Earthquakepocalypse reveals network media's real bias


A brick that fell off of a house once owned by the late Rep. Parren Mitchell, D-Md., sits on a sidewalk after an earthquake was felt in Baltimore, Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2011. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

By Travis Mayfield

We are 24 hours beyond the “END OF HUMANITY AS WE KNOW IT” event that rattled the east coast yesterday.

It was mildly amusing to watch as first Twitter went nuts and then cable news.

However when I saw that all three network newscasts were leading with the earthquake, cracks in my amusement began to show and shaking off indifference from underneath was my annoyance.

Seriously, it was a 5.8? We have those all the time here on the West Coast. Network newscast producers *might* have time for a 30 second voiceover in their evening broadcasts B-block IF someone dies as a result of such a left coast shaker.

My friend Todd Walker is a morning anchor at KTUU-TV in Anchorage Alaska.

"Hey East Coast, the entire West Coast is mocking you right now," tweeted Todd yesterday.

The AP quoted Todd’s tweet in a story titled, “Jaded West Coast chuckles over East Coast quake.”

At least the AP gets it I thought as I went to bed last night fully expecting to wake up to a world that had already returned its attention to Libya and the congressional super committee.

Clearly I was wrong.

This morning driving in to work I switched from our station to an unnamed public radio station (don’t tell my boss).

I listened to breathless team coverage with NPR reporters tossing to each other in round-robin locations up and down the ‘devastated’ East Coast. The coverage more resembled something you’d hear if you turned your back on HLN or Inside Edition than national public radio.

First we heard about the tiny crack that has shuttered the Washington Monument despite the fact that said crack may have been there for decades with no one noticing or caring. Then we were ‘treated’ to a second reporter mourning the damage at the venerable National Cathedral (I had to check online when I got into work to ensure the building hadn’t been flattened like a pancake the way people were moaning. It hadn’t been). And finally we went live to the epicenter of the quake where school girls were crying and some yokel told the nation how her husband’s matchbox car collection was now scattered “across the house.”

Ok fine. We get it. We know. You guys have never been in an earthquake. It was a big deal. It scared you. But it is over. It didn’t do much damage. It is a fact of life out here.

But then the public radio coverage actually got insulting.

After the ridiculous ‘quake-coverage-2011’ 10 minute segment some masterful producer scripted a transition that had the anchor tossing to a report in Japan.

The reporter in that piece calmly described an oceanside town still devastated months after the March 11th earthquake there because they couldn’t access their port. The land around the port itself now floods at least once a day at high tide because the quake actually dropped the land to below sea level.

Now that is an earthquake and that is a news story.

Still thanks to the New York /Washington DC centric network media in this country that story was relegated to fourth fiddle after a hairline crack in a monument and scattered toys.

People have long complained about bias in the media in this country. All my career my answer to that complaint has been the same. The national media is indeed biased in this country. But they aren’t collectively right or left wing in their bias, they are biased because they are lazy. They cover stories that happen to them. They highlight events that happen on the street in front of their studios. If it happens in NYC or DC it is news, but if it happens in Seattle, Minneapolis or Denver the rivers better be clogged with dead bodies or they won’t life an eyebrow. 

The ‘East Coast Death Quake’ (or whatever CNN has dubbed this one with their new theme song and graphic stinger) proves it.

By the way if you haven't seen the '20 stunning photos of the damage caused by the East Coast earthquake' it is a must!

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