Tuesday, May 3, 2011

How to make a story out of nothing

Talk about Much Ado About Nothing: White House asks teeny-tiny weekly California paper to remove perceived unflattering remark about Michelle Obama from an article about Marine One (the helicopter version of Air Force One).
She also wrote a sentence that the White House thought made FLOTUS look snooty.
“Basically the reporter said that the First Lady didn’t speak to the pilots but acknowledged them by making eye contact,” Allen wrote in her email.
Allen says she “complied” with the White House’s request “because it was not worth making a fuss over.”
She added, “I thought it was interesting, though, that the [White House] was concerned enough about image to contact a little weekly paper in Pleasanton.”
A sentence. All this fuss over a sentence. It wasn't like the article was a hit piece on FLOTUS, it was a fluff piece about a helicopter that mentioned her.

Replace "concerned enough about image" with "thin-skinned" and "hyper-sensitive" and I'm in. Seriously, remember all the unrestrained and at times hysterical criticism and crap President Bush took over every single thing he said or did and basically ignored it? It's called being an adult. And come on, isn't this Celebrity 101? You put yourself in the public eye, people are going to comment on you and it's not all going to be flattering. Besides, what happened to no such thing as bad publicity?

This is why people in the public eye have handlers. Anyone who put any thought into the situation could have advised that by doing this, you would draw much more attention to the article and the offending comment than if you just ignored it. If they hadn't, probably very few people outside of Pleasanton (population 69,000) would have seen it. Now it's on Drudge Report (population 40,788,912 in the past 24 hours) and it looks petty.

To me the bigger issue here is whether or not the reporter's observations were accurate. If not, then sure, ask that they be edited out because of their inaccuracy. But that doesn't seem to be the case here.

Also, consider that at times Michelle Obama has seemingly conducted herself like a queen. The White House didn't seem too concerned about the extravagance (real or perceived) of the infamous Spain trip, not to mention this is the same woman who put in an appearance at a food bank clad in $500 sneakers. Did the White House really think anyone who happened to be in the Pleasanton Weekly's limited readership (who also happened to find the prospect of a "soft feature" about the Presidential helicopter worth a read) would bat an eye at the idea of this woman only semi-acknowledging the hired help? Did they think anyone would?

As a writer I should be taking better notes on this president and everybody he surrounds himself with. By the time he's out of office I could redefine the political thriller as bumbling comedy.

I really hadn't meant for the blog to get all political lately, but when life gives you story material you write it down (or something like that, lemons and lemonade...) I think it might be because I dumped the Twitter and Facebook accounts recently so I have two fewer places to vent wax poetic about the world around me. The blog is pretty much it these days.

And story material is all around me. 

Everybody walks past a thousand story ideas every day. The good writers are the ones who see five or six of them. Most people don't see any. (Orson Scott Card)

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