Most Americans — nearly 60 percent — heard the the news of Osama bin Laden’s death on television, according to a poll by the Washington Post and the Pew Research Center. Eleven percent first got the news online, but three percent — including Gene Weingarten — didn’t hear the news until they opened the next day’s newspaper.
At 7 a.m. Monday morning I plucked the Washington Post from the front yard, poured myself a cup of joe, sat in a comfy chair, unsleeved the paper, snapped it open, and gasped.
I can’t tell you how good it felt – not just the news, which was indeed good -- but the method of delivery. Yeah, this is weepy nostalgia, but it is righteous weepy nostalgia about an experience I’d almost forgotten and will soon lose forever: A huge story that arrives on the doorstep as a complete surprise the morning after -- as full-blown news, in a package that hollers its importance, told with a blast of authority, assembled by people more expert than I, and only after time for reflection. Read more.
But there was something missing, Weingarten says. “A gigantic, slap-to-the-forehead missed opportunity” by bin Laden:
Had I been bin Laden, I would have taken the time to make a few dozen videos, each claiming that they got the wrong man. ... Each video would contain slightly differing details of that raid, and his accomplices would release only the one closest to the actual facts. Bin Laden would have said they’d killed his double; that he was disappearing into hiding for a while to plan further righteous attacks etc. In this conspiracy-thirsty world, he would live forever. A Demonic Elvis. Read more.
Everyone from Donald Trump to John Boehner has weighed in on President Obama’s triumph. The media is abuzz with talk of a 2012 re-election. But not so fast, says Weingarten. In 1991, he was the editor of the Sunday Style section, and Joel Achenbach pitched him an idea that hinted at President George H.W. Bush’s seeming inevitable re-election:
He would write two stories, which I would yoke together on the Sunday Style front under the headline “What if...?”
The first story would be a serious look at how Washington would change if Democrats won the White House in 1992: Who would be in, who would be out, etc. The second story would be a speculation piece on what would happen if aliens landed on the National Mall.
Read more, including Weingarten’s thoughts on the best bin Laden Internet meme and his take on this year’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner.