What the World Needs Now? A News Blackout The plane crash that tookthe lives of John Kennedy Jr., his wife Carolyn and sister-in-lawLauren Bessette was an unspeakable tragedy only exacerbated by the coldheartedmass media intrusion on their families' privacy. The perpetrators will counterthat the Kennedys are public figures, America's "Royal Family,"and other such nonsense, but the plain fact is that three young people are dead and their relatives and friends should be left alone to mourn. Instead, forthe next month it'll be Lady Di-II, U.S.-style, and it makes meashamed to be a journalist. The Kennedys lived a fewblocks from my family in Tribeca, and so we witnessed the surreal neighborhoodscene last weekend. Television crews stood in front of their empty N. MooreSt. apartment, filming what? Radio reporters interviewed the "little people"at local hangouts like Bubby's, Fourth Estate and Socrates,who dutifully said John was a regular guy who bought flowers at the same deli they did, and would gladly sign autographs. On Sunday morning, MUGGER III andI went to see our friend Mary Parvin at Fourth Estate, and strolled aroundthe block to see if the "journalists" were still keeping vigil. Whata question. Of course they were, to the extent that one reporter even askedmy four-year-old son for his reaction. CNN and the major networks broadcastalmost nonstop coverage-and don't tell me it's cynical to assume that behindthe scenes the gleeful expectation of higher ratings was on the minds of producers,as their teams worked overtime and called out for pizza and indulged in gallowshumor-of the search for the plane, as if any new information would be immediatelyforthcoming. Time and Newsweek had to call in their suburban troopsto remake their covers and inside features, which is legitimate, especiallysince these will be the bestselling issues of the year thus far.
What reallyirks me is the minutiae of the coverage: the examination of Kennedy's flyingrecord, what Carolyn was wearing on the flight, the weather conditions, thequestions of whether or not they should've boarded a commercial airline. Inthe end, obviously, it doesn't matter: They're dead and the story should endthere. God only knows what Oprah, Larry King, Barbara Waltersand Geraldo have up their sleeves; it was painful opening the dailiesto find pundit after pundit bemoaning the end of Camelot once more. Howmany times can the American public lose its innocence?