What trumps a car bomb, a blizzard and a trip to Kabul?
If you watched U.S. morning television or went online early today, you already know the answer to this media riddle. Top stories — a deadly car-bombing in Baghdad, a massive winter storm rolling across the United States and an unannounced flight to Afghanistan by Defense Secretary Robert Gates — took a back seat to a new development in the tabloid tale of Tiger Woods.
The latest turn in the super-golfer’s travails occurred overnight, when a Florida television station reported an unidentified woman was taken by ambulance from Woods’ home to a nearby hospital.
WESH-TV showed footage of a blond woman on a stretcher.
UPDATE: The woman wheeled out of Woods’ home was identified as his mother-in-law, who was suffering from stomach pains.
Evidently interest is so high that it can push arguably more influential stories out of the Washington limelight.
For example: President Barack Obama is set to talk about boosting jobs in this seemingly jobless economic recovery. Christina Romer, chairwoman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, previewed the president’s message but was lower on the lineup than the little that could be reported about Tiger.
Or how about climate change? The EPA moved yesterday toward regulating planet-warming greenhouse gases as an international conference on climate change opened in Copenhagen. That didn’t make the morning news threshold, at least in the earliest hour, though Sen. James Inhofe, an Oklahoma Republican who is arguably the most vocal global warming skeptic in Washington, commented on CNN that no cap-and-trade bill would pass the Senate.
Gates got some face time on NBC with an in-flight interview by “Today” show anchor Matt Lauer. But Tiger came first even there.
The focus is likely to shift, at least in the U.S. capital, as the day wears on. General Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. military commander, and Ambassador Karl Eikenberry, the top U.S. diplomat in Afghanistan, are on Capitol Hill to explain how Obama’s planned surge of 30,000 soldiers will turn around the eight-year-old war.
Photo credit: REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk (Tiger Woods at the WCG Bridgestone Invitational golf tournament in Akron, Ohio August 6, 2009)