Framing the Dialogue

Team Loses Playbook Before Big Game

January 19, 2009 – Update:  It is now estimated that the costs for the Obama inaguration will surpass $170 million ($49 million to be spent by the Federal Government and another $75 million by local governments who will seek reimbursement from the Federal Government.  According to my math that is $124 million in tax dollars!).  The article by ABC News did NOT call for this money to be spent on homeless, the poor, or starving people.

January 14, 2009 – Update:  It is estimated that the costs for Barrack Obama’s inaguration will surpass $100 million dollars. 

A funny thing happened on the way to the 2009 inauguration.  The national media seems to have lost its playbook.  This is a sad state of affairs.  The templates in this playbook practically allow the articles to write themselves.  I did some checked news reports around the holidays and they still had their playbook.  We had the annual “how much would the twelve days of Christmas cost today” article and how many homes Santa had to visit.  They had the playbook a month ago, but now it seems to be lost.

We are not supposed to know about this manual and I have never actually seen it myself.  I just know that it has to exist.  You have all seen the articles with headlines that seem all too familiar.  “Mayor X bets Mayor Y ten pounds of cheese (or whatever that city is famous for) over the results of a big playoff game.  The losing mayor has to wear the jersey from the winning team for a whole day.  Groundbreaking stuff.

How about the news story where a reporter talks to the neighbor of an axe murder who says, “I did not really know him, but he seemed quiet and we never had any trouble with him.”  They have to deny actually knowing someone who committed a heinous crime (allegedly), while providing cover that this person “kept to himself.”  Another quote that I love from these stories is “this is a nice and quiet neighborhood.”

Another article that we see, but only every four years is how much the presidential inauguration is going to cost.  I remember the dearth of articles about the high cost of the 2001 and 2005 festivities.  There were articles, news stories, and fodder for talk shows seemingly every day leading up to the inauguration of “W”.  I would bet that there was even a meaningful, balanced discussion on The View. 

All of these articles and discussions seemed to include the theme that it was irresponsible to spend so much money on parties when (take your pick):

  1. There are so many homeless people who could use the money
  2. There are so many starving people in the world (“country” was also used instead of “world”)
  3. We are at war (a very popular one)
  4. Our guy did not win (never really mentioned, but the correct answer)

Here is an excerpt from an Associated Press story written in 2005:

“As close as we can tell from research, private U.S. donations alone have topped the $200 million mark, apart from the $350 million pledged by the government to date. You can spend a dollar on bread or spend it on whisky.
That’s the nature of mankind and the marketplace. But how much more George W. Bush could impress us all if he just met the Supreme Court Chief near the Capitol at noon on Jan. 20, said the oath, and then went back to his office and made a televised speech to all of us. “

This was the first article listed when I searched Yahoo with the term “inauguration cost.”  In the interest of full disclosure, four of the top ten articles that the search listed were about the 2009 event (the other six results were about George Bush’s inaugurations).  Most of these articles about the 2009 were written soon after the election.  One did contain this hard-hitting expose from CNN:

“It’s not all bad news. With the crowds comes an uptick in tourism, city officials said. Bars will be open until 4 a.m. to accommodate revelers, and hotels in the area are selling at two or three times the normal rates. Washington residents are embracing the news by flooding the Craigslist Web site with offers to rent their homes and apartments to out-of-towners.
“There’ll be plenty of people coming, using our grocery stores, restaurants, movie theaters, hotels; spending money, enjoying themselves,” Fenty said. “And when they see how great a city this is, if they didn’t already know, they certainly will return.”
“We know there’s a lot of energy here, and we want to do everything we can to accommodate that,” Douglass said. “We’ve been told there is going to be a very big crowd coming, and we are working with the
city and the federal officials to do everything we can to make sure they can get here, that they’ll be safe, that they’ll be comfortable and that they’ll be able to participate in some way.”                            For all the tourists who do turn out, Fenty said no matter what the cost, the city will work to charm its visitors.”

Maybe I am having a senior moment, but we are still at war?  Last time I checked there were poor people, homeless, and folks who are starving.  In the interest of full disclosure, you could also mention the poor economy and how about that little conflict between Israel and Hammas.  Oh and we should not forget global warming.  I think it is around 20 degree here this morning.

Where are the stories?  The only reasonable explanation that the media is not putting out these stories is that they have lost their playbook.

Or maybe it is because their guy won!

“There are laws to protect the freedom of the press’s speech, but none that are worth anything to protect the people from the press”: Mark Twain

One CommentsLeave one

  1. Kevin says:

    “1) There are so many homeless people who could use the money”

    That assumes that there is still a homeless problem. Don’t forget that it’s a democratic president now. The homeless problem will disappear for the next 4 years:
    http://www.dartblog.com/data/000517.html

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