June 17, 2009
Say, brother, can you spare a ... plane ticket?
I don't know whether it says more about the state of the economy or the state of the White House press corps -- or which is more pathetic -- but most members of the Fourth Estate didn't bother to travel with the Big O on his trip to Chicago this week.
Patrick Gavin wrote in Politico:
"For media observers, it felt like a milestone moment: While reporters sometimes skip short fundraising-only trips or journeys in the waning days of a presidency, it’s hard to remember a time when a president, in the prime of his presidency, traveled outside Washington for a major policy address just to have the press stay home."
The official line ascribes the press corps' decision to stay home alone, without Daddy-O, to the tight budgets that are squeezing legacy media organizations, tight budgets that apparently didn't apply to Obama's trip to Cairo, or Las Vegas, or Hollywood, or....
I'd like to suggest another reason: Most of the White House press corps knew how they would cover Barack Obama's health care proposals, just as they know how they'll treat all matters Obama, before the official announcement. So why bother going all the way to Chicago to actually cover Obama's speech, especially when he was giving it to the American Medical Association?
The AMA, comprised of the health care providers most directly affected by Obama's plan, did not greet the proposals warmly; he was booed. Since the White House press corps was not actually on hand, there was no opportunity, really an obligation, to cover the reaction.
So while, the MSM was more than willing to ante up to cover Obama's trip to Cairo, even his night on the town with Michelle in Paris, they couldn't cobble together the funds to cover his speech on an important topic in front of a skeptical audience.
The crowd's reaction might not fit the story line.
William Tate is an award-winning journalist and author.