Inside the Beltway: Al Jazeera America’s C-SPAN connection

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The news channel goes live in less than three weeks. That would be Al Jazeera America, already peopled with veterans hailing from CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, NBC, CBS, PBS and ABC. Now add C-SPAN to the list. Libby Casey, morning host and producer for C-SPAN’s much esteemed “Washington Journal,” has signed on as the incoming network’s official Washington correspondent — one of the nine new hires who will lead regional bureaus.

“I see this as an opportunity to be part of a strong news presence in the media landscape, emphasizing serious news and serious storytelling. On C-SPAN, we have a direct connection to the audience, a respect for the audience. I want to continue with that connection at Al Jazeera America,” Ms. Casey tells Inside the Beltway.

“That is the message the network gave to me. They want genuine storytelling, they want audience connection, they want newspeople delivering straightforward information. It’s in their code of ethics,” she adds.

Al Jazeera America also has — or will have — bureaus in Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, Tenn., New Orleans, New York, San Francisco and Seattle. Ms. Casey’s last day on C-SPAN is Wednesday.

RUBIO‘S WARNING

“I know every single one of the Senate members in the Republican Party is against Obamacare. This is our last chance and our last best chance to do something about this. When this thing starts to kick in and starts to take root, it is going to be very difficult to undo major portions of this, despite the damage that it is going to create,” a stern Sen. Marco Rubio told his peers during a speech on the Senate floor Tuesday.

“If we pass a budget in September that funds Obamacare, you did not do everything you could. You paid for this. You doubled down on it in ways that will have irreparable harm to our economy and to our country,” the Florida Republican declared.

He was flanked by Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who nodded sagely in agreement.

“Let me tell you something, if we are not willing to draw a line in the sand on this issue, then what issue are we willing to draw a line in the sand on?” Mr. Rubio demanded. “If we’re not going to go to the limit on this issue, then what issue is there? Is there an issue that we are prepared to say that we will not move forward because of this? Is there an issue that we are willing to do everything we can and lay it all on the line? Is there such an issue? If it is not this one, which one is it? That’s the choice before us.”

CRUZ AND THE BRUISERS

This should be soundbites worthy. The Republican Study Committee will assemble a fierce “bicameral panel of conservatives” on Thursday afternoon at the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center. The topic: “They will discuss the Obama administration’s abuses of power and its refusal to enforce current laws on the books,” a spokesman says.

On stage: Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania, RSC chairman Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, plus Reps. Michael C. Burgess of Texas, Trent Franks of Arizona, Jim Jordan of Ohio and Patrick T. McHenry of North Carolina.

A good time for all likely guaranteed.

CPAC NEVER SLEEPS

Was the 40th annual Conservative Political Action Conference the one hoopla for conservatives this year? Why no. The American Conservative Union plans a regional follow-up in Missouri for late September: CPAC St. Louis will be a day of “blockbuster speeches” says Al Cardenas, the organization’s indefatigable chairman.

And now (drum roll, please), the confirmed speakers so far: Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, and Reps. Blaine Luetkemeyer, Jason Smith and Ann Wagner, all of Missouri.

“Stay tuned,” Mr. Cardenas advises.

PARTY ON MILTON

From our Only-in-Washington Desk comes this soiree on Wednesday night, in celebration of the late economist Milton Friedman. Why, it’s Milton Friedman Legacy Day, proclaims the National Taxpayers Union Foundation, which is commemorating the event with a happy hour and celebratory poll, to be conducted at a tavern a mere three blocks from the White House.

Yes, there are free cocktails for fiscally minded revelers, plus a chance to vote on which fundamental tax reform change Congress should adopt. Flat tax? National transaction tax, value added tax or the current “progressive tax system”?

Yes, but are there, say, Milton Martinis and Friedman Fizzes?

“The types of cocktails are not Friedman inspired, but the low prices to incentivize good times might be,” spokesman Doug Kellogg tells the Beltway.

But wait, that’s not all folks. Washington-based Americans for Prosperity is staging — count ‘em — 35 local Friedman birthday parties, breakfasts, lunches, dinners and “patriot camps” around the nation. The Noble Prize-winning Friedman, incidentally, was born in Brooklyn on July 31, 1912; He at died at age 94 in 2006.

PERSISTENT PALIN POWER

A Public Policy Polling survey finds Sarah Palin is the “top choice” for U.S. Senate candidate among GOP primary voters in Alaska, commanding 36 percent of the vote, compared to 26 percent for Mead Treadwell, her nearest competitor. The candidate would take on Sen. Mark Begich, a Democrat and former mayor of Anchorage. Ah, but it’s complicated.

“The problem for Republicans with a Palin candidacy is that even though she is in good standing with the party base, voters overall don’t like her at all,” notes pollster Tom Jensen, who says Mrs. Palin has a 39 percent favorability rating among all voters.

That’s interesting, and it’s interesting to the senator’s handlers. With this variable, Mr. Jensen ultimately gives the win to Mr. Begich, though. Still, a few deep numbers in the poll reveal how much Palin support remains entrenched among Alaskan conservatives. Keep in mind that 70 percent of the 890 voters who responded in the poll identify themselves as conservative, 24 percent were moderate and 6 percent liberal.

Of interest: 75 percent of “very conservative” and 56 percent of “somewhat conservative” primary voters favor Mrs. Palin. Another 66 percent of very conservative and 65 percent of somewhat conservative voters agree that Mrs. Palin is “still an Alaskan,” with identical numbers agreeing she should run for senator in Alaska, not Arizona, where she also has a residence.

POLL DU JOUR

65 percent of likely Democratic primary voters in New York say Anthony D. Weiner’s sexting troubles are a “legitimate issue” in the New York City mayoral race; 60 percent of women and 72 percent of men agree.

53 percent of the likely voters overall say Mr. Weiner should drop out of the race; 54 percent of women and 52 percent of men agree.

40 percent of voters overall say Mr. Weiner’s behavior “disqualified” him for consideration as a candidate; 39 percent of women and 40 percent of men agree.

40 percent overall say the behavior does not disqualify Mr. Weiner; 41 percent of women and 38 percent of men agree.

20 percent overall say his behavior is “not a factor”; 19 percent of women and 21 percent of men agree.

35 percent say the phrase “strong personal moral character” could describe Mr. Weiner; 30 percent of women and 42 percent of men agree.

Source: A Quinnipiac University poll of 466 likely Democratic primary voters conducted July 24 to 26.

Declarations, nays, neighs to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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