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But He Has Better Hair!



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Last year’s worst selling issue of Esquire: John Edwards on the cover

The best selling: Angelina Jolie

Diann Burns and the Race Card



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She’s used it in the past with her old employer and believe it or not, when she sued the contractor who built her house:

Diann Burns, Chicago’s highest paid television news reader, and her husband recently built a $3 million mansion in the swank Lincoln Park area. Monday’s Chicago Sun-Times reported the couple is now suing the contractor for inferior work.

Disputes between contractors and homeowners are common. In this instance, though, Ms. Burns saw something more insidious than shoddy work. So she whipped out that trusty racism card faster than you can say teleprompter.

In the lawsuit, the couple claims the contractor did a lousy job because of a belief that black owners wouldn’t notice. Court documents reviewed by the Sun-Times charge the contractor thought Diann and her very successful talent agent husband were “gullible and inexperienced in construction matters” and that the contractor could “deceive and take advantage of and defraud” them.

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Re: Monday Media Massacre in Chicago



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More on Diann Burns, the $2MM woman:

The handwriting is on the wall for Diann Burns, who’s in the final months of a five-year contract reportedly worth $10 million.

In luring Burns from top-rated ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7 and signing her to what probably was the most lucrative local TV news deal ever, WBBM-Channel 2 boss Joe Ahern bet the ranch that she would substantially boost ratings for the CBS-owned station.

He lost the bet.

Although Burns’ contract runs through October, insiders say a change in the 10 p.m. anchor lineup could come as early as June, when Channel 2 unveils its brand new studios in the Loop.

In the meantime, Burns’ agent/husband, Marc Watts, is busy shopping his No. 1 client.

Sounds a lot like Katie Couric if you ask me. Keep in mind how many jobs could have been saved if the local CBS station hadn’t blown $10 million on Burns.

Re: Monday Media Massacre in Chicago



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Kevin, I overheard WBBM’s man at the Rezko trial talking about the “bloodbath” with a sympathetic newspaper reporter yesterday. The newspaper guys — veterans of that industry’s buyouts and layoffs — all nodded their heads.

This morning, the WBBM guy got a phone call and abruptly packed his things and left the courthouse. He seemed like a nice guy. I hope I see him back here.

How to Spice up a Story on Algae



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Highlight the porn aspect of turning algae into a bio-fuel:

    • Story Highlights
    • Some types of algae are about 50 percent oil, suitable for biodiesel
    • U.S. government is once again experimenting with algae as fuel source
    • Scientists say there may be hundreds of thousands of species not yet identified
    • Algae have extraordinarily diverse sex lives

[...]

I’m too sexy for my pond

And who knew that single celled plants could be such “hotties” when it comes to sex? Kertz said it’s a real “algae orgy” under the microscope.

Some algae reproduce sexually, some asexually, while many combine both modes. In some green algae the type of reproduction may be altered if there are changes in environmental conditions, such as lack of moisture or nutrients.

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Monday Media Massacre in Chicago



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From the Tribune: 

 
After years of telling viewers about job cuts in the steel industry, among automakers, in the airline business and elsewhere, it’s now WBBM-Ch. 2 anchor Diann Burns’ industry—the media—shrinking. It’s now her job lost.

Burns, reputed to be the city’s highest-paid anchor, at $2 million per year, was part of the most dramatic single-day newsroom purge in Chicago TV history.

Beyond its lead anchor, the CBS-owned station on Monday cast off lead sportscaster Mark Malone, longtime anchor-turned-health correspondent Mary Ann Childers, reporter Katie McCall, as well as several behind-the-scenes personnel.

All told, the stationwide cost-cutting sweep claimed about 18 people from what had been a staff of more than 200, effective immediately. No department was exempt. Channel 2 President and General Manager Joe Ahern would only say the reduction was a “single-digit” percentage of the WBBM workforce.

Two-million rapidly depreciating American dollars per annum to sit at a desk and read for 22 minutes? 

There’s More to the Bosnia Story ...



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… than Mrs. Clinton “misspeaking.” Christopher Hitchens in Slate:

I can remember, first, one of the Clintons’ closest personal advisers—Sidney Blumenthal—referring with acid contempt to Warren Christopher as “a blend of Pontius Pilate with Ichabod Crane.” I can remember, second, a meeting with Clinton’s then-Secretary of Defense Les Aspin at the British Embassy. When I challenged him on the sellout of the Bosnians, he drew me aside and told me that he had asked the White House for permission to land his own plane at Sarajevo airport, if only as a gesture of reassurance that the United States had not forgotten its commitments. The response from the happy couple was unambiguous: He was to do no such thing, lest it distract attention from the first lady’s health care “initiative.”

… In the end, and over her strenuous objections, the United States and its allies did rescue our honor and did put an end to Slobodan Milosevic and his state-supported terrorism. Yet instead of preserving a polite reticence about this, or at least an appropriate reserve, Sen. Clinton now has the obscene urge to claim the raped and slaughtered people of Bosnia as if their misery and death were somehow to be credited to her account! Words begin to fail one at this point.

One wonders whether the MSM will inquire whether Mrs. Clinton opposed our intervention in Bosnia, and, if so, for how long, and under what circumstances she changed her mind. 

Boss Hugo vs. the Press



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From the Department of Won’t Take No For an Answer:

CHICAGO Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s government is trying to impose by decree measures against freedoms of press and expression that voters rejected in a referendum last December, the Inter American Press Association (IAPA) declared as it ended its mid-year meeting in Caracas.

“The changes and laws that President Chavez seeks to impose against the will of the people as expressed on December 2, 2007, are clearly aimed at preventing the free expression of ideas and opinions, taking control of cultural organizations and forms of cultural expression, and subordinating the Venezuelan educational system to dogmatism and universally failed teaching methods clearly inspired in totalitarianism,” the Miami-based press freedom group said in a resolution adopted at the conclusion of its three-day meeting.

IAPA specifically condemned the “illegal seizure” of Radio Caracas Television’s (RCTV) broadcast equipment after the network’s broadcast license was not renewed; the governments “repeated” refusal to disclose public information to news organizations; its legal “harassment” of the independent Glob vision television news channel; and its “discriminatory” placement of government advertising, typically an important source of income for Latin American newspapers.

Editor & Publisher has the full story. 

Is It the Insults, Or Is It the Rockets?



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From today’s NYT:

In Gaza, Hamas’s Insults to Jews Complicate Peace

In the Katib Wilayat mosque one recent Friday, the imam was discussing the wiliness of the Jew.

“Jews are a people who cannot be trusted,” Imam Yousif al-Zahar of Hamas told the faithful. “They have been traitors to all agreements — go back to history. Their fate is their vanishing. Look what they are doing to us.”

White Politicians Can’t Jump



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Media Matters on Matthews:

On the March 31 edition of MSNBC’s Hardball, discussing Sen. Barack Obama’s bowling performance at a March 29 campaign stop at Pleasant Valley Lanes in Altoona, Pennsylvania, MSNBC political analyst Howard Fineman asserted, “[I]f you can’t do something like that, you shouldn’t do it. He should have stuck to shooting hoops — which he’s very, very good at, by the way, and which translates racially, too, especially during the NCAA basketball tournament. Don’t do something you’ve never tried before in front of a national television audience, OK?” Addressing MSNBC political analyst Michelle Bernard, host Chris Matthews responded, “You know, Michelle — and this gets very ethnic, but the fact that he’s good at basketball doesn’t surprise anybody, but the fact that he’s that terrible at bowling does make you wonder.” While showing the video of Obama’s bowling, Matthews asserted, “[I]t isn’t the most macho form there.”

Matthews does have one legitimate point, however: Obama bowled a 37. If that’s accurate, Obama could be the worst adult bowler in the history of the Union.

Recession? What recession?



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Kevin, your note about how the press is trying to gin up a recession is trumped this morning by the front page of the Independent, Britain’s smallest, most anti-American daily. “The United States of America 2008: The Great Depression.” Drudge picked it up, so it’ll have its morning of awareness then disappear again into the Indy’s great sea of reported American misery.

How bad is it in the USA? Mean-bad and ugly:

We knew things were bad on Wall Street, but on Main Street it may be worse. Startling official statistics show that as a new economic recession stalks the United States, a record number of Americans will shortly be depending on food stamps just to feed themselves and their families.

The story, by a wide-eyed “David Usborne in New York,” charts the sorrow of people like the guy just out of prison who’s (still) being supported by taxpayers.

I remember one of my best friends in London telling me how pleased he was that the government was not only helping him with his grocery bill and his mortgage, but even sending him checks to help cover the cost of raising his two kids. He was a rock star at the time. In the UK, as in the EU generally, everyone is on the dole, getting benefits of one kind or another that far outstrip a simple American food-stamp program. So I guess the depression’s already gone global.

The current US unemployment rate is below 5 percent, a figure Europeans will never match. Maybe increasing the scope of the US food stamp program wasn’t such a great idea, since it’s most notable achievement so far is to create a depression for David Usborne and his editors.

The Annotated Maureen Dowd



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Harsh but funny and true assessment of MoDo.

Posted Without Comment



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Media-Manufactured Recession



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How much is the media talking down the economy? John R. Lott Jr. goes to the numbers:

A Google search on news stories during the three-month period from July 2000 through September 2000 using the keywords “economy recession US” produces 1,610. By contrast, the same search over just the last month finds 50,763. Or, even more telling, take the three months from July through September last year, when the GDP was growing at a phenomenal 4.9 percent. The same type of Google search shows 7,310 news stories.

… A little perspective on the economy would be helpful. The average unemployment rate during President Clinton was 5.2 percent. The average under President George W. Bush is just slightly below 5.2. The current unemployment rate is4.8 percent, almost half a percentage point lower than these averages.

The average inflation rate under Clinton was 2.6 percent, under Bush it is 2.7 percent. Indeed, one has to go back to the Kennedy administration to find a lower average rate.

Obama seems to believe that downturns in the business cycle are caused by tax cuts. Mrs. Clinton seems to believe that the presence of Republicans in the White House causes recessions.

Question the media ought to be asking all three candidates: “About that housing-credit mess … How exactly is federal action going to transmute bad investments into good investments?”

Pro-Obama and ‘Staunchly Antiabortion’?



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In Monday’s Washington Post, political reporter Shailagh Murray seemed to want to have it both ways on Sen. Bob Casey Jr. endorsing and campaigning with Barack Obama. Readers could get whiplash in just a few sentences:

The camaraderie between Casey and Obama is not surprising. They are about the same age, they both have daughters, and they represent a new generation of lawmakers in Washington who are less ideologically rigid than their forebears.

Like his father, Casey is staunchly antiabortion.

Once you get past the oddity of Barack Obama — the most liberal Senator in the Capitol in 2007 — being hailed as “less ideologically rigid,” you’re still left with how Casey Junior can be both “staunchly” pro-life and endorsing Obama. Why be a pro-life Democrat if you’re not going to do anything to promote the pro-life cause within the party? The acorn falls pretty far from the father’s tree, Murray discovered:

His son, however, does not view Roe v. Wade as a political litmus test. “If you talk about only one issue, that’s going to prevent you from solving a lot of problems,” he said in an interview.

Obama spoke gushingly of Casey at the Penn State rally: “He is not just smart, not just dedicated, not just hardworking — one of the finest senators we have — but he’s also a decent, moral, kind person, and you don’t always find that in politics.”

Decent, moral, kind — but not to the unborn child. Murray was asked about her use of “staunchly” on a washingtonpost.com web chat Monday, and she replied:

He’s staunchly anti-abortion to the extent that he opposes embryonic stem cell research — that’s pretty staunch. But if you are familiar with his father’s record, Casey has departed quite significantly by backing not only Obama, but also Gore and Kerry, despite their differences over abortion. But I leave it to the theologians to determine whether a Catholic can be pro-life and support a political candidate who supports abortion rights.

The political question is not whether Casey is a staunch Catholic, but whether he’s really being pro-life in any consistent manner. The media question is why a political reporter would use words like “staunch” a few words away from “less ideologically rigid.” It’s not just confused on the page. It seems like a ploy to rub Casey’s alleged staunch-itude on Obama to make him look less ultraliberal on abortion.

Olbermann’s Special Sunday Countdown



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Keith Olbermann had a special 7:00 “Countdown” on NBC Sunday. Two items …

One, while talking with Chuck Todd (at about 18 minutes into the show), he referred to the Democratic campaign as a,”Bataan like march to Denver.” Yes, just like Bataan except there are no Japanese soldiers cutting off the heads of American POW’s. Other than the missing heads, exactly the same. Oh, and there’s bowling today, too, that wasn’t available in the Philippines in 1942.

And two, the “worst person in the word” was Dick Morris for saying that Hillary lied about Chelsea’s whereabouts on 9/11. Here’s the quote from the Morris column that Olbermann is referring to:

Interviewed on the “Today” show one week after 9/11, she spun an elaborate yarn. The kindest thing we could say was that it was a fantasy. Or a fabrication.

She said that Chelsea was jogging around the World Trade Center on 9/11 and happened to duck into a coffee shop when the airplanes hit. She said that this move saved Chelsea’s life. But Chelsea told Talk magazine that she was in a friend’s apartment four miles from ground zero when the first plane hit. Her friend called her, waking her up, and told her to turn on the TV. On television, she saw the second plane hit, disproving Hillary’s claim that “she heard the plane hit. She heard it. She did.”

Olbermann goes on to read this quote, available on Media Matters.com as evidence that Morris is spinning it incorrectly:

CLINTON: She’d gone, what she thought would be just a great jog. She was going to go down to Battery Park, she was going to go around the towers. She went to get a cup of coffee and — and that’s when the plane hit.

JANE PAULEY (host): She was close enough to hear the rumble.

CLINTON: She did hear it.

The first part of what Morris said is wrong, but what about the exaggeration that Chelsea heard the planes hit? What’s odd is that Media Matters goes on to prove Dick Morris partially correct and repeats the excerpt from the Talk Magazine interview:

A November 9, 2001, UPI article about a piece Chelsea Clinton wrote in Talk magazine corroborates Hillary Clinton’s claim that Chelsea did, in fact, leave her apartment to have coffee the morning of the September 11, 2001, attacks:

“When the World Trade Center collapsed on Sept. 11, I was 12 blocks away, (and) nothing has been the same since,” Clinton wrote in the December/January issue of Talk magazine, on sale Friday in New York.

[...]

Clinton had been staying with her high school friend Nicole Davison in her apartment near Union Square for a few days in September before she went to England to study at Oxford. After they had coffee together, Davison went to work and Clinton returned to the apartment.

Davison called Clinton with the news of the first plane that crashed into the World Trade Center. Clinton turned on the television and watched the second plane crash into the second WTC tower, and tried to reach her mother in Washington, but after speaking to her assistant, the phone line went dead.

Dick Morris could have told the “jogging” part of the story a little differently, but his second point was that Hillary made up the part about Chelsea being close enough to hear the planes hit. Media Matters confirms this.

There’s one other thing of note. Media Matters and Keith Olbermann are not quoting from the Today show. Their quote is from Nightline, on which Jane Pauley was the host. I’m not sure if Dick Morris just confused Today with Nightline because of Jane Pauley or if there’s another interview out there where Hillary said something different. That Media Matters report above suggest that Morris is referring to a different interview that both Olbermann and Media Matters are not providing the transcript to:

On the March 24 edition of Fox News’ Hannity & Colmes, syndicated columnist and Fox News contributor Dick Morris falsely claimed that Sen. Hillary Clinton “says Chelsea [Clinton] was in danger on 9-11, jogging around the towers of the World Trade Center and was saved only ‘cause she ducked into a coffee shop.” Morris added: “She — turns out she was in bed at home, and a friend woke her up and said, ‘Watch this on TV.’ ” Morris then asserted of Hillary Clinton, “She’s always saying this stuff that isn’t true … and she gets nailed.”

Morris made a similar false claim on the May 4, 2004, edition of Hannity & Colmes, saying:

MORRIS: Katie Couric interviewed her on the Today show seven days after 9-11. And she completely fabricated her story, made it up. … That Chelsea jogged around the World Trade Center and was only protected because she went into a coffee shop and that she heard and saw the planes hit. Chelsea wrote an article four months later, saying she was 40 blocks — 60 blocks away and watched it on TV, 80 blocks away, was not in danger.

It looks like Morris is referring to the Today show and not Nightline. Anyone have the transcript from 9/18/01 to check what Hillary might have said to Katie Couric?

Do Markets Matter in Hollywood: The Sequel



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A real gem from Deadline Hollywood:

Friday’s No. 7 Stop-Loss fell a spot to 8th after it opened to only $1.7 million Friday and Saturday from a limited 1,291 plays. It eked out a $4.6M weekend. Although the drama from MTV Films was the best-reviewed movie opening this weekend, Paramount wasn’t expecting much because no Iraq war-themed movie has yet to perform at the box office. “It’s not looking good,” a studio source told me before the weekend. “No one wants to see Iraq war movies. No matter what we put out there in terms of great cast or trailers, people were completely turned off. It’s a function of the marketplace not being ready to address this conflict in a dramatic way because the war itself is something that’s unresolved yet. It’s a shame because it’s a good movie that’s just ahead of its time.”


Here we have Hollywood imitating the news media: When your product fails, blame the market. Remember that, you rubes: Hollywood makes great movies, you’re just too unsophisticated to appreciate them. Remember when MTV used to play music videos instead of making weak propaganda films?

The Failure of “Earth Hour”



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The Chicago Tribune has an unintentionally hilarious collection of “Earth Hour” darkness photos from around the world. The one striking similarity between the photos is how many people decided to leave their lights on. For example, here’s Chicago:

And here’s the text from the caption:

Many of Chicago’s downtown buildings turned out the lights Saturday night as part of the worldwide Earth Hour observance. Cities darkened their buildings to call attention to excessive energy use, light pollution and global warming. (Tribune photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo / March 29, 2008)

What a sacrifice to turn off your lights in an office building on a Saturday night when nobody is working in it. Why can’t the media cover this with some honesty and say how hypocritical and silly this entire exercise actually was?

Al Sharpton, Al Gore and Pat Robertson are Sitting on a Couch



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I wish this were the opening to a really bad joke ($300 Million?)…

The Rev. Al Sharpton and Pat Robertson are sitting on a couch and in walks Al Gore.

This isn’t a joke.

It’s the plot of a new commercial in the former vice president’s fight against global warming.

And it was filmed at the 57th Street beach Wednesday.

Gore and his nonprofit agency, the Alliance for Climate Protection, are pitting odd couplings – think Sharpton and Robertson – in a series of public-service announcements to draw attention to the environment. The $300 million campaign is expected to launch next week, CBS News reported. Gore talks up his views in a “60 Minutes” interview set to air Sunday.

The global issue got local Wednesday as a film crew set up scaffolding, lighting equipment and a tan leather couch on the strand, not far from the waves.

A witness said Sharpton, the grandiose civil rights voice in New York, sat on the left.

Robertson, the conservative preacher and Regent University founder, was on the right.

“It was like ‘The Twilight Zone’ seeing them sitting on the couch,” said Bill Kelly, a special events coordinator in the city’s resort office. “And then around the corner comes Al Gore.”

The public-service announcement – apparently Gore was directing – is meant to show that people who don’t agree on much can still agree that the environment is important.

Obama Lies



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So says the Washington Post.

Of course, readers of Ed Morrissey knew this already.

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