Imagine that while you are out of town, a gunman shoots into a window of your house with your children and mother at home and the “news” about the shooting is the fact that you are angry that it happened and that law enforcement bungled its response. This is exactly what CBSNews.com did to First Lady Michelle Obama this weekend in an online article on a Washington Post investigation into the Secret Service handling of the incident.
In the piece, interpretive journalist Rebecca Kaplan informs us that the First Lady was “taking a nap after returning from Hawaii” when a housekeeper discovered a broken window and chunk of concrete on the floor and realized that something was amiss. At the time of the shooting, the Secret Service officers charged with protecting the first family heard the shots and were told by their commander that it was a car engine backfiring and ordered to “stand down.”
Kaplan’s online piece does not mention that the first daughters and their grandmother were home at the time of the shooting. Instead, the 302-word article repeatedly states that the first lady was “furious” (3x) and “angry” (2x) and that when discussing the incident with then-Secret Service director Mark Sullivan her “voice could be heard through the closed door.” The story also implies that then-Chief of Staff William Daley was so frightened of Michelle Obama’s rage that he was “planning to tell the president and let him tell his wife.”
The original Post article mentions the first lady’s reaction several paragraphs in, but the focus of the story is the shocking breach of security and the chaos that ensued on the streets of Washington, DC as a passenger in a cab Tweeted about a “crazy man” shooting at the White House. Meanwhile, reporter Rebecca Kaplan and her editors at CBS concluded that what their readers would find newsworthy was the fact that the First Lady was angry at being awakened from her post-vacation nap to learn that her house had been fired upon.
What is the point of such a story? Never mind: we all know what the point is.