A few minutes ago, MSNBC's David Gregory spent about thirty seconds telling viewers about the recount in the Minnesota Senate race. In those thirty seconds, Gregory said very little -- but he did tell viewers the recount will occur "at a total cost of about $86,000 to Minnesota taxpayers."
It's odd that Gregory would focus on the recount's cost, particularly given that it wasn't a detailed report -- the cost of the recount was one of very few bits of information Gregory gave viewers. The cost just isn't newsworthy. Media outlets don't typically emphacize how much elections cost; they certainly don't emphacize how much individual aspects of elections cost. (When was the last time you saw a newscaster announce "election workers rolled voting machines out of storage this morning, at a cost to taxpayers of ..."?)
And that's all this recount is: it is one part of the elections process. Its cost is, simply put, irrelevent. Elections are worth doing correctly no matter how much they cost. Not only that, but $86,000 is, even in the midst of a struggling economy, an utterly trivial amount of money for the state of Minnesota to spend in order to get the results of an election right.
How trivial? The $86,000 cost comes out to 1.7 cents per Minnesota resident. One point seven cents. It's a mere three cents per vote. Anybody out there think making sure each vote is counted correctly isn't worth three cents? Anyone at all?
So why is David Gregory making a point of stressing the cost of the recount, if that cost is completely trivial (and would be worth spending if it were ten times as much)?
What we do know is that Norm Coleman, clinging to a 200 vote lead, has stressed the cost of the recount in arguing that it should not proceed. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune has reported "Coleman urged Franken to waive his right to a recount, saying that the prospect of changing the result was remote and that a recount would be costly to taxpayers (about $86,000)."
Awfully nice of Gregory to carry Coleman's water like that, isn't it?