Despite the fact that the shooting in Arizona was caused by a mentally ill person, the spin was followed by a week of Sarah Palin bashing.

With the State of the Union address, it’s calmed down a bit, but nevertheless Time Magazine decided it was important news to complain that Sarah Palin put the flag on the wrong side when she gave her speech.

Apparently they didn’t get the memo from the WaPost to ignore her.

And the mud throwing seems to have “worked”: today Google news has 580 news stories telling us that Sarah is out, and Michele Bachman is in.

All of this made me angry, not only because the hammering of Palin and the right was overboard and political in nature, but because a lot of it seemed to be due to the “Heather’s factor”, a problem that I noted back in 2009.

until the “Heather” factor of media bias is eliminated, I guess we will hear more about Palin’s nail polish than her position on the Alaska pipeline, more about Sotomeyer being a “Latina” with big hair than the quality of her judicial decisions, and more about Michelle’s wardrobe than about her achievements.

Of course, I probably should be more “sensitive” to those who got hysterical from all the spin: I probably lost a “friend” from Facebook  because after four days of her and her friends posting four days of continuous Palin bashing and right wing hatred on her facebook page (threads that continued  for several days after most news reports acknowledged that mental illness, not politics, was the cause of the shooting)  I posted: stop the whining about such trivia, there are a million homeless here due to floods in the Philippines, and we scarcely get coverage on the US news.

Whoops. One of the commenter “knew” one of the victims, and blasted me. I guess I should have been more “sensitive”, but hey, just because an acquaintance is killed doesn’t mean that you have the right to blame an innocent party of murder, especially after evidence of their innocence is fairly well established.

Of course, this lady promptly went off and told me how insensitive I was to her pain, and I just never had lived through anything like that.

Except I had.

I knew half of those killed in the Red Lake School shooting, but I didn’t blame Bush for the kid’s mental illness, even though the chronic underfunding of the IHS (Indian Health Service) may have contributed to the failure to get his psychotic depression diagnosed and properly treated.

Such cases need to be covered, but the press needs to remember their hysterical coverage can cause harm to the innocent.

The press knew that blaming Muslims for the Fort Hood massacres could inflame the public against Islam, so they properly kept the discussion down to a civil level, noting the killer’s personal problems, not his religion, were probably behind the murders.

Another reason to avoid such partisan hysteria is the copycat problem: extreme coverage will merely encourage more mentally ill people to do copycat crimes.

For example, the Red Lake Shooter probably was inspired to kill by all the publicity over previous school shootings.

But there is another problem with the over-hysterical coverage: by filling the airways with nonsense, it is allowing the American public to be unaware of what is going on in the rest of the world.

Floods here in the Philippines hit the death toll of 75, a million and a half people were displaced, and a lot of their winter crop was destroyed, so local authorities expect hunger if they can’t replant it quickly.

Were you aware of that?

And remember Pakistan;s floods a few months ago? lots of folks still homeless, and THEIR loss of crops is starting to show in malnourished children.

And the LaNina floods haven’t just hit the Philippines:there have been floods in Brazil, Queensland (Australia), Colombia,  South Africa, and Sri Lanka.

And it’s even flooding in Jeddah…(Saudi).

Have you read or listened to any stories on these tragedies?

There is also a referendum going in in Sudan that has implications for peace or war in that war torn region, and the only reason it is getting any publicity at all on CNN is because George Clooney had the guts to go on the news and talk about it. Which says a lot about the way certain cable networks view the world. Thank God we have the BBC here as our main source of news, or I wouldn’t know anything.

So while too many in the press were busy using the Tucson shooting to destroy Sarah Palin, you, their readers and viewers,  are missing the story of real, genuine tragedies that are hurting people, and who desperately need publicity to inspire donations to help them.

As for the Tuscon shooting, to paraphrase Lloyd Bentson: I know about political shootings, and Senator, this was not a political shooting.

Remind me someday (maybe after the conviction…there are strict libel laws here in the Philippines) to write about how my nephew was killed in the crossfire when one local politician sent thugs to wipe out a rival politician and his entire family.

That murder didn’t even get a peep in the Chicago papers, or much help from the US embassy to pressure the government to find the killers or those who paid them, even though my nephew was a Chicago resident for years before retiring and a US citizen.

Guess Ito, who was just an ordinary doc, didn’t count because he was not a celebrity with a pretty face.


Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. She blogs at Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket.

Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines

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