Henry Rollins: The News Cycle Madness of Malaysia Flight 370
[Look for your weekly fix from the one and only Henry Rollins right here on West Coast Sound every Thursday, and come back tomorrow for the awesomely annotated playlist for his Saturday KCRW broadcast.]
When I read that Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 had disappeared - a state-of-the-art Boeing 777, said to be an incredibly safe way to travel - I waited patiently for the chance to learn what happened. As days passed with no answers, I became fascinated with the speculation being cast forth by news pundits and radio personalities, but even more so by the almost substance-free bits of information coming from Malaysia and the other countries that were in some way involved.
Information coming from any government source seemed almost purposefully opaque. I thought that it was perhaps to provide some cover as they were doing the real work of tracking down an extremist group or protecting Boeing and Air Malaysia from the wrath of the relatives of the 239 people on board.
Whenever something happens that can be considered a world event, I pay close attention to how it is being spun, rendered and utilized. One person's disaster is another person's talking point. The pundits wasted no time.
Some said that for the friends and families of those on board MH370, this was their own private Benghazi. The flight's disappearance was linked to President Obama's many alleged shortcomings and small posture on the world stage. It's just talk, and I say let them talk. It doesn't get anyone anywhere, but it is amusing to listen to.
My favorite bit of speculative, turn-the-crank, sausage-making bullshit came from Fox News model Bill Hemmer on March 19, when he asked a former FAA spokesperson, "So, what, it took us 100 years to find the Titanic? It took us 2,000 years to find Noah's Ark. Do we ever find flight 370?"
Took 2,000 years but I guess we did indeed find Noah's Ark, so give us a few centuries and perhaps we can find an enormous plane with a cutting-edge communications system.
I heard Sean Hannity getting aroused when his guest, retired General Thomas McInerney, put forth his theory that MH370 was hijacked and had landed somewhere. The general said he has sources. He can't elaborate but you better believe him. I mean, look who he's on with - this has to be the real deal.
Sean, who always looks like he's missing out on the minimum amount of oxygen required to sustain normal brain function, is an emotional guy and, while never a member of the military, is incredibly turned on by its awesome power. I declare, generals make him pause!
Said Sean unto Thomas:
"You know, I know you as such a serious person. You make such a compelling case. You make me pause every time I talk to you, General. You turn the transponder off. You turn - I'm looking at the timeline now. ACARS is off. Then we've got the computer manually. We've got the flight - a new flight path put in. And then we say, 'Good night.' That doesn't fit. That doesn't fit."
Oh, Sean, you're the one being so serious. You just need to lube up, relax, and it will slide right in. I bet he doesn't know what the fuck he's talking about.
CNN's weirdo Don Lemon wondered out loud to Brad Meltzer, "People are saying to me, why aren't you talking about the possibility - and I'm just putting it out there - that something odd happened to this plane, something beyond our understanding?"
Try to imagine just how much is beyond his understanding.
It is this kind of bullshit that made it clear no one was saying anything that could be taken seriously.
Day after day, a huge commercial jet is somewhere in the world and there's no information, just endless hours of half-baked prattle. These people are just getting paid.
I stopped listening and wondered if at any point there would be some real news.
Then, on March 24, Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak issued a statement that was so vague and devoid of empathy or hard information, it was just plain cruel. Apparently, relatives of the passengers were sent the following by text message:
"This evening I was briefed by representatives from the U.K. Air Accidents Investigation Branch.
"They informed me that Inmarsat, the U.K. company that provided the satellite data which indicated the northern and southern corridors, has been performing further calculations on the data.
"Using a type of analysis never before used in an investigation of this sort, they have been able to shed more light on MH370's flight path.
"Based on their new analysis, Inmarsat and the AAIB have concluded that MH370 flew along the southern corridor, and that its last position was in the middle of the Indian Ocean, west of Perth.
"This is a remote location, far from any possible landing sites.
"It is therefore with deep sadness and regret that I must inform you that, according to this new data, flight MH370 ended in the southern Indian Ocean."
Can you imagine, after all the days of sickened wondering and ceaseless misery endured by the families, that this is what they got?
Until evidence of the plane's existence is made indisputably clear, the only thing I believe is the sadness of those who lost.
Members of the media: I guess they can't help themselves. They get something like this and to them, it's just a beater car they can take for a news cycle joyride. It is incredibly gutless of them, and every news outlet seemed to do it. With hardly any solid information, they willfully constructed a parallel universe of Islam-bashing, Obama-hating, time-padding speculative crap.
Instead of going to the front door of those who could potentially shed some light on what happened, like Boeing or Rolls-Royce (maker of the plane's engines), or directing questions to the governments of any and all countries whose airspace MH370 might have flown through, you find out that it took 2,000 years to find Noah's Ark or, hey, all this just might be beyond your understanding.
More and more, journalism seems to have hopped out of Truth's pocket and crept into another. You are left to wonder.
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