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Monday, July 26, 1999
Houston, Texas
Volume 64, Issue 159

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'We now interrupt this program ...'

R. Alex Whitlock

7:15 a.m. -- As I turn on the television to catch some news, I make a mental note to myself: Don't forget to watch the British Open today at 11. I become concerned when I see the headline that says JFK Jr.'s plane is missing. That's awful. I always liked JFK Jr. He's a Kennedy who runs an even-handed magazine. That's integrity.

9:30 a.m. -- Kennedy Jr. is still missing. This is terrible. They keep showing various interviews he's been subjected to. In one of them, Barbara Walters asked him what he would do if he were president. He responded that he would cut taxes.

Did I hear that right? A Kennedy -- a Democrat -- who would cut taxes? Now that's a free thinker! Why couldn't he be the Democrat using name recognition to make up for inexperience to run for New York's U.S. Senate seat?

11:00 a.m. -- The golf match still isn't on. I'm a bit irritated. I understand that the missing son of a former president is somewhat important and worthy of news attention. However, not much significant has happened in the last hour. They seem to be on the verge of beating a dead horse here. Let me watch my golf match and feel free to interrupt if they find him dead or alive.

1 p.m. -- Uh oh. They found a briefcase with his wife's name on it. It looks like they didn't make it. Or at least they want it to look that way. In absence of any other form of hope, I try to envision JFK Jr. and his wife sitting on a beach somewhere far away, toasting their new private life as the world thinks they're dead. After all, John Jr. never was a publicity hound.

Well, now it looks like we know what the result was. The British Open is over, and I missed it. Please, at least let me watch the Seniors tournament.

2:30 p.m. -- OK. Now I'm getting really tired of this. Yes, I understand that the plane is missing. Yes, I understand that this is tragic. Yes, I understand that the Kennedys are cursed (though I would hardly call Chappaquidick part of a curse). I understand all this. I want to watch my golf match.

I call the television network and ask them when they plan to show the golf match. They answer that the golf match is playing on ESPN. What if I don't get ESPN? That's not our fault, she says.

4:30 p.m. -- I'm really getting sick of this. It's freaking ridiculous! Both golf matches are over, and I still can't find anything to watch on television. The three major networks are still consumed by this story. Nothing new has happened in what seems an eternity.

Dan Rather is delusional, trying to assure everyone that Kennedy could be alive, waiting to be recovered, as everyone involved expresses greater and greater certainty that he is not. Nothing is happening! How many people can you drag in front of the camera to tell us about JFK Jr.?

8 p.m. -- Will they just let the freaking thing go? Kennedy is dead! All right? They'll find the bodies sooner or later. If he's laying on a beach in Cabo Wabo sipping a margarita, I'm gonna kill him! The networks have spent well over 12 hours covering this. We haven't learned anything new in God knows how long. They're even pushing their prime-time back! Why? So they can tell us all about the man. Well, they've been doing so for hours!

Sunday, 8 a.m. -- The first thing I awaken to is Meet the Press, where they are talking about -- you guessed it -- JFK Jr. Luckily, the show ends and the network finally moves on to better (well, different, anyway) things. I have never been so happy to see a hokey kids' show in my life.

Of course, I can't blame JFK Jr. for the media's faults and its obsession over the matter. From all I've seen, John Jr. appeared to be a good and decent man who deserved happiness (if not the amount of media attention only a missing or dead president deserves). I am very sorry that his life was apparently cut short. May he rest in peace.
 

Whitlock, a junior information systems technology major,
can be reached at rwhitloc@bayou.uh.edu.
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