This morning’s news that the infamous party crashers are “demanding an apology” — from the White House, no less — about how they were treated following last November’s State Dinner sent me back into the archives of the Washington Post for more info on Michaele and Tareq Salahi. I hadn’t realized just how good WaPo’s late ’09 coverage of the couple was — from the initial scoop by a longtime Reliable Source columnist to a series of investigations that revealed the Salahis are essentially grifters who have stiffed tons of caterers, salons and other vendors and tradespeople over the years and misrepresented themselves to D.C. society at large. (She even scammed her way into a halftime performance by Redskins cheerleader alumni, though there’s no record she was ever on the squad.) This exhaustive series details the security breach step-by-step and delves into the pair’s mysterious background. Watergate it ain’t, but this is still a fascinating, dishy read.
So, I’m not going to pretend I’m objective about this. Nashville has been my home for nearly 10 years; I have lots of friends and family here. I can’t take the long view. But my city has been in crisis for more than 48 hours, and it’s hard to believe that the national media has just started to pick up the story.
Today the 2010 Pulitzer Prizes were announced, and I was very pleased to see that one of the most remarkable stories in my recent memory was among the winners: a feature by the Washington Post‘s Gene Weingarten.
I had actually been contemplating recommending this story for Weekly Reading, but I kept hesitating, and here’s why. The piece, about the handful of parents each year who accidentally leave an infant in a car to die, literally haunted me for days after I read it. Even now, when I’m reminded of it, I have a hard time shaking it off. To say it’s disturbing is an enormous understatement. You will not be the same after reading this story, particularly if you are a parent or hope to be someday.
So I recommend reading it with reservations. But I do want to endorse it as an exceptional piece of journalism. It takes a circumstance that is easily (and perhaps self-protectively) dismissed as negligent or criminal, and asks uncomfortable questions about who this happens to, why and how we process it. And if it’s this difficult to read, I can’t imagine how the reporting of it has marked the writer. (He gives some hint of it here.) The award is richly deserved.
On a lighter note, I was thrilled to see another musical — the first since Rent in 1996 — awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Congrats to Next to Normal‘s creators.
Every once in a while, I’m in the mood for a real political “inside baseball” piece. And no one does them like the New York Times. On Sunday morning, as I obsessively refreshed Talking Points Memo’s comprehensive Countdown to Reform Wire to get the latest on the historic healthcare vote, I thoroughly enjoyed this NYT piece, which outlines how Obama and Pelosi joined forces to push the bill through in the wake of Scott Brown’s election. It’s fascinating to read the nuts and bolts of how what I honestly thought was the death knell for healthcare reform actually woke up the Democratic leadership and spurred them to action. Lots of great detail — like the fact that Obama himself persuaded Kucinich to vote yes during an Air Force One ride. If you’re the least bit curious about how the Dems pulled it off, this is a must-read.