- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 2, 2005

Rather party

Atlanta-based author, pundit and media consultant Phil Kent, former president of the Southeastern Legal Foundation, tells this column that he’s hosting a party on the evening of March 9 in the Buckhead section of the city to honor popular Internet blogger “Buckhead” — otherwise known as prominent Atlanta lawyer Harry MacDougald.

“Harry is the bathrobe-clad guy — literally — who ‘outed’ Dan Rather and CBS less than four hours after they broke the phony Bush National Guard papers” story, Mr. Kent says.

Mr. Rather, who will relinquish his anchor chair after 24 years next week, is accused by conservative critics of being motivated by politics in developing the now infamous — and discredited — segment on President Bush’s Guard service.

“We’ll be watching Dan Rather’s last broadcast,” Mr. Kent says of his party, “and I’ll present Buckhead a framed certificate for ‘going above and beyond his patriotic duty.’ ”

Newtering Bubba

Major Garrett, a Fox News reporter and former deputy national editor of The Washington Times, says contrary to liberal thinking, this country has not seen a rise of supposed “right-wing media giants, such as my employer, the Fox News Channel.”

“The media aren’t suddenly right-wing or right-of-center, but rather the agenda of the nation has moved in that direction,” Mr. Garrett argues in his new book, “The Enduring Revolution: How the Contract With America Continues to Shape the Nation.”

How so?

“Because since 1994, congressional Republicans [first led by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich] have set the political debate in America,” he says. “First, they changed Bill Clinton into a budget-balancing, tax-cutting, welfare-reforming centrist, and later, with George W. Bush in the White House, they had even more power to direct the nation’s agenda.”

In other words, Mr. Garrett concludes: “The media didn’t suddenly become captives of conservative groupthink. They simply filtered the dominant political action of the day.”

Big mouths

It’s time to announce winners of the “Tarnished Halo” awards, presented annually by the Center for Consumer Freedom to America’s most notorious animal-rights zealots, environmental scaremongers, celebrity busybodies, self-anointed “public interest” advocates, trial lawyers, and other food and beverage activists who claim to “know what’s best for you.”

In the “Reverend Rooster” category, the winner is Al Sharpton, a “publicity-seeking preacher” who joined People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) in crowing at KFC restaurants and trying to instigate a boycott by the black community.

“It’s odd that Sharpton would stand side by side with PETA, which advocates a complete end to chicken consumption,” notes the center. “When the reverend emerged from prison in 2001 after a four-week hunger strike, he didn’t ask for tofu and lentils. He told a crowd of well-wishers: ‘I’m going … to Amy Ruth’s for some fried chicken.’ ”

(The restaurant’s menu, we’re told, carries a chicken-and-waffles dish named after Mr. Sharpton. Yum!)

Other Tarnished Halo winners include this city’s own George Washington University professor John Banzhaf, who gets the “Will Sue Your Mom for Publicity” award for threatening to file suit against doctors of overweight patients and parents of overweight children.

“Super Size Me” film director Morgan Spurlock, meanwhile, takes home the “Spurious Spurlock” award. After all, he got his start as host of the TV show “I Bet You Will.” With cameras rolling, he paid one guy to gulp down an entire 24-ounce jar of mayonnaise and a woman to shave her head, combine the hair with butter to form a giant hairball and then eat it.

“Incredibly,” says the center, “Spurlock said of ‘Super Size Me’: [People] need to start thinking about what they’re shoveling into their mouths.’ ”

Shirley you’re joking

Associates of Craig Shirley, of the Washington firm Shirley & Banister Public Affairs, swear that their boss, who was guest speaker at the Junior League of Washington’s annual political forum this week, took a refresher course on calligraphy so he could send proper thank you notes to the lady leaguers.

John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or [email protected]


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