Our obsession with blame

I wasn’t going to write about Bob anymore, but it’s been pretty hard to concentrate the last 24 hours. Then came this crap from the New York Times, as noted by Jeff Jarvis:

I wondered whether I was the only one who was amazed and even offended by the subhed under today’s lead story in the New York Times reporting the bomb attack on ABC’s Bob Woodruff and a cameraman. It read:

LATEST BLOW TO NETWORK

Now I get the point that the next headline makes: “Field Reports Were a Ratings Strategy.” There is a business angle. Woodruff, they’re saying, was put in harm’s way by Nielsen. Though one could also say they were put in harm’s way by journalism, by the need to report. And the subhed might have just as easily read, “BIG BLOW TO FAMILIES.”

The Times has changed the online version of this, but I’m still pissed off. To blame corporate greed for what happened to Bob misses the mark by a mile. First of all, the writer of that crap doesn’t know the guy. Bob would’ve been jumping for joy at the idea of anchoring on-the-road, because he really is the consummate reporter. For all we know, it was Bob’s idea, not some evil network’s plan to exploit the concept.

Secondly, it takes a special kind of asshole lowlife to blame a victim — or the victim’s company — for getting injured in a terrorist bombing. Latest blow to network? Ratings strategy? Come on. Where’s the empathy for another injured human being in this God-awful quagmire?

The Associated Press reports that the body armor Bob and his shooter were wearing saved their lives, because by standing in an open vehicle, their bodies took the brunt of the explosion. The article also reports that Tom Brokaw spoke with Bob’s wife, Lee.

“The doctors had told them once they arrived that the brain swelling had gone down. In Bob’s case, that had been a big concern. Yesterday they had to operate and remove part of the skull cap to relieve some of the swelling,” Brokaw said on NBC’S “Today” show.

The doctors didn’t know for sure whether shrapnel penetrated Woodruff’s brain, but they were removing additional shrapnel from his neck area, Brokaw said. He said Woodruff’s family had also learned more details about the explosion from witnesses.

“Immediately after the explosion he turned to his producer and said ‘Am I alive?’ and ‘Don’t tell Lee,’ and then he began to cry out in excruciating pain,” Brokaw said.

That concern for his wife is the Bob Woodruff I know.

Mike James of NewsBlues (subscription required) reports some really bad news via network sources:

ABC insiders say Woodruff’s facial injuries have effectively ended his television career.
If that’s true, Bob will find a way to deal with it and use it to advance the cause of journalism. He’s a special guy, folks, and that’s why I hate this shit with the Times so much.

The ultimate obsession of a modernist culture is the assessment of blame, because that’s the way logic works. If order is the goal, then everything is cause and effect. Hence, the need to assess blame. This is the lifeblood of our legal system, which has taken the place of God in our culture.

The problem, of course, is that the law isn’t God (something everyday people seem to understand), and no laws can account for time and chance. If you’re going to blame anybody in this, blame the misguided insurgents who actually believe that slaughtering innocent people is the path to righteousness.

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