- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Media crash

“A political party is dying before our eyes — and I don’t mean the Democrats,” Howard Fineman writes at the MSNBC Web site (msnbc.msn.com).

“I’m talking about the ‘mainstream media,’ which is being destroyed by the opposition (or worse, the casual disdain) of George Bush’s Republican Party; by competition from other news outlets (led by the Internet and Fox’s canny Roger Ailes); and by its own fraying journalistic standards. At the height of its power, the AMMP (the American Mainstream Media Party) helped validate the civil rights movement, end a war and oust a power-mad president. But all that is ancient history,” Mr. Fineman said.

“Now the AMMP is reeling, and not just from the humiliation of CBS News. We have a president who feels it’s almost a point of honor not to hold more press conferences — he’s held far fewer than any modern predecessor — and doesn’t seem to agree that the media has any ‘right’ to know what’s really going in inside his administration. The AMMP, meanwhile, is regarded with ever-growing suspicion by American voters, viewers and readers, who increasingly turn for information and analysis only to non-AMMP outlets that tend to reinforce the sectarian views of discrete slices of the electorate.”

The notion of a neutral, nonpartisan mainstream press is, he said, “pretty much dead, at least as the public sees things.”

“The seeds of its demise were sown with the best of intentions in the late 1960s, when the AMMP was founded in good measure (and ironically enough) by CBS. Old folks may remember the moment: Walter Cronkite stepped from behind the podium of presumed objectivity to become an outright foe of the war in Vietnam. Later, he and CBS’s star White House reporter, Dan Rather, went to painstaking lengths to make Watergate understandable to viewers, which helped seal Richard Nixon’s fate as the first president to resign.

“The crusades of Vietnam and Watergate seemed like a good idea at the time, even a noble one, not only to the press, but perhaps to a majority of Americans. The problem was that, once the AMMP declared its existence by taking sides, there was no going back. A party was born.”

Another scandal?

USA Today is engaged in an active cover-up concerning its own publication of a phony Bush National Guard story using the same bogus documents used by CBS, the group Accuracy in Media (AIM) charges.

The story was printed on Sept. 9, the day after the fraudulent story was reported by Dan Rather, the group said.

AIM said it has been demanding action for months, asking for USA Today Editor Ken Paulson to apologize.

“It is a scandal on top of another journalistic scandal,” AIM Editor Cliff Kincaid said.

Rocker rapped

Kid Rock, the vulgar rock-rapper who initially had been lined up to headline the youth concert next week as part of the inauguration festivities for President Bush, will not be appearing after all, WorldNetDaily.com reports.

“He’s not performing,” a spokesman for the Presidential Inauguration Committee told reporter Ron Strom.

“Word that the rapper will not join JoJo and Hilary Duff as performers at the Jan. 18 concert, which will be hosted by Bush twins Barbara and Jenna, comes after WorldNetDaily and other outlets publicized the fact that the committee was planning to feature Kid Rock, which caused several pro-family organizations to ask their supporters to protest his appearance,” the reporter said.

List of woe

Emily’s List, which provides funds and other help for female Democratic candidates who are pro-choice, has asked a federal judge in Washington to block enforcement of new campaign rules that went into effect Jan. 1.

The group said the new rules “unlawfully cripple” its ability to participate in state and local elections, United Press International reports.

In 2004, the Federal Election Commission “rushed to restrict and limit the activities of unregistered 527s,” Emily’s List founder Ellen Malcolm said. “In their haste, FEC commissioners promulgated new regulations that ironically failed to address the FEC’s announced purposes.”

In its complaint, the group said the regulations restrict its ability to raise funds regardless of the intent or purpose, citing as one example the fact that a “solicitation to promote state and local efforts would be restricted if there was any mention of a federal candidates or any generic statement the Emily’s List helps federal candidates.”

AARP’s stance

“The American Association of Retired Persons held a press briefing last week, outlining its legislative agenda for the coming year,” Jim Geraghty notes at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).

“The short version: They oppose just about any form of President Bush’s proposal to allow workers the option of diverting some of their Social Security taxes into personal retirement accounts and investing those funds. As for tax hikes, the AARP is OK with them,” Mr. Geraghty said.

“The AARP — an organization ‘dedicated to making life better for people 50 and over’ is pledging to fight tooth and nail any effort to allow today’s young workers to put aside some of their Social Security taxes into a private account. Instead, they’re attempting to nudge Congress towards hiking taxes on today’s workers.

“What was striking about the statements by AARP CEO Bill Novelli, AARP PresidentMarie F. Smith and other officials was how terrifying they made the risks of investment sound, while speaking remarkably casually about the economic consequences of hiking taxes. Somewhere Al Gore, fan of the relentless ‘risky scheme’ charge, is smiling.”

Switch-hitter

A Kentucky state senator whose party switch 5 years ago helped the GOP take control of the chamber said yesterday he will leave the Republican Party because of its actions in a disputed election.

Sen. Bob Leeper said he will register as an independent later this week.

His protest came after Senate Republicans voted to seat the Republican candidate who received the most votes in a Jefferson County election in November, even though courts have ruled that Dana Seum Stephenson did not meet constitutional residency requirements.

The Republicans has solid control of the Senate, but would need to keep both Mr. Leeper and the contested seat to have a “supermajority” needed to pass constitutional changes. In odd-numbered years, supermajorities also are needed to pass budget and tax measures, the Associated Press reports.

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

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