obThe Star newspaper’s lead story yesterday was how Obama’s trip to Kenya will cost Sh5.7 billion for a single day. I thought I would let the story slide since it has been established their writers are dumb, but when their smart readers started buying the bs, I could not stand it any longer.

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Sh5.7 billion..? Really.

As a writer, you should research a little before splashing such a headline on a national paper. This particular story by the Star actually had two writers, making it all the more bizarre. The story had been spreading on several low income blogs for the past few days, and the Star believed it would sell copies.

In 2010, President Obama made the trip to India, and just like Kenya, there was so much talk about the cost. The most common figure being tossed around at that time was $200 million a day. Just like Kenya, the origin of this figure was a national newspaper in India, and some bloggers and radio hosts . This soon became a hot issue in the US, with some republicans especially using it to attack Obama.

White House said the real figure was nothing close to that but did not give more details.

Yesterday, George Musamali, a Kenyan security expert, put the cost of the Obama’s visit – thought to be about eight hours – at approximately Sh10 billion.

“The Americans will take no chances. They will put their best foot forward to protect their President,” Musamali said.

Lazy Kenyan journalists are always out to get a quote so they can please their bosses, and that explains the above. When George Musamali, the ‘security analyst’ quoted by the Star gave the Sh10 billion figure, they should have immediately stopped taking him seriously and such a ridiculous statement should not have gone to print.

At least during Obama’s India trip, it was bloggers and politicians throwing around the outrageous figures, not ‘security experts’ who expect to be taken serious.

So how much will the trip cost?

On November 6th 2010, CNN published a story titled: “Debunking the myth: The cost of Obama’s trip to Asia“. It was aimed at the $200 million a day theory.cnn

Here’s an excerpt.

It’s a story that originated from a single, unnamed sourced in India — but it quickly gained momentum, spreading like wildfire among critics of the Obama administration in the United States and eventually, the airwaves.

The claim: The United States will be “spending a whopping $200 million per day” on President Barack Obama’s trip to Asia.

That’s roughly the amount the federal government spends each day on the war in Afghanistan. The figure has been dismissed by the White House as “wildly inflated.”

On the same day, the Economist published a story titled: “$200 million a day?eon

An excerpt.

SOME people just can’t estimate travel costs. President Barack Obama is visiting Asia this week. Conservative bloggers and talk-radio hosts (Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and so on) and tea party darling Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) claim that his trip is costing taxpayers a staggering $200 million a day. (Some also claim that the Navy is dispatching 34 ships and an aircraft carrier to support the mission. More on that later.) The White House says that’s not true. Who’s right? Google powers, activate!

CNN further revealed that Bill Clinton’s 1998 11 day trip to Africa cost $3.5 million a day ($5.2 million after adjusting for inflation). That’s only Sh500 million, a whole zero short of the Star’s figure. Clinton had an entourage of 1300 people, most of them factored in the cost. 

If Obama’s visit to Kenya will indeed be one day, you can expect his entourage to be way smaller, and so will the cost.

The Economist then drops the bombshell.

A trip Clinton made to India during his administration is regarded as the most expensive trip by a US President. It cost $50 million….. wait for it….. over 5 days.

That’s just $10 million per day, or less than a billion in Kenyan Shillings. If we were to take the Sh5.7 billion seriously, it would probably be cheaper to have Obama visit the moon than come to Kenya.

Uhuru said newspapers are only good for wrapping meat… sorry Mr. President. Sometimes the Star is not good for that either.