Nature Vs. The Celebrity Trial

Michael Jackson waves as he leaves court, Monday, June 13, 2005, in Santa Maria, Calif. Jackson was found not guilty on all counts against him.
This column was written by CBS News Early Show Co-Anchor Harry Smith.
I went on safari last week. No kidding. Safari. In Africa, where armed with a 35 millimeter camera, you can shoot all the animals you see. It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience I still haven't stopped pinching myself about.

Just a week ago, I was walking the African bush with a ranger and a tracker examining the trails in the sand to determine which way the elephants, lions and cheetahs were heading. Just ahead a herd of impalas engaged in a crazed frenzied ritual. The grunting of the impalas resembled nothing so much as the primordial voice of the earth's ancient past. As the elegant animals darted back and forth and the dust rose, the sound of the grunting shook right through my skin. So this is what it's like to be away from civilization.

Click here to listen to MP3 of Harry Smith's commentary.

Morning and night we went on forays into the bush -- on every trip, another revelation. One evening at dusk we tracked a giant white rhino. We were on a craggy out cropping above a water hole. The rhino had no idea we were there. In silence we watched until the darkness enveloped us all.

Returning to the lodge someone announced the Michael Jackson verdict. Did I care to read in on the computer? "No thanks," I said.

The next morning on satellite television I watched Larry King interview the jury foreman for about five minutes. I clicked the TV off and headed back to the bush. I realized at once that I preferred being surrounded by nature in its rawest form to watching the rawest form of modern entertainment -- the celebrity trial.

I wish I could say it's good to be home.

Harry's daily commentary can be heard on manyCBS Radio News affiliates across the country.

By Harry Smith