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my morning news…

January 20, 2016

Note: Today’s blog/rant will make much more sense if you first connect to the link provided above and listen to this morning’s (Jan 19) CBC Radio show The Current. Anna Maria Tremonti explores the Zika virus, which has come to the western hemisphere from west Africa, and can cause birth defects in women who are infected while pregnant.


Is Anna Maria Tremonti – morning host of CBC Radio’s The Current (a daily morning news program covering current events) – just really good at sounding incredulous with her guests as a way of asking leading questions that will illicit answers that will be widely accessible for the majority of her listeners; or, is she really not that bright and/or not particularly well-prepared – which is reflected in the type of incredulous questions she often asks of her guests?

Basically, my question is this: is she bright but dumbs herself down for the show, or is she not, and is, in fact, genuinely incredulous at the information she inadvertently discovers while talking to her guests.

This morning was a perfect example. One of her 1/2 hour segments was dedicated to the “sudden” discovery of the Zika virus, which, due to globalization and modern mobility, has been transplanted from west Africa to South America and the Caribbean and is slowly working its way north into the US.

As is pointed out to Tremonti by her interview guests (numerous times), for the majority of people the virus is completely harmless. But for a certain small percentage of pregnant women the virus can cause major development defects in the fetus.

The virus is not new. The Zika virus was first discovered in Ghana in 1947. But that was colonial Africa, so no one cared.

Now it is here – well almost here – and we should be alarmed! Very alarmed!

When Tremonti asks her first expert about why the virus is spreading in West Africa, he starts to talk about rural poverty, the increased pressure capitalism puts on populations to urbanize and concentrate populations and so on, but she interrupts him to declare “so what you’re saying is we’re losing the war on mosquitoes?”

Later, when she switched to a local in-studio medical expert in Toronto – a doctor familiar with the disease and a variety of factors related to its potential spread in South-Central-North America. When he notes that pregnant women should think again about taking their vacation in the Caribbean, Tremonte is incredulous – asking if we should simply give up on our winter getaways. As if that would be the most incredible sacrifice Canadians would have to make.

As if that was all we had to consider – now that the Zika virus, Dengue Fever, Cholera, Malaria and a host of other “tropical” diseases are poised to make their [re]appearance in North America.

We are not asked to consider rural poverty, low agricultural prizes farmers have to put up with, the impacts of globalization, modern mobility, banking systems, international commerce. All we are asked to consider is “how will it affect my vacation”?

Not for the first time have I wanted to reach into my radio and pull Tremonti out by the ears and ask her to give an account of herself and why she insists on asking such asinine questions about incredibly important issues on her radio show.

But then the Canadian mainstream media insists on focusing on asinine middle-class implications of reality.

Recently, when the Loonie (the Canadian dollar to everyone not Canadian) dropped below 80 cents US, the first thing Global TV’s evening news talked about was how much more expensive our destiny vacations were going to cost. How much more will I have to pay for my new big screen TV? Or my blueberries imported from Chile? The scandal of paying $8 for a cauliflower imported from drought-ridden California.

The so-called “middle class” perspective – from which no one is immune – is like omniscient corn syrup that is poured over my head 24 hours a day 365 days a year.

It oozes into every pore paralyzing real discussions by the very virtue of its starting point. Which is to be frightened of any thought that will impact on our status quo mentality of economics and personal consumer lifestyles.

The bottom line is my ability to consume – and therefore be happy – so how will this story today in the news impact on my overall ability to consume? Will it make me sad? (And where’s my trigger warning!?)

That is all there is – that is what the media should guide me through – help me understand how much I will be able to consume now, and during any immediate crisis coming my way…

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