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Mud-Raking: News Stations Tout Mudslides That Never Come

Judging by local television news operations, yesterday's rains comprised a state of emergency. For three days all local news stations led with this story: The first rainstorm of the season could cause disastrous mudslides in the foothills below fire-ravaged sections of the Angeles National Forest. Morning, noon, dinnertime and nighttime news hammered the story as reporters on the scene noted the preparations: Sand bags, k-rails, and closed-off streets.

The bad-news onslaught was so over-the-top that even Conan O'Brien had to make fun of the wolf-cry in nightly skits on "The Tonight Show" in which a faux news correspondent sets a measuring stick on the damp ground outside to display the (imperceptible) depth of the flooding (laughs all around).

Conan O'Brien
Conan O'Brien
NBC




We understand the draw of a high-speed pursuit or the death of a celebrity like Michael Jackson, but the weather hype doesn't seem to justify the audience potential. Even if there were mudslides, God forbid, they would affect, what, less than one percent of the residents of Los Angeles County? All the while murders are happening, the Metropolitan Water District is trying to give 20-plus percent raises to its employees, and David Nahai is walking away as chief of the Department of Water and Power with a three-month consulting deal worth more than most cops make.


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