- The Washington Times - Monday, May 24, 2004

Media silence

“After barrels of ink and hours of breathless TV promotion, the Air America radio network has gone from its media boost to a quick bust,” the Media Research Center’s Tim Graham writes at www.mediaresearch.org.

“After just two weeks, the six-station network went off the air in Chicago and Los Angeles on April 14. By April 27, CEO Mark Walsh had left. On May 7, co-founder Evan Cohen signed off. On May 10, the network disbanded its Chicago and Los Angeles sales offices, laying off 15 to 20 people,” Mr. Graham says.

“Then, on May 14, the Chicago Tribune revealed that one inside source said, ‘Chicago staffers were never enrolled in a health insurance plan, though Air America promised coverage and deducted health insurance premiums from their paychecks.’ Would that spur a juicy liberal-hypocrisy story in the middle of what big-government lobbies touted as ‘Cover the Uninsured Week’ (May 10-14)? No.

“A quick review of the media coverage shows a very biased pattern of boosterism followed by radio silence,” said Mr. Graham, citing the lavish coverage of Air America’s debut by ABC, NBC, NPR, CNN, Newsweek, the New York Times and The Washington Post, but little if any coverage of the subsequent woes.

“These ongoing struggles may not seem like big breaking news. But by that standard, neither was the dinky network’s launch, either,” Mr. Graham said. “What the national media promoted as the roar of a new liberal lion turned out to be the quiet whimper of a sickly kitten.”

Daniels ahead

Former White House budget director Mitchell E. Daniels Jr. has opened up a six-point lead in the race for governor of Indiana, the Indianapolis Star reported Friday.

Mr. Daniels, who won the Republican nomination in the May 4 primary, now leads Democratic Gov. Joseph Kernan, 46 percent to 40 percent, among the 540 likely voters surveyed for the Star and television station WTHR, with 10 percent of those surveyed saying they are undecided.

A January poll, taken before Mr. Daniels began his campaign, showed Mr. Kernan, who became governor when two-term incumbent Democrat Frank L. O’Bannon died, with a 13-point advantage over Mr. Daniels, 49 percent to 36 percent, United Press International reports.

The data on the governor’s race were taken from a subset of likely voters in a larger poll of 700 Indiana residents and had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.2 percentage points. The poll was conducted over a one-week period that ended Wednesday.

Bowles’ lead

DemocratErskine Bowles holds a 10-point lead in North Carolina’s U.S. Senate race and is in far better position than two years ago, the Raleigh News & Observer reports, citing a new poll.

Mr. Bowles, a Charlotte investment banker, leads Republican Rep. Richard M. Burr by a 45 percent to 35 percent margin with 20 percent undecided, according to the Mason-Dixon poll conducted for WRAL-TV and several other news organizations.

The poll found that Mr. Bowles, who was President Clinton’s White House chief of staff, leads Mr. Burr in every section of North Carolina except the Greensboro-Winston-Salem area. The seat now is held by Democratic Sen. John Edwards.

When Mr. Bowles ran for the Senate two years ago, he badly trailed Republican Elizabeth Dole at this point in the race.

The survey of 625 registered voters was conducted May 14-17 and has a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points.

Nader’s favorites

Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader said yesterday he had advised Sen.John Kerry to choose Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina or Rep. Richard A. Gephardt of Missourias his running mate on the Democratic ticket.

“They’re very careful,” Mr. Nader said on ABC’s “This Week.” “They’re not going to cause him any embarrassment. And they do bring an additional voter support for him.”

Mr. Kerry met with Mr. Nader in Washington on Wednesday, but didn’t ask the third-party candidate to quit the presidential race despite widespread Democratic fears that his candidacy would aid President Bush.

Mr. Nader rejected the idea of Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona joining Mr. Kerry’s ticket, the Associated Press reports. “McCain really should be taken at his word. … He’s not going to do it.”

Mr. Nader also said he could not support Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana for vice president because “he’s a very soft Democrat.”

Moore’s award

Both liberal film director Michael Moore and the American head of the Cannes Film Festival jury said yesterday that the victory of Mr. Moore’s film “Fahrenheit 9/11” at the French fest was not intended as a political gesture.

Mr. Moore told the Associated Press in an interview yesterday that he wants to be judged on his skills as a director, and “if I wanted to make a political speech, I’d run for office.”

“Fahrenheit 9/11” accuses President Bush of stealing the 2000 election, overlooking terror warnings before September 11 and fanning fears of more attacks to secure Americans’ support of the Iraq war. The film received a 20-minute standing ovation, reportedly the longest in festival history.

France’s Le Parisien daily called the award a “shock for George Bush,” and Canada’s Toronto Star saw the awards ceremony as “atypically politicised.”

But the jury, headed by “Kill Bill” director Quentin Tarantino, defended its choice against those charges at a press conference yesterday.

If “it wasn’t some of the best filmmaking of the festival … I would have driven a stake through its heart,” Mr. Tarantino told reporters.

Mr. Tarantino also said he whispered into Mr. Moore’s ear, “I just want you to know it was not because of the politics that you won this award.”

White House spokesman Suzy DeFrancis shrugged off the film, telling Agence France-Presse: “Everyone has the right to say what they want. And beyond that, we’re not going to comment.”

Scalia’s remarks

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, honored in Boston by an Italian-American organization, praised Italy, whose troops are fighting with Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“It has stood witness in Iraq and not been frightened off by a bombing,” Justice Scalia said in brief remarks Saturday.

Justice Scalia, the first Italian-American U.S. Supreme Court justice, noted his son was serving in Iraq as an infantry captain, the Associated Press reports.

The justice was inducted into the National Italian American Foundation’s hall of fame at the group’s first New England gala. The NIAF is a Washington-based nonprofit, nonpartisan group that promotes scholarship and U.S.-Italian relations.

Justice Scalia said having an attachment to another country enriches the American experience. He told the largely Italian-American group that his father, S. Eugene Scalia, emigrated from Italy at age 15, became a professor of Romance languages and still valued his heritage.

“I think all Americans would love their country if they had to live abroad for a while,” Justice Scalia said.

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes.com.

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