Do we have a right to know the salacious details of Tiger Woods’ affairs? The insatiable public desire to know every delicious tidbit is clear, but ravenous curiosity is not the same thing as the right to know. Sadly, the time and effort spent feeding the public’s monstrous appetite for scandal diminishes the delivery and absorption of news that we really do need to know.
We need to know the details of President Obama’s plans for the troop surge in Afghanistan. This is a high risk strategy, one that will come at the cost of more lives, no doubt about that. When life is at stake, to say nothing of the risk of failing to end this gruesome war, the public surely must have the details. How much time did the American public spend on Obama’s Afghan speech this week, compared to the hours spent learning the names of the Tiger babes? Truth be told, I was somewhat heartened to see 13,300,000 hits in Google when I asked it for “Afghan Troop Surge” compared to 18,700,000 hits for “Tiger Woods Scandal” — that’s not bad!
Do we need to know that Michele Salahi, part of that famous duo of White House Gate Crashers, also faked being an alumna of the Washington Redskins cheerleaders organization? Yes, we need to know every deceptive detail of the Salahis’ trail of shame — not to punish them, since other agencies will take care of that (I hope) at some point, but more importantly, so that we can learn about our own gullibility and holes in so many security systems. But we don’t need to know so much about the Salahis that the ongoing media circus keeps feeding their delusions of fame.
We really do NOT need to know one more iota about Levi Johnston, the father of Sarah Palin’s grandchild. Indeed, we probably already know too much about the entire Palin clan.
We should know a lot more about the Senate Health Care proposal, but where can we possibly find the time to compare that tome to the House Health Care bill when we still haven’t learned all that we’d like to know about David Letterman’s dalliances with his staff?
We’d like to forget about Iraq entirely. Not hard to do when we’re in premature mourning for Oprah’s move to cable.
We need to know more about progress in public school reform in D.C., but it’s hard to pay attention when there’s a good scandal brewing over the awards of city contracts to friends of the mayor. And, of course, there’s always our favorite game, a.k.a., Who Will Coach The Redskins Next Year? That is so time consuming, we hardly can pay attention to what we need to know about aligning curricular goals with teaching objectives for student success.
We need to know that the unemployment rate is now 10%. But the headline blares, Who Is Elin Nordegren?
We know so much stuff that we don’t really need to know. What do we know that’s really important?
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See my comments on the White House Gatecrashers in the On Success blog @ WashingtonPost online