Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano this week announced that she may scrap the color-coded terror alert system. It has become so irrelevant, says a SF Chronicle editorial, that comic Jay Leno joked, “"To give you an idea how sophisticated this system is, today they added a plaid in case we're ever attacked by Scotland.”
When your issue is teed up on late-night TV, you've got a problem. The five colors - ranging from severe-risk red down to no-worries green - never caught on or made much sense… Few people take the wolf-crying seriously.
It would be a surprise if government scraps its system. Government rarely scraps anything. Of course, the color codes were particularly silly. Three days after the government’s plan was announced, I did a show about it and government’s other useless warning systems.
Remember those government-sent warnings that were supposed to replace normal TV programming and tell us what to do in an emergency? They've been annoying us for years: "This is a test of the Emergency Alert System."
Wasn't Sept. 11th an emergency? Yet on Sept. 11th, the government's alarm was silent. It was never used in New York or in Washington, DC. The alarm was not sounded when the federal building in Oklahoma City was bombed, or when the World Trade Center was bombed in 1993. Why wasn't this system used even on Sept. 11? Because the private media were there first. Thank goodness they didn't kick us off the air. Radio and TV stations gave out more information than most government officials even had.
When it comes to getting information to people, the thousands of independent radio and TV stations are much more useful than government bureaucracies.
- Pre-October 2009
This Week's Show -- July 10, 2014
CENSORSHIP AT CBS: Investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson has a similar story. She explains why she left CBS after it became "harder and harder to get stories on television" that criticized this government and "any powers that be."
IS STOSSEL BIASED?: Years ago, journalist Howard Kurtz criticized me for not being objective. I said it's impossible for any journalist to be completely objective. Now that Howard Kurtz is on Fox, we debate again.
THE OBJECTIVITY MYTH: Andrew Kirell of Mediaite.com says, "every journalist has a point of view and they don't just magically check it the minute they walk in the newsroom door."
NEW MEDIA: Reason TV's Remy Munasifi uses music videos and parodies to complain about things like politicians' spending. One of his latest parodies highlights the scandal surrounding the VA hospitals. Munasifi discusses his videos, which have gone viral on YouTube.
RETRO REPORT: It's great there's a new media organization called Retro Report, which reveals media hype of the past ("crack babies," America's landfill "crisis," the "superpredator," etc.) and corrects stories everyone in the media got wrong. I discuss the new show with its executive producer, Kyra Darnton.
REAL OR FAKE?: Sometimes people in the media say things that are so bizarre, you'd think they were made up. Kennedy of The Independents quizzes FoxBusiness.com's Kate Rogers, Fox Business host Charles Payne and me to see if any of us can tell which quotes are real, and which were made up by my staff.
MY TAKE: I used to report on lots of scares. CBS even ran an ad for me where someone called me a "guardian angel."
That's bunk. The only guardian angel is a free and open society. That's what allows innovation, gives people longer lives, and lifts billions out of poverty. But these gradual improvements aren't newsworthy. Scares and disaster make the news.
News is broken not just because we're biased but because most good and important news happens slowly.
9PM ET on Fox Business Network