Irene came and went. Can we now move on from round-the-clock coverage of deranged weathermen standing in wind and rain just to tell us how windy and rainy it is?
In his latest column out this morning, Howard Kurtz examines the continued media “scaremongering” and explains how television and local officials went overboard:
It was raining in Manhattan on Sunday morning, and the dogged correspondents in their brightly colored windbreakers were getting wet. But the apocalypse that cable television had been trumpeting had failed to materialize. And at 9 a.m., you could almost hear the air come out of the media’s hot-air balloon of constant coverage when Hurricane Irene was downgraded to a tropical storm.
Not everyone was willing to accept this turn of events. When the Weather Channel’s Brian Norcross told MSNBC that forecasters had been expecting the first hurricane to make landfall in New York City since 1893—“and it didn’t happen”—anchor Alex Witt was openly skeptical.
“Really, Brian?” she asked. Hadn’t Irene technically still been a hurricane when it came ashore in New York an hour earlier? “Can’t we still go with that?” No, Norcross said.
With not much to report on the island of Manhattan, the cable news channels switched to places like Long Beach, Long Island, where such correspondents as NBC’s Al Roker and CNN’s John King delivered their wind-whipped reports. “It looks pretty hurricane-ish to me,” Fox anchor Shep Smith said as reporter Jonathan Hunt, British and breathless, showed a hotel parking lot under a foot and a half of water.
Long Beach, it should be noted, is a narrow barrier island three feet above sea level and prone to flooding.