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Shiny! Pretty! Look Over There!

Reported by Nancy - October 18, 2005 -

Today (10/18) on FNL, the distracorama machine was operating at full speed. Bill Hemmer used the last hour of the program to cover one story: the tunnel closings in Baltimore. At the opening of the hour, he annpunced that the top stories would be Miers & Traitorgate, but those were never mentioned again, & the rest of the hour was all Baltimore, all the time, with multiple ALERTs to repeat the same info & plenty of aerial video of Baltimore showing roads with little to no traffic. There wasn't even time for Hemmer's new "Because You Asked" segment.

Here's how the noon hour went (just briefly, few details because they're all essentially the same):
12:03pm - ALERT - Hemmer announced that the Ft McHenry Tunnel & Harbor Tunnel in Baltimore had been shut down
12:03pm - Catherine Herridge in DC reported some info about the tunnel threat
12:08pm - Hemmer interviewed Steve Pomerantz (former FBI Asst Director) about the tunnel closing
12:11pm - Hemmer interviewed Niel Livingstone (CEO, Global Options, & terror analyst) who agreed with Pomerantz.
12:13pm - teaser: Baltimore tunnels
12:15pm - ALERT - Hemmer repeated some info about the closure, then interviewed Rep Jim Saxon (R-NJ) about it.
12:19pm - Hemmer repeated some info about the Baltimore tunnels
12:23pm - ALERT - Hemmer said there was "a bit more information" about the Baltimore tunnel closing
12:23pm - Herridge said her source told her the info came "from a single source ... that they have used in the past" & that they've been unable to corroborate it since it came in late last week.
12:26pm - Bret Baier at the Pentagon reported the differences between the Baltimore tunnels threat & the subway threat in NYC (single vs multiple sources, tip vs result of "operation").
12:29pm - Hemmer interviewed former Sen Bob Dole (R-KA) about this kind of threat in general. Hemmer eventually said Dole had originally been invited to discuss Medicare & Dole did some PR for the new Medicare prescription program.
12:31pm - teaser: Baltimore
12:34pm - ALERT - Hemmer repeated some info about the Baltimore tunnels
12:35pm - Herridge repeated the info she had provided earlier
12:37pm - Hemmer re-interviewed Pomerantz
12:41pm - Hemmer repeated some info about the Baltimore tunnels
12:44pm - Hemmer repeated some info about the Baltimore tunnels
12:45pm - Brenda Buttner did a very brief "Bulls & Bears" report about the stock market, noting that the market is watching what happens in Baltimore
12:46pm - Hemmer repeated some info about the Baltimore tunnels
12:51pm - Hemmer repeated some info about the Baltimore tunnels & read from an AP report about it
12:52pm - Hemmer interviewed Steve Emerson ("terrorism expert") about the Baltimore tunnel threat. Emerson essentially agreed with what Pometantz & Livingstone had said.
12:57pm - FNL went live to a press conference by Batlimore Police Chief Gary McLhinney (this was still going on when my tape stopped at 1:00pm)

Comments: The multiple interviews were useless, contributing no facts or new information, just generic speculation & the usual bromides. Hemmer played the role of skeptic, repeatedly asking questions that implied that people don't know whether to take these terror alerts & threats seriously (e.g., saying it's "a major headache for commuters"). The combo of guests saying "better safe than sorry" with Hemmer's role-playing allowed FNL to legitimize the terror alert system in general, & specifically on a day when there's plenty of other significant news out there. Sad to say, it looks like Hemmer has decided to blend in with the other staff at FNC.

Note that the all-Baltimore "coverage" allowed FNL to ignore news such as:
*Saddam Hussein's trial starts tomorrow
*Harriet Miers (nominee to SCOTUS) supports a ban on abortions
*Rep Robert Ney (R-OH) is being investigated in connection with kickbacks from one of Jack Abramoff's scams
*Israelis "suspended" talks with the Palestinians
*there's a "standoff" (gunfight) between police & "suspected militants" in the south Russian town of Nalchik
*Iraq's voting results are "under scrutiny"
*Cheney's office is a "focus" in the Traitorgate investigation

Thanks, Miquel, for the title of this post!

NOTE TO READERS: Please stay on topic (FNL's focus on one story to exclude other news -- please concentrate only on the 6 other stories I mentioned above). O/T comments will be deleted. Thanks.