Missing The War

March 23rd, 2003

I had Saturday off. I cherished the sunshine, the blue sky, the cottonball clouds. I sat at Lincoln Center drinking coffee and reading every word of The New York Times’ coverage of the war. The War. I still don’t like the sound of it.

I spent today at work. We published three war-related updates, covering overnight developments, and news throughout the day. We spent much of the day cycling between CNN, MSNBC and Fox, as well as websites like Drudge Report, CNN, CBS News, Time. I read Pravda (“The consistent lies by the Pentagon regarding the development of this illegal terrorist attack on the sovereign state of Iraq makes this the source of deception and denial, not news”), China People’s Daily (“Power which lacks justice and common sense is conventionally and rightly considered to be a dreadful and dangerous thing”) for additional perspectives. Combined with continued bad news, for American and Iraqi troops both, it made for a long, difficult day.

MTV News is, for the duration of this war, subscribing to a service called CNN News Source. Basically, it’s an video feed of soundbites and news packages culled from CNN reporters and cameramen around the world. Between the fifteen or so minutes of newsfeeds every hour, CNN was feeding one of its four fixed camera in positions Baghdad. It was unbelievable to me that I could sit in an office building in New York City watching and listening to this war torn city thousand and thousands of miles away in real time.

It was a quiet street scene, mostly. There was little to see, really, just a cityscape of low buildings dotted by distant orange lights beneath a hazy, inky night. There was a road just below the camera, and a streetlight. I watched the signal change from green, to yellow, to red, and back again, while what sounded like wind — or thunder — rumbled in the distance. A few cars passed, none yielding to the streetlight. I turned up the volume on the feed, and could hear the cameraman stirring in the room, a dog’s distant barking, and as the hour passed, a chiming clock.

And then, again, I heard it rolling and throbbing: the thunder, more thunder, more thunder.