Inside Politics

Question of the Day

Is it still considered bad form to talk politics during a social gathering?

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Look who’s talking

“Though many journalists impose their views regularly in biased political coverage, on Tuesday night the broadcast networks framed Rupert Murdoch’s acquisition of the Wall Street Journal around what agenda the ‘controversial’ Murdoch will ‘impose,’ the Media Research Center’s Brent Baker writes at www.mrc.org.

“Leading into pro and con sound bites, CBS’s Kelly Wallace described Murdoch as ‘a conservative who put his imprint on the New York Post and brought topless women to the Sun in London. His critics say he may not impose tabloid on the Journal, but will impose his point of view.’

“NBC’s Andrea Mitchell declared Murdoch ‘deeply conservative,’ but noted he’s also a ‘pragmatic’ man who has been ‘a supporter of liberal politicians.’ Mitchell relayed how Murdoch insists he ‘does not mix politics and business,’ but ‘still, some are skeptical.’ The liberal Ken Auletta of the New Yorker contended Murdoch ‘often’ uses ‘his media to advance either his business or his political interests.’

“Over on ABC, after a sound bite from Auletta about how Murdoch’s politics influence his publications, David Muir worried: ‘For that reason, this has turned into a painful decision’ for the family that owns the WSJ. ‘Sell for $5 billion? Or is that selling out? There were … fears in the newsroom.’ On screen, a WSJ headline: ‘Fear, Mixed with Some Loathing; Many Reporters at Wall Street Journal Fret Over Murdoch’s Arrival.’ ”

Matter of privilege

President Bush yesterday asserted executive privilege for the second time in the past month, telling Democrats in Congress that presidential adviser Karl Rove and his deputy will not respond to subpoenas ordering them to testify today about fired U.S. attorneys, reports The Washington Times‘ Jon Ward.

“It is regretted that the committee has forced this action, as the president’s offer of accommodation … could have provided information being sought in a manner respectful of Presidential prerogatives and consistent with a spirit of comity,” said White House Counsel Fred F. Fielding, in a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee’s leaders.

Mr. Rove will not appear before the committee this morning, Mr. Fielding said, because Mr. Rove is such a close adviser to the president that he fits into the legal category of “immediate presidential advisor” and is “immune from compelled Congressional testimony.”

J. Scott Jennings, deputy director of political affairs, will appear before the committee, but will not answer questions or produce documents related to the firing of eight U.S. attorneys last year.

Mr. Jennings’ former boss, Sara Taylor, appeared in a similar manner last month, answering limited questions but often telling senators that she could not talk about the firings.

Biden and Kos

Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. said yesterday if he had been president in 2002 he, like President Bush, would have asked Congress to give him the authority to use force in Iraq.

“I would have asked for the authority, but I would not have used it,” the Delaware Democrat told a packed house at the National Press Club.

Mr. Biden was touting the release of his book, “Promises to Keep: On Life and Politics.”

Mr. Biden had tough words for his Democratic rivals, saying if any of them think they can win without “unimpeachable credentials on national security and terror, they are making a tragic, tragic mistake.”

It was his seventh press club appearance, and as he read moving excerpts from his book, some in the audience wiped away tears. He also got warm applause for bringing along a virtual family tree — mom Jean, wife Jill, sister Valerie and sons Beau and Hunter, reports The Washington TimesChristina Bellantoni.

Mr. Biden at first couldn’t remember why he is the only major Democratic 2008 presidential contender who will skip the Yearly Kos convention.

Asked why he is not attending the liberal gathering to address thousands of active Democratic voters, Mr. Biden responded: “To tell you the truth, I thought I was.”

As the audience chuckled, he went on to say it must have been a schedule mix-up, and certainly not reluctance to attend. “They are a major part of the Democratic party. They are not the Democratic Party. … They warrant being listened to,” he said.

Then he remembered that he had planned a major book event in his home state, and exclaimed: “Love you, Kos, but you ain’t Delaware.”

CAIR vs. YAF

The Council on American-Islamic Relations is demanding that the Young America’s Foundation cancel a planned speech today by author Robert Spencer.

Mr. Spencer, author of “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam” and founder of JihadWatch.org, is scheduled to speak on the topic “The Truth About CAIR” at 4 p.m. today at YAF’s national student conference at George Washington University.

Calling Mr. Spencer “a well-known purveyor of hatred and bigotry against Muslims” with a “history of false and defamatory statements,” an attorney for CAIR yesterday wrote a letter to “demand that YAF cancel the subject session, or else take steps to ensure that false and defamatory statements are not disseminated at that session.”

“CAIR has consistently taken a principled position against terrorism and extremism,” Joseph E. Sandler, attorney for CAIR, wrote in his letter to YAF.

“Our clients have instructed us to pursue every available and appropriate legal steps to ensure that false and defamatory statements are not disseminated” during Mr. Spencer’s speech, wrote Mr. Sandler.

“We’re not going to be intimidated” by people “who are opposed to free expression,” YAF spokesman Jason Mattera told The Washington Times. “Not only are we going to have [Mr. Spencer] speak, but are opening the session up to more interns, and we will publicize the event further.”

More than 400 conservative college students from around the country are attending the weeklong YAF conference, which continues through Friday at GWU’s Marvin Center, 800 21st Street NW.

Shift in emphasis

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney complained yesterday that the Department of Homeland Security is inefficient and requires major restructuring.

At a coffee-and-donuts meeting in Pelham, N.H., with about 100 supporters, Mr. Romney said the department does some things well, but it has challenges rooted in the fact that it is made up of different agencies “stuck in one big bureaucracy,” the Associated Press reports.

If he were president, he would shift the allocation of homeland security dollars from an emphasis on first responders to prevention through intelligence, Mr. Romney said.

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

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