'Poor John Bryson!' Even the Papers of Record Didn't Find Him Notable

“Poor John Bryson!” exclaimed the "Reliable Source" gossips at The Washington Post on Wednesday. “Be honest: How many of you could have coughed up the name of the commerce secretary last week, even if a Jeopardy Daily Double were on the line?” (Especially, you, Chris Matthews.)

Even the newspapers ignored him: “In the year since he was nominated for the job by President Obama, Bryson had never once made it onto the front page of the Washington Post, New York Times or Wall Street Journal — until, of course, the bizarre series of traffic accidents in southern California Saturday that prompted him to take a medical leave.” Or as Jim Geraghty of National Review tweeted on Monday, “How is it that 4 years into economic hard times, most of us news junkies have no idea who the Commerce Secretary is?”

As Geraghty implied, the media prominence of a cabinet official is in part something the White House decides -- and Obama really doesn't seem to want any of his Cabinet officials to be a fraction as prominent as he is. That's not to say Commerce secretaries are normally household names.

Gossips Roxanne Roberts and Amy Argetsinger added:

Bryson, 68, had what officials described as a seizure while driving his own car, alone. No security? Turns out that’s how commerce secretaries roll when traveling on personal business, we’re told.

White House officials said they were only told about the accidents a day after they happened, and the president said he only learned about it Monday morning. Face it: If this had been, say, Tim Geithner, there’d have been a 3 a.m. phone call and an instant cable-news stakeout.

Bryson had been in California to deliver the commencement address Thursday at Pasadena Polytechnic School, which his four children attended. Some students and parents who saw Bryson's commencement speech told the Los Angeles Times he stumbled over some words, mispronounced others and appeared to lose his place several times.

The immediate (and indefinite) medical leave would seem like a most callous form of news management, making a Washington cynic wonder whether Bryson will return before the election. He certainly won't return until the local legal system clears up his record. Will the news media's previous lack of curiosity about Bryson now continue?

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis