A lot of you noticed that my little town of Rhinebeck, New York was the host of Chelsea Clinton’s wedding on Saturday. For the last week it has been a carnival atmosphere here, with TV cameras, blocked roads, crazy protestors, police cars, and black-windowed SUVs.
Big white satellite trucks parked on all the side streets. The sidewalks were sectioned off for dozens of news teams from all over the world. Heavily-made up presenters talked breathlessly and interviewed residents and shopkeepers. People came from out of town and sat for hours in folding chairs hoping to see Oprah or Spielberg or Streisand or Barack (none of whom showed up, apparently).
Someone dressed their two dogs up as bride and groom. Another guy with a raccoon-head wore a sandwich board that read “CHELSEA, WILL YOU MARRY ME?”
I walked by a restaurant where Bill Clinton was having lunch. The road was blocked by police cars and a crowd had formed outside. Bill walked slowly through town saying hello to everyone. Someone came away with tears in her eyes. “He shook my hand,” she said.
The wedding came and went. My question: Was it really that newsworthy? To me it seems like the biggest non-story of the year. Chelsea has been out of the media spotlight for a long time. Neither she nor her husband is particularly distinguished from a media point of view, apart from being the daughter of American royalty. There was no scandal, no story, not even good video footage. The main story was the media itself.
Television raises its white sails, and it also creates its own wind. Media begets media, and a lot of important stories out there don’t get coverage.