We're S-H-O-P-P-I-N-G, We're Shopping

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Oct. 3 2011 9:00 AM

We're S-H-O-P-P-I-N-G, We're Shopping

Maybe I'm groggy after a weekend of covering soggy protests, but this would appear to be an entire Washington Post story about whether or not the AP and Michelle Obama colluded to cover her trip to a Target in Alexandria.

Why do we wonder if there was collusion? Sean Hannity tweeted about it. Rush Limbaugh called it "phoney bologna." Glenn Beck's news site also made fun of it. Paul Farhi's conclusion: "There might have been something to the notion of White House orchestration." The evidence:

- "As a practical matter, it’s difficult to know in advance where a first lady is headed without White House cooperation."

- "Corporate chains such as Target prohibit news photography on company-owned premises without prior permission."

So, the event must have been staged, right? There's no real evidence for that. Julie Mason's report on the visit included this quote from the store manager.

The team was really excited. We hadn’t had an Obama family member since the beginning of his term as far as we are aware.

"Since the beginning of his term" implies that the Obamas have gone to this Target just outside D.C. before. So the visit was not completely prefab, even in the Limbaugh nightmare scenario -- it was just an oddball event, one that looked good for the White House, that an AP reporter got a tip about. This makes it different from every other event that looks good for the White House. or every Obama family visist to an area restaurant, because... well, I guess because Rush Limbaugh complained about it?

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 



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