- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 14, 2009

The heavy partisan stroke and rigorous demands of MSNBC’s “Hardball” and other cable opinion programs exact a price from those journalists who appear on them.

It ain’t easy.

Think about it. There sits the journalist in a no man’s zone somewhere between pulpit and sideshow, inches away from the competition. Usually the studio is chilly, the lighting stark, the pace swift, the floor director out of sorts. There are microphones and earpieces, red-eyed cameras looming. The “guest,” sensing impending doom, longs for the hushed sanctity of the greenroom or the comforting tamps of the network’s makeup artist.

But that ain’t the worst of it.

“Trying to be an unbiased reporter or neutral analyst on a heavily biased television program is incredibly awkward and uncomfortable. Either you end up fighting the host’s premises and rephrasing loaded questions, or you are tacitly accepting the way the host defines a situation, making yourself an accomplice to a political mugging,” says Stuart Rothenberg, editor of the Rothenberg Political Report and a Roll Call columnist.

“Obviously, it isn’t up to me to dictate to others who fashion themselves as neutral whether they should appear on these kinds of programs. They wouldn’t listen to me anyway, and for some, financial issues or public relations may be overriding considerations,” he continues.

Mr. Rothenberg is taking a stand. Sort of.

“I know that I don’t want to appear on shows that push a partisan or ideological agenda and that care more about demonizing one point of view than having a real discussion. At the very least, I hope others will take a few moments to consider whether they, too, should appear on these kinds of programs.”

Now hear this

The Library of Congress just completed the weighty addition of 25 official entries onto the National Recording Register, which preserves the nation’s audio past deemed “culturally, historically or esthetically significant.”

The big cheeses at the Library do this every year. Who knew?

The choices include a 1935 recording of ivory billed woodpeckers in a Louisiana swamp, an old “Gangbusters” radio drama, the Andrews Sisters singing “Bie Mir Bist du Schoen,” “At Last” by Etta James and “My Generation” by The Who.

Chiming in with much gravitas is Winston Churchill, warning that “an iron curtain” would sweep across Europe during a 1946 speech made at Westminster College in Fulton, Mo.

There are 19 more entries, soon to be ensconced in the “Library of Congress Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation in Culpeper, Va., which was made possible through the generosity of David Woodley Packard and the Packard Humanities Institute,” the library says.

Yowsuh. Such a complex business. Well, it’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it.

“Our daily lives and memories are suffused with the joyous notes of recorded sound, making these choices extremely difficult,” says James Billington, Librarian of Congress.

By the numbers

Who do voters trust on key issues?

On national security, 36 percent trust Democrats, 51 percent trust Republicans.

On Iraq, 37 percent trust Democrats, 45 percent Republicans.

On the economy, 39 percent trust Democrats, 45 percent Republicans.

On immigration, 29 percent trust Democrats, 43 percent Republicans.

On health care, 47 percent trust Democrats, 37 percent Republicans.

On taxes, 39 percent trust Democrats, 44 percent Republicans.

On abortion, 41 percent trust Democrats, 41 percent Republicans.

On government ethics, 29 percent trust Democrats, 35 percent Republicans.

Source: Rasmussen Reports survey of 1,000 likely voters conducted June 3 to 6.

Days of yore

Hooah. The Continental Army was founded June 14, 1775, by the Continental Congress for purposes of common defense — considered to be the birth of the United States Army.

Two years later, the Congress adopted the “Stars and Stripes” as the national flag of the United States also on June 14.

Warren G. Harding became the first U.S. president to be heard on radio 87 years ago today; he dedicated the Francis Scott Key memorial at Fort McHenry in Baltimore.

Happy 63rd birthday to one-time presidential hopeful and uber-entrepreneur Donald Trump, born in Manhattan in 1946, the fourth of five children.

President Eisenhower signed an order adding the words “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance on this day 55 years ago — also a somewhat disquieting day around the nation. Americans in 54 cities also took part in the first nationwide civil defense test against atomic attack; Eisenhower retreated to an underground bunker near the White House.

Sir Gipper? Former President Ronald Reagan received an honorary knighthood from Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II on this day exactly 20 years ago.

Quotes of note

“The black Elvis.” — Bill Maher’s description of President Obama.

“The hopey-changey crowd.” — Lucianne Goldberg’s term for Mr. Obama’s fans.

“Love or lust, Obama and the fawning press need to get a room.” — Phil Bronstein, San Francisco Chronicle.

“If a Republican offers you a pat on the back, be wary. It seems the ‘Party of No’ has a new plan for the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court: Say one thing in public, another in private.” — statement from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Contact Jennifer Harper at [email protected] or 202/636-3085. Follow her at twitter.com/harperbulletin.

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