- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 3, 2009

ANCHORS AWAY

Oh, dear. The woman who once dreamed of former President Bill Clinton after dining on pepperoni pizza and a banana milkshake is to take the anchor’s chair of ABC’s “World News Tonight.” Diane Sawyer will replace veteran newsman Charles Gibson, the network announced Wednesday.

The changing of the guard in network news is always big news: Dan resigns, Bob pinch-hits, Katie assumes the throne. Tom retires, Brian moves in; Peter, Tim and Walter pass away. Viewers puzzle and fret as their anchors come and go; analysts are left to sort out the greater implications.

“Of the current broadcast network morning-show co-hosts, [Miss Sawyer] probably comes across as the least liberal. But that doesn’t make her any kind of conservative, just a pretty conventional liberal in her approach to the news,” the Media Research Center’s Brent Baker tells Inside the Beltway.

“Diane Sawyer has repeatedly lauded high-profile liberals, including House SpeakerNancy Pelosi (‘galvanized steel with a smile’) and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (political mastery, ‘dazzling’). Echoing the standard liberal line, she derided former President George W. Bush’s ‘massive tax cuts,’ championed campaign-finance ‘reform’ and presumed Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton would have a tough time capturing the White House in America - wondering whether the nation is ‘more racist or more sexist?’ One morning she admitted this: ‘After pepperoni pizza and banana milkshakes once, I dreamed about Bill Clinton,’ ” Mr. Baker says.

“I suspect the left will raise how she once worked for Richard Nixon - in his post-presidency helping him research a book - as proof she’s some kind of conservative.”

GIPPERTONE

The Conservative Party of Britain is now offering a telephone ringtone that features the voice of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

So. Where are the Ronald Reagan ringtones? Though the former president was one of the nation’s great orators, neither his presidential library, the Republican National Committee nor the American Conservative Union offer Gipper-voiced phone applications.

But hey, this is America. Entrepreneurs know a good thing when they hear it.

Entertonement.com offers 604 Reagan ringtones - small clips or Mr. Reagan’s speeches in MP3 form that can be sent to most phones or embedded at blogs, and yes, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall” is included.

The ringtones are free, CEO David Aronchick tells Beltway, and the site offers “hundreds of thousands of sound bites,” he says. And to avoid confusion for Beltway readers, here’s the Reagan cache.

POGO STICKLERS

Bonfires, nudity, strange costumes, lots of alcohol: The now infamous “Animal House”-style photos of Armorguard security contractors cavorting at the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan have incurred the wrath of Secretary of StateHillary Rodham Clinton, who has ordered an investigation of the activities - and inspired much titillating press coverage. But the underpinnings of the events are both somber and important, according to the Project on Government Oversight (POGO), the nonprofit group that reported the events to Mrs. Clinton on Tuesday.

“While the photos which POGO sent to the State Department as part of its investigation of the private security contractors working at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul were shocking, it is our hope that the practice of outsourcing an inherently government function to private firms be re-examined by the State Department. And, above all, that the courageous whistleblowers who exposed the mismanagement will be protected from retaliation,” spokeswoman Marthena Cowart tells Beltway.

WELL, LA-DEE-DAH

Michael Savage may get his vengeance on the British government in hoity-toity fashion. The talk-radio host has been battling to get his name removed from an official list of “undesirables” banned from the country for months. But wait. The loquacious Mr. Savage has been invited to spar on Oct. 15 at the Cambridge Union Society, a 194-year-old debating society that counts Prince Philip, Princess Anne, Stephen Hawking and Desmond Tutu as honorary members.

Mr. Savage has graciously shared his invitation with The Washington Times. It reads:

“The decision to ban you has caused quite a stir, and we are keen to know how your situation progresses … . Though controversial, we think that you are more qualified than anyone to talk about the subject of political correctness in America and Britain. We write to invite you to speak at a debate on the subject. The debate will be titled ‘This House Believes Political Correctness is Sane and Necessary,’ and we would be delighted if you were available to speak in opposition of the motion.”

POLL DU JOUR

• 48 percent of Americans favor health care reform; 51 percent oppose it.

• 60 percent of Americans ages 18-34 favor reform; 39 percent oppose it.

• 41 percent of those ages 35-49 favor reform; 56 percent oppose it.

• 46 percent of those ages 50-64 favor reform; 53 percent oppose it.

• 38 percent of those older than 65 favor reform; 60 percent oppose it.

Source: CNN/Opinion Research poll of 1,010 adults conducted Aug. 28-31.

Rings, whistles, proclamations to jharper@ washingtontimes.com or 202/636-3085.

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