The American Media’s Guide to Disaster Porn

By Bill Maher

That’s the term I used a couple years ago when the media was milking the earthquake in Haiti, and a lot of people didn’t like it. But a lot of people got shot this summer and since we’re not going to do anything about any of it – not even a token gesture with no real impact – it’ll happen again soon. And everyone’s reactions will be exactly the same. So just imagine another shooter. Let’s say he’s got green hair this time and he hated working at Lobster Pot – it doesn’t matter. This is now the mass-shooting template for America:

Day one: The shooting. The shock. The live coverage. Footage of crying people hugging and police in riot gear making their way through the building. Death tolls indicate the amount of coverage: Below five; it’s a one-day story. If it’s above five, it’s officially a national tragedy. Brian Williams is going to be there all week.

Both candidates release statements saying they’re shocked by this senseless tragedy and their hearts go out to the victims and their families and the community at large. They will rebuild.

Day two: We find out who the gunman is. We’ll also find out it was easy for him to build a small arsenal. Interviews with neighbors former teachers, etc. Lots of shots of candles and teddy bears by a fence.

Day three: We find out someone warned someone else about the gunman being a nut. The media asks, “Could more have been done?”

The NRA sends out a fundraising letter saying Obama will use this to come and take your guns.

Day four: Here come the stories of heroism. They replace the stories of tragedy. You’ll hear the term “guardian angel.” A lot. Because viewers can only do tragedy for so long. They want to hear about someone taking a bullet for a loved one.

Day five: Liberal columnists start pressing the gun issue. Conservative columnists respond by saying more people with guns could have shot the gunman earlier. Nobody changes their mind.

Day six: President Obama tells us to search our souls. Which sounds better than “Really, stop asking me to do something about guns. It’s election season. And I don’t care.”

And we’re done.