- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 7, 2005

Covering their ears

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, in an address at Johns Hopkins University on Monday, urged the U.S. press to reassess what he called repeated negative coverage of Iraq. But the two newspapers that arguably have done the most to undermine the war on terrorism — The Washington Post and the New York Times — all but ignored the speech.

“We’ve arrived at a strange time in this country, where the worst about America and our military seems to so quickly be taken as truth by the press and reported and spread around the world,” Mr. Rumsfeld said. The reporting is “often with little context and little scrutiny, let alone correction or accountability after the fact.”

Mr. Rumsfeld’s speech was the lead front-page story in this newspaper yesterday, but readers had to search pretty hard to find it in The Washington Post. In fact, The Post buried Mr. Rumsfeld’s speech, mentioning it in the 12th paragraph of an article on Page A23. In what might be an example of what Mr. Rumsfeld was talking about, The Post instead chose to focus on possible new rules “for how U.S. troops around the world should respond if they witness mistreatment of detainees by other forces outside the United States.”

The New York Times did a little better. It placed the story at the bottom of Page A12, but at least it focused on Mr. Rumsfeld’s criticisms of the press.

Weicker vs. Lieberman

Lowell Weicker, former U.S. senator and Connecticut governor, said yesterday that he will consider challenging Sen. Joe Lieberman in his re-election bid next year, but only if no credible anti-war candidate steps forward.

“In the absence of any Democrat giving him a challenge, or somebody of another party of substance, I’d have to consider it, but that’s the extent of my commitment at this stage,” Mr. Weicker, 74, told the Associated Press yesterday. He said he would run as an independent, but has no timetable for making a decision.

Speaking at a Rotary Club luncheon in Hartford, Conn., on Monday, Mr. Weicker criticized Mr. Lieberman and President Bush over the Iraq war.

“I have seen this country propagandized into war,” said Mr. Weicker, a Republican turned independent. “It’s now a second wave of propagandizing, with the president taking the stump, joined by persons like Senator Joe Lieberman.”

At the time, Mr. Weicker stopped short of saying he would consider running against Mr. Lieberman, though he didn’t rule it out, AP reports.

Plame’s exit

Valerie Plame, the CIA employee whose identity disclosure led to the indictment of a top White House official, is leaving the CIA, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The identification of Mrs. Plame, an analyst and former undercover agent, was revealed in the press shortly after her husband, former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, publicly criticized the U.S. rationale for going to war with Iraq in 2003.

Mrs. Plame, 42, is a specialist in weapons of mass destruction. She arranged for her husband to go on a CIA-sponsored trip to Africa to investigate a supposed effort by Saddam Hussein to buy uranium yellowcake. Mr. Wilson later falsely said he had been sent by the vice president’s office.

Friends said she would be spending more time with her family, including her 5-year-old twins, the newspaper reported.

Mrs. Plame has been silent since her job at the CIA was revealed, but allowed herself to be photographed for Vanity Fair, which showed her seated beside her husband in a convertible, mysterious in a scarf and dark glasses.

Rest of the story

“ABC’s Diane Sawyer had the temerity on Monday’s ‘Good Morning America’ to lecture White House counselor Dan Bartlett about the length of time it’s taking to get more radio spectrum allocated to public safety,” the Media Research Center’s Brent Baker writes at www.mrc.org.

Mr. Baker points out, “It is television broadcasters, led by the National Association of Broadcasters to which ABC belongs, which have been fighting to delay the move of television transmissions to HD digital on new channels, a necessary step to free up TV channels 60-69, the upper end of the 700 MHz spectrum, for public safety.”

Mr. Baker added: “Citing a low grade from the 9/11 Commission, Sawyer complained that ‘four years after 9/11, police and firefighters still can’t talk to each other. They don’t have interconnected radios, which is something that could have been done right away.’ Unsatisfied by Bartlett, who could have pointed out that Congress stands in the way, Sawyer exclaimed: ‘But four years?’

“Later in the day, on ABC’s ‘World News Tonight,’ Martha Raddatz pointed out: ‘Why the holdup? The 9/11 commission says part of the problem is that broadcasters have not set aside part of the radio spectrum for emergency personnel, keeping it instead for commercial broadcasts.’”

Perry’s boost

Texas Gov. Rick Perry‘s response after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita has fueled a surge in his job-approval rating and put him on firm footing heading into election year, according to a poll released yesterday.

The Texas Poll surveyed 1,000 randomly selected Texans on behalf of Scripps Howard and several media outlets the last two weeks of November.

It found that Mr. Perry’s once low job-approval rating had climbed 10 percentage points since a September poll. Forty-nine percent of respondents in the recent poll said they approve of the way Mr. Perry is doing his job, and 37 percent said they disapprove.

Three months ago, those numbers were nearly reversed, the Associated Press reports.

The polls have an error margin of three percentage points.

“The hurricanes have absolutely done the governor a lot of good,” said Ty Meighan, director of the Texas Poll. “That’s what a lot of our respondents told us. They felt like he was compassionate for those who were displaced and that he fought to make sure Texas did not get stuck for the cost.”

Mayor recalled

Mayor James E. West of Spokane, Wash., was recalled from office yesterday in a special election over accusations he offered jobs and perks to young men he met in a homosexual Internet chat room.

Mr. West, 54, became the city’s first elected chief executive to be ousted before his term expired. He must leave office when the election results are certified Dec. 16.

With just over half of the 110,000 mail-in ballots counted, 38,718, or 65 percent, voted to recall Mr. West, while 20,681, or 35 percent, voted to retain him, the Associated Press reports.

The campaign to recall Mr. West began last spring after the Spokesman-Review newspaper reported that Mr. West was a closeted homosexual who visited chat rooms using his city-owned laptop computer and offered internships and other favors to young men with whom he hoped to have sex.

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

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