- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Tales of Camelot

Some know Letitia Baldrige as America’s leading authority on manners and etiquette. She’s an author of 20 books, including the best-sellers “More Than Manners” and “Letitia Baldrige’s New Manners for New Times.”

Others might remember Ms. Baldrige as the social secretary of John F. Kennedy’s White House. With first lady Jacqueline Kennedy (the two were former classmates), she helped plan the administration’s state functions and family celebrations.

For the president’s 46th (and final) birthday, for instance, Ms. Baldrige helped throw a surprise party aboard the teak-paneled USS Sequoia presidential yacht in New York, shortly after Marilyn Monroe sang “Happy Birthday” to the president at Madison Square Garden.

Now, wouldn’t you know, the landmark Willard InterContinental Washington, which is just around the corner from the White House (Abe Lincoln and his family lived at the hotel for a month before moving into the White House), has not only booked the privately owned Sequoia for its guests to enjoy the Fourth of July fireworks from the Potomac River, but the hotel is bringing Ms. Baldrige aboard to share some of her favorite anecdotes from the Camelot years.

Cost of this Independence Day package: $1,750 per couple.

Read for yourself

Want a kinder, gentler America? Then turn off the radio and read this newspaper.

Journalism professors at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism have determined that it is the type of media a person consumes, not necessarily the message, that determines how polarized Americans become on a certain issue.

The school’s study finds that radio listeners are the most polarized news consumers, particularly those who listen to “conservative” political commentators like Rush Limbaugh. Newspaper readers, at the same time, are the least polarized.

Conservative listeners have their ideals reinforced by radio shows, explains journalism professor Wayne Wanta, which ultimately leads to even more extreme views. Newspapers do not have the same space and time constraints as television or radio, he says, therefore they are able to provide readers with more information on both sides of an issue.

As a result, newspaper and Internet readers are less likely to adopt extreme attitudes about certain issues, the professor states. “Overall, our findings point to radio being a possible reason for the increasing polarization of the U.S. public.”

Hop a bus

Transportation-wise, Washington will soon appear a bit more European.

A fleet of 29 Belgian-made, “European-looking” buses featuring three street-level doors, low floors and large tourist-style windows, will debut on July 10, connecting many of the city’s tourist spots and major business centers — from Union Station to Georgetown.

“Great — and at $1, cheap — hello, interns on the Hill! — for downtown workers, tourists, business travelers, conventioneers and residents,” publicist Matt Amodeo tells Inside the Beltway.

The “D.C. Circulator” buses, as they are called, will operate at 5-to-10 minute intervals, from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., seven days a week, along two initial routes designed to complement existing bus and rail lines: an east-west link between Union Station and Georgetown along K Street NW, and a north-south route connecting the Southwest Waterfront with the Washington Convention Center via the Mall and 7th Street NW.

Patrons will pay $1 per ride. Transfers from Metro services (rail and bus) will be free.

The D.C. Department of Transportation owns the Circulator, while the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority will manage the service and First Transit, a private-sector transit operator, will operate the buses.

And how’s this for optimism: operators are aiming for annual ridership of 4.6 million people when the system is fully implemented.

“I believe I speak for many in the District’s tourism industry when I say how excited I am to see the Circulator debut,” says Bill Hanbury, president of the Washington Convention and Tourism Corp., who counts more than 30 hotels within one block of the bus routes.

Do you koru?

A familiar name in Washington has given his new communications firm a most unusual name.

Andrew Solomon, former director of public affairs for the Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Conference of Mayors, and director of communications and strategy for Harvard University’s Institute of Politics, has just launched Koru Communication Strategies.

What’s a koru?

A koru, says Mr. Solomon, is the spiral-shaped symbol of an unfurled fern and signifies potential and growth.

John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin@washingtontimes.com.

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