Why cover Obama's hamburger lunch? People like it.

President Obama and Vice President Biden order hamburgers at Ray's Hell Burgers in Arlington, Virginia.

Every time there's a human interest story about the president or the first lady, there's always criticism from "serious journalists" and "serious citizens" who can't understand why a news outlet would devote air time or pixel space to something they consider meaningless.

Take yesterday's hamburger run by President Obama and Vice President Biden. It got a lot of attention. As NBC's Sara K. Smith writes, "This event was so exciting and significant that every major media outlet covered it."

That's true. We did. Monitor reporter Linda Feldmann was on pool duty. She blogged about it, and it was the second most read story on the web site yesterday. You can read it here.


Some of our readers (who curiously clicked to read the story) said it was not newsworthy:

Cogito wrote, "This is news??? Good, grief…"

Nani offered, "Wow…a free lunch for biased press coverage."

But most enjoyed the article.

Smith sarcastically said the hamburger run was the "most important event in human history since the invention of fire." And she wondered why such events are covered.

Simple. People are interested in it. It doesn't mean they aren't interested in TARP or taxes or the situations in Afghanistan and Pakistan. There can be a balance.


There's a lot of interest in the president's dog. And the Queen's iPod. And where the president and first lady had Valentine's dinner. And whatever Joe Biden has to say.

And it's not just this president. People were just as interested in the personal side of President George W. Bush. Just as interested.

For example, whenever a non-newsmaker appeared on "Ask the White House" (the online chat on the White House web site) traffic increased.

When the White House curator discussed ghosts in the White House, traffic spiked. Or when the chef answered questions about food, traffic soared. Whenever Barney the dog was discussed, record traffic was recorded.

People want to see the human side of the White House.


CBS White House correspondent Mark Knoller knows this as well as anyone. He's covered every president since Gerald Ford. And yesterday, he kept his followers updated on the burger run 13 times on Twitter.

It was entertaining. By the way, he also used Twitter to communicate updates on the upcoming Supreme Court nomination, health care, Obama's meeting with Shimon Peres, and many other policy announcements.

Hamburger updates

We like the hamburger Tweets though. So, we'll feature those (and we included a video from the event as well).

Tweet #1: Here's a new one: Obama and VP Biden just left the White House together --they're going out to lunch.

Tweet #2: I can't remember a Pres and VP going out to lunch together. Certainly not Bush and Cheney, though they had a weekly lunch in the WH.

Tweet #3: Obama and Biden just arrived, by motorcade, at Ray's Hell-Burger across the Potomac in Arlington, VA.

Tweet #4: Burgers at Ray's are on the pricey side, but very highly regarded. Customers line up and order -- no waiter service. basic burger $6.95.

Tweet #5: I've never been to Ray's, but CBS News colleague Mary Hager says Ray's got "killer burgers." Online reviews call 'em among the best ever.

Tweet #6: Lunch play-by-play. Press Pool reports Obama ordered a swiss mushroom burger with chili and cheese cooked medium. Paid cash.

Tweet #7: Now some of you will go nuts over this: but Obama ordered burgers for some in the press. (Payoff no doubt for standing up last week).

Tweet #8: Obama tells press: you guys are cheap dates. I cant believe I couldn't get more people to order a burger.

Tweet #9: I do recall Pres. Clinton stopping by a place in Arkansas that served hubcap burgers -- near the size of hupcaps. But VP Gore wasn't along.

Tweet #10: You'll see pictures and video shortly of the Pres. and VP sitting on stools at Table #42, eating burgers. So much for where's the beef?

Tweet #11: Quick lunch. Obama back at the WH from lunch.

Tweet #12: TV POOL video shows Obama and Biden waiting patiently in line to place their burger order.

Tweet #13: Pool got it wrong: Obama really ordered a basic cheddar cheese burger, medium well with spicy mustard. also order cheesy tater puffs....


Hey, although we only Tweeted once during the hamburger run yesterday, we promise to do more. So follow us on Twitter!

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