Samurai Dave: The Roving Ronin Report

Rambling Narrative of Travels, Thoughts, and Embellishments

Remembering the Scandals of the 90s or why I lost respect for the Media

A look back at the newsworthy items that American media pumped out to the masses
Coming from America, a country that is at one point news-obsessed with countless news programs on TV, newspapers, and magazines available and yet at the same time often oddly unaware of what is going on in the world, I’m used to having the news media giants dictate what is newsworthy and what isn’t. Prior to the 90s, I had little reason to question the media’s competency and objectivity. The media still seemed to possess some element of aloof professionalism. Of course, I was horribly young at the time and easily influenced.It had to be the Buttifuco scandal in the early 90s that first shook my faith in the professional media. A New England tart decided her boyfriend, a man twice her age, was worth keeping to the point of shooting his wife point blank in the head. Her aim was not as true as her love apparently as the wife survived as the story hit nationwide. For some reason this was worthy of national news. But it wasn’t just one blurb on the nightly news – spoken and soon forgotten – it became an obsession of the nation fueled by numerous follow-up reports.

Amy Fisher’s Mugshot
2006 Wikipedia

Shortly after came the infamous Bobbitt case where a young wife tired of her husband’s cheating ways, decided to releive him of his pride and joy while he slept. The conscequences of her actions rode a slurpee cup to the operation room and into the living rooms of millions of Americans. What should have been tabloid fodder became food for thought for the professional media to ponder over.

John Wayne Bobbitt briefly became an Adult Film Star after his brush with a kitchen knife
2006 Wikipedia

When that began to die off yet another scandal arose – the Nancy Kerrigan/Tonya Harding Olympic figure ice skating fiasco where Ms. Harding had decided to even the odds in her favor with a crowbar to Kerrigan’s legs. This newsworthy item dragged on to its bitter end with Ms. Harding crying pitifully to the judges over a skate whose lacing had come undone.

Tonya Harding cries over loose laces as many Americans shake heads in disgust
2006 Wikipedia

Then came the be-all grandest scandal that shook the media world to its knees. Not Somalia, not the Yugoslavia War, it was the (cue trumpets and drums) the OJ Simpson scandal – undoubtably the grandest of all scandals that dragged on and on and on and on like some B-grade horror monster that refuses to die no matter what.

When OJ Simpson’s white ford bronco hit the LA streets one warm summer evening, media moguls must have shed a tear of gratitude as their fingers speed-dialed their news offices.

OJ Simpson’s white Ford Bronco leads the LAPD on a slow chase
2006 internet

By that time I had reached a point of utter disgust and distrust of the so-called professional media. Gone seemed to be the days of the likes of Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite. “This is what the public wants!” was often the defense for the coverage of these stories. Perhaps, but is it what the public needs from the professional media? Let the tabloids print the tabloids.

The Jerry Springer Show
The True Media Circus without the Pretension
The Ringmaster: Jerry Springer
Wikipedia

For the astute followers of American pop-culture, they are no doubt aware that the controversial talk show: “The Springer Show,” came about in the midst of these scandals. The Springer Show hosted by former mayor of Cinnicinata, Jerry Springer, allowed trailer trash, ghetto garbage, flashing exhibitionists and theirl like to debate their differences, ie swing fists and chairs at one another while the audience chanted “Jerry! Jerry!”

Jerry Springer gave the public what it wanted but he never made the pretense that his show was anything other than a type of public circus. In the face of critics, he has even said his show is dumb. Therein, I think, lies the difference between his show and the professional media especially in regards to their coverage of similar topics. / David M Weber

The icing on the proverbial cake had to be the Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky affair that followed in the wake of the OJ trial. The theater of the absurd was in full swing as an American President was nearly impeached over a completely overblown non-issue. And the professional media was there to discuss the finer details of Presidential deposits on intern dresses.

Monica Lewinsky gets a hug from President Clinton
2006 Wikipedia

Finally at the end of a long decade of tabloid scandals which were given more media attention than was possibly needed, came the debacle of the 2000 Presidential election coverage. Here was an actual newsworthy event and they bungled it royally. Before all the votes were in, FoxNews declared current President Bush the winner. Many of the other media sources fell in line save a brave few. This premature call just caused more confusion in the months that followed as the results were being sorted out.

6 years, two wars, and thousands of dead later, one wonders how different the world might have been if the professional media had just done its job and not jumped the gun so quickly.

For these reasons whenever criticism is leveled at citizen journalism, I just roll my eyes and think just how objective and professional the professional media has been in my country over the last 15 years or so as they chased one tabloid story after another. Thanks to such indepth coverage, Americans knew more about the dresses the prosecutor wore at OJ Simpson’s murder trial than they did about Rwanda and Yugoslavia.

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August 6, 2006 Posted by | 1990s, Amy Fisher, Blogroll, Bobbit, Clinton, media, Monica Lewinsky, OJ Simpson, politics, scandals, Tonya Harding, TV, Uncategorized | 9 Comments