The national media looked foolish last week when it took the time to cover President Barack Obama's picks for the Final Four of the men's NCAA national basketball championship. The journalists should have tried harder to report the news that really matters these days, not the usual fluff and trivial stuff that passes for headlines.
You could call this action the media's own particular brand of March Madness — except that this sort of nonsense seems to occur pretty much all the time in the United States.
The coverage is wrong — stupid, even. Above all else, who cares what teams the president favors? I'm glad the president is no elitist. He wants to be regarded as an ordinary guy so he, like much of America, happily and rather mindlessly, fills out his NCAA brackets. This sort of frivolity has become the nation's annual March standard fare in offices from Portland, Maine, to Portland, Ore.
Everyone wants to jump into the NCAA pool. The fun is not showing how much you know about college hoops. No, the best part is winning yourself — while your office mates are grumbling because the Hoyas or the Lobos — Georgetown and New Mexico, respectively, suffered shocking upsets during the first week of the competition, infuriating their supporters.
You can, as gravy, pocket a few hundred bucks. But best of all, you can walk around for the next year as the person Who Won the Office Pool. People respect you just a bit more than before.
Who can say? Maybe POTUS has a secret pool going on with the members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff or the House Budget Committee? Hey, we all know how much the current president likes to win, too, whether it is an election campaign or a casual game of HORSE in his driveway or a one-on-one smackdown with Kobe Bryant or LeBron James.
Putting the matter into perspective, the president was about to embark on a potentially sensitive diplomatic mission to Israel. Peace in the Middle East always hangs in the balance when a sitting president tries his hand at calming those troubled waters.
I wish the media had not diverted our attention — event for just a minute — from the importance of the Obama trip to the Middle East to waste our time on the silly Final Four. Instead of playing the president's game of using the media to show that he is just one of the boys, the journalists should treat him like the president of the United States.
Jon Friedman writes the Media Web column for MarketWatch.com. He is also the author of "Forget About Today: Bob Dylan's Genius for (Re)invention, Shunning the Naysayers and Creating a Personal Revolution. Click here to order a copy. Read more reports from Jon Friedman — Click Here Now.
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