- The Washington Times - Friday, February 17, 2006

A different beat

There will be some changes at The Washington Times shortly.

Beginning Monday — Presidents Day, of course — our Capitol Hill bureau chief Stephen Dinan travels a few blocks to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., where he will assume new duties as a White House correspondent.

Mr. Dinan, in turn, will be replaced by Charles Hurt, currently one of The Times’ congressional correspondents.

“Covering a second-term White House should be fascinating,” said Mr. Dinan yesterday. “Charlie will do a great job in what I found to be one of the premier beats in Washington.”

End of complacency

Presented with the American Society of Magazine Editors’ Lifetime Achievement Award while at the same time being inducted into the group’s Hall of Fame, National Review editor at large William F. Buckley Jr. recalled for his crowd of admirers how he got his first big break in the business.

“In late 1960, I was in Pasadena [Calif.] with my wife visiting her parents,” he said. “I had resolved that on our way back, we would stop over in Alta, Utah, and do some skiing. I hadn’t yet begun my syndicated column; my television work was five years away; I was 15 years away from my first novel … so I privately pledged that I would pay for my extravagance in taking a skiing vacation by writing an article. I proposed to sell it for the $300 our three days in Alta were calculated to cost us.”

As it happened, Esquire bit. And the rest is history — or, Mr. Buckley prefers, “a magazine writer’s fairy tale.”

By the way, he sat down while at Alta to write the article, a 1,500-word essay about the complacency of Americans who declined to seek relief when it was obviously merited. He based the article on his train ride, when the temperature inside the car was 80 degrees, while the temperature outside that winter day was below freezing.

“Nobody did anything about it, including me,” he said.

Ouch, that smarts

“The first time I recall the press mistaking the difference between birdshot and buckshot was in the mid-1960s when [civil rights crusader] James Meredith was shot as he marched into Mississippi,” writes Inside the Beltway reader Christopher J. Hoey of Staten Island, N.Y., after reading our item yesterday about the confusion surrounding Vice President Dick Cheney’s weekend hunting accident.

“I was on a labor case in Iuka, Mississippi, at the time,” he said, “and a Mississippian told me that the whole thing sounded fishy, because if the shooter meant [deadly] harm, he would not have used birdshot, but ‘double aught’ buckshot. This is the sort of trivia that interferes with history, but which, fortunately or unfortunately … is a fact that can be verified.”

Indeed, many articles to this day would have readers thinking that Mr. Meredith was shot by a “sniper” using bullets. American Heritage magazine recalls that after Mr. Meredith was ambushed by shooter Aubrey James Norvell in 1966, the initial Associated Press report actually pronounced him “dead” at 6:33 p.m.

“Radio and television programming across the country was interrupted to give the news of his death,” the magazine states. “In fact, his wounds were not critical; seventy shotgun pellets scattered across his shoulders, neck and legs were removed at a nearby hospital.”

Gearing up

One year ago this week, former Vermont governor and 2004 presidential candidate Howard Dean took control of his party as chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

And what does he feel are his biggest accomplishments?

He says he has overseen “major election victories,” “broken fundraising records” and placed paid party organizers “in every state” who are laying the groundwork for midterm elections in November and a new White House in 2008.

Cookie monster

You might say that Martha Zoller talked her way into the radio business.

She’d been a regular caller to a Georgia radio station, you see. Her first call was prompted by former first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton lamenting that “she could have stayed at home and baked cookies.”

Now, Mrs. Zoller is host of a widely heard syndicated show, broadcast on Rightalk Radio. At noon today, she’ll be in Washington at the Heritage Foundation auditorium, discussing her unique broadcasting career while reading from her new book, “Indivisible: Uniting Values for a Divided America.” The book’s forward was written by former Sen. Zell Miller, Georgia Democrat.

It’s worth noting that within the past year, Mrs. Zoller, a wife and mother, completed the Defense Department’s oldest civilian training program, the Joint Civilian Orientation Conference. While fulfilling the various requirements, she suddenly found herself being briefed by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and then-Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Richard B. Myers.

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

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