Tom Foreman, a CNN anchor and reporter, revealed that he has written a letter to President Obama every day of his first term.
That’s Every. Single. Day.
Some may find that bizarre, obsessive, even unnatural. Others may question the journalistic ethics of personally communicating with the president of the United States in such a regular and friendly fashion.
Evidently, Foreman’s employers at CNN don’t think either of those things and actually gave him space on their website to publish an article explaining himself:
I wrote about things that were important, like unemployment, Afghanistan and women’s rights. I also wrote about things that were trivial, like sports, favorite foods and my yearly battle with Christmas lights.
The tally: 1,460 letters, well over a half-million words, or enough to fill about seven novels. Laid out as one line of text, these letters would stretch almost 3½ miles or considerably longer than the inaugural parade route.
After explaining how hard it got over the years to come up with something interesting and pertinent to say, Foreman reveals the real reason he wrote the president every day: he is a raging narcissist:
In the third year, I surged ahead. Having accepted that my fountain of easy ideas had run dry, I dedicated more serious thought to what I would say. To be sure, the letters became less entertaining, but I liked to imagine that they had more substance, although in retrospect I was probably wrong.
And in this fourth year, I struggled. It seemed many days as if I’d already said everything I had to say and then some. At one point I had considered writing letters to the White House for the rest of my life. The fourth year convinced me that this would be a bad idea. I found myself counting the days to January.
Along the way it occurred to me that being president is probably much harder than most of us suppose. After all, if it is this exhausting just thinking about the job, imagine what it is like actually punching the Oval Office clock. Truthfully, I offered very little advice. More often I presented general notions about how one approaches problems; the same notions I would pass on to anyone in any position who faces daily challenges.
Which, I guess, is pretty much all of us.
His last letter is the same as his first letter:
Congratulations! Watching you on that podium today, surrounded by so many hundreds of thousands of Americans, I could not help but feel inspired by the miracle of democracy and the greatness of our nation. I also have a question: Do you have any idea what you’ve gotten yourself into?
I know you are busy today, but call when you can.
I can’t recall in 45 years of media watching ever coming across anything as corrupting to professional journalism as this. He actually expected the president — the man he is paid to cover according to the ethics and standards (a stretch with CNN, I know) of professional journalism — to call and chat him up on an informal and friendly basis. It’s hard to pick what’s more bizarre — his belief that his pitiful missives actually stimulated the thinking of the president of the United States, or that he could entertain the idea of developing a personal relationship with Barack Obama.
Why is this guy still working for CNN? The revelation that he had engaged in this fantasy for four years should have elicited sympathy from his bosses — and a paid trip to a sanitarium — or a pink slip.
What does it say about CNN that they did neither?