- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 23, 2008

FREE INK

“Most people trust reporters kind of like they trust Wikipedia.”

So concludes Scott Rasmussen, president of the political polling giant Rasmussen Reports, referring to the free Internet encyclopedia that often falls victim to tampering.

Inside the Beltway Radio (www.washingtontimes.com) interviewed Mr. Rasmussen this week on the heels of his firm’s new survey of 1,000 likely voters about media coverage of the 2008 presidential election. One question asked whether reporters provide unbiased coverage, or else stray so far as to help their preferred candidate win election.

Amazingly, 71 percent said reporters try to help the preferred candidate win. In the interview, Mr. Rasmussen called the results “a pretty devastating assessment” of the Fourth Estate.

“I’m going to tell you one thing that was not in this survey,” he added. “People tend to think it’s at least as important to have a friendly reporter [aligned with a candidate] as it is to have major campaign contributions. They think a reporter can help at least as much as a whole lot of money.”

MISSING ARE MISSING

Some members of Congress want the Pentagon to restore the designations of prisoner of war and missing in action to those servicemen and servicewomen who are missing in operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Because the United States is not officially “at war” with the nations of Afghanistan or Iraq, the Defense Department has chosen not to designate those troops who go missing in operations as prisoners of war or missing in action, instead using terms like “duty status whereabouts unknown” and “missing-captured.”

Supporters of the wartime designations point out that the armed forces currently engaged in operations in Afghanistan and Iraq are participants “in the larger war on terrorism, showing a incomparable level of valor and duty to the United States of America.”

HALL OF FAME

The Arizona Legislature is urging Congress to authorize the placement of a statue in Statuary Hall of the U.S. Capitol of the late Republican Sen. Barry M. Goldwater.

If approved, the state measure presented in Congress this week, which supports another previously introduced congressional proposal, would authorize the Arizona Historical Advisory Commission to organize and direct funding for the creation of the statue in honor of the five-term conservative trailblazer.

Mr. Goldwater, who retired from the Senate in 1986, died in 1998 at age 89. Historians said his campaign for the president in 1964, though unsuccessful, paved the way for Ronald Reagan’s successful campaigns for the White House.

NEW DISCOVERY

Thought man knew everything there was to know about the Northern Lights?

Think again. We’re advised that NASA will brief reporters Thursday on initial findings from a fleet of five satellites that have discovered what powers the sudden brightening and rapid movements of the aurora borealis visible in the Northern Hempisphere.

The five NASA satellites were launched in February 2007, in part to help resolve the mystery of what triggers geomagnetic substorms. NASA says the collected data could one day help protect commercial satellites and humans living in space from adverse effects of particle radiation.

CAN’T CHEW

Americans are deteriorating to skin and bones because of escalating energy costs, and the proof is in the pudding.

Sen. Michael D. Crapo, Idaho Republican, recently asked Idahoans to share with him how high energy prices are affecting their lives, and they responded by the hundreds.

“I personally would love to have a new pair of teeth; the ones I have are broken and pretty useless,” a woman named Marylynna wrote to the senator. “But can I even save to get a pair of teeth? I am weighing in at 101 pounds because all of my money goes to propane.”

John McCaslin can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin@washingtontimes.com.

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