- The Washington Times - Monday, January 24, 2000

He's all ears

Tim Russert, host of NBC's "Meet the Press," yesterday accused Steve Forbes of "doctoring" a photograph of a Republican rival, Texas Gov. George W. Bush.
The photo appeared in a brochure put out by the Forbes campaign in which Mr. Bush's tax plan was criticized.
Mr. Russert, on his show yesterday, grilled Mr. Forbes about the "very curious" photo, and he put it on the screen for viewers.
"His ears are doctored, made to look like 'Star Trek's' Mr. Spock or [Mad magazine's] Alfred E. Neuman. Why would you do something so childish as doctoring a photo of Governor Bush?" Mr. Russert asked the multimillionaire publisher and presidential hopeful.
Mr. Forbes immediately denied any such hanky-panky. "Tim, obviously we didn't do a doctoring of a picture, and when people … made the charge, the Bush people started crying that the picture wasn't the best picture of him. We chuckled until we realized they were serious."
"It's not doctored?" Mr. Russert asked.
"Of course not. Teen-agers are not even as vain as that. Come on," Mr. Forbes said.
Mr. Russert still wasn't a believer. "It certainly looks doctored to everyone who has seen it, Mr. Forbes, including the local paper, which drew a Pinocchio nose on you trying to defend this photograph."

'Nice try'

Now that Texas Gov. George W. Bush has said he believes the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe Vs. Wade decision, which legalized abortion, was wrong, pundit Al Hunt tried to get him to say what he thinks about his father's high court pick, Justice David Souter, who voted to uphold the ruling.
Was the Souter appointment a "good appointment?" Mr. Hunt asked the Republican presidential front-runner on CNN's "Evans, Novak, Hunt & Shields" Saturday.
"Nice try," the candidate said, laughing. "You're trying to get me into the old George W./George H.W. debate. I am not going to fall into it."
"Do you think he's a good justice?" Mr. Hunt asked.
But he still didn't get a direct response. "I appreciate that. I'm going to appoint people who strictly interpret the Constitution and who will not use the bench from which to legislate."
Mr. Hunt still didn't give up. "Does Judge Souter strictly interpret the Constitution?" he asked Mr. Bush.
The Texas governor still didn't bite. "I understand what you're trying to get me to say. I am not going to say it. Thank you."
That was the last word on the issue.

Museum piece

"History comes unexpectedly and in different forms, but the National Archives and Records Administration is gambling that a piece of sensational Clinton memorabilia Monica Lewinsky's legendary blue dress is headed its way," Paul Bedard writes in U.S. News & World Report.
" 'It's part of the evidence, so we have to be ready,' says one insider of the uncleaned dress the White House intern wore during a sexual encounter with the 'big creep' just outside the presidential bathroom. Among the considerations: building a box big enough so the Gap garment can lie flat and keeping the air inside pure so neither the cloth, nor the tell-tale semen stain, decomposes.
"It's not a first; archivists have preserved clothing from Lee Harvey Oswald and Jackie Kennedy Onassis. The agency has been in talks with the special prosecutor's office on the fate of the dress and indications are that it will be saved, although a final determination hasn't been made. A possible hang-up: Lewinsky may try to get it back. One thing's for sure. President Clinton doesn't want it displayed in his Little Rock, Ark., library."

Unlikely allies

"At first glance, the Republican Leadership Council and the National Right to Life Committee have little in common," Matthew Rees writes in the Weekly Standard.
"The RLC was formed in 1997 by a group of wealthy pro-choice Republicans who feared the GOP was being increasingly defined, in the words of their executive director, 'by the actions of an intolerant vocal minority.' That's code for outfits like the National Right to Life Committee, the country's largest and most influential anti-abortion organization.
"Both groups have been active in the Republican presidential primaries, airing radio and television ads zinging their opponents. The surprise is that, while at loggerheads with each other, they share a common goal: electing George W. Bush president."

Leading in Illinois

Vice President Al Gore and Texas Gov. George W. Bush are the clear favorites among Democrats and Republicans likely to vote in the March 21 Illinois primary, according to a poll conducted by the Chicago Tribune.
The poll, published yesterday, showed Mr. Gore leading former Sen. Bill Bradley, his sole rival for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination, 53 percent to 27 percent. Twenty percent of the likely Democratic primary voters were undecided.
A key factor in Mr. Gore's lead was support from black voters, with 72 percent backing the vice president and just 9 percent favoring Mr. Bradley.
Forty-five percent of white Democrats supported Mr. Gore and 34 percent backed Mr. Bradley.
Among Republicans, Mr. Bush led Arizona Sen. John McCain 56 percent to 14 percent. Former ambassador and former talk-show host Alan Keyes polled 5 percent; publisher Steve Forbes, 4 percent; conservative activist Gary Bauer, 2 percent and Utah Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, 1 percent.
Eighteen percent of the likely Republican voters were undecided.
The telephone poll of 500 Republicans and 500 Democrats was conducted Jan. 13-17 by Market Shares Corp. and has a 4-percentage point margin of error.

Less coverage

Despite competitive races in both parties, network evening newscasts spent far less time covering the presidential campaign in 1999 than they did four years earlier, a study concluded.
ABC, CBS and NBC nightly news programs had 45 percent fewer minutes of campaign coverage last year than in 1995, when President Clinton was readying his re-election effort against eventual GOP nominee Bob Dole, according to the Center for Media and Public Affairs.
"This is the election that the big broadcast networks decided they are no longer the whole ballgame," said Robert Lichter, president of the Washington-based think tank.
The news landscape has changed markedly in four years. This is the first presidential campaign covered by three cable news networks, and there is more Internet coverage than ever before.
"The NBC Nightly News" devoted 184 minutes to presidential politics in 1999, down 37 percent from 1995. "The CBS Evening News" had 144 minutes, down 55 percent from four years earlier. ABC's "World News Tonight" had 141 minutes, down 39 percent.
The Center for Media and Public Affairs found that a candidate for Senate first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton drew more evening news coverage last year than any of the presidential candidates, the Associated Press reports.

Instinctive decency

"You know that story about the youngster who discovers money on a bus and knocks himself out to return it to its rightful owner? The same instinctive decency ought to apply to Washington," the Wall Street Journal says.
"Today's gusher exists mainly because because the 'irresponsible' Reagan tax cuts redressed the disincentive effects of the old tax structure. We have surpluses because Americans are harder-working and more productive, not because the politicians have become more frugal. Washington's periodic attempts to jack up the wage tax have been a particular disgrace," the newspaper said in an editorial.
"With the world at peace, the economy humming and the debt already on a path to extinction, Republicans shouldn't be conspiring with Democrats to keep the surpluses in Washington. If that's the plan, why don't they just call themselves Democrats?"

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