. . . Tuesday August 24, 2004

Foggy Bottom

I live in San Francisco and therefore consider myself to be somewhat of an expert on fog. A recent NY Times article on the Kerry/swiftboat neverending debate begins with the lines:

“There is the fog of war and then there is the fog of cable.

“Over the last few weeks, 24-hour news networks have done little to find out what John Kerry did in Vietnam, but they have provided a different kind of public service: their examination of his war record in Vietnam illustrates once again just how perfunctory and confusing cable news coverage can be. Facts, half-truths and passionately tendentious opinions get tumbled together on screen like laundry in an industrial dryer – without the softeners of fact-checking or reflection.”

Of course there is a critical difference between the fog of war and fog of cable. In war, you want the fog to clear away so that information from the battlefield can get quickly and clearly passed back to commanders who then make and transmit decisions based on that information.

When it comes to cable news (and San Francisco), fog is often caused by a mass of hot air passing over a cold surface (the well-trained mind of the couched viewer). Clarity, on some level, represents the end of the story. You lose the fog and you better figure out something else to fill in the next 23 hours and 59 minutes.

Concentration is important!