Stop The Presses?
They sat like well-behaved school children, trying not to fidget in the crowded rows of chairs, waiting for the grown-up talk to be over. They wanted dessert. They were already feeling deprived, and the Washington Press Corps often got grouchy when they weren’t fed the kind of stuff they liked. They were tired of election food.
The endless Clown-of-the-Week primaries by the Republicans had not been satisfying for long. No-Drama-Obama and No-Charisma-Romney had been disappointing. No flash! No clash! The debates had offered little chance to stir things up.
The press turned to election night hoping for some last-minute suspense and excitement. But no matter how much they tried to hype things, David Axelrod’s numbers kept turning out to be true. There was to be no all-nighter, no nail-biter, no fist fights at the polling places. Even when some Republican governors suppressed tens of thousands of voters, it didn’t seem to have caused a ruckus.
Reluctantly, the Press Corps had sat in The White House facing the prospect of having to report real issues, like taxes, like the deficit, like energy policies. Complicated stuff! But their hopes began to rise with the tragedy at Benghazi. At least they could count on Senator McCain to start rattling the sabre.
They got a real story from two women that had never been on their radar screen: Paula Broadwell and Jill Kelley. These two women seemed to be about to topple the head of the CIA, and possibly another four-star general. This was juicy stuff. David Petraeus with all those ribbons on his chest? A brilliant female soldier with “toned arms?” Definitely the stuff of serious journalism.
Right on schedule, Senator McCain began demanding hearings. Big hearings. The press followed his lead eagerly. This was better than following him to some dusty place in the Middle East where people got shot. Much better.
When there seemed to be confusion about what had happened at Benghazi, and why, McCain rode to the rescue shouting, “Cover Up!” The Washington Press Corps still liked the image of the outspoken soldier demanding the facts. These silly emails were suddenly being elevated to Watergate level.
Confusion over who did what and when at Benghazi gave the press a third victim, U.N. Delegate Susan Rice, who might have, at most, been guilty of “mis-speaking.” However, Senator Lindsey Graham, McCain’s Sancho Panza, announced that he no longer trusted her. This from a man who had trusted Condi Rice with her fantasies of Weapons of Mass Destruction and mushroom-shaped clouds!
No matter. The press now had three attractive women and boxes full of secrets, or at least emails. There were still some complaints from Congress about our not sending arms to Syria, but McCain was able to drum up very little enthusiasm for going over there with troops. This was much better copy and the hearing rooms were usually air conditioned.
So, big issues and fiscal affairs would just have to wait. The Washington Press Corps knew an important story when they saw one! What a relief to know that our watchdogs are watching out for the real problems.