Because I used to be in the same family of brothers and sisters in the national media, it grieves me to criticize ‘em from time to time. But this is one of those times.

In the last couple of weeks, two routine stories were blown into far more importance than either warranted and we were smothered with both.

One was former President Clinton’s latest medical experience placing a stent in a blocked artery. Now, I don’t want to trivialize surgery. We’re always warned there’s some risk with invasive procedures, especially involving anesthesia of any type. And always when involving the heart.

But Holy Sanjay Guptal! We were inundated! Especially by CNN and MSNBC. As scalpels were being sterilized, each network repeatedly ran retrospectives of Clinton’s public life as though he was about to shuffle off this mortal coil. Or already had. I thought Wolf Blitzer was going to have apoplexy a couple of times. And Olbermann sounded like he would wind up on a bed in the same surgical suite.

On the other hand, our friends at fearless Fox just about ignored the whole thing. Face it, you’ve got to have those fringy Hannity homilies every day.

The honest value of the Clinton medical story was, seems to me, somewhere in the middle of those extremes. From the git-go, doctors said this would be routine as such practices go. Clinton would be on his feet by the end of the day, out of the hospital in 24 hours or less and back to his office in four days. And that’s what happened.

One little tidbit did interest me, though. His wife, our Secretary of State, received a call telling her Clinton was in the hospital while she was meeting with President Obama in the oval office. Really? That was her first inkling? Interesting. If I’m to be a patient at Mercy, my wife has already studied the x-rays and has consulted with the cutter a day before.

The other super-saturation was Ms. Palin’s over-hyped appearance at the Nashville Tea Party whatchamacallit. Less than 600 people paid $350 a pop to hear and watch her $100,000, 45-minute wanderings and platitudes. But, because it was on the weekend and real news other than Haiti was scarce, the nation was way overexposed to whatever she said. I’ve read the text and find no news meat.

The Lindsey Lohan of Republican politics gets far too much attention for the value of her words. The endless media speculation about whether she’ll run for president is laughable. She doesn’t want to be president. Quitting the people of Alaska midterm was the first hint. She wants to be a political personality, not an officeholder. Her heroes aren’t former presidents. They’re more likely Newt G. and Rudy G. and Fred T. and Ron P. She doesn’t want job responsibility and limited income. She wants money! Big money. And no responsibility.

Quick example: she can’t take money from her PAC for personal gain. So she uses PAC dollars to buy 70,000 copies of her book wholesale; about $10. That pumps up publication numbers artificially. Then she gives the copies away for donations to … what else … her PAC. No dollars out of her pocket. But, as the author, she gets about 10% cash for each sale. If the book sells for $20, she gets $2 times 70,000 and it’s all legal. Money. Attention. Ride those horses as far as they’ll go.

Media excesses simply contribute to the lowered esteem in which we value those information sources. There was a time when you reported the facts and the facts determined how much attention … or how many inches … the story received. Always seemed like a good process to me. Now we get endless lead up information, the actual event, then hours and hours or even days and days detailing what happened and what we should all think about it.

In these two instances, other things are at work. These are “personalities.” Bill Clinton is larger than life and, whatever you think about him, he’s news. Worldwide news because overseas, especially, he’s held in high regard for the good works of the Clinton Foundation. He attracts attention without trying. Always will.

The pathetic Palin saga is something else. She’s angling for attention 24-7. In her world, attention … pro or con … sets the dollar value on her perceived worth for speeches, rallies, talk shows and super market ribbon cuttings. Eighteen months ago, she couldn’t have picked up $200 for the Nashville musings. Now $100,000. Fame equals dollars.

In one case, the media overblows. In the other, it creates. In both cases, far too much. But which “personality” will you still be hearing about five years from now?

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