The plane truth about those annoying television personalities

For the last couple of weeks I’ve been under the weather so I’ve been staying indoors and watching a lot of TV or reading. “Under the weather” is a curious phrase, and like many such phrases, seems to be nautically inspired – in this case, said of a crew member who was unwell and sent below to avoid the bad weather or he was just adversely affected by the weather. Many people in many places could say that these past weeks.

My sympathy goes to people stranded in airports. Airports are my least favorite place to be in the world. You might say I fear them. Once I had an intensive fear of flying, so I was interested in a news story about a woman overcoming her fear. Like me, she used to down a couple of shots of something alcoholic before a flight. For me, that lessened the fear but increased the nausea. She was told to concentrate on her chair, to watch a glass of water that showed the plane was not shaking. I tried something else.

This was back in the days when there were insurance machines in airports. I always bought some because I knew the plane was going to crash. I decided one day to make the beneficiary someone who was just an acquaintance, not a friend or family member. The minute the plane took off, I began imagining this lucky acquaintance hearing about the plane crash then opening her mail and discovering she was the beneficiary of an insurance policy taken out by one Jo Stuart, whom she hardly knew but was sorry she had died in…Whee! Fifty thousand dollars!

From then I imagined all of the things she was doing with this windfall (or in this case, plane fall). Each time the plane landed I mentally sent out a little apology to the not so lucky beneficiary. When I decided to pick a name out of the phone book, I was no longer afraid of flying.

Now, I have some New Year’s resolution suggestions for various people on TV who have annoyed me. Most of my complaints are reserved for CNN anchors and hosts because I don’t get Fox or MSNBC and I have little to quibble with what Diane Sawyer or the reporters on News Hour do.

Carter/Spitzer is a new offering that I mostly enjoy because they have interesting guests. But, please, Elliot, you are smart, no doubt about it, but you don’t have to show it off every night. Resolve next year to talk less and not interrupt your co-host, Ms. Carter, who is charming and long-suffering, I am sure. You particularly irritate me because I see myself in you. I, too, am a know it all and won’t shut up. Governor Spitzer, as well as some CNN anchors or news people can resolve to take advice from Larry King – “If a question is more than one sentence, it’s too long.” Too often you say what your guest would say and then add, “Isn’t that right?” Please don’t do that.

For both Brook and Fredericka, weekend baby sitters for all of us crazy enough to watch them in the afternoons, please decide to get speech lessons so that you can lose your Valley Girl voices.

I was appalled and surprised to hear the Jessica Yellin interview of lawyer Glenn Greenwald and Fran Townsend, a Homeland Security advisor for President Bush, on Julian Assange publishing a book. Ms. Yellin made biased, unfounded assumptions and had already found him guilty of being a criminal, if not a terrorist, no matter how often that Greenwald pointed out that Assange has not yet been accused or convicted of any crime. Assange is the man behind Wikileaks. Are we reliving the days when the media was gung ho behind the administration’s argument for attacking Iraq, ignoring any voices to the contrary? Jessica, treat yourself to a refresher course in investigative reporting.

And everybody, please remember subjective pronouns may sound more elegant, but objective pronouns should follow prepositions.

Well, now I have that off my chest (wherever that idiom came from) and feel better, but I still have a fear and loathing of airports.

None of the experiences I have heard about and seen on TV have changed that. Perhaps that will be my resolution for the New Year. I’d really prefer to be able to resolve that everyone has a better next year.

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