James McPherson's Media & Politics Blog

Observations of a patriotic progressive historian, media critic & former journalist


  • By the author of The Conservative Resurgence and the Press: The Media’s Role in the Rise of the Right and of Journalism at the End of the American Century, 1965-Present. A former journalist with a Ph.D. in journalism, history and political science, McPherson is a past president of the American Journalism Historians Association and a board member for the Northwest Alliance for Responsible Media.

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“A dog’s life” or “Life’s a bitch”

Posted by James McPherson on June 17, 2008

CBS and other sources offer a headline stating, “Leona Helmsley’s Dog Loses $10 Million.” My first thought was to wonder if the dog (named “Trouble”) had a gambling problem. My second thought was, “This is more important than, oh, say, a thousand or so other stories?”

Yet I did read the story, finding that a judge had cut Trouble’s trust fund from $12 million to a mere $2 milion. The story also included an itemized list of the dog’s expenses, such as $60,000 a year for its guardian. That’s about $57,000 more than it would cost me to leave my dog at our regular kennel for a year. Trouble also “needs” $12,000 per month for food, a figure considerably above what is set by the U.S. Census as the poverty level for all of one person’s needs (food, shelter, etc.).

The pampered pooch’s guardian also listed $18,000 annually for medical care. At that rate, Trouble could get a total hip replacement–of both hips–twice a year and half several thousand dollars left over. Compare that to the average health plan for a family of four Americans, for which the employer contributes $12,100 and the employee chips in $3,300, for a total of $15,400–or $2,600 less than Trouble supposedly needs every year.

On the other hand, John McCain and the rest of the Senate have great health care plans. If you’re not a Congressman or a rich person’s dog, then whose fault is that?

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