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Inside the Beltway

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 31, 2011

INVENTING THE CAT FIGHT

Oh, how they dream: The mainstream news media seeks to foment discord between Sarah Palin and Rep. Michele Bachmann, should the former Alaska governor and Minnesota Republican both run for the White House. Imagine. The obsessed press perhaps envisions a cat fight between the politicians they bill as tea party "darlings," their coverage a veritable showcase for tacky prose, snide commentary and unchecked speculation.

What if they were both liberal Democrats? Awestruck journalists would frame them as Athena-like, or warrior goddesses, anyway. Then again, the same press would be flummoxed and furious if the pair emerged with a presidential ticket reading "Bachman/Palin 2012." Or vice versa.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Bachmann will have none of it.

"I like Sarah Palin a lot. We're friends. And I don't consider her a competitor. I consider her a friend," she told ABC morning host George Stephanopolous, who already had billed the theoretical match-up as "the epic political showdown" of the election.

"My comparison, ultimately, is to Barack Obama. I created a successful company. I'm a tax litigation attorney. I raised 28 children in my home. I have a number of wide experiences that I bring to the table. And that's my comparison," Mrs. Bachmann concluded.

The end result? ABC's attempt to gin up a brawl was "a dismissive take on two conservative females," says Newsbusters analyst Scott Whitlock.

SANCTUM SANTORUM

He's lingered over a presidential run for 19 months. His name often doesn't even make the public recognition polls. He's already made 16 trips to New Hampshire, 15 trips to South Carolina and 14 trips to Iowa. But Rick Santorum is in. A campaign spokeswoman confirms he'll announce his White House bid next Monday morning, at the Somerset County Courthouse in the coal mining country of southwestern Pennsylvania

"Polls don't mean anything. What matters is getting out there," the former Pennsylvania lawmaker told Fox News Tuesday.

PARSING WEINERGATE

"Anthony Weiner is exactly the kind of Democrat who would sensationalize a story like this if the politician involved was a Republican. And you can be sure the press wouldnt have to be dragged kicking and screaming to cover it," says National Review contributor Jonah Goldberg, regarding the New York lawmaker's efforts to prove he did not Tweet a lewd image of men's underwear to a young woman.

"I dont think this is a colossal scandal, but the selective standards of the mainstream media drive me crazy. Recall that the New York District 26 race weve just finished analyzing was a result of the fact that a sitting congressman had to resign because he sent a picture of himself without shirt to a woman on Craigslist. In 2006, Nancy Pelosi used Mark Foley's scandal to help win back the Congress," Mr. Goldberg continues.

"And what if Weiner's innocent and this is a dirty trick by some right-wingers? Dont we need to know that? Shouldnt they be exposed?...At minimum, it seems to me that if the Left wants to claim Weiner was set up, then they are honor bound to support a full investigation," he concludes.

OLBERMANN MANS UP

Look out. They're gettin' serious, now. Keith Olbermann apparently does not intend to launch a small-time news show on Current TV, the news channel founded by Al Gore. Indeed, "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" debuts on its new network in 19 days, airing live "from Studio 33" at 8 p.m., opposite Fox News' Bill O'Reilly on the "O'Reilly Factor," CNN's Eliot Spitzer on "In the Arena" and MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell on "The Last Word."

Among others, Mr. Olbermann will be joined by contributors Michael Moore and Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas, and "10 more to be revealed in the coming weeks." A trio of CNN veterans have been hired to launch the show, along with MSNBC veteran David Sarosi, appointed as executive producer.

"For most of its last five years, he produced the old shows two most essential segments - the program 'open' with its signature question 'Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?' and 'Worst Persons in the World.' " Mr. Olbermann observes, adding that his career trajectory has included programming he considers "eight start-ups or just-starteds."

TOOLS NOT TOYS

Uh-oh. What with Weinergate and all, the American Society of News Editors pines to control the tweeting, blogging, Facebooking hordes of journalists who can be at their best or worst when running rampant online. The organization, which represents the nation's newspapers and journalism schools, has issued a "best practices" guide for press use of social media.

The group's 10 edicts: "Traditional ethics rules still apply online. Assume everything you write online will become public. Use social media to engage with readers, but professionally. Break news on your website, not on Twitter. Beware of perceptions. Independently authenticate anything found on a social networking site. Always identify yourself as a journalist. Social networks are tools not toys. Be transparent and admit when youre wrong online. Keep internal deliberations confidential."

POLL DU JOUR

c 54 percent of Americans approved of the way President Obama is handling his job as president.

c 27 percent of Republicans, 27 percent of conservatives and 17 percent of tea party supporters agree.

c 47 percent of independents, 66 percent of moderates, 85 percent of Democrats and 82 percent of liberals agree.

c 41 percent of Americans overall approve of the way Mr. Obama is handling the nation's economy.

c 20 percent of Republicans, 18 percent of conservatives and 11 percent of tea party supporters agree.

c 35 percent of independents, 54 percent of moderates, 67 percent of Democrats and 62 percent of liberals agree.

Source: A CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll of 1.007 adults conducted May 24 to 26.

c Catcalls, doggerel, neighs, nays to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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