My contempt for most of the Indian news channels reached epic proportions today, watching the coverage of the plane crash. I watched the story unfold over an hour or so in the morning, and what they said at the top of the hour, they contradicted at the bottom, simply because they just wanted to talk - ignorantly, incessantly - whether they had any knowledge or not. It was all irresponsible mob mentality, confusion of facts and ghoulish rubbernecking rather providing useful information - hotline numbers were not broadcast until several hours after, nor were the names of passengers. It's night now, and there's been no mention of the crew at all.
The cameras actually followed a woman being wheeled into the operating theatre. She was in shock, could not speak and added nothing to the news report, if you can call an orgy of speculation news. There was sharp contrast between the visuals of rescuers grimly carrying away charred bodies and the squeaky sounds of excitable newscasters poking at "experts" trying to get somebody to place blame somewhere. The "facts" that were being presented changed from one channel to another, even the immutable ones such as the number of people on board, the nationality of pilot and the names of the few survivors who were talking on screen.
The worst of all was the swooping down on the nationality of the pilot. I happened to be online when one newscaster finally had the courtesy to pronounce his name properly, so I typed it out into Google. Commander Zlatko Glusica - apart from being an experienced pilot who's flown this route many times, contrary to what they'd spent all morning trying to get us to believe - happens to have had three children. I'm sure it's fun for them to have their bereavement crowned by the barely disguised witch hunt being conducted on TV. The most racist race on earth is eager to find the "foreign pilot" guilty by virtue of his foreign-ness. Because, of course, all Indian pilots are vested with Vedic superpowers that can not only control the bursting of a tyre from the cockpit, but also extend runways and fill up gorges in nanoseconds through sheer yogic will.
Even if investigations show that it was, after all, an avoidable pilot error, today's TV channels are still in the wrong. 160 people died, the names in the passenger manifesto convey sad stories of whole families wiped out, of a lone parent clearly left behind on one or the other side of the flight - the solitude of Dubai's annual summer migration made permanent, of young men suddenly gone. But very little hush or respect was evident in the broadcast press, not even of the fake variety. There ought to be a law.
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