- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 1, 2009

THE SHERMAN TANK

So. The press has no backbone? Think again. A newspaperman has challenged Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid,and there are no kid gloves involved. Sherman Frederick, publisher of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, has gone mano a mano with the Nevada Democrat after the lawmaker made an untoward remark to a Review-Journal employee.

At a recent Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce luncheon, Mr. Reid shook the hand of Bob Brown, the newspaper’s director of advertising, and told him, “I hope you go out of business.”

Them’s fighting words in the press business these days. Mr. Frederick issued a stern rebuttal in his own paper Monday.

“Such behavior cannot go unchallenged. You could call Reid’s remark ugly and be right. It certainly was boorish. Asinine? That goes without saying,” the publisher said, calling the remark “a full-on threat perpetrated by a bully who has forgotten that he was elected to office to protect Nevadans, not sound like he’s shaking them down. No citizen should expect this kind of behavior from a U.S. senator.”

To Mr. Frederick, it was a matter of ethics, character, accuracy and yes, guts - once considered the very bulwarks of journalism. They still are, apparently.

“At the risk of sounding paternalistic, I’m protective of my newspaper and our employees. If Sen. Reid has something to say, he can say it to me,” Mr. Frederick tells Inside the Beltway.

“But more to the point, Sen. Reid didn’t say, ‘I hope you get your political minds right.’ He said ‘I hope you go out of business.’ You can examine that remark from any angle - and it always comes out very, very wrong. If a newspaper can’t stand up for itself, it can’t stand up for anyone subject to such bullying.”

ECHO CHAMBER

There’s still fallout from the contentious town meeting on health care reform chaired by Rep. James P. Moran, Virginia Democrat, at South Lakes High School in Reston on Aug. 25. The Fairfax County school system is apparently investigating an exchange between a school security guard and an attendee, who was told not to display a certain protest sign or risk being charged with trespassing.

“The attendee said ‘This is America. This used to be America.’ The guard responded by saying, ‘It ain’t no more, OK?’ ” a witness tells Beltway.

The source also says the Fairfax County school system is “carrying out a comprehensive investigation about the incident.”

TRA-LA-LA

But there’s joy in dissent, too, thank heavens. The cross-country Tea Party Express rolls into Albuquerque, N.M., on Tuesday, continuing to rally local citizenry to speak out against big government, big taxes and big health care - culminating in the big “Taxpayer March on D.C.” on the West Side of the Capitol on Sept. 12. The grass-roots group typically makes its talking points with music, like “The Big Fat No,” a folksy little ditty performed with vim and vigor by Kay and Ron Rivoli,who wrote words and music.

“Universal health care is a big mistake/ To let government control our care would seal our fate/ To have some bureaucrats decide if we should live or die/ Should scare us half to death and make us wanna cry,” they sing.

Dour progressives, they are not.

“It’s kind of a jingle-jangle song, you know? And it’s part of our way to keep things positive, to unify people - keep them educated and entertained, too. That’s part of our mission. You celebrate what you believe in,” spokesman Levi Russell tells Beltway.

THE WRITE WAY

The mother of all petitions is being readied for delivery to Capitol Hill, courtesy of the National Center for Policy Analysis. The nonpartisan research group has accrued 1.2 million verified signatures of folks allied against Obamacare. It is expected to be the largest policy petition to be presented before Congress.

“Boxes and boxes and boxes. Probably about 30 or so. It’s a way to show there are real people behind this,” spokeswoman Catherine Daniell tells Beltway.

No doubt, the petition in all its glory will be delivered on Sept. 9 by a bunch of weight lifters - and heavyweights. Among those making an appearance: Republicans Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas; Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina; House Minority Leader John A. Boehner of Ohio; Pete du Pont, former Delaware governor and NCPA policy chairman; and John Goodman, CEO of the nonpartisan research group.

And the petition is still live. For a look, check out www.FreeOurHealthCareNow.com.

POLL DU JOUR

• 25 percent of Americans think Congress understands legislation before members vote on it.

• 54 percent say they don’t understand legislation.

• 22 percent are not sure.

• 29 percent of Americans are confident Congress understands the economy.

• 61 percent of liberals are confident Congress understands it.

• 89 percent of conservatives say lawmakers don’t understand the economy.

Source: A Rasmussen Reports survey of 1,000 likely voters conducted Aug. 27-28.

Songs, dances and statements to jharper@washingtontimes.com or 202/636-3085.

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