- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 15, 2014

Alas. Whenever The New York Times has troubles, a certain giddy schadenfreude descends upon onlookers who relish the spectacle. This time, The Times has had a seismic disturbance on par with the plagiarism episode 11 years ago that yielded resignations at the highest levels and prompted management to call all 1,200 employees together to talk about it. For hours. That didn’t happen after Executive Editor Jill Abramson was abruptly fired and instantly replaced with Dean Baquet, the managing editor and the news organization’s top black executive.

A memo was issued; there was a perfunctory story explaining of the matter — all that’s needed for bombastic buzz in the 24/7 media marketplace. The news quickly morphed into several narratives far beyond control of The Times, once called “The Gray Lady” in a gentler age. Here’s how the rest of the press clan described the aftermath:


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“Gray lady boots its top lady” (Daily Beast); “Delicious: New York Times accused of underpaying top woman” (National Review); “New York Times again sidesteps issue of diversity” (MarketWatch); “The New York Times owes the audience an explanation” (Poynter Institute); “New York Times shares drop amid executive shakeup” (Wall Street Journal), “To young women at The New York Times, Jill Abramson was everything” (Slate Magazine); “Did the NY Times fire Abramson for being too bossy?” (Forbes); and “Abramson bests NYT in PR fight” (Politico).

ADELSON, CHRISTIE AND PERRY

There will be a red carpet, good will and a certain intensity about this event, which brings together a noteworthy but unusual combination of luminaries. On Sunday comes the second annual “Champions of Jewish Values International Awards,” staged at an immense and opulent space in midtown Manhattan where the style is Italian Renaissance and the ceilings soar 65 feet.

Among the guests: uber-Republican fan Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam; Govs. Rick Perry of Texas and Chris Christie of New Jersey; Democrats Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii; Ron Dermer, Israeli ambassador to the U.S.; Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel; human rights activist John Prendergast; master of ceremonies and organizer Rabbi Shmuley Boteach; philanthropist Michael Steinhardt and his wife Judy; and actor Sean Penn.

Mssrs. Booker, Dermer, Penn and Prendergast will be honored for their efforts toward justice and human spirit. The rabbi is also celebrating his 25th year in the rabbinate. But there will be something to ponder later.

“Governor Christie is planning to give a major speech on Israel and the Middle East. Governor Perry will also be speaking,” a source advises.

CHRISTIE RE-EMERGES

Of note: The aforementioned Mr. Christie has clarified that the persistent Bridgegate matter will not derail his presidential aspirations, as many pundits suggests. The roadway scandal, he says, will have no effect.

“A far as the impact on my political future, I think it will have none — because I didn’t do anything,” the governor told a crowd at an economic summit this week in the nation’s capital.

THE GRANNY TICKET

Now there’s a thought. Two outspoken women of a certain age on the campaign trail. In the endless dream team matchups of potential presidential hopefuls comes this pairing from HBO host Bill Maher, of interest to those who follow one Massachusetts senator in particular, along with Hillary Clinton.

“I think somebody like Elizabeth Warren, one of the most gutsy people I’ve seen in politics in a long time — she’s somebody, I think, who would really say what she feels. And she may not ever win anything, but I’d love to see her run with Hillary. How about that? A granny ticket,” Mr. Maher tells Larry King during an encounter on “Politicking,” the veteran host’s Ora.tv talk show. It aired Thursday night.

And in another creative pairing comes this suggestion from outgoing ABC daytime contributor Barbara Walters. She has a suggestion for Monica Lewinsky, who recently re-emerged on public radar after penning an expose for Vanity Fair about her relationship with former President Bill Clinton.

“I think it would be great if she were on ‘The View.’ But I wouldn’t expect it tomorrow. Maybe she could take my place. You know, ‘The View with Whoopi Goldberg and Monica Lewinsky,’” Ms. Walters told CBS late-night host David Letterman.

MR. KING EXPLAINS ALL

An Iowa Republican who supports secure borders and condemns immigration amnesty has drawn Democratic ire.

“Every time any Republican raised the possibility of action on immigration reform in the House, Steve King is there, in his own words, ‘manning the watchtowers 24/7’ to make sure nothing can be passed to fix our broken immigration system,” Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, told his peers in a floor speech Thursday.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid chimed in as well.

“Once again, I’m flattered by Senator Schumer, and now Majority Leader Harry Reid’s attempt to insult me, yet give me 100 percent of the credit for blocking their amnesty agenda,” Rep. Steve King says in reply. “Their goal is to bait Republicans into passing amnesty. I want to remind our Republican leadership that there is a hook in the bait that Schumer and Reid are dangling — and you are smarter than to take it and get caught. Their goal always has been and always will be to divide Republicans and unite Democrats.”

Mr. King continues, “The only way the American people lose is if [House Speaker] John Boehner and the rest of our Republican leadership take the bait dangled before them on the Senate Floor again this week. I have stated time and time again, and my resolve could not be stronger — I will continue to focus on restoring the rule of law above all else in this immigration debate and I urge my colleagues to do the same.”

WEEKEND REAL ESTATE

For sale: Bran Castle, built by the Knights of the Teutonic Order in 1212 on 20 acres near Brasov, Romania. Hilltop fortress, former royal residence, has five defensive turrets, watchtower, 1,400-step concrete staircase, panoramic views, secret passage, extensive gardens, considered national landmark. Also called “Dracula’s Castle” due to its prolonged association with Wallachian ruler Vlad Tepes (Vlad the Impaler), who visited the site. Taken over by Communists in 1948, restored to family owners in 1991. Priced at $84 million by Archduke Dominic von Habsburg, through Herzfeld and Rubin, a New York law firm. More information here: Bran-castle.com

POLL DU JOUR

• 78 percent of American voters say questions about the way the Obama administration handled the Benghazi attacks is a serious matter; 89 percent of Republicans and 72 percent of Democrats agree.

• 67 percent of voters overall approve of a special congressional committee to investigate the attacks; 83 percent of Republicans and 55 percent of Democrats agree.

• 63 percent overall say Republicans investigating the attacks are hoping for “political gain;” 38 percent of Republicans and 82 percent of Democrats agree.

• 54 percent overall say the administration tried to “deceive” the nation about the attacks; 82 percent of Republicans and 25 percent of Democrats agree.

• 51 percent overall say the administration “knowingly lied” about the attacks; 81 percent of Republicans and 23 percent of Democrats agree.

• 50 percent overall say Hillary Clinton tried to deceive the American people about the attack; 79 percent of Republicans and 20 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: A Fox News poll of 1,025 registered U.S. voters conducted May 10-13.

Vague annoyances, snappy dialogue to jharper@washingtontimes.com.