Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Bitch and Moan In Me About The New Bay Bridge And Journalism Or Lack Of It; Here I Go Again; Tuesday Media Culture

Yes I've been bitching a lot more lately. Maybe I'm in a dream world. I expect a lot more out of you and you continue to underwhelm me. Most of the masses too.

You've all become a bunch of carnival barkers. I've never witnessed a more embarrassing act of local reporting self-indulgence than this past week.

This is news.

This is not. Come to think of it, we need more of this and less of this.

Go ahead and call me an asshole. I just don't like the pack mentality; we've have all been barraged with a shitload of pre-coordinated Caltrans infomercials. The public is taking it in and some are even enjoying it--do they have a choice? It's all they're being fed.

Look, there is no doubt a legitimate--a very legitimate story has finally happened. The build-up, the relentless chirping, the over-hyped program, I don't buy and never will. And mind you, I'm not even talking about all the problems --some, that still exist, that has plagued this new bridge from beginning to end.

Excuse me but as I have maintained all along, I'm not a believer in press affiliates acting as a virtual conduit to the presenter, in this case, Caltrans. The overwhelming and insufferable hype over this Bay Bridge affair has been nauseating, frankly. Sorry, but I'm very much old-school. I like more objectivity and actuality as opposed to the giddy press-release packages I've seen and heard for the better part of two weeks.

What happened to the skeptical press here? We must have a short memory. Were we not inundated, (thank god), by mounds of information a mere two and a half months ago that maybe, just maybe,  this bridge had massive problems and issues and the idea of IT opening as scheduled, on Labor Day, would be out of the question? Damn right I'm skeptical, but hold on.

I actually like the look of the new bridge--it's spectacular, in fact. A native Oaklander, I'm delighted of the allure of the single tower; its sheer luster, its signature logo, its architectural splendor. I just wish some of our local fifth estate would be more immersed in checking out facts and looking at the data, investigating and reading the blueprints, (like the Sac Bee correspondents did), as opposed to acting like a bunch of third-graders on their way to summer camp.

Throughout the past week Bay Area citizens have been deluged with endless "updates" and non-news, frankly. Granted, a major traffic artery has finally been created--for better or worse, I get it. I get the idea of reasonable news reports and traffic updates as we neared the opening of this mega-infrastructure event, and it is/was an event. But the Supersize spread we were all fed was much-to-much needless content--it's as if our local TV/Radio comrades felt as if too much was a lot better than not too much. It should, by extension, tell you all what they think of you but that's another story.

In the end, I saw a lot of reporters hamming it up with various politicians and hard-hat guys--Caltrans reps, MTC suits. That's not good. I saw, of all people, our beloved LG, Gavin Newsom; one of the SF pols who wanted the new bridge to resemble an innocuous viaduct look, cutting some stupid chain that opened the bridge. How ironic. Did any of the glee-club press ask him about that? Not a one. They were probably busy doing a live shot near the new asphalt Caltrans stuffed down our throat, courtesy of the 415-408 enablers.

This is not the end of it. There will now be endless actualities from commuters on the appearance of the new eastern span. And that's fine--for a day. If we continue past Wednesday, SF-Oakland-San Jose, Walnut Creek, we have a problem. I wouldn't be shocked though--after all, that would require heavy lifting into the reporting of real news we probably don't care much about which is kind of disturbing.

Meanwhile, we go back to Breaking News near the tunnel where our Betsey Snuckledork has a live interview with Caltrans spokesman, Baldie McFuckface....

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  1. something I noticed driving westbound on the new Bay Bridge last night - I was always under the assumption that west of Yerba Buena Island was San Francisco and east was Oakland, but last night I saw a San Francisco City Limit sign on the eastern span of the bridge before the tower. Well at least the new toll station is in Oakland.

  2. If people didn't care and or weren't excited about the Bay Bridge opening and didn't want to hear/see coverage of the event, why did hundreds of cars line-up on each end of the bridge to ride across at 10 last night and why did the overwhelming number of traffic services get inundated with calls from listners asking if we knew when the bridge was opening?

    1. Who was it that said, "never overestimate the intelligence of the American people?"

    2. Who was it that said, "never overestimate the intelligence of the American people?"....guess we know the reason why this site gets so many hits!

  3. Methinks you need to change laxatives...

  4. And furthermore, you kids need to stay off my lawn or next time, you won't get your ball back!

  5. Agree it was generally a PR-fest but apparently you weren't watching KRON, where the imcomparable Catherine Heenen was--by her own admission--rather jaded about the whole thing. Quite openly. You should have seen it. It would have been the perfect antidote for you.

    But Rich, this didn't have you fuming when news organizations--national ones--had "journalists" embedded in Iraq and Afghanistan? That's what these Bay Bridge reporters were--embedded.

    It doesn't bother you when the accounting and trading rules of Wall Street are openly violated--foreign papers and networks, like Deutscheworld and NHK, report this all the time--and all our media does is talk about huge openings and closings and volume? That Justin Timberlake rang the opening bell? (They thought about getting Justin Bieber, but they were afraid he'd lean over the balcony and spit on all the traders.)

    It doesn't bother you when Israeli soldiers tie up and blindfold a Palestinian girl who was either 14 or 16, I forget, and shoot her in head while others in the background are laughing. Every news organization in the world except U.S. ones played the video. Even YouTube removed it because it "violated their policies," though they've yet to explain specifically what policy it violated.

    It doesn't bother you when the U.S. is routinely outvoted routinely by every country in the U.N. except Israel, the Marshall Islands, and Micronesia? Our mature way of dealing with this is to not pay our dues, ever, and the U.S. media doesn't report this. But you want to know about the Michael Douglas/Catherine Zeta Jones split, well, dive in.

    The U.S. media has been a joke since they failed to inform everyone that a Supreme Court cannot seat a president--it's a violation of the Constitution. They have no power to arbitrarily set deadlines for or supervise over vote courts. Even the recent edition of the U.S. Guide to the Supreme Court, as neutral and non-partisan as any publication can get, admitted after discussing this that it could not with citation to any law or precedent explain this, that the Court had fashioned essentially a coup out of thin air. Meanwhile the New York Times, network news organizations and the rest of the "liberal" media just fiddled while Rome burned.

    All that bothers me a lot more than the BS about the bridge. It's just the latest in a long long long long line.

    1. 2:28 -

      You are right on.

      Unfortunately, that long long long long line just keeps getting longer.....

      Keep the faith, baby.

  6. Some thoughts on the Bay Bridge opening:

    - Why couldn't they have, when the cameras were pointed in a different direction, pushed Jean Quan over the side?

    - Who owned the white hat concession?

    - Where was Phil Matier?

    - Jerry Brown had "a family event" to go to instead? Really? Couldn't they at least have made it semi-plausible (a teeth-cleaning appointment)?

    - Vhere vas Ahnolt Scvarzenegger? He cout haff been da virst to drive a Hummer oveh de bridge.

    - When are reporters going to stop saying a bike path and pedestrian walkway to cross the bridge. They do not *cross* the bridge. They only go half-way.

    - Why was Willie Brown just about the only one *not* wearing a hat?

    - Speaking of Willie Brown, could he have "jumped" in to "save" Jean Quan?

    - Speaking of Jean Quan, when they were driving the classic cars across, couldn't someone have pushed her over?

    - Jean Quan tried to imply in her speech that the new bridge was symbol of the greatness of Oakland. I assume the stunned silence was in lieu of laughter.

    - Gavin Newsom in his speech said big projects like this represent the progress of this generation. Well, the bridge took 13 years and came in many many times over budget.

    - How much will our tolls go up to cover some contractors' and developers' new mansions in Woodside?

    - KCBS is reporting the old bridge troll is now under the new bridge as well, but it looks suspiciously like a stuffed Jean Quan to me. Or am I just projecting my fantasies?

    - If some inspector discovers a big crack in the metal tomorrow, will anyone ever hear about it?

    1. "...Jean Quan over the side?"

      What happened to the jumper concerns? last I heard, the bike path railing was less than 5'0".

  7. 6 Times over Budget,Cracked Bolts Half a bike trail. Same problem at the Toll Plaza as the old bridge Priceless

  8. Rich, thank you for taking the time to explain your frustrations. I wasn't quite sure what you were so up in arms about but I get it now.

    Despite all the problems, the completion of this bridge is definitely newsworthy. Could the hype be less? Yeah, maybe so.

    As a Caltrans employee I have to disagree with the thinking that the partnership betweem KPIX and Caltrans in covering the bridge opening is indicative of some sort of unsavory coverup. Yes, I can see where one might question the appropriateness of such a thing. And I can't speak to the reasons as to why KPIX the details behind that decision. But to make it sound as if there is a coverup is a far stretch.

    Do you really think that an organization as big and as visible as Caltrans would actually be so stupid as to conduct a coverup on such a highly visible project? On behalf of my fellow employees I would offer a resounding "No!" We understand the obligation we have to the taxpayers and motorists of this State and the obligation we have to our profession to conduct ourselves in an ethical manner. Do not let the actions of a rogue few (who have been terminated) cause you to paint the whole organization with the broad brush of incompetency. That is not fair to the good men and women who work there. We may be a bit bureaucratic and inefficient. But incompetent?

    The charges that have been made against the department regarding the Bay Bridge have been investigated not just internally but by others outside the organization. Yes, there were things that went wrong. Yes, there are some questions to which there may never be complete answers. But, overall, the people who have checked these issues out have not found any issues that caused them to question the integrity of the bridge.

    Caltrans has been as transparent as it can be. In fact, when our director was up for confirmation a few months ago in the state Senate, several senators specifically commented on the integrity, transparency, and honesty that Malcolm had exhibited in dealing with the Bay Bridge. And I have found him to be that way in my own personal dealings with him. If there was any question about the oversight and management of the department, that would have been the time for speaking up. But they confirmed him.

    I am sorry to go on like this. But I do think you're not being entirely fair to Caltrans here and I felt led to speak up. I appreciate the opportunity you provide us to respond.

    1. And I hope to hell you're right, Joe.

      I don't have any grudges toward the good people at Caltrans--I am however disgusted how much our local press has been in bed with the organization.

      However good-intentioned, that's not their job. They are there to report and investigate, not cheer and sing.

      Just my opinion, but I appreciate your thoughtful response. Hopefully, you understand my position.

    2. I get where you're coming from. Thanks for your response.