(Note: Hilarious update at bottom of post)
Rev up that outrage engine, everyone: President Obama is disrespecting the Boy Scouts!
Or so the conservative blogs and Fox News would have you believe. Upon learning that the president’s schedule will not allow him to attend the Boy Scouts of America’s Jamboree in person, the Raging Right has roared into action.
It all started with this post on CNS News, a site parented by the Media Research Center in order to counter the alleged “liberal bias in many news outlets.” The title chosen for this post in CNSNews.com‘s “endeavor to fairly present all legitimate sides of a story” was Obama Won’t Speak In-Person at Boy Scouts’ 100th Anniversary Celebration But Will Appear on ABC TV’s ‘The View.’
Of course, the first paragraph acknowledges that the president will be addressing the Scouts via a videotaped message, and the rest of the article documents that presidential appearances at the Jamboree have historically been spotty, so the title could have easily been Obama Won’t Speak In-Person at Boy Scouts’ 100th Anniversary Celebration But Will Appear Via Videotaped Remarks. But fake objectivity is a stern taskmaster and one that required framing the story as Obama choosing a TV talk show over the historic Boy Scouts anniversary celebration.
Ben Dimiero of MediaMatters points out:
The CNS article includes several points that should (in a sane media world) mitigate the inevitable freak-out from conservative media figures:
  • Obama will be addressing the Boy Scouts via a taped message.
  • Several previous presidents — including conservative hero Ronald Reagan — did not address a Boy Scouts jamboree in person.
  • The Boy Scouts just visited the oval office two weeks ago.
The CNSNews article actually documents the recent – and less than recent – history of presidential addresses to the Jamboree, starting with the fact that the first Jamboree was attended by FDR in 1937. It then skips ahead to the Bush era:
Obama’s three predecessors spoke at the event – George H. W. Bush in 1989 and Bill Clinton in 1998 in-person, and George W. Bush who spoke via video in 2001 when bad weather prevented him from traveling. George W. Bush did speak in-person at the 2005 Jamboree.
First Lady Nancy Reagan addressed the Jamboree in 1985, the first year someone from the White House had spoken there since President Lyndon Johnson in 1964. Prior to Johnson, President Harry Truman was joined by then-General and future President Dwight D. Eisenhower, both of whom spoke at the 1950 Jamboree in Valley Forge.
Presidents Nixon, Reagan, Carter and Ford did not speak at a Jamboree and President John F. Kennedy was assassinated before the Jamboree in 1964 when Johnson spoke.
So it’s not exactly unprecedented that a president would fail to appear in person at the Boy Scouts Jamboree. The only reason this is a (fake) big deal to the conservative irrationati is a) it’s Obama, and b) the fact that part of his scheduling conflict is an appearance on The View.
Even the Boy Scouts of America are not upset with the president, having issued this statement:
“Due to his schedule, President Obama will not be able to attend the 2010 National Scout Jamboree,” the statement reads. “In February, the President sent a letter honoring the BSA’s 100th Anniversary and his signature appears on Eagle Scout cards.”
“Also, he has welcomed Boy Scouts contingents in the Oval Office twice since taking office,” the statement reads. “President Obama serves as the Honorary President of the BSA, as has every President since Howard Taft. While each President is traditionally invited to attend the Jamboree, not every President has been able to attend the event.”
“We thank the President for his effort to recognize Scouting and look forward to working with his administration as we work toward accomplishing our mission of preparing young people to become exceptional adults,” the statement concludes.
So if you should be perusing the conservative blogosphere and come across headlines like Obama Missing Historic Boy Scout Jamboree for Fundraisers, ‘View’ Taping or Campaigner-in-Chief Snubs The Boy Scouts 100 Year Anniversary Jamboree For An Appearance On The View, just channel Sarah Palin and invoke Shakespeare – for this is truly much ado about nothing.