The Wrong Stuff?

(AP Photo/Red Huber)
Covering the White House, I thought I was safe from the sad story of astronaut Lisa Nowak. But I was wrong. A reporter raised it at the daily briefing of spokesman Tony Snow. Here's the exchange from the White House transcript:
Q Tony, this may seem demeaning, but it's obviously a serious question. This NASA scandal is huge all over the world. Is the White House going to ask the NASA for any more transparency in the oversight and selection of astronauts in light of this unfortunate --

MR. SNOW: I know it is the most salacious story, but I'll refer it all to NASA, much to the consternation of all in this room.

Q Well, even the oversight of the way they select, and then they continue to monitor their astronauts --

MR. SNOW: Again, Connie, I'm just -- NASA has the answers and the responses to this, and I'd direct you to them. I'm not going to grandstand on that story.

I understand why the story of Lisa Nowak is news. Here's a woman who went from the pinnacle of an elite profession and plunged into the abyss of emotional turmoil.

It's not surprising that the tabloids have run screamer headlines about it and even the Washington Post and New York Times report it on their front pages.

But in the great scheme of things, it's a sad glitch in the human condition. It's an easy target for clever headlines and jokes. I'm guilty of that myself.

But the magnitude of the coverage of the story seems out of proportion.

We're a nation stuck in a war nobody bargained for. We've got a National Debt of nearly $8.7 trillion dollars. Genocide is still underway in Darfur. We're struggling to address so many problems affecting so many millions. And the pathetic case of Lisa Nowak is what we're all talking and joking about.

I get it. But I don't like it.

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    Mark Knoller is a CBS News White House correspondent.