Tag Archives: News media

Sundays, Bin Laden and the Media

Sundays are great. They’re our day of rest; the final relaxed chapter to our usually hectic weeks. Who doesn’t like sleeping in, spending a couple of hours with the Sunday paper and getting in a little extra family time (you know, if you’re into the whole “family” thing). Sundays are for slowing down, watching sports on TV and going to church (you know, if you’re into the whole “God” thing). The only downside to Sundays is that they never seem to last long enough.

This past Sunday was an all-timer. I slept in, ate a great breakfast and read the Seattle Times. The weather was great so I got outside in the afternoon, watched an NBA playoff game, then read a book on my deck. Dinner consisted of a couple of tasty beers and a delightful meal at my favorite local restaurant. Oh yeah, and then there was that whole Osama Bin Laden is dead thing. That wrapped the day up nicely.

After learning of the Al Qaeda leader’s death at the aforementioned restaurant, I returned home and helped myself to a dessert of breaking news coverage.  Between the public reaction I saw on television and the steady stream of “fuck you, Bin Laden” and “rot in hell” posts that echoed throughout the social media landscape, one thing was clear: people were very fond of  Osama Bin Laden being dead.

Clearly, many Americans saw the demise of one our all-time greatest enemies as a deeply communal and cathartic moment. It was as if his death signaled some type of closure on a frightening and frustrating ten years that began on September 11th, 2001. Other Americans (i.e. college students) seemed to see it as a great excuse to throw down on the Quad.

Me? I was grateful for Bin Laden’s death for a far less substantive reason: it saved us from a week of reliving the Royal Wedding.

Had President Obama and the Navy SEAL Six team not taken out the most wanted man on the planet on Sunday, we’d have faced at least a week of media coverage rehashing William and Kate’s matrimonial celebration from every conceivable angle. Like vultures picking through the bones of some succulent road kill, the news networks would have spent countless hours regurgitating
the “Wedding of the Century” and force-feeding it to the general public. Instead we got something far more newsworthy… actual news.

Actual news is something the powers that be at CNN, MSNBC and FOX News seem reticent to broadcast these days. It’s far easier and cheaper to simply follow the downward spirals of celebrities like Charlie Sheen and Lindsay Lohan or give Donald Trump an arena to spout his ridiculous bullshit. And, of course, if Sarah Palin Tweets something, they’re all over it.


But now that the details of Operation Kill Bearded Ass Clown are coming to light, actual news seems to be the in back in vogue. Okay, mostly it’s rampant speculation about the effects of Bin Laden’s death and most of it is crap. But at least it’s crap derived from a meaningful, newsworthy event as opposed to being crap for crap’s sake. And that’s really the best we can hope for.

So I say thank you, Mr. President. Not just for having the guts and intestinal fortitude to pull the trigger on a harrowing mission that rid the world of a horrific mass murderer, but for forcing the 24-hour news channels to actually focus their attention on something of actual substance. And much like our glorious Sundays this trend towards actual news won’t last nearly long enough. So I’ll just try to enjoy it while I can.


Party Crashers, Tiger Woods and the Price of Fame

You know what I’ve been thinking about lately?  Party crashers, Tiger Woods and the price of fame.

This past holiday weekend is usually one of my favorite times of the year.  In addition to the embarrassing amount of food I consume on Thanksgiving, I get to use my gluttonous behavior as an excuse to sit around for hours while my stomach slowly digests the excessive feast.  And as that simple act of biology takes place, I watch football and look for the Black Friday news stories that illustrate why allowing mobs of overzealous shoppers into your stores at dawn is a horrifically bad idea.

Needless to say I was disappointed this year.  Sure, the Turkey Day smorgasbord took hours and hours to make its journey through my digestive system and there was no shortage of football on TV, but apparently America’s shoppers were on their best behavior.  As far as I could tell, there were no significant reports involving parents engaging in hand-to-hand combat in order to get their hands on a Wii or a Playstation 3.  Nor did I hear any complaints from the wife after she ventured into a shopping mall and a Target on Black Friday.

I suppose this is actually good news.  Perhaps we’ve turned some kind of symbolic corner as a society.  Perhaps we’re on the verge of straightening out our collective priorities and committing to a way of life that isn’t all about rampant consumerism.  As I was pondering the idea of this new world order, I was introduced to the Salahis.

Mr. President... can you make me famous, please?

If you haven’t heard of the world famous Salahis, then you either haven’t checked in with a news outlet in awhile or you just didn’t bother to catch the surname of this newly famous couple.  These two yahoos are better known to the world as the White House party crashers.  These wannabe high rollers somehow managed to outsmart federal agents and infiltrate the Obama Administration’s state dinner thrown in honor of visiting Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Breaches in Presidential security are a very serious matter.  So the fact that this couple managed to just walk in off the street should be very disconcerting for the American public.  However, what should be even more alarming is the media tsunami that’s about to crash upon all of us.

It’s been reported that Tareq and Michaele Salahi once aspired to be cast members on the Bravo reality show The Real Housewives of Washington, D.C. It’s also been reported that the Salahis have a publicist and are shopping “their story” to the highest bidder.  I think we all see where this is going.  As much as I’d like to believe in the concept of journalistic integrity, it’s pretty much inevitable that some network executive will pony up the cash to interview this couple.  I think it’s equally inevitable that they’ll have nothing of any substance to say.

Can’t we stop this from happening?  Isn’t there some subsection of the Patriot Act that allows us to waterboard these bottom-feeders?  Probably not.  That’s why the only hope our nation has right now is Tiger Woods.

The one thing that seemed to bump the Salahis off the front page of CNN’s website was the world’s best golfer crashing his car in the wee hours following Thanksgiving.  While alcohol was said not to be a factor, there’s been much speculation regarding what Tiger was doing driving at such a late hour and how he managed to bounce his very expensive car off a much less expensive fire hydrant.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I don’t dislike Eldrick Woods and I wish nothing but good things for him.  But in this case, I’m asking him to jump on the grenade and do America this one favor as a public service.  If he could just confess to doing something untoward it would really mean a lot to people like me who just can’t stand the thought of these party-crashing weasels becoming the next Balloon Boy family.

And perhaps in confessing to something even remotely newsworthy, Tiger could teach the Salahis and the Hennes and the Jon and Kates of the world a valuable lesson.  Be careful what you wish for.  Because while these oxygen-wasters seem to desperately want to feel the white-hot spotlight shining on them, I don’t think they’re in the least bit prepared for the consequences that come with worldwide fame.

Tiger Woods knows a thing or two about those consequences.  For him, being famous  means he’s never ever alone.  It means there’s always someone watching him, ready to capture his most vulnerable moment and post it on TMZ or YouTube.  It means even something as harmless as an insignificant fender bender is newsworthy and fodder for public debate.

It's not easy being Tiger. I mean, who wants to sign hats?

I’ve never heard Tiger complain, and I’m sure if asked he would rightfully say he was blessed.  Being the best golfer in the world has earned him the admiration of millions of fans and so much money it probably takes a team of highly paid accountants to keep track of it all.  But make no mistake about it, being Tiger Woods isn’t easy.  And why people with no discernable talents keep pursuing this lifestyle is beyond me.

Assuming Tiger’s crash is as it seems, much to do about nothing, the Salahis will probably get their fifteen minutes.  Then, once their lives are put on display and vigorously deconstructed, they’ll probably tire of the attention and slither away into sweet obscurity.  After a few years, perhaps they’ll appreciate their lack of fame and look back at their publicity stunt as a horrible mistake.

So as my weekend came to an end I decided I’m thankful I’m not Tiger Woods.  And thankful I don’t have the last name Salahi.  Hopefully, next year’s post-Thanksgiving news cycle will be a little more traditional, with stories of crazed parents elbowing each other in the face for vibrating Elmo dolls taking center stage.

Then I’ll really be thankful.

Author’s Note:  Less than 48 hours after posting this, Tiger Woods released a statement that basically (though not technically) admitted to having an affair.  Needless to say my sympanthy for his “situation” has wained  quite a bit.  But now that he’s revealed his “transgressions” my assumption is that the media will turn all their attention to Tiger and the Salahis will disappear from my television set.