Thank goodness the FBI broke Waco's monotony

MIKE ROYKO

April 26, 1993|By MIKE ROYKO

"Did you see that latest poll?" asked Slats Grobnik, a note o triumph in his voice.

There are so many polls; on what subject?

"The one on the way things turned out in Waco and how most people in America think the FBI did what they should have did, except they think they should of did it a lot sooner."

Yes, I did glance at the polls. It appears a majority does agree that action was needed and David Koresh's followers brought their misfortune upon themselves.

"Hey, not just a majority. That could be only 51 percent. Uh-uh. The poll was so one-sided that the only people who don't agree are the nine survivors, David Koresh's lawyers and a few weepy bleeding hearts who would have felt bad if Hannibal the Cannibal had to go on a vegetable diet."

A slight exaggeration, but you're right; there appears to be overwhelming support for the government action.

"Yeah, and I'm one of 'em."

L Well, you always swim in the mainstream of American thought.

"Right, and when it came to this Waco thing, I was fed up. I couldn't take any more."

Couldn't take any more what?

"What? I'll tell you what. Night after night, it was the same thing."

The same what?

"The same story on the TV news shows. They show you the same buildings where the loonies are holed up. Then some FBI guy comes on and says that maybe they are getting somewhere because this David guy is waiting for a message from God. And then the next night, he comes on and says they ain't getting anywhere after all because God didn't send the message. Or some nights, they wouldn't even say that anything was going on. They'd just show you the same buildings and say that nothing's happening. It was enough to drive someone crazy."

But you have a zapper. Couldn't you just switch to another channel?

"Yeah, but I don't like jumping around that way because you might get over to another channel and they're showing you the same thing. Or you get a commercial. Or it might be one of the anchorgirls who got a hairdo I don't like. And it wears the batteries down in my zapper, so why should I be inconvenienced like that?"

Wait a minute, are you saying that you are glad the FBI finally took action because you didn't like the repetition and monotony of the TV coverage?

"Yeah, that's it. It's like watching one of those English movies on that Master Beast Theatre, where all they do is talk and there's no action and nothing ever happens and you can barely understand what they're saying because they don't speak good English like we do."

But the tense standoff was not meant to be entertainment.

"Then how come it was on TV every night if it ain't supposed to be entertainment?"

Because it was news.

"Boy, for somebody who is supposed to be a newsie, you don't know much about your own racket."

Then explain.

"Look, when I turn on the news, I don't expect them to show me a street in Chicago and have a reporter say: 'Here is a street in Chicago. Last night and today, nothing much happened on this here street. Nobody got shot and nobody got arrested and nobody threw a kid out of a window. Everything was pretty calm.' So what would happen if TV stations put on that kind of story?"

Obviously, that would be a rather eccentric approach to news.

"Sure. And if they did it every night, people would wind up throwing their zappers at the TV. You turn on the news and you want action. If they show you a street, you wanna see who got shot or what house got burned down or who got tossed out of a window. Or if they are gonna do serious stuff, they got reporters yelling dumb questions at the President or the mayor to get 'em mad enough to say something stupid. You got to have action. Even with my favorite bass fishing show."

Bass fishing?

"Sure. They always catch fish. I think maybe they got scuba divers down there, sticking the hook in the fish's lip, but so what? It's action. But would anybody watch if every week the guy said: 'Well, used up a whole box of night crawlers and didn't catch a danged thing, but tune in next week and we'll try again.'"

No, I suppose the audience would lose interest.

"That's right. But at least they could tune out. With the news, though, you're stuck because you want to get the baseball and basketball scores and the lottery results. And what do you get? The same Waco story you had the night before, 51 nights in a row. If Desert Storm lasted that long, they would have thrown tomatoes instead of confetti at that Gen. Schwartzwoozitz."

Well, you must be pleased that at least it is over.

"Yeah, and I think the FBI and everybody else learned something from this."

About how to deal with dangerous cults and other fanatics?

"No, I think they learned that they shouldn't bust in that early in the morning. They should wait for prime time. I was working when the joint burned down. What a ripoff."

That's show biz.

"I guess."

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