I saw Time and Newsweek on the newsstand in Harvard Square.

Let’s face it, we all knew what this week’s cover picture was going to be. But just for once, I’d have liked to have been surprised. I’d have liked them to do something tasteful, something which treats the subject with dignity and sorrow, rather than exploiting it.

But no, we got big lurid photographs of planes flying into buildings and exploding in a searing fireball of aviation fuel.

They could have printed a plain black cover with the word “After”. They could have printed the names of victims. They could have picked out photos of some of the heroes who gave their lives trying to save others. They did none of those things; they went for sensationalism, exploitation and overkill; they forced America yet again to look at an image already seared into the collective consciousness. Maybe I’m misreading the national consciousness, but I just don’t think anybody needs or wants to see that fucking image again.

CNN is worse. They now have a seemingly permanent graphic “America at war” with the latest scare headline below it, and round the clock coverage as we play the “Where’s Osama?” game. Loving profiles of war hardware are interspersed with interviews with military insiders about how much butt we’re going to kick, where we’re going to kick it, when we’re going to kick it, and so on.

Of course, CNN would love a war. Especially a really big, messy one. Their ratings always go up in a war. You may think I’m being exceptionally cynical to ascribe such base motives to them, but just go watch the coverage for a few minutes and look for the subtext.

Yes, we’re at war. They haven’t told us who we’re at war with, but as soon as they decide, we’ll sure be at war with them, so keep watching. We’re going to kick some ass. We’re not sure where we’re going to kick it, or who’s ass it’s gonna be, but ass will be kicked, and you’ll see it here. Look at the shiny ships, look at the big planes. And now, a word from our sponsor, the US Army. Enroll now and bomb a raghead! So, when can we expect to start enjoying a real war? Let’s ask an expert in disinformation from the Pentagon, who helps us write our stories…

I don’t know anyone who wants a war. Like with the whole Clinton fiasco, there seems to be a total disconnect between the media and the population. Then again, the People’s Republic isn’t exactly typical of America as a whole, and there are plenty of people on the net who are willing to stomp along with the drumbeat.