- The Washington Times - Monday, March 7, 2005

The unforgiven

Manuel Miranda, the Republican Senate Judiciary Committee staffer who was forced to resign last year over spying on Democratic staff members on the committee, said yesterday that Democratic staffers are still hounding him.

According to a complaint filed with the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Fraud and Public Corruption Section, Mr. Miranda accuses Democratic staffers whose internal memos he purloined from the computer of stalking him in his job hunt and scuttling a recent job offer he got from a major Washington law firm.

“It appears that Democrat staff and aides on the Senate Judiciary Committee were not satisfied with my client’s resignation, loss of job, their previous use of public office to effect a pillory, or with the family suffering that results from such abuse of power,” Mr. Miranda’s attorney, Adam Augustine Carter, wrote yesterday.

“They resorted to using their offices to ruin my client and limit his livelihood, in effect charging a crime at one end and punishing it without any respect for the trappings of justice that come in between,” he wrote, referring to the ongoing Justice Department investigation into the spying.

According to the affidavit, Mr. Miranda was offered a job at McDermott Will & Emery, but when he showed up to work, the job offer was rescinded and the man who hired him — chief lobbyist Stan Anderson — wasn’t there.

“Two days later, Mr. Anderson called and left a recorded voice mail saying that since we spoke two weeks earlier Democrat staff on the Senate Judiciary Committee had launched a campaign against me and had called several of his partners to demand that I not be hired,” Mr. Miranda wrote.

Later, according to the affidavit, Mr. Anderson told Mr. Miranda that the Democratic staffers threatened to stop several major pieces of legislation important to Mr. Anderson — including the recently passed class-action tort-reform bill — if he hired Mr. Miranda. Mr. Anderson later told Mr. Miranda he was not pressured by the Democratic threats but, rather, the firm was concerned about getting bad press.

Mr. Anderson did not return e-mails and a call seeking comment.

Not so funny now

Messing with Pope John Paul II doesn’t pay.

A week after the New York Press published a cover article called “The 52 Funniest Things About the Upcoming Death of the Pope,” editor Jeff Koyen resigned yesterday, after refusing to accept a two-week suspension.

“The article by Matt Taibbi had drawn heated denunciations from the likes of Sen. Chuck Schumer (‘The most disgusting thing I’ve seen in 30 years of public life’) and a spokesman for Mayor Michael Bloomberg (‘As disgusting as this is, it’s sadly par for the course for this publication’),” the Web site of Editor & Publisher (www.editorandpublisher.com) reported yesterday.

The Press article, which included such “funniest things” as “Beetles eating Pope’s dead brains,” also has come under vigorous attack on religious news Web sites and the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights.

Publisher Chris Rohland told E&P; that Mr. Koyen’s suspension was not related to the pope cover story, but “insubordination” over an inside-page parody of the New York Post that Mr. Rohland refused to approve.

Mr. Rohland told E&P; that he “knew about and green-lighted” the Taibbi article.

Mr. Koyen disagreed, saying the Press “refused to stand behind me in the face of harsh criticism.” In a vulgarity-heavy note to the Gawker Web site (www.gawker.com), he called Mr. Rohland and owner David Unger wimps and tools of advertisers, and said they could get lost.

A blogger’s progress

Garrett Graff, a former aide in the Howard Dean presidential campaign, made history yesterday by becoming the first blogger to gain access to the White House daily press briefing.

A White House spokesman said he thinks Mr. Graff, the editor of FishbowlDC, a blog — or online diary of opinion and comment — about the Washington press, is the first person to gain access to the briefing on the basis of blogging alone, United Press International reports.

Mr. Graff was admitted to the White House on a day pass. It must be reissued each time entry is approved.

The New York Times reported that White House press secretary Scott McClellan said the decision to admit Mr. Graff was made by the White House Correspondents’ Association.

“It is the press corps’ briefing room, and if there are any new lines to be drawn, it should be done by their association,” Mr. McClellan said.

A former executive editor of the Harvard Crimson, Mr. Graff was deputy national press secretary on Mr. Dean’s presidential campaign and its first webmaster.

Backing Bush

Support for President Bush’s mission of spreading democracy throughout the world, especially the Middle East, is winning accolades from an unlikely source — New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, a prominent Democrat often mentioned as a possible presidential candidate in 2008.

Mr. Richardson, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and energy secretary under President Clinton, yesterday cited Syria’s promise to lower the profile of its 14,000 troops in Lebanon as a “very significant” result of U.S. pressure, the Associated Press reports.

The presidents of Syria and Lebanon announced yesterday that the Syrian troops would be pulled back to eastern Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley by March 31.

“I believe the Bush administration deserves credit for putting pressure and saying that authoritarian regimes have to go,” Mr. Richardson said on NBC’s “Today” show. Mr. Bush’s stated mission of spreading democracy around the world “is working, whether it’s by design or by accident,” he said.

Shoe leather

National Public Radio’s Nina Totenberg appeared ready to eat her shoe the other day, the Media Research Center reports at www.mediaresearch.org.

“Asked on ‘Inside Washington’ over the weekend if President Bush deserves credit for the democratic movements rising in the Middle East, Totenberg, a critic of Bush’s Iraq policy, replied that ‘if I had a hat, I would have to eat it.’

“Then, as she briefly brought a shoe to her mouth, she noted that ‘I’ve got my shoe here’ and conceded that ‘I really did not think that this election in Iraq would make that much difference, and I was wrong.’ She quickly added, however, that ‘it really does help that Arafat died and they had a real election in Palestine.’

“Totenberg soon returned to her liberal roots, cautioning ‘that we not engage in a certain level of triumphalism about this.’ The Wall Street Journal’s John Harwood went even further in crediting Bush: ‘George Bush is going to deserve more credit,’ for democracy in the Middle East ‘than Ronald Reagan did for the demise of the former Soviet Union.’”

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

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