Network News Gives Up
posted by Bruce Boyden
With the Daily Show’s writers on strike, you might think it difficult to get entertaining parodies of the poor state of network newscasts — where “in-depth reports” mean the story is 2 whole minutes long — but that’s not necessarily true. The weekend evening newscasts are becoming a pretty good parody of themselves.
Take this example from last night’s ABC World News Sunday, reporting on disabled sprinter Oscar Pistorius’s efforts to be allowed to compete in the 2008 Olympics. One key question is whether Pistorius’s artificial legs give him an “unfair” advantage over able-bodied runners — “unfair” defined plausibly as due to the use of technology during the race. Certainly Pistorius is using technology, but does that actually give him any advantage? When the New York Times looked at that issue 8 months ago, it actually did a step-by-step analysis of how Pistorius’s artificial lower legs compare to having muscles and feet, concluding that Pistorius has to work harder to achieve the same speed in the same amount of time:
Here’s how ABC News does it.
First, “some fear” that sprinters like Pistorius are catching up to able-bodied sprinters, and might “pass them.” (Check out this video at about the 1:15 mark.) How do we know that might happen? Because this PowerPoint graphic shows Pistorius moving ahead of another runner:
Second, allowing Pistorius to compete might mean that eventually we have to allow Steve Austin — the Bionic Man — to compete too. I kid you not:
Did ABC hire Kent Brockman while I wasn’t looking?