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Nudity. Perhaps that's NBC's strategy for maintaining high ratings if Katie Couric departs the network. The March 17 edition of Today featured a segment on a artist who seeks to "challenge the taboo issue of women’s bodies." The vehicle for such change? Why, topless women, of course. NBC was only too happy to oblige.



But CNBC hosts optimism, new economic data point to strong economy.


In this week's Live Chat on the Newsweek website, Howard Fineman came online to chat about the pro-life trend in South Dakota and how that might affect the Republicans. (Their answer: it will hurt them.) Fineman seemed to be having a fine time, claiming "I'm glad to be doing one again. I always learn a lot doing them. As Newsweek's chief political correspondent, I can't do my job by hunkering down inside the Beltway, either literally or digitally." But it wasn't long before the hunkering down occurred:



During yesterday's White House briefing, NBC White House correspondent David Gregory, believing Howard Kurtz's recent article that he is the Sam Donaldson of the Bush administration, asked whether the president launched an offensive in Iraq to help his poll numbers.



ABC News' Internet site yesterday reported on summaries of four Iraqi documents from Saddam Hussein's government that were released by the U.S. government Wednesday. The first is an Iraqi intelligence service document tracing a relationship between Osama bin Laden and Hussein's government. ABC News then added an "Editor's Note," which in part states:



First Isaac Hayes, the voice actor for its Chef character left "South Park" over an episode that poked fun of his scientology beliefs. Now it seems the popular animated series has been dealt another blow by Hayes's fellow scientologist, Tom Cruise. The New York Post reports:



A new book by veteran New York Times economics reporter Louis Uchitelle calls for a doubling of the minimum wage. “The Disposable American: Layoffs and Their Consequences" goes on sale next week, but judging by the early reviews and official description, it will be faithful to Uchitelle’s liberal reporting on economics and business:



A Chevy Chase, Maryland family sit on the edge of bankruptcy, thanks in no small part to the complaints of a few liberal journalists.

The March 17 Washington Times reports that Marianne and Marc Duffy, a suburban Washington couple, have been told by Montgomery County officials that the permits granted them to renovate their 82-year-old house were granted in error, and consequently they will have to tear down their home.



On Thursday's ER, a leading character on the NBC drama set in a Chicago hospital, declared in reference to her husband being deployed to Iraq: “My duty is to be a good doctor and to be a good wife, not to be brainwashed into falling in line with some pseudo-patriotic delusion." The blast from “Dr. Neela Rasgotra,” played by Parminder Nagra, came at the end of a scene of a gathering of spouses of deployed soldiers. When one woman, whose husband would not be home for the impending birth of their child, proclaimed that “our loved ones are serving our country, and it's a small price to pay,” Dr. Rasgotra replied: "I think it's a huge price to pay, especially under the circumstances." The woman wondered: “What circumstances?" Dr. Rasgotra explained: "Well, the way the whole thing's been handled, how we got into it, how it's been managed....I still haven't seen any weapons of mass destruction, have you?" As they all sat in a home's living room, Dr. Rasgotra pleaded with the group: "You can't tell me that you believe 100 percent in your heart that we should be in Iraq, can any of you?" (Transcript follows, as well as other instances of left-wing activism on ER.)

Video excerpt (1:28): Real (2.6 MB) or Windows Media (2.9MB). Plus MP3 audio (400 KB)



When does healthy reportorial reserve cross the line into cynicism? Today's coverage this morning of Operation Swarmer, the counter-insurgency offensive in the Samarra region of Iraq, illustrates the issue.



Over at TimesWatch on Thursday, Clay Waters tackled a controversy over a postponed play celebrating the life and activism of Rachel Corrie, an American-flag-burning activist for Israel-hating Palestinian terrorism. The third anniversary of Corrie’s death by standing in front of an Israeli bulldozer drew Jesse McKinley to write in the Times about how a Manhattan theatre company was delaying its staging of a British Corrie-celebrating play drawn from her life and writings.



On Thursday night's Countdown show, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann characterized the logic of the White House's newly released National Security Strategy as insane by comparing its architects to individuals who fail the sanity test: "Does the individual continue to take action A and continue to get result B, while insisting that next time he will get result Z?" Referring to the Bush administration as "the forces that got us in



The New Republic has a "by the editors" editorial in the March 20 issue calling on the government to provide "universal health care." No surprise there.



A day after leading with how a NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll put President Bush's approval at a low 37 percent (see this NewsBusters item), Thursday's NBC Nightly News again emphasized the negative for Bush and ignored how its own survey found public support for Bush policies which the media have derided, such as majority support for the NSA wiretapping program, the Patriot Act and makin


Citing a Thursday column from Baghdad by David Ignatius of the Washington Post, Fred Barnes, during the panel segment on FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume, scolded the news media for delivering a “daily diet” of news about explosions while missing progress on the political front. Ignatius began his column: “There has been so much bad news out of Iraq lately that you have to pinch yourself when good things seem to be happening. But there are unmistakable signs here this week that Iraq's political leaders are taking the first tentative steps toward forming a broad government of national unity that could reverse the country's downward slide.” He concluded: “Pessimism isn't necessarily the right bet for Iraq.”

Barnes, Executive Editor of the Weekly Standard, observed, “Here's what struck me about it: David Ignatius reported about a lot of top level private meetings of Sunnis, Shia and Kurds of the number of meetings over, what, the last couple of weeks, I think. Where were the reporters? Why did David Ignatius, a columnist for the Washington Post, have to go over there and reveal that to us? I mean, the reporters ought to know about that. These are major figures politically in Iraq and we get nothing from them except word of explosions. From the other reporters -- that's the daily diet." (More from Barnes, and an excerpt from the Ignatius column, follow.)