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NY Times critic William Grimes reviews Dutch journalist Ian Buruma's "Murder in Amsterdam -- The Death of Theo Van Gogh and the Limits of Tolerance." It's a favorable review of Buruma's warnings of Muslim extremism in The Netherlands that culminated in the murder of documentary filmmaker Theo Van Gogh, but includes this bizarre sentence:

So, was August a good or poor month for retail sales? It depends on who you ask. Despite that the fact that everyone is working from virtually the same data, different reports are reaching totally opposite conclusions.

Here's the beginning of one of several reports with an ominous tone from the Associated Press (negative words in bold):

NY Times' Uchitelle says workers' low self-esteem is worse for the economy than the Great Depression.

Some of us at MRC HQ feel old now remembering just a while back to 1988. Rich Noyes used his funny Dan Rather impression over the phone this morning on my commute, reading Rather on July 18, 1988, as he put it in today's blog: “Ann Richards, state treasurer of Texas, asked to stand and deliver at the Democratic National Convention, and does so. Among other things, a scalpel-style attack on George Bush, describing the Vice President as a man ‘born with a silver foot in his mouth,’ who, to quote her, ‘wants a job he can’t be appointed to’ finally.”

Not exactly media bias but worth noting: Dan Rather is hard at work on producing his new HDNet show. The report comes from the same Freeper, MindBender26, who correctly announced the departure of Dan Rather from CBS.

Rather is working overtime on his new satellite-fed dinky cable show. Editors who have seen first drafts of story treatments say it is WAY over the top, sort of a "Howard Beale on LSD reading Rolling Stone straight to camera, with a Texas accent" concept.

In other media business news, Sean Hannity is apparently set to leave his perch at ABC Radio.

Today's Chicago Tribune carried a brief analysis of the new team on "Today." Wrote staffer Maureen Ryan:

As Democrat football teams started their mini-camps this summer, there was great anticipation concerning the upcoming season. Most analysts, many of whom are difficult to distinguish from Dem cheerleaders, predicted a left-wing sweep that would end up in a changing of the guard come January. Yet, given the results of the NFL’s opening weekend, things aren’t as rosy for the Democrats as some had handicapped.

No finer example of leftist gridiron disappointment transpired than in Gotham City. As residents’ minds turned from a classic battle at Arthur Ashe Stadium to two brothers fighting it out at the Meadowlands, liberal Giants fans must have hated seeing this frightening headline in Monday’s New York Times – “Less Promise for Democrats in N.Y.”

One has to wonder what annoyed Upper Westsiders more – Peyton Manning getting the best of his little brother, or the following:

For a media that likes to complain about the incivility and personal attacks that Republicans have supposedly injected into our politics over the past generation, the networks' reactions to former Texas Governor Ann Richards underscore journalists' partisan approach to what is fair and what is foul.

In 1988, then-Texas state treasurer Richards laced her keynote address at the Democratic National Convention with a series of nasty, mocking attacks on then-Vice President George H. W. Bush. Instead of deploring her descent into the “politics of personal destruction” — as they might have if the speechmaker were a conservative Republican and the target was a liberal Democrat — the media elite swooned, with then-CBS anchor Dan Rather admiring her “scalpel-style attack” on the Republican presidential candidate.

Remembering Ann Richards this morning, all three broadcast network shows re-visited her ridicule of Bush, admiring it as “biting wit” and “fun-loving spirit,” with ABC’s Diane Sawyer touting Richards as the “sassy, funny homemaker who became Texas governor.” ABC, CBS and NBC all played the same sarcastic soundbite of Richards from 18 years ago. “Poor George. He can’t help it. He was born with a silver-foot in his mouth.”

Today's starter: Is the term Islamofascism an appropriate one? Joe Loconte argues yes.

This is damage, too.Well, finally. Nearly a month after the conflict between Israel and Hezbullah has ended, the news wires finally give us some glimpses of some of the distruction caused by Hezbullah's unguided, ball-brearing-filled rockets. Too little, too late, guys. If you genuinely wanted to be fair, you would've sent these photos over the wires a month ago. We're also learning from these captions that Amnesty International has suggested that Hezbullah may have committed war crimes by targeting civilians deliberately. Hello? Any mention of their hiding behind civilians would be nice. This report, of course, makes no mention of anything of the sort, even though Amnesty has previously said they would investigate the use of the population of South Lebanon as human shields.

Remember Al Gore’s "Saturday Night Live" skit where he pretended to be president and the world was a glorious place? Newsweek columnist Jonathan Alter played that game in his column this week, suggesting that if Bush had been more Gore-like, just imagine what a paradise we would all be living in.

By now, many of you likely heard about the embarrassing and utterly disgraceful comments made by MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann on the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks as reported here and here.

Remember all the talk from the Democrats about not mixing religion and politics? Well, it is just talk. When it comes to blatantly mixing religion and politics for advancing themselves in campaigns, the Democrats are not at all shy about wearing religion on their sleeves. But will the media notice?

Matt Lauer had a chuckle at the expense of his guests - then took Dems to task.  Michael Smerconish scolded a Republican. And Meredith Vieira gave further evidence of a style looser than that of her perky predecessor.

That's the nutshell wrap on the first half-hour of this morning's Today.

If you look hard, you can see the Democratic optimism about the fall elections fading, off the front pages of the newspapers. On the bottom of the front page of a separate "Campaign 2006" section of The Washington Post today (they call it page A23), you can read the account by Jim VandeHei and Chris Cillizza about Democrats getting worried about superior GOP turnout programs.