Media believing their own hype

Can anyone recall an inauguration that was more relentlessly hyped? Having hyped it up to the status of a world-historical event — the French Revolution can’t hold a candle to it — now the media have begun inhaling their own inaugural hype:

CNN’s Washington bureau chief David Bohrman, for one, issued a “news emergency” of his own. While Bush freed up federal funds, Bohrman made available satellite phones in the event of rolling cell phone blackouts. There will be cots and air mattresses for staffers camping out in the newsroom on Monday night, along with shower arrangements at a nearby health club. Staffers will be treated to a pancake breakfast prior to braving the bitter cold and bulging crowds. “It’s the biggest event any of us have ever had to cover,” Bohrman said.

Biggest. Event. Ever.

War in Iraq, tsumani in Indonesia, space shuttle explosions, the fall of the Berlin Wall — all child’s play, compared to orchestrating the thoroughly scripted coverage of a thoroughly scripted ceremonial pageant.

Excuse any typos. I’m writing this blind, my eyes having rolled out of my head about 10 minutes ago.

UPDATE: In an unusual variation on the theme, columnist Leonard Pitts writes:

[W]hen Obama was elected in November, every third political cartoonist seemed to use an image of a celebrating Lincoln to comment upon the milestone that had occurred. Lincoln, they told us, would have been overjoyed.
Actually, Lincoln likely would have been appalled. How could he not? He was a 19th century white man who famously said in 1858 that “there is a physical difference between the white and black races, which . . . will forever forbid the two races living together upon terms of social and political equality.”
How do you reconcile that with all those cartoons of Lincoln congratulating Obama? You don’t. You simply recognize it for what it is: yet another illustration of how shallow our comprehension of history is, yet another instance where myth supersedes reality.

Of course, were I to make an issue of the contradictions between the historical reality and the posthumous legend of Lincoln, this would be met with denunciation of “neo-Confederate racism.” Leonard Pitts points out the same contradictions without fear of denunciation. In fact, anyone who criticizes Leonard Pitts risks denunciation as a neo-Confederate racist. Sigh . . .

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