BOOK THE MONKEY
Stewards of the Fourth Estate caution against it: one reporter after another, newspaper and broadcast, being called upon to plaster makeup on their faces, go in front of the camera, and offer opinions — and often biases — surrounding the news of the day.
Whether it’s opining on the impact of John Edwards‘ new mistress or John McCain‘s old age, flip on any of the 24-hour cable news channels — CNN, MSNBC or Fox — and you’ll see that reporters are increasingly interviewing reporters.
When did this popular trend of broadcast "news" begin?
We turn to the popular 1995 memoir of the late TV news pioneer David Brinkley, who recalled the day in November 1969 when Richard M. Nixon delivered perhaps his most historic address on Vietnam.
"He went on the television networks saying he had agreed with the South Vietnamese on ‘an orderly schedule for complete withdrawal of American forces from the war.’ His speech was carried live on ABC, CBS and NBC," wrote Mr. Brinkley.
"Since he spoke longer than expected, he spilled over into the networks’ next half-hour time period. Since network time is always divided into blocks of half hours and hours, this meant the network had to fill whatever part of the half hour Nixon left."
With no time to spare, but with some hesitation, Mr. Brinkley quickly assembled "a few of our own correspondents and an outsider or two to discuss the speech the audience had just heard. On this night, following Nixon, I and a few others got the unpleasant duty to discuss his speech until the beginning of the next hour.
"I can remember nothing of it now and no transcript exists," he continued. "Nobody, including us, really liked filling time this way, but no one knew any alternative. How else on short notice, or no notice, could we fill network airtime? Organ music?"
TWITTER TO VICTORY
It’s not your grandfather’s "Grand Old Party" convention anymore. It’s not even your father’s.
To reach a new generation of party faithful, the Republican National Convention has established "social network" sites on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn.
In reality, it is the residents of Denver who are hosting the Democratic National Convention.
So it’s understandable that the "locals," as they’re being called by convention organizers, have been standing in line by the tens of thousands requesting seats for Barack Obama‘s much-anticipated acceptance speech. And to the Democratic Party’s credit, many of them have not been turned away.
The official convention blog reveals that in just one day more than 60,000 Denver-area residents were "clamoring for tickets" to the Aug. 28 address at Invesco Field at Mile High (if you haven’t read, it’s already being compared to Martin Luther King‘s "I Have a Dream" speech), and organizers assure that "more than half of the seats in the stadium will go to Colorado residents."
The remainder of the space in the 70,000-seat outdoor stadium is reserved for the party’s delegates and faithful, numerous VIPs from Washington to Tinseltown, and many of the 15,000 members of the media who have obtained convention credentials.
What’s all the buzz about the NOBAMA bumper sticker?
Ted Jackson is founder and president of Spalding Group, a principal supplier to the last six Republican presidential campaigns, including John McCain‘s current bid. Besides that, he is personally funding the giveaway of up to one million "NOBAMA" bumper stickers, which he says are "hugely popular" right now.
Mr. Jackson explains that he is making the independent expenditure as a direct response to MoveOn.org’s offer of a free Barack Obama bumper sticker. He adds that since its introduction by the Spalding Group, sales of the entire NOBAMA product line have been "unprecedented."
To receive a free "NOBAMA" bumper sticker, enclose a self-addressed stamped envelope and mail it to: NOBAMA Free Bumper Sticker c/o Ted Jackson, 2306 Frankfort Ave., Louisville, KY, 40206.
The Democratic National Committee is doing all it can to make Americans believe that any subsequent White House ruled by the Republicans would be only a continuation of its current occupants.
The Democrats have gone so far as to create a Web site to be among the first to announce Republican John McCain‘s vice-presidential selection, the carefully worded address: www.TheNextCheney.com.
If nobody else, Marc Morano, minority communications director for the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, got a chuckle out of the Massachusetts woman who is blaming her daughter’s "nasty jellyfish sting" on global warming.
Posted on Huffington Post, and then redistributed by Mr. Morano on Capitol Hill, Laurie David writes that several days ago she "heard a blood-curdling scream from my twelve-year-old who was swimming twenty feet away from me in a large salt water tidal pond. What could possibly have happened?"
After all, she goes on to observe, "seconds before she was laughing and splashing with her friend. Now she was crying with a huge red welt on her leg."
Mrs. David draws attention to "hundreds" of red stinging jellyfish that "have just shown up around Martha’s Vineyard and the Cape like never seen before." She further cites an article in last Sunday’s New York Times, which says scientists are blaming a number of factors for an increase in jellyfish worldwide, including overfishing and a rise in seawater temperature caused by "global warming."
"Back at the pond my daughter’s friend felt the effects of global warming herself not eight minutes later. She cried too," Mrs. David adds.
Columnist’s note: Mrs. David might actually thank "global warming" for providing the ground on Martha’s Vineyard for her and her daughter to stand on.
Prior to hiking a stretch of the Appalachian Trail last week, I read the 1998 best-seller A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson. Consider the following passage:
"And here is a thing that most of us fail to appreciate: we are still in an ice age, only now we experience it for just part of the year. Snow and ice and cold are not really typical features on earth. Taking the long view, Antarctica is actually a jungle. (It’s just having a chilly spell).
"At the very peak of the last ice age 20,000 years ago, 30 percent of the earth was under ice. Today, 10 percent still is. There have been at least a dozen ice ages in the last two million years, each lasting about 100,000 years. The most recent intrusion, called the Wisconsinian ice sheet, spread down from the polar regions over much of Europe and North America, growing to depths of up to two miles …
"As it soaked up the earth’s free water, sea levels fell by 450 feet. Then, about 10,000 years ago … it began to melt back. No one knows why. What it left in its wake was a landscape utterly transformed. It dumped Long Island, Cape Cod, Nantucket, and most of Martha’s Vineyard where previously there had just been sea. …"
Given the suddenly high energy costs in America, certainly residents of usually frigid upstate New York are hoping for a warmer-than-normal winter season.
As Rep. John Hall, New York Democrat, points out: "Families in my district use heating oil to stave off winter cold, and too many of them are already shivering. We’re not even into the heating season yet, and already prices in the Hudson Valley are over … 70 percent more than last year."