- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Media ‘aghast’

“The awarding Tuesday of Presidential Medals of Freedom to Tommy Franks, Paul Bremer and George Tenet upset some,” the Media Research Center reports at www.mediaresearch.org.

“ABC’s Peter Jennings characterized the choices as ‘controversial.’ John Cochran twice snidely noted ‘no mention of that today’ by Bush of supposed failures by Bremer and Tenet. MSNBC’s Chris Matthews declared himself ‘aghast’ by the selection. On ‘Countdown,’ USA Today’s Tom Squitieri contended that the awards are ‘being dubbed by some as ‘hush medals.’ ”

Meanwhile, ‘NBC Nightly News’ “devoted two full segments to the attacks on [Defense Secretary Donald H.] Rumsfeld as Jim Miklaszewski relayed comparisons of Rumsfeld to ‘Robert McNamara, who was accused of micromanaging the Vietnam War.’ Tim Russert highlighted negative poll numbers for Rumsfeld.”

Asking questions

“To the media, it was a dramatic revelation of Bush administration hypocrisy and incompetence: A lowly American GI courageously speaks truth to power, thus showing that the emperor has no clothes. But to this Marine veteran of the Iraq war, the hullabaloo over Army Spc. Thomas J. Wilson’s question reveals far more about media bias, prejudice and ignorance than it does about the U.S. military and Iraq,” John R. Guardiano writes at www.OpinionJournal.com.

“Spc. Wilson asked Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld why, nearly two years after the start of the war, his unit still has too few ‘up-armored’ Humvees. The media were surprised that an enlisted man would ask so direct and pointed a question of the Pentagon’s highest official. I wasn’t,” said Mr. Guardino, an Arlington-based journalist who served in Iraq as a field radio operator with the U.S. Marine Corps’ Fourth Civil Affairs Group.

“I enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve after September 11, 2001, and served in Iraq in 2003. Throughout boot camp, combat training and subsequent preparation for war, my instructors always stressed the importance of independent thinking and initiative. Obviously, when you’re in the middle of a firefight, you cannot — and must not — second-guess split-second command decisions. However, when preparing for war, thoughtful and considered questions are not only tolerated; they are encouraged — even demanded, I found.

“As one of my combat instructors told us: ‘Marines, you’re more likely to die from someone doing something stupid than because the enemy is skilled and ingenious. So make sure you’ve thought things through and that everyone’s on the same page. Be polite. Be tactful. But don’t be afraid to ask questions.’ ”

Two offers

Democratic Sen. Joe Lieberman has been approached twice by the Bush administration this week for major positions, which he declined, CNN reports.

The network, citing anonymous sources, said the Connecticut senator most recently was invited to discuss the Cabinet vacancy at the Department of Homeland Security, while the first offer involved becoming the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

A spokesman for Mr. Lieberman said he could not comment on whether the senator has spoken to administration officials or emissaries about the possibility of joining the Republican administration, United Press International reports.

The spokesman said, however, Mr. Lieberman had not received a formal job offer and was not seeking a new job.

Tauzin’s new job

Retiring Rep. Billy Tauzin will become head of the pharmaceutical industry’s top lobbying group next month after leaving his post as head of the House committee that regulates the pharmaceutical industry.

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America made the announcement of Mr. Tauzin’s hiring yesterday. Mr. Tauzin’s spokesman, Ken Johnson, confirmed the hiring, but said he had no immediate comment, the Associated Press reports.

Mr. Tauzin, Louisiana Republican, had been chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which regulates the pharmaceutical industry.

Bush takes 2nd place

Mel Gibson’s film “The Passion of the Christ” ranked above the presidential election as the top religion story of the year, according to a poll released yesterday by the Religion Newswriters Association.

Journalists belonging to the Westerville, Ohio-based organization, which represents 260 religion reporters in the secular press, also named Mr. Gibson as Religion Newsmaker of the Year. President Bush was the runner-up. Of the 108 journalists who took part in the survey, 51 percent voted for Mr. Gibson.

Mr. Gibson’s movie,released Feb. 25, drew record crowds and DVD sales, spurring discussions about supposed anti-Semitism, violence and faithfulness to Scripture. It has earned $625 million to date worldwide.

Religion and values were credited with playing a major role in Mr. Bush’s re-election. Democratic candidate John Kerry’s open disagreement with the nation’s Catholic bishops on abortion also made headlines.

The issue of same-sex “marriage” came in third.

Amazing numbers

Colorado’s voter turnout in November’s general election, which featured hotly contested presidential and Senate races, was 87 percent — a record for the state.

More than 2.1 million voters went to the polls, according to data released Tuesday by Secretary of State Donetta Davidson. Turnout was calculated using the number of Colorado’s active voters, roughly 2.4 million. The office considers voters active if they cast ballots in the 2002 or 2003 general elections.

“Traditionally, voter turnout is always higher during a presidential election, but these numbers are truly incredible,” the secretary of state said.

The state hasn’t had a turnout greater than 80 percent since the 1980s, and no election has ever reached 87 percent, she said.

Show the money

New Mexico officials say Green and Libertarian candidates seeking a recount of the state’s presidential vote can have one if they come up with $1.1 million.

The state canvassing board headed by Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson voted Tuesday to approve a recount, but only if the two parties’ candidates provided the $1.1 million to cover the costs of the recount, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported.

An attorney for the candidates said they already had provided $114,000 for the recount and that should meet requirements of the state election code. The issue was scheduled to go before a state judge yesterday.

Mr. Richardson actively supported Democratic Sen. John Kerry in the presidential race, and President Bush carried the state by nearly 6,000 votes. But Mr. Richardson opposes the recount because he says it will not change the outcome.

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes.com.

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