a state of fear or Harris is. I’m really not sure.

Fear is still driving this story. Fear tells us that the only answers are getting rid of the guns because they frighten us, or getting more protection because guns frighten us.

These are also the only two arguments our only two political parties will make, so that’s the news.

The entire massacre will be framed as, more guns or more metal detectors: America, You Decide!

CBS has a woman saying the community’s “devastated.”

On NBC, the people they interview on the street are “upset,” and say this is “heart-wrenching.”

Next, ABC has schools everywhere on “lockdown drills,” while CBS talks about “armed guards.”

Nobody mentions the security system Sandy Hook Elementary School had — and how the killer blasted his way through it.

ABC has investigative reporter Brian Ross digging deep only to find out that the shooter’s mother was a regular at a bar, that the kid was crazy and would never look up at anyone, that the mom home-schooled him, and they somehow know the kid was impervious to pain.

Next, all of the networks simultaneously go to segments where they reconsider America’s gun laws.

The networks do other news — CBS on fiscal cliff, NBC does something on the Moon, and ABC says Hillary passed out and hit her head — but they all get back to the Newtown massacre.

None of the other news they report matters.

Sure, they could have reported the wave of bombings in Iraq, or how Palestinian refugees now have to flee Syria (as Syria’s former VP says there will be no winner in a civil war), or the protests in Egypt or Bahrain, or the “unpardonable crime” that was the deadly garment factory fire, or Fiji’s cyclone …

CBS comes back early with a scary story of a Newtown witness who’s told by a first responder “not to look.” It’s frightening to think what he didn’t want her to see.

But that’s the last of shock and fear.

Sorrow will be next.

But first, they tease the next stage past sorrow: the healing stage … NBC has a woman praising the local “support” … coming up on ABC, “It’s the small gestures that make the difference” … it’s Newtown’s ‘true grit” according to anchor Diane Sawyer … the word “hero” is floating around on every network …

It’s just a tease for tomorrow.

Tonight, we move from fear to sadness, as the ABC opening theme warned us earlier.

Like the slowed theme at the beginning of tonight’s broadcast, ABC does slow zooms on stills of the now-dead children.

CBS does the same but — inspired by Obama’s reading of the dead last night — they read the names of each kid as the still flies at our faces.

While ABC and CBS burns the images of dead kids into our subconscious so we can have nightmares about them tonight, NBC talks comfort dogs.

Apparently, there’s these people who come to disasters and they bring their super-friendly Golden Retrievers. Then, everybody feels better because they get to pet these incredibly tolerant dogs.

After these people and their dogs hang out for like a week, they leave.

Yup, they leave.

These people fly into disaster areas and allow victims to pet their lovable dogs for a week or so and then they leave.

Is there anybody else who finds this to be a complete waste of energy, resources and time?

If you asked the families of the Newtown massacre victims what they need most, what do you think they would say? Now, where on that list do you think you would find ‘temporary access to a lovable dog for petting purposes only’?

My guess is, it doesn’t crack the top 25.

But it doesn’t matter. It’s not the people of Newtown who are miraculously healing in only a bit over three days since the unbelievable murders, it’s the media that’s recovering from this news story.

Shock, fear, sorrow, healing and then the networks will move on.

They’ll move on like they’ve moved on from all these.