On Friday's Washington Week on PBS, taped at the Aspen Ideas Festival (“Inspired Thinking in an Idyllic Setting”), when asked by host Gwen Ifill about hateful speech in politics and directed at journalists -- “Is that polarization real or is it just people blogging?" -- NBC News reporter Andrea Mitchell charged that “the kind of hateful speech that we have seen...in a lot of the blogosphere...goes back, in my own experience, to 1989 when the talk radio shows went crazy about the congressional pay raise.” She then reasoned: “The anti-Washington, anti-bureaucrat bias that was built into that debate was then taken up by cable talk hosts as well and that became the kind of really combative conversation that displaced reasoned discussions about controversial issues."

PBS picked six members of the Colorado conference audience to pose questions to the panel. None came from the right and four were clearly from the left, starting with a woman who wondered: “How can we keep religion out of government and politics?" A man complained: “What's the responsibility of government and the press regarding poor people and why do we hear so little about housing crisis, minimum wage, homeless people and low-wage workers?" That pleased James Bennet, a former New York Times White House reporter who is now Editor of The Atlantic magazine: "It's a great question. I've been wondering what happened to the issue of homelessness in America.” (Partial transcripts follow)



Friday night PBS chat shows delivered a couple of slams from journalists at President Bush over his surprise trip to Baghdad early this week. After Richard Keil of Bloomberg News, who accompanied the President’s entourage, described some of the security precautions taken, Washington Week host Gwen Ifill cited “excessive security” as she derided the trip: “I wonder to what degree anybody in the White House thought maybe it might undermine our point if we have to take such excessive security precautions in order to go claim victory or whatever it was the President was trying to accomplish?" So trying to keep the President of the United States and his traveling party, including journalists, safe was “excessive”?

Up next on Washington, DC’s PBS affiliate after Washington Week: Inside Washington. On it, NPR reporter Nina Totenberg suggested Bush was rude toward Iraq’s new Prime Minister since he arrived “unannounced” and she compared Bush going to congratulate a just-chosen leader of a fledgling democracy, where over 100,000 U.S. troops are located, to British Prime Minister Tony Blair flying into DC congratulate Bush: “How would we feel if Tony Blair showed up right after -- you know, to say congratulations and didn't tell us, right after President Bush had won an election?" (Brief transcripts follow)



The bad news keeps coming for the Bush administration, at least that’s what we were told on PBS’s "Washington Week." For those not familiar with the program, it is moderated by Gwen Ifill, and is a roundtable discussion of reporters, each reporter taking a turn focusing on a political topic while the others ask them questions.


Picking up where we left off, here are the judges' picks for worst Quote of the Year during the Slick Willie era.



Many Americans that are truly concerned about bias in the media fear that what is reported by the press will immediately be accepted as fact by the citizenry regardless of accuracy.



On Friday’s Washington Week on PBS, Washington Post reporter Michael Fletcher informed the panel that “the little bit we know about” the “record” of Harriet Miers “indicates kind of a, you know, bridge-builder, moderate” and “so there's deep concern among conservatives, some of whom have called for her to withdraw." That prompted befuddled fill-in host