- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 23, 2013

In characteristic folksy but aggressive style, Ron Paul has become a media mogul of sorts. The former Texas lawmaker and Libertarian presidential hopeful already has drawn the help of one Hollywood celebrity in his zeal to launch the Ron Paul Channel, a high-definition news network available online by subscription — a business model proved viable by Glenn Beck, who left his perch on Fox News two years ago to “keep my soul intact,” he said, before founding The Blaze, his own online network and news site.

Mr. Paul, like Mr. Beck, is tapping into the vast audience disenchanted by news coverage tainted with partisan bias and tabloid flourishes.

“Turn off your TV, turn on the truth,” Mr. Paul advises potential subscribers, while advance marketing frames the new outreach as “an innovative interactive channel from America’s visionary voice of liberty,” promising programming that “takes the fight from Washington and brings it to you from the powerful world of digital media.”

Breaking news, extensive reporting, interviews with big shots and direct viewer encounters with Mr. Paul himself are planned; a summertime launch date is promised. The channel has picked up a famous “founding subscriber,” though.

That would be actor Vince Vaughn, who happily attended a Lone Star-style barbecue on Mr. Paul’s lakefront Texas property in late June. And it’s complicated, in an intriguing way: earlier this year, Mr. Vaughn’s production company collaborated with Mr. Beck, seeking to finance the work of a documentary filmmaker for a project titled “The Pursuit of the Truth.”

ENDLESS APOLOGY TOUR

It’s a good week to say “sorry” and make an apology tour of New York City, apparently. But the classic mea culpa is a skill every politician must hone these days, inside the Empire State and beyond.

“If you have to eat crow, eat it while it’s hot,” Alben Barkley, vice president to Harry S. Truman, once advised politicians.

“When you dig yourself a hole, you can either lie in it the rest of your life, or do something positive. That’s why I’m running. Everyone, no matter who you are, deserves a fair shot. I’m asking voters to give the same for me,” says an earnest Eliot Spitzer in a new campaign video in his quest to be city comptroller.

The former governor, however, does not have fresh online sex charges to deal with, as does Anthony D. Weiner, in his quest for mayor.

“There is no question that what I did was wrong. This behavior is behind me,” Mr. Weiner promised Tuesday when new images and messages he once sent under the pseudonym “Carlos Danger” went public. “I want to again say that I am very sorry to anyone who was on the receiving end of these messages and the disruption that this has caused.”

But wait. The instant media-driven circle of ridiculousness already has gone full course.

“Anthony Weiner’s sexts aren’t depraved. They’re boring,” declares Amanda Hess, a writer for Slate, which for better or worse, has created a “Carlos Danger” name generator at its website, advising readers, “Use our widget to get a name like Anthony Weiner’s alleged sexting pseudonym.”

TO THE POINT

“Do we have to pass S.744 to see what’s in it?”

— Suggested motto for a protest sign from the Tea Party Patriots, who are asking their membership to hit the streets Thursday to protest the “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act,” the 1,198-page Senate immigration bill, which passed June 27.

WENDY DAVIS, INSTANT CELEBRITY

There was scant broadcast network coverage of the murder trial of Kermit Gosnell, the doctor who ran a Philadelphia abortion clinic and was convicted later on three counts of murder. But the 11-hour, pro-abortion filibuster of Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis? Her effort last month to derail Texas. Gov. Rick Perry’s late-term abortion bill found a ready audience.

According to a painstaking study from the Culture and Media Institute, the Democrat received three times as much coverage from ABC, NBS and CBS, who transformed her into a “folk hero” and “an instant celebrity — a comely blonde single mom who stood up for ‘women’s health’ in pink tennis shoes, fighting against ‘severe’ abortion restrictions,” the researchers said.

And the numbers: In the 19 days following her filibuster, the networks devoted 40 minutes, 48 seconds of their news programs to stories on the lawmaker. That’s more than three times the 13 minutes, 30 seconds they gave Gosnell during his entire 58-day trial.

“This is an epic example of how journalists spin the news. The broadcast networks only reluctantly cover when an abortion doctor turns baby butcher, but when an unknown politician gives a pro-abortion filibuster she becomes an instant celebrity. ABC, CBS and NBC have become little more than liberal front groups,” says Dan Gainor, vice president of the conservative watchdog group.

DEFENDING DEFENSE

“Going forward, preserving and strengthening our readiness must be a key priority. Unfortunately, when compared to other areas in DOD’s budget, military readiness does not always have a vocal constituency. You cannot buy back readiness. DOD is not a corporation, and it cannot be run like one.” — Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, to the Veterans of Foreign Wars national convention

PUBLIC AFFAIRS REVEALED

This could make a certain population uncomfortable, or furious. A National Press Club panel soon convenes to determine whether federal public affairs practices actually cut off the tax-paying public from its “affairs.” The panel includes journalists, academics and on the hot seat, perhaps — John Verrico, president-elect of the National Association of Government Communicators.

The opposing sides have drawn lines in the sand. Reporters question the stringent protocols and restrictions, U.S. officials are wary of “unauthorized contact” with the press, or compromising accuracy. Title of the August event? “Government Public Affairs Offices: More Hindrance Than Help for Open Government?”

POLL DU JOUR

50 percent of Americans say minorities do not receive equal treatment in the criminal justice system; 29 percent of Republicans and 70 percent of Democrats agree.

46 percent overall say George Zimmerman should not be charged with civil rights violations in federal court; 72 percent of Republicans and 29 percent of Democrats agree.

41 percent overall approved of the verdict in the trial of George Zimmerman; 65 percent of Republicans and 22 percent of Democrats agree.

41 percent overall disapproved of the verdict; 20 percent of Republicans and 62 percent of Democrats agree,

40 percent overall say the shooting of Trayvon Martin was unjustified; 22 percent of Republicans and 59 percent of Democrats agree.

26 percent overall say the shooting was justified; 46 percent of Republicans and 11 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: A Washington Post/ABC News poll of 1,002 U.S. adults conducted July 18 to 21.

Righteous indignation, polite applause to jharper@ washingtontimes.com.