Why Do Elliot Spitzer and Eve Carson Dominate the News?

Elliott Spitzer and Eve Carson have dominated national news coverage for the past few days. Do you think it's healthy that two attractive people--and very unfortunate events in their lives (or deaths)--take up nearly twenty percent of the news cycle--while hundreds of other news stories go unreported? I don't think so. It seems a bit voyeuristic to me.

Elliott Spitzer is a fallen celebrity, and Eve Carson was a very successful, very attractive woman. Let's respect both of them--and ourselves--by leaving them and their families alone.

Stories should dominate the national news according to their national importance. I know--it hasn't been that way for a long time. But the current news cycle goes to emphasize the point that outlets like CNN and Fox News think you're more interested in the murder of Eve Carson and the adulterous antics of Elliott Spitzer than you are about the failing US economy, Iraq, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and the Presidential Election.

Are you? If so, why?

Elliott Spitzer is a dirty old man, and it appears that he's been so for quite some time. But why do I care? He's not even a governor, for crying out loud. (I cared when the President of my Country was a dirty old man, and was glad that he was impeached, although the Senate didn't have the courage to remove him from office.) To my dismay, I know a lot more about Spitzer than I think anyone should ever have to know. Now that the destruction of his family is nearly complete, we get to be further entertained by learning the equally "important" "news" of some of the lovely ladies that he's been consorting with.

Spitzer did something that was egregiously stupid, but how about let's just leave him alone--so I can get back to reading my current issue of People magazine, huh?
. . .

According to Wiki Answers, there are about 45 murders per day in the United States. I'm not sure if this is accurate, but let's take for instance that it is. Eve Carson was murdered about seven days ago. Using these statistics, about 300 murders have occurred since Eve Carson was murdered, but how many of these murders have been in the news. Answer: one.

Why?

Because she's pretty. Because she was successful. How does that make the families feel of the rest of those who have been murdered in the last week?

To add to the irony, try a Google search for the name "Abhijit Mahato". Who's that, you say? He's the young man from India that was admittedly murdered by the same guy who took Eve Carson's life. Interestingly, aside from a handful of local reports at the time of Mahato's death, the only way you can find out about it is because of Eve Carson's murder. How is this fair and respectful news reporting?

. . .

Is Eve Carson's story newsworthy? Yes. For about an hour. Is Elliott Spitzer's story newsworthy? Possibly. But for much less than an hour. And these stories have been going on for days!!!

Many news outlets have a predilection for pretty people and either their pretty or salacious stories. In the meantime, a great deal of what is genuinely important in our world goes virtually unnoticed. Very likely it's because most of us prefer the comfort of bread and circuses to anything substantial.




Comments

  1. Amen. It's getting downright laughable these days to see what passes as the top news story on various MSM websites.

    Missed you at the blogger breakfast thing yesterday. Next month we get to grill the Attorney General. :)

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  2. Amen Frank.

    And CNN is also running stories about his favorite girl. Why are we giving her free advertising? I didn't even know who Elliot spitzer was until he got busted. Now I see him when I go to sleep. Where I work they just installed TV's all over our office that they use half of the day to display office-related content but the rest of the day it's Closed captioned CNN. And to make things worse it's right in front of my desk.

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  3. "Why Do Elliot Spitzer and Eve Carson Dominate the News?"

    Because we pay attention - that's a pretty sad statement about our culture.

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  4. Connor,

    I was sorry I had to miss. The Lt Gov was very informative last month. I plan to be to the blogger briefing in April!

    I was in the fitness center of my Las Vegas hotel (computer conference, no gambling or cabarets!!!) one night last week, and--no lie--CNN talked about nothing but Spitzer for 1 and a half hours.

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  5. Fabulous post Frank. The ridiculization (new word) of news has become so pervasive that I don't even notice unless I really think about it. I just expect some celebrity thing or scandal to be on the fron page.

    I especially liked the thought that it would be much more respectful and newsworthy to let the Carsons grieve in peace. And how the other guy killed is only a footnote to the other, more newsworthy murder.

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  6. I spoke at a luncheon today about my military service in Iraq, and several people wanted my perspective on why the news doesn't report the good things that are happening there. I think it is for the same reason that Spitzer and Carson headlined for so long--most people demand the salacious and the negative.

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  7. Another part of the reason Eve Carson was in the news so much was because of the specific way she was 'successful' - she was the student body president of a major state university. As such, she stands for a wider population in the way other people (whose lives are also very valuable) may not be. In the context of things like a society in fear of terrorist acts (that intentionally target well-known people/things in order to get coverage), university shootings (Virginia Tech, Northern Illinois), and even the SUV incident at UNC with Mohammed Taheri-azar a few years ago, the death of a public person gets attributed with meanings and emotions in a particular way.

    That being said, I agree that the difference in coverage between her murder and Abhijit Mahato is atrocious and painful and stood out for me too. For me, that feeling exists simultaneously with the knowledge that the death of Eve Carson 'feels different' than other (student) deaths may because of the symbolic nature of her role (and the strange way the events around her murder played out). Not more or less important, but noticeably different, and perhaps different in a way that partly describes the media attention. But only partly, and I had the fortune of missing most of the media circus around it....

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  8. I grew up with Eve. She was as beautiful on the inside as she was on the outside. I don't think its fair by saying she just got on the news because of her looks. She was student body president, certainly that means something. It is so tragic that her life ended like this. She had so much ahead of her. I know she would have made a difference in the world. Its unfortunate this is the way she "dominated" the news.

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  9. Anonymous,

    I don't mean to denigrate Eve Carson by this article. It was a sad and senseless death.

    I'm just saying that all such deaths are sad and senseless. None are more important than others.

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  10. I think you folks may have missed this one. I live about a mile from the UNC campus and when I first heard about the person found shot on Wednesday morning March 5th right outside of the UNC campus border I was initially concerned selfishly because of the proximity to my own home and the safety of my wife and two children. I also thought ok… so a person was killed off campus and she was attractive and the student body president - that is sad and a horrible crime but horrible things are happening everyday in this world. Over the coming weeks as I was learned more about Eve Carson the person I was educated to the fact that she really may have been more than just your “typical” overachieving college student. My understanding through the articles that I have read and the folks I’ve spoke with seem to solidify the fact that she directed her life in a accomplished but more importantly giving and inclusive manner not usually seen in folks this young. Is her death more important than Abhijit Mahato from Duke University - of course not but I do think that because she was a young, attractive female many people immediately assumed this was the only reason for the amount of media attention she received and for the majority of it your probably right. But the real kicker is that through all that noise many never took the time or will take the time to figure out if that’s all there was. I probably would have done the same thing if not for proximity of my home. Let me share some information that I have found into this note that will explain Eve’s development and qualities much better than I can. Pete McCommons who is the editor of Flagpole a local Athens Ga. publication where Eve was reared wrote:

    The Kid Next Door
    Eve Carson lived so fully and intensely that her death illuminates like an X-ray the infrastructure that encompassed her: the family who loved and guided her, surrounded by the neighborhood that provided an extended family, the friendships reaching all over town, the schools that taught her and learned from her; the teachers who delighted in her. Nurtured and taught as she was, profiting from her immersion in this familiar world, she left home with such a force of energy and personality that she could replicate this structure at a distant college, capturing its heart and personifying its spirit.
    Those circles of supportive people wonder and grieve and will forever mourn the loss of their golden girl, who got life right: who grew into a perfect storm of intelligence, ability, dedication, hard work, happiness and selfless regard for other people.
    Eve personified the neighborhood where she grew up. Cobbham is a well-to-do in-town white area, but it is no gated enclave. Cobbham is a community of curious, loquacious, energetic extraverts who live close together but call all Athens home, who count on one another for friendship, babysitting, front-porch visits and news, with children playing on the lawn. But they work all over town in the civic, business, educational and cultural life of their city, volunteering their evenings and weekends to help other people get by or to get somebody elected to improve local government.
    Cobbham, though distinct in its own personality, is in many ways typical of the neighborhoods of Athens that make our town a special place to live - neighborhoods characterized by close-knit relations but turned outward to the larger community, involved in it and working to improve the whole town.
    Reared in such a milieu by her smart, tough, caring family with their own traditions of hard work and community service, Eve Carson was a natural. She excelled in school, she made friends easily, she looked out for other people: she lived as she was shown by example how life should be lived. We are all richer for her life, and we are all poorer for its end.
    Our town has been wracked, lately and always, by the deaths of beloved and promising young men and women - by accident, sickness, suicide, drugs, war, murder. These young deaths rock our community like bomb blasts, the closer in family and friendship the greater the devastation. Their loss leaves emptiness that cannot be filled, sadness that sits continuously in the hearts of those who love them.
    Now death has come to Eve Carson and to Athens. We cannot comprehend how this has happened, how violent murder could strike so suddenly one so fully engaged in living. With time will come a longer view, a grasp that her life, though short, was fulfilled. We will come to be reminded that the truism is true: that the quality of life is what counts and that we all should live as she did, filling each day to the fullest, living life in each moment, regardless of its extent.
    Thus are Eve and her friends and compatriots and peers our inspiration in the present and our hope for the future.
    "The greatest generation?" Eve's father Bob Carson said, standing surrounded by loving, grieving friends and neighbors. "It's not their grandfathers. It's these kids. They're the greatest generation. We've got some messes to clean up, and they're the ones who can do it, who will do it."
    __________________________________

    This is what her father wrote for her memorial:

    __________________________________

    “I’ve always cherished the look Eve greeted me with as I held her in the delivery room. She was wide awake, and she sweetly peered right into my eyes with such pleasure … as if saying thanks and "I’m so glad to be here now dad." A specialist would say it was a reaction to the newness or just being unadjusted to the hospital birthing room, but please believe me, something was just a touch different about Eve from birth.
    Every parent knows how special their child can be. We know from our own lives that growth and growing up are best continued over a lifetime. But there seems to be a moment early on, when a parent can look at their child and know that they’ve got the building blocks and the character for a good life. I feel blessed because I had that moment with both of my loving children at early ages. I call it my Papua New Guinea moment … when, should your child be lost upon a distant shore and even in a different culture, that child would grow up into a fine, helpful, caring person.
    The senseless murder of my sweet, sweet Eve is sadness defined, unfathomable and bottomless, but so appreciatively interrupted by each friend or family member who shares our grief.
    Yesterday, a red-tailed hawk glided effortlessly close to my car as I drove from my mother’s home. It touched more deeply than normal. To me, these moments with nature represent a circle of everlasting life, but so also, do the friends of Eve and Andrew ... and the babies of relatives and neighbors and friends.
    The irony of Eve’s murder is that she, along with these blessed friends and fellow students, are the ones who can solve the most pressing problems of this time. Please don’t attribute this to hyperbole or relate it to a father’s sadness. I see a stunningly beautiful convergence of talent and caring in this, our children’s, generation. It is the most fantastic realization.
    I believe that these kids, along with their peers around the globe, can reach reasoned solutions for mitigating violence and tackling many of the inequities of poverty, prejudice, inadequate health care and under-education. This is no pie-in-the-sky wish! These kids are smart! They’re so capable.
    They’re more productive because they collaborate and communicate like no generation before them. And what is even more wonderful is their generosity. Isn’t that tremendous?
    There are needs now, and there are reasons for and solutions to those needs. Those dilemmas that keep getting shuffled along by our generation will gain solutions from the student sitting near you, your friends’ sons and daughters, or the young mentored student from another place.
    But I must tell you — even with an aching heart, and yet with such hope and love — that the friends of Eve, and their generation, will not be denied. They’ve got miles to go, and missions to keep, and we will be so much better for their undaunted perseverance!
    May God bless each one of you.

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  11. The other thing that's interesting to me is that whenever someone like Eve Carson dies tragically, by way of homicide, people like you always 'come out of the woodwork' to smugly criticize 'the media' regarding the subsequent news coverage. Every time: 'why is the media so concerned about her, and not some other murder victim'?, etc. etc. Every time: she's 'white', or 'pretty', or 'blonde', and that must be the only reason. People like you always act as if a death like hers shouldn't be covered simply because she is attractive. It's not ridiculous to cover these two stories. Spitzer was the governor of New York. Carson was the student body president of UNC. Carson's death is not being covered because she was blonde or pretty. She was the student body president of a major university.

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  12. The original question is lame. Eliot and Eve are newsworthy because one is gov. of one of the most populous states and the other held the highest elected position at one of the largest student bodies in the U.S. (30,000 students!). Also both resonate with people. In Eve's case, we see the fundamental problem of good Vs. evil. In Eliot's we see the fundamental "power corrupts" syndrome. I'm not a supporter of how big media has turned "news" into entertainment to sell ads. However, if murdering a Chapel Hill student body president for no reason and/or a gov.'s hyprocrisy ever become shrugged off as non-news, civilization has lost.

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  13. Anonymous (a couple of anonymouses, actually):

    You say that my premise is lame and then you go on to say why Spitzer and Carson's stories are newsworthy. You would do better to dispute my original premise.

    I never said that their stories were not newsworthy. They are. I simply said that they are not worthy of being the focus of nearly one fifth of the news cycle day after day after day.

    Everyone heard their stories and everyone felt saddened at their respective plights. But when, instead of no new news being given about Spitzer and Carson, the same stories are regurgitated for days on end when other equally saddening events go unmentioned, it's difficult to maintain sympathy for their poignant plights.

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