- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 30, 2008

Pressing issues

Some journalists are committing the ultimate press sin: They think they are as important — or more important — than their own news stories.

The media elite is getting hoity-toity indeed.

Some of it relates to coverage. During the presidential election, for example, a far greater percentage of campaign stories — three-fourths of them, in fact — provided insider analyses and horse-race speculation rather than unvarnished information on policy or issues, even though the public clamored for substance and facts. The all-important personal opinion was dominant.

And why was that? Some media analysts speculated that the press as a whole had simply become bored with the election and preferred to amuse themselves and their cronies with fancy footwork and weighty opinion.

Then there’s the feedback frenzy. Fame has become a press credential. Sure, the compleat modern journalist must be an agile talking head to stay competitive, create buzz and burnish his “brand.” But are too many Googling themselves or racing to the blogs to see if they’ve been cited as the oracle du jour?

Maybe.

And with this new sense of self is a new sense of image. The press appears to have traded an appealing straightforward, down-to-earth demeanor for something that is petty, prissy, snippy or celebrity-driven.

“It amazes me how so many journalists have come to identify with the upper class, feeling that private school is essential for their kids,” says Charlie Peters, founding editor of the Washington Monthly.

“And have you noticed how many of the male journalists you see on television are wearing custom-made suits? It used to be that every suit in the newsroom was right off the rack, and usually from a store of absolutely no snob value. As for the female television reporters, I would suggest that more than a few of them who made fun of Sarah Palin’s wardrobe from Saks Fifth Avenue and Nieman Marcus are wearing similar labels.”

Days of yore

The United States and Britain signed preliminary peace articles in Paris, ending the Revolutionary War 226 years ago today.

Happy birthday today to talk-radio stalwart G. Gordon Liddy, born in Hoboken, N.J., in 1930.

And a big “aw-w-w” for the merging of two major political tribes: Julie Nixon and David Eisenhower announced their engagement on this day in 1967. The pair met at the 1956 Republican National Convention, were married by the Rev. Norman Vincent Peale in 1968 and are still married. Dec. 22, in fact, will be their 40th anniversary.

Mrs. Eisenhower made news earlier this year by contributing to Mr. Obama’s presidential campaign.

Cap it off

Democrats, Republicans, independents — you know inauguration weather will be frigid. Deal with it in style.

Yes, amaze the children, alarm the dog, confound co-workers and amuse every free spirit within 10 miles of the Beltway with a bomber hat, these from Michigan-based Northern Hats — which has one of the nation’s largest collections of this singular headgear. The hats are warm. They are tactile and appealing — in fur, leather, wool, faux fur, nylon and corduroy.

Shown is the Natural Color Shearling Classic Bomber Hat ($110) and the Mad Bomber Hat in Navy Blue With Gray Rabbit Fur ($35).

All hats are in stock and ship within 24 hours of order via Priority Mail (two- to three-day delivery). Take a peek at the offerings at www.northernhats.com. Call 248/225-5198 for information, or e-mail help@northernhats.com.

Revisiting McCain

He seemed to be the center of the known universe for a while. Sen. John McCain. Remember? The one-time “insurgent” who ran a campaign with huge peaks and valleys and won the votes of 59,226,874 people?

He’s alive and well and living back in reality these days. A recent press conference — his first since the election — reveals that, yes, Mr. McCain plans to run for his Senate seat in 2010. He applauds President-elect Barack Obama’s choice for Homeland Security czarina, Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano.

Mr. McCain also plans to visits troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, resume work on the House Armed Services Committee and the Indian Affairs Committee. And he has kind words for his old running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

“I think she did a great job of energizing our base. I’m very proud of her. It’s one of the great pleasures I’ve had, to get to know her and her family. And I think she has a very bright future in a leadership position in the Republican Party,” Mr. McCain said.

Quotes of note

“Hillary + Obama = High Drama.” — Arianna Huffington’s most recent equation.

“President-elect Barack Obama loves chili and shuns beets.” — Associated Press headline.

“The Republican party IS the future.” — Motto of Michael Steele in his quest for Republican National Committee chairman.

“I’ll give you eight months.” — White House press secretary Dana Perino, on how long the press will be kind to Mr. Obama, to The Washington Post.

By the numbers

72 percent of Americans say the Christmas season “now comes too early.”

22 percent disagree, 6 percent are undecided.

76 percent of men and 67 percent of women say the holidays are too early.

64 percent say “the holiday season should focus more on the birth of Jesus.”

91 percent plan to celebrate Christmas in some form or another.

66 percent say they plan to spend less on the holidays this year.

67 percent say Thanksgiving now gets lost in the “holiday season.”

Source: Rasmussen Reports survey of 1,000 adults conducted Nov. 19 and 20.

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