When word surfaced Thursday that a Malaysia Air Boeing 777 was shot down over Ukraine, KIRO Radio's Dori Monson was on his way to Snohomish for a long-planned skydiving adventure to be aired live on his show. But the trip was quickly scrapped as details of the tragedy emerged.
"We all agreed it would look incredibly frivolous in the midst of the air disaster for me to go sky diving today," Dori said.
While Dori scrambled to get all the information possible and change his plans for Thursday's show, he was stunned to find out President Obama wouldn't be doing the same.
President's schedule unchanged - he's now at the Charcoal Pit near Wilmington where he ordered the "Pit Special" - burger & fries.— Jonathan Karl (@jonkarl) July 17, 2014
"I saw this and thought this has to be a joke, or it has to be an old tweet from a month or a year or three years ago," Dori said. "There's absolutely no way that as the Israelis were on the verge of a ground offensive into Gaza, as a plane with 295 people had been shot from the sky with a missile - 23 Americans on board - there's absolutely no way that the President of the United States of America was still doing a photo op."
He was. And while grisly details continued to emerge, the President kept on with the photo op at the diner, yucking it up with the patrons and press.
On the record so far from the President today: "I'm starving" - as he ordered a 4oz cheeseburger at The Charcoal Pit in Delaware— Jonathan Karl (@jonkarl) July 17, 2014
More Obama at The Charcoal Pit: "Me and Joe, we share shakes all the time" (per pool)— Jonathan Karl (@jonkarl) July 17, 2014
Obama is reflected through the window as he greets customers at the Charcoal Pit to in Wilmington, Del. pic.twitter.com/R2P2kzwzt7— Doug Mills (@dougmillsnyt) July 17, 2014
"Honest to goodness, I could not believe my eyes, that KIRO Radio says out of respect to the gravity of the day, we're not going to go jump out of an airplane, but the President of the United States still thought a photo op at the Charcoal Pit was the most important order of business for him in the midst of this?" Dori said.
Soon after, the President appeared at a previously scheduled event nearby. He took to the podium while "Hail to the Chief" blared from the sound system as a partisan crowd cheered his arrival.
The President briefly addressed the breaking news at the start of his presentation, saying "It looks like it may be a terrible tragedy," and that the U.S. was working to identify if any Americans were on board and offering any assistance it could to help determine what happened and why.
"As a country, our thoughts and prayers are with all the families of the passengers, wherever they call home."
In all, the statement lasted just 38 seconds, and drew plenty of criticism from Dori.
"It looks like it may be a terrible tragedy?!" Dori says. "295 people confirmed dead. Pictures had already been sent out of bodies strapped into the seats - 38 seconds. He spent 38 seconds on it and then he went back to his prepared stump speech."
Coupled with Wednesday's announcement that the President would visit Seattle next week for a fundraiser amidst Seattle's I-90 construction nightmare, Dori argued it all adds up to a president completely detached and out of touch.
"It's mind blowing," Dori lamented. "This is a leadership void that is unimaginable."
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