This morning's entry in my ongoing obsession with "You Call This News?" stories: There's a short piece in the WaPo about some parents' unhappiness over the new on-line method of distributing tickets to the White House Easter Egg roll. Headline: "Slow Boil Over Egg Roll Tickets on Web."
Used to, folks had to get up at the crack of dawn (or head out the night before) and wait in a looooonnng line in downtown DC to secure tickets. In an effort to open up the process to people who don't live near enough to do that, who don't have the luxury of spending an entire day hanging out on the street, who might have some physical reason they can't stand in line, who might not have anywhere to leave the kiddies for that length of time, or who, any other number of reasons, cannot join in such merriment, the White House decided to distribute the tics in batches on-line.
Predictably, there were (gasp!) some difficulties with four gazillion people attempting to snap up what are typically between 15,000 and 20,000 tickets. There were, the Post notes, "large gaps in availaiblity," resulting in people's experiencing delays in processing, having to try repeatedly to access the system, getting "timed out" when things were taking too long, and so on. Some even walked away empty handed and disappointed. One mom from Jersey was quoted as saying she wished the old system were still in place.
Well, cry me a river. Whatever difficulties, frustrations, and glitches attend the current system, you can bet similarly annoying bugs existed under the old one. And while I haven't done a study of the old system, my strong suspicion is that you typically didn't wind up with the geographic distribution this method produced: at days end, families from 41 states managed to get tickets.
But here's what I find particularly pathetic: To support its whiny storyline, the Post cites only one other person, this one from an Aspen Hill mom who had to work the system for several hours--but then did indeed wind up with tickets. Her verdict: "I was a bit dubious when I first hear about the White House's plans for offering the Easter Egg Roll tickets online," the Post quotes. "And for much of the morning...I was being proved right."
Ummm. But in the end she got what she wanted, right? And odds are she didn't dork around online any longer than she would have stood in line in crappy weather in years gone by, right? So where's the outrage?
I realize this is much ado over a small story, but the media's broader tendency of whipping-up controversies out of thin-to-nonexistent gruel is one reason people hate us. And who can blame them?