Good morning, HAers! We hope you had a great weekend fighting the crowds in the malls. Funny thing…people tell me it snowed here. I ran some errands Saturday, came home feeling a little flu coming on and took a nap. Next thing I know it’s Sunday morning and wet and rainy outside. Snow you say? Yeah, right…
I am aware, however, that it is the last month of 2007, entering the thick of the holiday season, which means a lot of snow news days, make that slow news days, are on the way. Not that no news is actually happening. It’s just that the real news, the bare hungry sniffin’ truth, is not likely to be covered during this or any holiday season. There are two reasons for this: First, the real truth is kinda depressing and might serve up a real downer during a season to be jolly. Second, reporting real news would usurp space reserved for contest entries. The Seattle Times is particularly aggressive with prize-based, multi-part series this time of year. After all, the many prizes the industry awards to itself (no one else volunteering for the privilege) translate into respect, leadership and the current booming circulation rates that newspapers enjoy.
So yesterday’s and today’s Times are dominated by a series on old people being victimized by mortgage lenders (the headline says “Seniors prime targets…” shouldn’t that be subprime?), focusing on the trials of 96-year-old Frances Taylor, who lost $2 million in a sort of Ponzi scheme of refinancing during the housing boom. Anyone who owns a house, of course, is aware of the lending vultures eager to separate the gullible or defenseless from their life investments, and one wouldn’t wish Taylor’s experience on even the greediest of homeowners. But cynics like me (who was told repeatedly from 1999 on to refinance my home because equity is “dead money”) scoured the news media rabidly during the boom years for even a hint, a shred, a scintilla of skepticism arguing against leveraging equity. Perhaps The Times and other news media would have better served Frances Taylor and the rest of their reading public with a series on the dangers of the lending market in time to save people their homes. Granted, such unpleasantness might have discomfited the real-estate advertising community and probably not won any awards. But it would have saved a lot of readers a lot of grief.
So hark, the herald angels sing: It’s not too late to report today’s news today! Here’s an idea: How about a three-part series, or let’s not be greedy, just one good, hard-hitting story on the overbuilding crisis (all those condos and townhouses still being built while the ones already in place aren’t selling). Or here’s one: Somewhere there must be someone who is dying or already dead because they could not afford medical insurance. Or their insurance company did not cover what they should have. Or because their insurance company did not pay, they lost their house to predatory lenders. And how about Seattle’s war on the homeless, led by our curiously unreproachable mayor — a story rife with political and societal overtones. Oh drat, it’s the holidays. Let’s do a roundup instead of where the homeless can get turkey dinners. Or how about the huge giveaways to Paul Allen’s Vulcan, millions for a useless streetcar serving the rich while affordable housing goes wanting. Oh wait, the Beacon Hill News and The Stranger have that covered. So instead we have the P-I airing the kvetches of the privileged and wealthy, who are squabbling over downtown condos blocking each other’s views. “What Do You Think?” the P-I Web site asks. Um, er, can’t those guys afford lawyers?
Perhaps in this season of glad tidings we should adapt the cheerful admonition of suspected war criminal Donald Rumsfeld: You read the morning headlines you have, not the ones you might want or wish for. So for now anyway we’re stuck with 8 guys saying they had sexual associations with Larry Craig. That’s 7 more than got Clinton impeached, and Craig is still walking tall, with a spring in his wide stance. If only Monica Lewinsky had been male. We wait breathlessly for Matt Lauer’s call-back to Craig (with special guests!).
Or here’s something: Obama leading Clinton in Iowa? If I could do it, I would make that little Chris Berman “Wha….????” squeak. And what about Kucinich teaming up with Ron Paul? Hey, they could have their own debate, networks be damned. Ah but that would be the news we wish for, not the news we have.