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Unquotable quotes: Journalists - Dedication to Andre Fontaine - XXVI
Unquotable quotes: Tale-Carriers, Gossip-Mongers, Courrier-Pigeon Caretakers, Smoke-Signal Puffers and Tom-Tom Thumpers – XXVI Could there be such things as political shenanigans or inter-continental warfares, even catastrophes, natural disasters, tsunamis, irruptions, conflagrations, inundations, landslides, typhoons, tornadoes, hurricanes, plagues, pestilence, famines, accidents, police brutality, paedophilia, fratricide, patricide, racism, anti-semitism, corruption, assassinations, bankruptcy, elections, stock-exchange slumps and ruptures, parades and protests, street demonstrations, hooliganism, gangsterism, sexual scandals, incest, money-laundering, illegal migrations, airplane crashes, train derailments, highway pile-ups, weather forecasts, UFOs, even “Trumps” without journalists pouncing to remind us of them all the time? Has anyone wondered how our forefathers managed to live without them? If you want to know what happened yesterday – too late – when you were asleep, then read the newspapers. If you want to know what happened a week or a month ago when the floods had already washed your cherished possessions down gaping ravines, then read the weeklies and monthlies. If you want to know what is going to happen the very next minute – or even moment – then watch TV breaking news – only be prepared for the long haul - baby bottle warmers and napkins at the ready. As you all already know, the only use left for the radio is to keep truck-drivers from dozing off on the thighs of hitch-hikers up on high winding mountain trails. If you look carefully at a TV interview with politicians, you are bound to see a safety zoo rocky pit and railings between the interviewer and the interviewees: your guess as to who play the fauves or predatory immunised overlords. Have you ever wondered why even the most powerful politicians in a TV interview never fail to use the catch-phrase: “A very good question!” – either as a shield for their embarrassment in not wanting to reveal the truth or as a ploy or ruse to appease the blood-thirsty interviewer. The Pullitzer awaits the interviewee who can devise another catch-phrase like: “Great question!, I'd never have in a million years even.! And Lo! a golden sunlight beam lassoes the Sultan’s turret in a noose of fright!’” Every one-man/one-woman show is an excuse for the host to voice his or her own opinions on any or all subjects: the guest-invitees serving as mere sounding boards. Why is it that TV literary programmes always shy away from having to examine the contents of books in lieu of the authors, critics and publishers’ personal and inter-personal relations? The football commentator spends 90% of his time telling the tele-spectator just what transpired two minutes previously, and the rest of the time reminding us of the idiocy of the coaches on the losing side for keeping the real stars stuck to their reserve benches. If only there was a button on the TV remote control to shut out the commentators’ grumpy voices at the annual Euro-Vision Song Contests! Even the studio-commentator’s voice hushes when the golf-ball is about to be hit! The difference between a news anchor-man and an anchor-woman is that the latter makes the former envious. Do failed writers take to journalism? Or do writers who want to get published take to journalism? The press conference is the most frequent opportunity journalists have to embarrass and expose politicians. The wise politician appoints a Press Secretary to avoid the debacle – for it is he and he alone who can put an end to the conference. There’s a Franco-German workday news review run by a winsome bubbly, quick-thinking lady - given now and then to lewd jokes – called “28 Minutes” on ARTE (the liveliest and most intellectually stimulating “University” in the World) which brings together intellectuals and savant commentators who vie with one another to out-talk themselves all at the very same moment, and if you put together all the words uttered in one line, it would wind its way through our Milky Way and re-appear as fulminating and salivating volcanic cheese. If anyone still wonders who inherited Imelda Marcos's wardrobe, you don't have to look hard or long at the show every evening! Every so often, guest cartoonists (male, saucy females) appear on the scene, and even before the cartoons are flashed – subliminally – on the screen, the debators would have laughed their heads off, making it all seem (except to the French, one hopes) the very private jargon joke of the journalists’ trade cracked in a French café. If only journalists could be nurtured on Alistair Cooke’s “Letter from America” (1947-2004), the (Manchester) Guardian correspondent in New York, the world would appear less harrassed and be put through less turmoil, and be amused by his detached but curious eye, while being titillated by his avuncular tone. Just think Orson Welles’ “Citizen Kane” and his radio series on the Martian invasion of New York - after all – goaded him to lament: “I spend 98% of my time looking for the funds to make my pictures…” (or words to the effect). Had André Fontaine, Chief Editor of Le Monde, accepted the offer of the top diplomatic post in Peking during the seventies, would the paper sway Presidents and PleniPotentiaries today? Report an isolated act of injustice, and the people will want the culprit lynched; report the repeated acts of injustice of a given State, and a whole lot of States within the Bloc will rush to succour the beleagured ally. Stop reporting these acts of injustice, and they will diminish on their own - for the perpetrators love the limelight. The more one sees and listens to leaders on the tele, the more they become entrenched in their “self-martyred” positions. Thanks to journalists, the World lies at the tip of our fingers: we can eat and watch, we can eat and computer-read; and we can eat and listen to the tell-tale tom-toms. Or NOT at all ! © T. Wignesan – Paris, 2016
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