There’s a fine line nowadays between gossip and news. A very fine line. The newest hotshot political journalists in Big Washington not only acknowledge but also even seem to brag that they’ll “put a story out there” just to get reactions, which in turn become a story in themselves: “Congressman so-and-so responded to rumors today that . . . .”
We here at this newspaper in the sleepy town of Little Washington are not immune to such temptations. The latest rumor to come across our desk involves the imminent visit of the country’s, possibly the world’s, most powerful female celebrity. First Lady Michelle Obama? Oprah? Lady Gaga?
For clueless older people like me — a generation or two removed from pop culture — Lady Gaga is a 20-something diva in the mold of Madonna. She pulled in more than $60 million last year, and is the hot topic not only on talk shows but also in gender and other interdisciplinary studies at our best universities.
Anyway, if the local buzz is to be believed, Lady Gaga might be making a clandestine visit to Rappahannock in search of a pastoral hideaway from Big Apple glam and glitter. Giving some credence to the rumor is the verifiable fact that Lady Gaga is indeed coming to nearby Charlottesville at summer’s end to perform at the John Paul Jones Arena.
Also adding to the rumor’s credibility is the perverse nature of gossip itself: “Don’t put anything in the paper about this,” warned one source, “or it might scare her off.”
Of course, the Inn at Little Washington is well practiced in the art of not making too much of a fuss over visits by the rich and famous. But this is different.
For Rappahannock residents, long familiar with reports of bobcat and cougar sightings in the Shenandoah National Park, it’s the equivalent of spotting Bigfoot, aka Sasquatch.
No matter that Bigfoot doesn’t really exist; it’s our journalistic duty to report the purported sighting, right?