Riddle me this, and this, and this...
Yesterday's Marathon bombing news (4/17/13) made the day-of coverage look rational by contrast. The escalation of the information that the image of a suspect had been identified to "an arrest has been made and the perp will immediately be arraigned" took, what, an hour and a half? It resembled the game of gossip more than news gathering. The de-escalation took the rest of the day. No one likes to admit they've made themselves look stupid, and media on the scene at the Federal Courthouse hadn't let go of the story when I gave up in disgust in mid-evening. Not even Gov Deval Patrick's beautifully crafted, smiling putdowns discouraged them.
At one point, near the end of this, I found a "story" by an online "journalist" which stubbornly stood pat. His source? A friend had overheard a BPD person saying (to whom?) that law enforcement had identified a man stuffing bags into trash cans. This sourcing is right out of the urban legend playbook. He claimed to have a confirmation from another, unidentified law enforcement source. Was this a statement, or did someone else overhear?
Christ wept: this is journalism?
I need hardly say that the alleged description of the suspect/detainee what-have-you varied with the political colouration of the news source. The further right the source, the darker the skin of the suspect.
Meanwhile, I do have a couple of questions unanswered in all the noise. Certainly there was security and vigilance, but a couple of gaps present themselves.
The dangers of explosive devices in backpacks have been known in Europe for over 30 years. Back ca. 1990, in the UK for example, if one left one's bags on a seat in a Tube station to look at a kiosk ten feet away, they'd be gone by the time one turned around. However, we're told that at the Boston Marathon, runners are able to leave backpacks, or have friends leave backpacks, just about anywhere in the vicinity of the finish. At best, this seems rather a haphazard arrangement. I understand there is a bag check for registered runners, so I wonder if the alleged scattering of bags belong to unregistered runners. Of course, one must leave open the possibility that this is yet another fabrication.
The BAA already frowns upon unregistered runners, to be sure, and if loose bags belong to the latter, it's another strike against them. Still, if they've used their ingenuity to get in the race, is it such a stretch to use a little more to stow a bag in a safe place?
Observation. Since 9/11, the MBTA has supposedly ratcheted up security and conducted random bag checks and related searches. I ride the T pretty often, and in eleven-plus years I've been through bag checks twice. Security seems honoured more in the breach than the observance unless some specific threat is in the air. A clever local must certainly have noticed this.
I direct a simple rant at another bit of slovenly American media "thinking." It does no service to persist in labeling paranoid ramblings as "conspiracy theories." To label any of this drivel a theory is to give it a credence which it never has and does not deserve. The word implies a level of rationalism which is uniformly absent from any such crap.
Today, we learn that Elvis sent ricin to Washington, and that a Texas fertiliser factory has blown up. Even though the evidence so far points strongly toward industrial accident, we find no one in the media willing to let go of the alternative explanation.* Imagine what they may do with a tornado or a mining accident.
*I will await the evidence. However, my work experience indicates that in Texas, enforcement of workplace safety seems considered an infringement of the owners' liberties. Two plus two is what?