For three days this week, something remarkable happened to the “fiscal cliff” story. It got pushed to No. 2 on the evening newscasts behind coverage of the major winter storm that roared through most of the nation. And why not? The storm was the epitome of “news” – as the first storm of the season, it was fresh and timely. The “fiscal cliff” has been “looming” for so long, with very little change in the details, that most people have stopped paying attention to it.
The storm, which struck the day after Christmas, had a little bit of everything. It spawned tornadoes in the South – at least 24 twisters hit Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. In the Midwest and Northeast there were ice and snow and high winds that disrupted traffic, canceled flights and resulted in at least six deaths. Here in Indiana, Indianapolis and the southern part of the state were hit really hard. Fort Wayne had a relatively modest 4 inches of snow that began to fall about 9 a.m. Wednesday and continued to about 6 p.m. It was a day late for a white Christmas, but it did keep some people trapped at their holiday destinations a day longer.
Winter Storm Euclid – that’s what The Weather Channel called it – capped a newsy year for big weather. Led by the devastation of Hurricane Sandy and the drought that hit the Midwest hard, 2012 will likely turn out to be the second-costliest year on record for weather and climate disasters, USA Today reports. The United States had 11 separate disasters that led to damages of at least $1 billion each – the aggregate will probably surpass $60 billion. The death toll is 349 so far.
Alas, even awful weather can be made interesting only for so long, so eventually the storm coverage was pushed down to No. 2 again. In their search for something completely new and different, the networks served up, in the No. 1 spot – drum roll, please – the “fiscal cliff.”