Ten days, and you’ve got to be kidding me


Oh … well … you know.

What a difference ten days makes. The New York Times ran yesterday a story about minutiae as news.

It’s been another busy few days for the Obama administration, which the news media has faithfully cataloged.

The Politico broke the story that the president’s aides sang “Happy Birthday” to the assistant press secretary, Nick Shapiro, and surprised him with a chocolate cake!

The Wall Street Journal scooped the nugget that the White House Office of Management and Budget chief, Peter R. Orszag, likes Diet Coke!

The Washington Examiner reported that the White House chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, was spotted “getting money at the SunTrust Bank in the Safeway on the corner 17th St. and Corcoran St. NW.”

Are any of these items newsworthy? (It’s not as if the country is facing two wars and an economic crisis or anything.) Well, yes, they are — a lot of Web sites, bloggers and Twitterers have deemed these developments so. While there has always been a hearty appetite for stories — and trivia — about the people in a new administration, today’s White House press corps (competing for up-to-the-second news) has elevated the most banal doings to a coveted “get.”

“It started as sort of a joke to treat official Washington as a celebrity culture,” said Ana Marie Cox, who helped create the genre in starting the Web site Wonkette five years ago.

“Now it seems that a lot of the irony has been lost and the joke has turned real,” adds Ms. Cox, who now blogs and Twitters about the White House for Air America.

The above, from Mark Leibovich, ran only ten days after Helene Cooper‘s front-page announcement:

Well, that didn’t take long. Just 44 days into the job, and President Obama is going gray.


Perhaps I’m giving the Times too much flak on this one. I mean, sure I think President Obama’s hair is a petty waste of the front page of a major daily, a paper of record, like the New York Times. But Ms. Cooper explains for us why Obama’s gray hair—only forty-four days in—is so important:

Mr. Obama seems to have noticed it at least as far back as last summer. “I’ve been running for president for about 19 months now,” he told supporters at a campaign event in Virginia in August. “Folks are noticing that I’ve got a lot more gray hair now than when I started.”

So, yeah. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I’m missing the obvious, that a few gray hairs on Barack Obama’s head that have been there since before he was elected president really are that much more important than the assistant press secretary’s birthday cake, the OMB chief’s favorite soft drink, or the White House chief of staff getting cash at a bank in a Safeway.

And, hey, someone say irony? Ms. Cox—a former media enabler for the John McCain campaign, but now works for Air America radio?—should mention irony?

Er … never mind.

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