- The Washington Times - Friday, November 28, 2008

Sustainable energy

Negative press is beginning to surface. There’s caterwaul from assorted pundits and whining from some supporters. Still, the nation has high hopes for President-elect Barack Obama.

“Between 63 percent and 67 percent of Americans have said they are confident in Barack Obama’s ability to be a good president in the weeks since his election on Nov. 4, a sentiment that doesn’t yet appear to be have been affected, positively or negatively, by news coverage of the president-elect’s staff and Cabinet appointments, or by reports of his economic and other policy plans,” says Frank Newport, director of Gallup polls.

“Nothing Obama has done so far appears to have changed the basic — and generally positive — structure of American public opinion about his coming presidency,” Mr. Newport notes.

There is a huge partisan divide, however.

A separate Gallup survey Wednesday found that 28 percent of Republicans had confidence in Mr. Obama, compared with 89 percent of Democrats. The survey of 3,559 adults was conducted Nov. 17 to 23.

Great outdoors

Well, why not? Field & Stream has a pair of almost diametrically opposed politicians on their list of “People of the Year” to be released Friday.

The magazine distinguished Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as a heroine — “she not only endorsed the traditions of sportsmen while campaigning as a vice-presidential candidate, she is an active hunter and fisherman herself. Moreover, Amy Poehler rapped about her shooting a moose on ‘Saturday Night Live.’ What better way to inspire a new generation of hunters?” the publication asked.

The list also includes Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat.

“The senator’s selection came as a surprise to many gun owners because of his support for gun control over the years. He got the nod for backing a farm bill measure to give farmers grants for opening more land to hunters,” Field & Stream explained.

Setting the stage

“The Fairness Doctrine, which forced broadcasters to offer equal time to both sides of controversial issues, was abolished in 1987, paving the way for talk radio to take the opinionated - and popular - form it has today,” writes Paul Bond of the Hollywood Reporter.

“Now, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and such influential Democratic senators as Barbara Boxer and Chuck Schumer are pushing for its return, or something like it. Could the equal-time provisions pull a Don Imus and make a radio comeback?

“It could, industry insiders say. And the government-mandated programming restrictions that come with it could hobble an already struggling industry. Talk-radio hosts are unlikely to accept a new Fairness Doctrine without a fight, though. Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity are among those already railing against it daily.

“By some estimates, conservatives on talk radio dominate liberals by a ratio of 10-to-1, hence the call by some liberals to bring back the Fairness Doctrine. But Rep. Mike Pence, Indiana Republican, inserted language into the Federal Communications Commission’s current budget barring it from being reinstated this year.

“With the year drawing to an end and Barack Obama moving into the White House, talk about the Fairness Doctrine has heated up. Obama likely will name a new FCC chairman and make Democrats a majority on the five-person panel for the first time in eight years,” Mr. Bond said.

“Finally - the Senate is going to make sure that NPR starts airing conservative viewpoints,” quipped a headline at FARK.com, an online news site.

Weighing anchors

Could Ted Koppel be the new Tim Russert?

Mr. Russert, who passed away earlier this year, had been the longtime host of NBC’s “Meet the Press,” while veteran anchorman Mr. Koppel held court at ABC for decades before joining forces with the Discovery Channel last year.

Now he is leaving the cable network. The Baltimore Sun’s David Zurawik has been connecting the dots.

“Given the timing, one can’t help but wonder if he might soon be announced as the new host of NBC’s legendary Sunday morning public affairs show, ‘Meet the Press.’ He is certainly one of the few TV journalists with the interviewing skills, seriousness of purpose and breadth of political knowledge to carry on where the late Tim Russert left off,” Mr. Zurawik said.

“And even though there are plenty of people at NBC News who want the ‘Meet the Press’ job, there aren’t many of them who could look in the mirror and say they are better suited than Koppel to sit in the chair.”

Journalists themselves may not be keen on the notion. An online poll at Mediabistro, a popular industry site for the press set, found that 59 percent of the respondents said it was a “bad idea,” while 41 percent approved it.

Hold on Holder

Let the witness answer first, urges Jennifer Rubin of Commentary magazine.

Eric Holder seems certain to be nominated for attorney general. Republican senators are saying there will be ‘tough’ hearings, during which they will ‘grill’ Holder on his role in the Marc Rich affair, although it is not clear there will be a serious effort to derail his nomination. I’d suggest that before senators declare themselves committed or not committed to giving him a pass, they get some clear answers from Holder.”

In particular, she wants to know why Mr. Holder, as a government employee, helped direct Rich to his attorney, Jack Quinn? What discussions did Mr. Holder have with Mr. Quinn about a future job? Why does Mr. Holder believe his conduct did not violate conflict of interest rules? The list goes on.

“Before senators decide that there’s no reason to block Holder’s nomination, a full hearing and some direct answers to hard questions are in order. After all, if the Democrats are so concerned about ‘restoring the reputation’ of the Justice Department to its pre-Bush days, they should be concerned about the conduct and ethical standards of the man to be charged with that restoration. And as for Republicans, this is precisely their job as the loyal opposition: to challenge, investigate and hold the majority’s decisions up for inspection. (In the old days, the media would do that.)”

Contact Jennifer Harper at jharper@washingtontimes.com or 202/636-3085.

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