wow. As in, underwhelmed-type “wow.”
Who would have thought our little corner of the state of Texas would be, sort of, the center of the media universe. At least, it was for a little while yesterday. That proved true as well in the completely ridiculous story of a New York congressman sex-texting his Newt, a sordid tale named appropriately by some in the media for such a political scandal — “Weinergate.”
“Oh I wish I weren’t a Congressman Anthony Weiner, that is what I truly wouldn’t be-e-e,
cause if I were a Congressman Anthony Weiner everyone would say WTF? to me. Another verse, with more gusto …”
Or something like that.
I have lost faith, interest, whatever you lose with a newspaper, with my hometown newspaper, “The Beaumont Enterprise.” The Hearst Newspaper product has a storied history, or a history of stories, at least. It still has a couple of good writers. But I think the Internet has turned the paper into something much less than it was and considerably less than what it could be, sorry but I couldn’t end with a preposition.
Call it psychic misfire or where one story ends and the other begins, I did buy today’s Enterprise in a store. Buying one these days is indeed a rarity even though it is a time this former reporter should be supporting newspapers. The Internet has ruined the Enterprise in more ways than one. I will not go deeply but anyone with a knowledge of newspaper newsrooms these days could easily figure out what is wrong with the my local paper.
Still, “Mass grave hysteria,” today’s below-the-fold story kind of sums up what is wrong with news today. That is even though the headline refers to the story about a psychic who managed to get scores of cops and media types, complete with their sat trucks and helicopters, out into the Big Thicket yesterday.
A lot of weird stuff happens in “The Thicket,” which refers both to a region which is both a botanical crossroads of the contiguous United States and a federal preserve under the control of the National Park Service. There, is this little lane through the woods known as “Bragg Road” which has drawn teens and curiosity seekers for decades to see the mysterious lights that seem to look different to each who catches a glimpse. Some say it is swamp gas. Others say it the spirit of a railroad man who worked on nearby rails. Depending on who tells the story, the railroader lost his hand while hitching together some rail cars and the ghost now walks around carrying his railroad lantern looking for that missing glove-holder.
So the story that sort of did, sort of didn’t, happen yesterday is not a real classic Big Thicket story though one day, with much telling and mis-telling, it may so become.
What happened is Liberty County authorities, where this psychic non-drama took place, got a call from a woman claiming to be a psychic. She reportedly was from the Texas Panhandle but was calling from a Austin-area telephone. That sounds kind of like the wonderful introduction the classic live version of the Waylon Jennings tune, “Bob Wills Is Still the King:”
That sounded kind of freaky back in the 70s, but not today to anyone who flies American Airlines in Texas.
The psychic conjured up a horrible scenario of chopped up kiddies with plenty of blood and gore told with just enough of the right details to make local authorities take notice.
As is the case when anything more than a 10-96 goes down in these parts, all the area authorities like to join in, those such as the Texas Rangers, the FBI, Gator 911, the Hardin-Jefferson Screaming Hawks High School Band, the Coast Guard, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, and the formidable Beaumont ISD Police Department.
And great googly moogly, when you’ve got that many cops in one place, you know who is going to show up don’t you? That’s right. The Dunkin’ Donut Mobile Rescue Corps. No, the news media. This event/non event taking place right in the epicenter of a couple of small news markets such as Huntsville, Lufkin and Beaumont, and a large one, namely Houston, plus the national guys such as CNN out of Dallas, brings in mucho media.
Search did the police. They found some rotting meat in a malfunctioning freezer. On a really, really hot Texas day. Jeez, those police deserve a bonus for that. They also found some blood which the owner, reportedly a long-haul trucker who was on the road and was quite surprised to hear a national “happenin'” was going down at his place, said came from a botched suicide attempt. The botchee, was allegedly the landlord’s daughter’s ex boyfriend who was stationed at Fort Hood. Although I do not encourage suicide, I can see why the soldier tried, since he was stationed at Fort Hood.
But the cops found no chopped up bodies of kids or anything else.
Meanwhile, “Naughty politician sexted LU student,” the Enterprise head read, “LU” referring to local Lamar University. Yes, a local 26-year-old was getting nastygrams from Anthony Weiner. The young lady went on Sean Hannity’s show and reportedly — I don’t watch Hannity — gave a very grown-up account of the … whatever it is. ABC reportedly paid a very grown-up amount between $10,000 and $15,000 for an interview with our local 15 minutes of fame celeb Meagan Broussard. I sound snarky, but I could do a lot with $15,000, so I will be less than judgmental.
I close this media-rich episode with a message that just came up at the bottom of my blog saying: “You do not have permission to do that.”
Everywhere you have a critic.