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OFF TUNE

The media landscape has perilous pathways these days. The Murfreesboro Post has tread one since publishing “Ode to Obama,” a parody penned Nov. 9 by a local elementary school principal - meant to be sung to the theme song of the old “The Jeffersons” sitcom.

“Well we’re movin’ on up, to Washington, D.C. To a deee-luxe pimp pad, painted white,” wrote Stephen Lewis. “Yeah we’re movin’ on up, to the White House. I’ll be jetting with P. Diddy cross the sky.”

The ditty went on for three more verses. Public reaction was not good. The Tennessee paper quickly published Part. 2:

“We sincerely regret that Mr. Lewis’ attempt at humor crossed the line from funny to offensive for many readers. We are especially regretful that the lone column sends an incorrect message about this newspaper, but more importantly Murfreesboro, Rutherford County and Tennessee, and the people who live therein, including some 40,000 who voted for President-elect Barack Obama,” stated publisher and editor Michael L. Pirtle.

“This community has been notably progressive and open-minded in dealing with racial and diversity issues since the early days of the Civil Rights movement, but that unfortunately is not the perception as a result of Sunday’s column,” Mr. Pirtle said. “We regret that portions of the column proved offensive to so many, but even more so that it has drawn an inaccurate assessment of this community, its people and even its ‘Red’ voters.”

The Rev. Goldy Wade, local NAACP president, said Mr. Lewis should be fired. The organization plans to file a complaint with the county Board of Education, the state Department of Education or the federal government, according to the paper.

OFF TRACK

The New York Post is everywhere, it seems, even on the train between Washington and New York. A source for the paper recently overheard MSNBC host Chris Matthews carrying on about President-elect Barack Obama possibly picking Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton as his secretary of state.

“I don’t understand it. Why would he pick her? I thought we were done with the Clintons. She’ll just use it to build her power base. It’s Machiavellian. And then we’ll have Bill Clinton, too. I thought Obama didn’t want drama. He’s already got Rahm Emanuel and John Podesta. He’ll have even more drama with her. She’s just a soap opera. If he doesn’t pick her, everyone will say she’s been dissed again; we’ll have to live through that again.”

The Post referred to Mr. Matthews as a, uh, “castrato” in the Tuesday item.

BR-R-R-R-R

Memo to all politicians, transition team, State Department hopefuls, et al: It pays to get a flack, an agenda and stay on message. Michael Graham - the Tyson’s Corner Santa Claus who did all three, then threatened the shopping mall with a lawsuit after it attempted to fire him - will assume his rightful throne on Saturday.

He is still very much on message.

“Santa Mike is available for interviews upon request but will speak only about the upcoming holiday season,” notes Steve Winter of Brotman-Winter-Fried Communications.

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