- The Washington Times - Monday, February 9, 2015

Alas. The questionable claims of a popular anchorman on the nation’s leading broadcast news network has taken its toll: preliminary Nielson ratings reveal that the number of viewers for NBC Nightly News dropped by 36 percent after revelations that newsman-in-chief Brian Williams fibbed about a few things while on the job.

His professional fate remains a mystery, though the network is said to be pushing a substantial apology from Mr. Williams, a suspension, then a possible return to the anchor chair. 

Williams is still in danger of losing his job. And numerous internal candidates have been floated in the media including Today anchors Matt Lauer, Savannah Guthrie and Willie Geist; CNBC’s Carl Quintanilla; Lester Holt, who is currently filling in for Williams; and Tom Brokaw, who preceded Williams as Nightly anchor. There have even been reports that NBC brass have considered bringing Katie Couric back, though Couric tweeted that those rumors are untrue,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Meanwhile, the ratings malaise appears to be catching according to Nielsen: audiences for evening news shows also fell by 17 percent at CBS and 16 percent at ABC. Yes, well. This is what happens when news credibility comes into question. Peeved audiences balk, then they turn away.

A new Rasmussen Reports survey also found that 40 percent of Americans are now less likely to believe reporting on NBC News in the wake of “Williams-gate”; 58 percent of Republicans agree, along with 40 percent of independents and 25 percent of Democrats.

The survey also found that a third of Americans say they rarely or never get their news from ABC, CBS and NBC. Half watch one of the “Big Three” networks at least several times a week, with 26 percent who watch every day or nearly every day.


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Among frequent viewers of the traditional networks, 63 percent still have a favorable opinion of Mr. Williams, nearly identical to attitudes about ABC’s George Stephanopoulos — “but well ahead of how they feel about Scott Pelley on CBS,” the report stated. “Williams is more popular with women than men. Men are more likely to think he should resign. None of the three network anchors are particularly popular with Republicans, but it is interesting to note that they like Stephanopoulos more than Williams despite the former’s past as a Democratic operative. Most Democrats like both men, while unaffiliated adults have lukewarm views of the two of them. Pelley’s an unknown to all three groups.”

SCRIPTING ‘AMERICAN SNIPER’ GUNS

Discussion continues about the blockbuster film “American Sniper,” which has made $282.4 million at the box office since it was released nationwide in early January. While critics argue the pros and cons, one analyst has arrived with a distinct focus.

“Although the film does take some artistic liberties with the life of a man who is now arguably America’s most famous marksman, some critics praised it for its engaging tale of war and its aftermath. One thing the film did take pains to get correct were the guns used by Kyle and the people around him. We’ve compiled a list detailing many of the arms featured in the film,” says Daniel Hu, a sharp-eyed writer for OutdoorHub, an online hunting and fishing news site.

And here is the list of every gun seen in the film, from scene to scene: The McMillan TAC-338A, a Navy-issue sniper rifle; the Knight’s Armament SR-25, a semiautomatic rifle; the Mk 12 Mod 1 Special Purpose Rifle, “consistently found in the hands of US Army Special Forces and Navy SEALs”; the M40A1 and M40A3 — both bolt-action sniper rifles; the M16A4, a widely used rifle; the M1A, a semiautomatic rifle; and the M240 and Browning M2HB machine guns.

The Iraqi and Islamist insurgents meanwhile were equipped with Romanian FPK/PSL sniper rifles; the Russian SVD Dragunov sniper rifle; Russian AKM and AKMS assault rifles; and Iraq’s own Tabuk sniper rifles.

FOR THE LEXICON

“Department of the Internet”

— A possible new federal agency in the age of increasing federal regulations and net neutrality; suggested by Sen. Ben Sasse, Nebraska Republican, in an appearance Monday on Glenn Beck’s daily radio show.

THE STATE OF THINGS

Those weary of White House overreach have an outlet. Legal-minded activists with an eye on the U.S. Constitution founded the The Convention of States Action in September, an organization calling for a return to limited federal government via a public petition and strategic public events and local grass-roots training.

Bobby Jindal, Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, Mark Levin, Allen West and C. Boyden Gray have lent their support and approval, along with former Sen. Tom Coburn, who joined up as a senior adviser with the group Monday.

“Our national soul is being corrupted by Washington’s unhindered and unconstitutional overreach. Our Founders anticipated the federal government might get out of control at some point, and they gave us a Constitutional mechanism to rein it in — it’s called a Convention of the States, outlined in Article V of the Constitution,” says Mr. Coburn. “Many in Washington have unfortunately forgotten they work for the American people, and the people have begun to mobilize in this effective effort from coast to coast. I’m enthusiastic about the prospects to make this Convention of the States a reality as well as the resonant benefits it will bring to our country.”

See the big, complex doings of the “Article V movement” at ConventionOfStates.com

ANGELA MERKEL’S REAGAN MOMENT

“When you have a situation now where every night you see people dying, you see civilian casualties, you see the dire conditions under which people live, it is incumbent upon us as politicians — we owe it to the people to explore every avenue until somebody gives in. But we’ve grown up under conditions where nobody would have dreamt of German unity. The people who have said in West Germany, remember they said — well, should we keep citizenship of Germany for the GDR? They’ve been criticized by people as some who have revisionist ideas. And then think of President Reagan when he said, ‘Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall,’ standing in front of the Brandenburg Gate. Many people said at the time, how can he possibly say that? But it was right.”

— German Chancellor Angela Merkel through a translator, during a wide-ranging joint press conference with President Obama at the White House on Monday. “GDR” refers to the German Democratic Republic (aka “East Germany”), which was occupied by the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

TIME FLIES

The clock is ticking. The New Hampshire State Republican Committee points out that in less than a year, the Granite State will hold the first-in-the-nation presidential primary. It is, incidentally, the centennial of this political tradition, which first began in 1916. And of course there’s a party.

Already taking shape: the two-day “First in the Nation Republican Leadership Summit” in mid-April; party Chairman Jennifer Horn says it will feature “presidential candidates, an engaging guest speaker lineup, and many other fun activities.” There will be no shortage of White House hopefuls; it’s familiar territory for every one of them. And some can’t wait. Scheduled to visit New Hampshire in the next month: Sens. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz; Govs. Chris Christie and Scott Walker; former Gov. Rick Perry; and businesswoman Carly Fiorina.

POLL DU JOUR

75 percent of Americans commute to work by driving; 84 percent of Republicans, 77 percent of independents and 67 percent of Democrats do this.

62 percent overall prefer to drive rather than take public transport; 75 percent of Republicans, 62 percent of independents and 51 percent of Democrats agree.

59 percent overall say they “enjoy” their commute; 54 percent of Republicans, 58 percent of independents and 65 percent of Democrats agree.

56 percent overall would prefer a nicer home with a longer commute; 56 percent of Republicans, 58 percent of independents and 55 percent of Democrats agree.

21 percent overall would prefer a shorter commute and a less desirable home; 21 percent of Republicans, 20 percent of independents and 23 percent of Democrats agree.

14 percent overall take public transport; 10 percent of Republicans, 12 percent of independents and 20 percent of Democrats do this.

Source: A YouGov poll of 1,000 U.S. adults conducted Feb. 4-5.

Complaints, polite applause to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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