Breaking News—Later Today at 3 PM!

We were amused to see StarTribune.com, along with virtually
every other online news outlet in the country, trot out the “Breaking
News!” banner yesterday for the Scott Peterson trial, whatever that
was. In an effort to string this along, first the big news was that the
jury had reached a decision. Then, a few minutes later: Verdict to be
announced later this afternoon! The appointed hour arrived. Scott
Peterson receives the death sentence!

Now,
we’re not going to grouch about the depredations of cable television
and second-string newspapers. They do what they have to do, and anyone
still trying desperately to hold them all to a higher standard has a
long row to hoe indeed. We are intrigued, actually, by the phenomenon
of the newsworm— which is similar to the earworm, where an annoying pop
song gets into your head through no fault or voluntary act of your own.

We
have almost literally no knowledge of the Scott Peterson affair. We
have actively ignored it. He killed someone—his wife? She was pregnant,
or had a small child? He was trying to weasel out of it? He looks a
little like our brother, especially those petulant lips? All of this
detail somehow got through the active, aggressive, angry filters we
have in place to not waste our time on such an obvious and vacant ploy
for our attention. We are proud to declare that we have wasted no time
on this (other than right now), so the filters have done their job. And
yet it has been a story with such a high level of saturation, it’s like
trying to keep your feet dry in a canoe.

We do not know whether
television stations interrupted regular programming to announce this
staggering news, but we think probably they did. (If we had to guess,
we’d say the daytime viewing audience could not wish to see anything
more titillating or gratifying.)

And we think back with a deep sense of pride for our countrymen when we think of the idiotic CBS producer
who was fired for breaking into CSI:NY to convey the news that Yaser
Arafat had passed away. An impotent world leader in the most embattled
precinct on the globe! It’s not like he was going to be alive again by
the time the 11 p.m. news came on. What was she thinking?!—The Editor
in Cheese