- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 16, 2010

RIELLE COUNTERPOINT

Rielle Hunter is hovering at the 14-minute point in her 15 minutes of fame, what with her endless GQ magazine tell-all about life with John Edwards, and reported claims that she “cried for two hours” over the semi-sensuous photos that accompanied the story. And Mr. Edwards - former “Breck girl,” vice-presidential candidate, cheating husband and father of Miss Hunter’s baby? He’s still got staying power in some sectors of the media, apparently.

Mr. Edwards leads Gawker.com’s new “No matter how much we hate them, these guy’s are still hot,” lineup - which also showcases Sen. Scott Brown, Massachusetts Republican and one-time centerfold model; college gridiron star Tim Tebow, Fox News correspondent Bill Hemmer and four others. The concept rattled the site’s readers - who had dozens of suggestions to add to the list. Among them: Harold Ford, Glenn Beck, Tucker Carlson, and yes, former President Bill Clinton.

DRUDGE RULES

Oh, woe is the press: “The losses suffered in traditional news gathering in the last year were so severe that by any accounting they overwhelm the innovations in the world of news and journalism,” says the massive new “State of the News Media” report from the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ).

“Last year was significantly harder on the news industry even than 2008, and the report predicts still more cutbacks in 2010, even with an improving economy,” says PEJ director Tom Rosenstiel. “And while there is more discussion of alternative ways of financing the news, there is not yet much concrete progress.”

Quirks are emerging, however. Of the 4,600 online news sites tracked by Nielsen, the top 7 percent - about 200 sites - draw 80 percent of the traffic, the study found. About two-thirds of these are the products of traditional “legacy media” like newspapers or broadcasters. Press and blogosphere are caught in an incestuous feedback loop, however: 13 percent of the sites are news aggregators such as Google News that repackage content from the aforementioned legacy media; just 14 percent produce any original stuff.

Two political sites, the conservative Drudge Report and the liberal Daily Kos, “stand out with vastly higher numbers than the average site,” the PEJ report says, noting that visitors devote almost an hour to Drudge each month and 48 minutes at Daily Kos. In contrast, the busiest news sites command 15 minutes - placing Drudge at No. 1 and Daily Kos at No. 2 in the time visited category, the analysis found. And alas. The research also found that 71 percent of Americans feel now that most news sources are biased in their coverage and 70 percent feel “overwhelmed” rather than informed by their amount of exposure to news and information. Peruse the big fat study at www.stateofthemedia.org.

REVAMPED POSSE

As the health care reform showdown looms, Michael Wolff, founder of Newser.com, detects “the White House’s new macho thing” among public players, such as White House spokesman Robert Gibbs and senior adviser David Axelrod.

“Where did this confidence, this bravado, this bully-boy stuff suddenly come from? It really is an overnight thing. The Obama boys have been superior, arch, logical, process-obsessed, consensus-driven, policy-loving; the result of this world view and detail-orientation was an open-ended discussion that got them into a great deal of trouble,” Mr. Wolff says. “But in the new approach that’s all behind them. …The top-of-the-class nerd boys have taken off their glasses and bared their teeth.”

He adds, “This new muscular pose is better, clearly, than all that hand-wringing superiority of the past year. But isn’t it just a little bit unsettling? Are they really capable of changing like this? Has this all been a careful act of the black guy trying to behave himself? All just a concerted effort at ritual and propriety?”

SAVE THE WAILS

Just so you know: Sen John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat, introduced the “International Whale Conservation and Protection Act of 2010” on Monday which “addresses major threats to whales including commercial whaling, ship strikes, entanglement in fishing gear, ocean noise, and climate change and reasserts the U.S. as a leader in whale conservation.”

ISRAEL’S DEFENDERS

Those troubled by the Obama administration’s recent criticisms of Israel fear greater agendas.

“In an effort to ingratiate our country with the Arab world, this administration has shown a troubling eagerness to undercut our allies and friends. Israel has always been committed to the peace process, including advocating for direct talks between Israelis and Palestinians, in effort to bring this conflict to an end. Unfortunately, the Palestinian government continues to insist on indirect talks and slowing down the process,” says Rep. Eric Cantor, Virginia Republican.

“While it condemns Israel, the administration continues to ignore a host of Palestinian provocations that undermine prospects for peace in the region. Where is the outrage when top Fatah officials call for riots on the Temple Mount? Why does the Palestinian Authority get a pass when it holds a ceremony glorifying the woman responsible for one of the deadliest terror attack in Israel’s history? Surely, the administration’s double standard has set back the peace process.”

Observes one-time White House hopeful Gary Bauer, now president of American Values: “What is particularly telling is that this is a president who has bowed to a Saudi king, who has repeatedly held his hand out to Iran only to have his face slapped in response and who has regularly suffered the slings and arrows of insults from Russia, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea, to name a few. For whom does he reserve his anger, toughness and vehemence? For Israel, the only reliable ally we have in the Middle East.”

POLL DU JOUR

• 34 percent of American voters say they will vote Democratic in the next congressional election, 27 percent will vote Republican.

• 21 percent will vote for a “tea party” candidate, 19 percent were “not sure.”

• 16 percent consider themselves part of the tea party “movement.”

• 67 percent do not consider themselves part of it, 17 percent are not sure.

• 30 percent of Republicans, 5 percent of Democrats and 14 percent of unaffiliated voters say they are part of the movement.

Source: A Rasmussen Reports survey of 1,000 likely voters conducted March 11 and 12.

Tell-alls, annoyances, semaphores to jharper@ washingtontimes.com.

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