"The nation’s largest veterans group called Monday for the resignation of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki and two top administrators due over alleged issues with quality of care and cover-ups at some VA medical centers," staff writer Josh Hicks reported in the May 6 edition of the Washington Post. "His patriotism and sacrifice for this nation are above reproach....However, his record as head of the Department of Veterans Affairs tells a different story. It's a story of poor oversight and failed leadership," Hicks quoted the American Legion's National Commander Daniel Dellinger.
But alas, Post editors shoved the story to the very bottom of page A2. By contrast, however, Post editors saw fit to trumpet the outrage of local diehard Lady Gaga fans -- who call themselves Little Monsters -- at the prospect of a concert being canceled so that the Washington Wizards might host a playoff game against the Indiana Pacers (assuming the series gets to a game 6). Here's how Dan Steinberg opened that 19-paragraph page A1 story:
The Little Monsters found themselves pitted against the Washington Wizards on Monday, and the results were as surreal as you would imagine.
“I swear y’all better not postpone or cancel the lady gaga concert for a basketball game or you will have riots,” tweeted one Little Monster, as Lady Gaga fans are known, when a possible conflict emerged between a National Basketball Association playoff game and a Gaga show at Verizon Center on May 15.
“I don’t care who you are do not reschedule the Lady Gaga concert it will ruin your reputation trust me,” another fan wrote on Twitter.
“Fans are freaking out about it, cussing about it, screaming about it,” said Mark James, 19, when contacted by telephone. James was scheduled to fly from North Carolina to Washington the day before the concert. “It’s ridiculous.”
The NBA announced Saturday that if the Wizards and Indiana Pacers haven’t settled their best-of-seven second-round series before May 15, Game 6 would be played that night at Verizon Center. This isn’t a regular Washington concern in May; the long-suffering Wizards are in the second round of the NBA playoffs for just the second time since 1982.
“We are aware of the potential conflict and are working with the promoter in the event Game 6 is necessary,” the Wizards said in a statement over the weekend. “More information will be released when it becomes available.”
The scheduling conflict is even more complicated because the arena is already booked the following night, when the Washington Mystics are scheduled to play their season opener. And so Lady Gaga fans — many of whom had tickets to her previous Washington show last February, which was canceled because of a health issue — reacted with horror and outrage.
“I was like, ‘This is not happening. This is not happening to me again,’ ” said Hunter Nguyen, 18, from Silver Spring. “I have a lot of friends who are going, a lot of friends who booked hotels from different cities that are coming to D.C. to see the show. We’re all pretty devastated right now, actually.”
Now, in fairness, newspaper editors often like to put one fluffy or bemusing water cooler-style story on the front-page, in no small part to goose single-issue sales of the print edition. That said, this story was below the page fold, so you wouldn't see it in display bin without flipping over a copy anyway. If you bought the paper out of a coin-operated machine, you wouldn't see it at all before dropping in your five quarters.
To the left of the Gaga story the Post printed a, wait for it, local crime story, about Philip Welsh, a 65-year-old bachelor murdered in February whose "lack of digital footprint leaves police little to go on." Surely it's a fascinating story, but one worthy of the front page of Metro, where it could have been placed to make room for Hicks's story on the American Legion.