Opinion: A justifiable media firestorm on the GSA



Seth Cohen

Seth Cohen

Seth Cohen is a senior magazine journalism major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].

Last Wednesday, the nation witnessed something that was truly unbelievable. No, it has nothing to do with Mitt Romney winning three more primaries. And no, it has nothing to do with Rick Santorum saying he’ll never give up (or let you down). It’s something much more than that.

On April 4, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, HLN and almost any other media outlet you can think of, all came together in an agreement. Put aside the conservative and liberal beliefs, and dust away any political agendas you so rightfully glorify as your own opinions.

The General Service Administration, an agency that acts as the government’s baby sitter and sets the standard for efficiency and cost-cutting, held a conference in Las Vegas and spent close to $1 million in tax dollars. The people who make sure the government doesn’t waste any money were actually wasting money. It’s irony at its best, sadly.

The GSA took hard-earned American tax money and went all out in Sin City. Any broadcast news station that you can think of had the same logical criticism; they wasted the people’s tax dollars.

This is what Fox News and CNN mutually reported: On the tax payer’s dime, the GSA held a four-day conference in Vegas. About $100,000 was spent planning the event alone; the hotel they stayed in held a two-story suite that goes for $2,200 per night; $75,000 was spent for a training exercise to help put together bicycles; the money employed clowns, a mind reader and more. This all added up to around $823,000.

Yep, when you think about it, for those of you struggling to make ends meet paid for “Schmucky” the clown! And you didn’t even get to watch.

It’s unbelievable how such an organization would do such a thing. What’s even more astounding (but in a good way) is how each news outlet agreed on the story’s necessary coverage. Less bias, less pandering: more pointed, more focused commentary.

We live in a society where we don’t trust our media because we expect them to have a political or cultural bias, but this story was able to quarantine those biases for the time being, and to forgo their differences. Because when it comes to spending tax dollars in the most unethical way possible, there’s no other way to spin it. We are in total agreement on how we don’t want our money spent, which means if we find out our money went to clowns and mind readers, chances are, we’re going to say, “this is wrong on a level that’s beyond wrong.”

Following reports of the unacceptable, lavish spending, GSA’s Chief Administrator Martha Johnson resigned. Now, I like to try and stay moderate. But I’m not the most moderate person when it comes to presidential candidates. I’ll say this without reservations: if someone wastes our taxpayer money, we’re going to make sure they know what’s up.