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The media retreats 

I’ve just returned from the Annual Liberal Media Retreat, that heady woodsy conference held every year amidst the redwoods of Marin County. I never used to get invited to these things, but ever since I’ve become a repeat award winner (have you heard?), now I get the coveted invitation. It comes printed on a complimentary Prius.

Have you ever wondered why the Fourth of July is such a slow news time? It’s not that news doesn’t happen, it’s that all the newsmakers are away on this retreat. Motto: “Where media become ‘the media.’”

The ALMR is, of course, where we all decide what colors will be hot in the coming year, who should win the next presidential election, which scandals we will create, which celebrities will get married (and be allowed to breed or adopt), which states will have to allow gay marriage, and—I’m not sure I’m supposed to discuss this part—which celebrities and politicians will die, and how.

I don’t ask questions about how precisely our decisions are enacted—frankly it’s cumbersome to ask any questions due to the tintinnabulation of the constant drum drum drum beats, and many of us try to avoid small talk anyway because of its obligations for eye contact and such. Most of the rituals require us to be naked at all times; it’s awkward but enlightening. (Just know that I know where Stone Phillips’ name came from and please don’t ever mention the name “Katie Couric” and “s’mores” to me in the same sentence.)

Because I’m newish, I was placed on one of the less sought-after committees: The Committee on Ratios. This is where we, the media, decide precisely how many people from Africa or any hard-to-pronounce countries have to die in order to get the same amount of news coverage as a single American death. Being a progressive, I pushed hard for a 10:1 ratio, but eventually settled for a 38:1, still a slight improvement over the previous ratio and one I hope will be appreciated the next time a Nigerian bus collides with a petrol tanker.

One of the hot items for discussion was how to deal with the fact that our secret has gotten out. For the first 128 years of the club’s operation, it remained a secret, but then someone committed the treasonous offense of telling Rush Limbaugh about our efforts and he’s since blabbed to everyone about how we operate. I nodded off during part of the discussion, but I think we agreed to continue to respond by perpetuating the completely fabricated myth that he’s a fat hypocritical drug addict who helped ruin the Republican Party.

Of course it’s not all work, work, work.

There’s also time to sit back and reflect on our successes. South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford’s Argentine “lover” was there, laughing about how easy it was to dupe Sanford into falling for her. She’s not really from Argentina; she’s a post-grad in women’s studies from Berkeley and she was most relieved that she’ll finally be able to let her armpit hair grow back.

You should know that one thing we couldn’t take credit for was Sarah Palin. First off, her timing was bad. We never would have had her implode right before our conference. Several people missed out on the hot stone massages that are offered during the welcome ceremonies because they were stuck blabbing on CNN. When she first appeared on the scene, we tried to make her seem dumb, but whenever we tried something she would out-dumb us, like a kid from special school. No, Sarah’s the genuine imbecile.

One of our biggest sessions involved the Michael Jackson funeral—and all of the associated information and misinformation distributed before, after, and during the whole global grieving process. Who do you think kept leaking tips that, yes, there would be a memorial service at nearby Neverland Ranch?

Surprisingly, the camp was slightly divided on who should get the bill for the real event at the Staples Center. Not everyone agreed that the City of Los Angeles should pay for all the police measures and traffic direction and crowd control associated with the service.

Most of us, though, believed that a few million dollars from an already cash-strapped city and budget-less state was a small price to pay for the intangible benefits of spectacle. And no one should have to mourn alone at home, playing Thriller at full volume and watching Free Willy over and over again in a darkened room. The Staples Center event was literally a service—a public service to the fans.

It was also worth it to celebrate the performance culture that allows so many leftie messages to slip unnoticed into the mainstream. We never turn down a chance to glorify Hollywood, theater, the music industry with its rap and what-have-you, and questionable street art that makes Bermuda-shorts wearing passersby uncomfortable.

Our final piece of business? We decided to drop the “Liberal” from our title; everybody agreed it was redundant.

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