On Christmas Eve, here is a thought: Are we in the media up to covering the story of Christmas?
Imagine that time is a continuum, having no beginning or end; so that what has passed is to come, and what is to come has passed. Hold on, this is not crazy. Mathematicians have been wrestling with this possibility for a long time.
Now imagine that you are sitting in the executive suite of a great cable television network, located on the Avenue of the Americas. Yes, Fox. An excited scientist is explaining to a room full of Fox executives and news producers that scientists at a U.S. national laboratory have found a tear in time, and they believe that a reporter could travel through it to cover the first Christmas.
The room is electrified. A young producer shouts, “The greatest story ever told, and we are there!”
“Sounds like a job for Bill O’Reilly,” says the wily boss of Fox, Roger Ailes, deftly slipping a candy into his mouth.
Another producer, who has just accepted early retirement, demurs, “O’Reilly isn’t a reporter; he’s a commentator. We need somebody who can interview without interrupting.” Everyone scowls at the departing producer.
“How about Geraldo Rivera? It’s his kind of thing,” says an ambitious young woman, who hopes that Ailes will notice her contribution.
“No, not him,” Ailes says. “He hasn’t found Al Capone’s treasure yet. Nobody believes Geraldo.”
The scientist takes the floor again. He explains, “The time tear is at the end of BC 1, so you could be on location at the manger in Bethlehem. But there are limits. At the end of a very complex calculation, we discovered that the tear is small and only one person can get through it. Your reporter will need transport when he or she arrives, and the options are a camel or a donkey. Your reporter will have to conceal his or her camera and recording equipment. And he or she will have to speak Hebrew.”
“No donkey,” a senior Fox producer says flatly. “We are not going to give the Democrats a boost.”
Ailes’s face clouds. The thought of Bill O’Reilly, his greatest asset, traveling into time on a camel worries him. Suppose the hateful people at MSNBC get a video of Bill on a camel, riding into time? Ailes shudders. Suppose O’Reilly berates a Roman soldier and gets a broad sword across his neck?
One producer asks, “What about the other networks? CNN’s Wolf Blitzer speaks Hebrew.”
“Glenn Beck speaks in tongues,” another producer adds.
Fox executives, who were dreaming of the greatest TV spot every sold, are beginning to realize that the greatest story ever told is turning into the greatest risk ever taken.
People start shuffling out of the room, calculating the chances of an upset in Iowa on their clipboards. The most ambitious of the ambitious young producers approaches the scientist.
“Could the national lab prove that Obama is a Muslim, or that Hillary is a communist?” he asked. “That’s the kind of story we need this Christmas. It would be a huge gift to our viewers.”