Archive for December 1, 2009

White House Crashers and Balloon Boy Antics- Reality Show Ambitions Hijack the Nation

December 1, 2009 1 comment

Is this going to be a regular part of our lives now? People with desperately obsessed Reality Show ambitions hijacking the national media for days on end? I suppose there is nothing that can be done about them- besides filing criminal charges. But I wish we could make folks like the Balloon Boy parents and the Crashing White House couple- just go away.

Poor White House spokesman, Robert Gibbs. Monday’s press briefing, a day ahead of a major Presidential address to the nation on the subject of WAR, spent three-fourths of his time talking about Michaele and Tareq Salahi, the Real Housewives of Washington, D.C., and the couple’s most excellent adventure at last Tuesday night’s state dinner. This morning on NBC’s Today Show, which featured an interview with the Salahi’s in which they swear they were invited to the White House event, Gibbs faced more grilling on the incident- ahead of what will surely be Congressional hearings (NY Republican Peter King wants lawmakers to look into the incident).

Sorry…I just need to reiterate- the President of the United States is talking to the nation tonight from West Point, set to announce that some 34,000 additional U.S. troops are going to be sent to the primary battle front of the War on Terror and we are distracted by this couple who as far as we know have created nothing, built nothing, accomplished nothing? As in the Balloon Boy saga- the desire for celebrity and the extreme lengths to which people will go to seek it- now allows them to actually achieve their goal?

Yes, I know- the security threat. What if they had grabbed some of the White House cutlery and lunged at the President? What if they had been secretly trained ninja warriors? I’m with Ronald Kessler, the poor former secret service agent John Mathews dismissed haughtily on MSNBC’s Hardball yesterday. The Secret Service NEVER assumes 100% perimeter security. That’s why agents provide personal, physical protection of the President at all times- even at the White House.

Someone will pay a price for this incident. Perhaps someone at the White House social office will lose their job. Maybe even a couple of folks at the Secret Service. But I hope that in distracting our attention from issues that really matter, it’s not the country at large that ends up paying a price for the actions of a shallow, ambitious couple and the screw-ups of some mid-level White House staffer.

I know this really isn’t possible- but I have a fantasy in my head that someday, cable TV outlets and the media that constantly watch them in their newsrooms, will eventually treat folks like the Balloon Boy parents and the Crashing White House couple the same way TV sportscasts handle streakers and crazed fans who run onto the field at sporting events- by turning the camera away and ignoring them.

Actually, to be perfectly accurate, in the case of sporting event disrupters, the cameras turn away so as not to encourage such behavior and the announcers then usually make a brief mention of it- because, after all, something did happen that affected the course of play and people need to know about it- but only briefly: “Some idiot drunk fan has run onto the field but we won’t dignify the act by showing it to you. As you were saying, Biff….”

Now that seems to be about the right mix.