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Filing a report from the White House lawn shortly after 7:30 this morning on CBS's Early Show, White House correspondent Bill Plante described Vice President Cheney's chief-of-staff Lewis "Scooter" Libby as both high-profile and little-known:



The October 28, 2005 Print Edition of Entertainment Weekly features a column entitled "Good Witch? Narnia gets a double-edged endorsement." (Pg. 16)

Writing for EW, Michelle Kung notes that a religious endorsement by James Dobson's group "Focus on the Family" can hurt the upcoming movie Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, giving the group the introduction as being a "controversial conservative group led by Dr. James Dobson that's known for a staunch anti-gay marriage platform."



My colleague, NBC analyst Geoff Dickens, earlier noted the Today show ruminating on the 2000 casualty-benchmark which may soon be reached in Iraq. CBS's Early Show also featured a story on this theme in their first half-hour. Unlike the Today show, however, the casualty story was not linked with unrelated political stories like the Plame investigation, indeed, the Early Show treatment of that came in the next half hour.



After running down all the bad news for the Bush administration on the CIA leak case and front and Harriet Miers fronts Katie Couric and Tim Russert bagged on Bush for Iraq. Couric, completely ignoring the historic election in Iraq just one week ago, instead chose to highlight the expected 2000th death while Russert used Brent Scowcroft to pit father (George Sr.) against son (George W.)

The following is the conversation that took place during the 7:00am hour:



Given the ridiculously overwrought coverage of the last month, if special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald’s report confirms media suspicions that Karl Rove and/or vice presidential aide Lewis Libby talked to reporters about Valerie Plame and weren’t completely forthcoming to investigators, you can expect the networks to go absolutely nuts, whether anyone is indicted or not. That’s why it’s worth recalling how the networks just yawned five years ago when Hillary Clinton — who, one might recall, was a pretty high level individual in the last administration — was found to have lied to investigators looking into one of the Clintons’ very first abuses of power, the firing of White House Travel office employees.



It seems to come earlier and earlier every year, doesn’t it? No, not Christmas ads on TV, but the annual media festival of gloom and doom surrounding holiday-related retail sales. 

This year, it started in August, when temperatures were in the 100-degree range across much of the country. Hurricane Katrina wasn’t even a ripple off the coast of Africa, and CNN was doing a downbeat piece called “Dreaming of a Blue Christmas.”  Four full months before the holiday, CNN was asking how higher fuel prices were going to negatively impact America’s Christmas cheer: “Consumers are pinched. Retailers are squeezed. Who'll get bruised first by higher fuel prices as the countdown to the holiday shopping season gets underway?”



Time's "Ten Questions" feature is wasted this week on CBS "60 Minutes" hound Mike Wallace. I'm not saying Wallace isn't worth interviewing, but Time managing editor James Kelly gives him a complete book-promoting walk in the park. He doesn't ask about the latest Wallace gaffe in the news, his appearance at an anti-gun Brady Center fundraiser.



Early a.m. radio blog from the doughnut shop.  You have to hand it to NPR and the BBC.  Biased they may be, but they are also superb reporting organizations.



Declaring “it's not far-fetched,” movie director Spike Lee affirmed on Friday night’s Real Time with Bill Maher on HBO, that he believes Louis Farakhan’s allegation that a levee was destroyed in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina in order to flood the nearly all-black ninth ward. Lee contended that “a choice had to be made, one neighborhood got to save another neighborhood and flood another 'hood, flood another neighborhood.” ABC News reporter Michel Martin chimed in with how “anybody with any knowledge of history can understand why a lot of people can feel this way, that that's a reasonable theory.” But she went on to dismiss the theory, prompting Lee to demand: "Presidents have been assassinated. So why is that so far-fetched?" To hearty applause from the Los Angeles audience, Lee asked: "Do you think that election in 2000 was fair? You don't think that was rigged?" Lee argued: “If they can rig an election, they can do anything!" Lee soon got into a heated exchange with MSNBC’s Tucker Carlson as he raised the “Tuskegee experiment” as proof the U.S. government is capable of any abuse of blacks. Lee made similar allegations on CNN back on October 11, as recounted in the Washington Times. What he said on HBO and CNN follows.

Video excerpt: Real or Windows Media



Here's another activist who gets the star treatment, this time targeting Tom DeLay:

See also:

Anti-Bush Protestor Ready for Closeup and Zoomed out in Crawford



The chairman of cable giant Comcast got a 7,000-strong rally all to himself-- one he'd rather turn down.

Al Gore, chairman of the "youth-oriented" Current TV, wants to pressure the cable giant to include his channel in its lineup. The former vice president sponsored a "Take Back TV" rally in Philadelphia.



Shortly, the 2,000th death of an American serviceman or woman will occur in Iraq. That will generate an orgy of coverage in the American press on how “deadly” the war is. Sidebars will suggest that citizens are becoming “increasingly doubtful” about the conduct of the war. This Newsbusters article denounces that coverage as dishonest, in advance.



Tom Gross notes in this week's Spectator (London) that for some reason, if you're Jewish, your death in a terror attack is likely to get a lot less attention ("Dead Jews Aren't News"):

Even though Thaler was a British citizen, born in London, where her grandparents still live, her death has never been mentioned in a British newspaper.

Rachel Corrie, on the other hand, an American radical who died in 2003 while acting as a human shield during an Israeli anti-terror operation in Gaza, has been widely featured in the British press. According to the Guardian website, she has been written about or referred to on 57 separate occasions in the Guardian alone, including three articles the Saturday before last.



The results of a recent poll by Zogby International were just released, and they show President Bush’s job approval back to where it was in July well before Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans:

“President Bush, his job approval rating beleaguered by poor marks in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, rebounded from historic lows this summer to 45% in Zogby International’s latest poll, with job approval numbers bumping back up into the range where they have hovered for most of his second term.

“The survey also found that, while voters do not give the President passing marks on his handling of the Iraq War, half (50%) believe the recently-passed Iraqi constitution is a major step in the right direction for the strife-torn nation that will lead to peace and democracy." 

And, Americans are starting to feel better about where the country is heading:

“Bush’s bounce appears to be tied to overall perception of the nation’s direction; three weeks ago, just 40% said the nation was on the right track.  This number now stands at 45%.”

Yet, maybe most fascinating about the right-track/wrong-track numbers is their strict partisanship:

“The trend is even more pronounced along party lines.  While Republicans are overwhelmingly optimistic about the nation’s direction, with 75% saying the nation is on the right track, among Democrats, this drops to 17%.  Independents lag behind the national average at 42%.”



In an October 20, 2005 op-ed in the Los Angeles Times on the issue of abortion and Roe vs. Wade, columnist Dahlia Lithwick claimed (emphasis mine),

Roe is quickly becoming legally irrelevant. The number of abortions in the United States has fallen dramatically in the last two decades ...