‘… but the seats are special’

Jon Stewart examines the important questions journalists should be asking themselves after the departure of Helen Thomas from the White House briefing room — and it’s sad.

Especially the clip of former Bush Press Secretrary Ari Fleischer:

“The definition of what’s a journalist now is changing, but the seats are special.”

Ugh.

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Show David Keene the door

davidkeeneThe American Conservative Union and The Hill newspaper should fire David Keene — quickly.

The ACU’s executive veep, Dennis Whitfield, should go, too.

According to Politico, the two have been caught red-handed in a pay-for-play scheme asking FedEx for more than $2 million in exchange for the ACU’s support in the shipping company’s fight with UPS and labor unions.

In a letter from the ACU to FedEx, Whitfield offers a long list of services the organization had to offer. The list clearly shows that the ACU is for sale. What’s more disturbing, after FedEx declined, Keene and the ACU came out in favor of UPS’s position.

The statements from the ACU since the story broke don’t clear things up, nor do they answer the accusations. As Ed Morrissey notes:

Whitfield calls the Politico story “false,” but note that he never denies writing the letter to FedEx that promised that Keene would write supportive columns for FedEx’s position if they paid the ACU more than $2 million.  That’s not “receiv[ing] support from individuals and organizations,” that’s selling a service.  It certainly left FedEx with the impression that they could buy Keene’s public support, and when he acted (either as an individual or as head of the ACU) to oppose their position after FedEx declined to cough up $2 million, it looks a lot like Keene decided to exact a little revenge for FedEx’s decision.

It certainly doesn’t bode well for the ACU, which sponsors CPAC, to be for sale. How can we trust any of their positions? (As it turns out, this isn’t the first time Keene’s been caught selling his position.)

Most disturbing is this item on the list of services the ACU had to offer:

Producing op-eds and articles written by ACU’s Chairman David Keene and / or other members of the ACU’s Board of Directors.  (Note that Mr. Keene writes a weekly column that appears in The Hill.)

The Hill is a respectable publication and, as such, should stop running Keene’s column immediately. In fact, any publication should question whether to run any pieces written by Keene or any other member of the ACU’s board.

I once fired a columnist after discovering he had lifted a few paragraphs from another source. He begged me to keep him on (apparently the whopping $30 we paid him each week was important), apologized for the error claiming he “didn’t know” what was acceptable.

But I couldn’t trust anything he wrote after that. Likewise, knowing Keene whored himself out to FedEx, we can’t trust any of his positions. We can’t really trust any position taken by the ACU now, either. Whitfield and Keene have to go to save what integrity the ACU has left.

And The Hill’s editor, Hugo Gurdon, should also drop Keene’s columns to preserve the integrity of his opinion pages. Space in The Hill is not Keene’s nor Whitfield’s to offer for $2 million.

Pay-for-play isn’t anything new, and many suspect it goes on all the time, involving organizations from across the political spectrum. But the ACU has been caught. The group should seriously consider replacing its entire board (they’re services were offered up, too) and its executive staff.

At the very least, it’s time for Whitfield and Keene to take one of those 3 million jobs the Obama stimulus has created.

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Michael Jackson matters … get over it

It’s understandable that people who only tune into news channels and Web sites for the latest news on politics would complain that the coverage of Michael Jackson’s death would complain that he’s dominating the coverage.

But, hey, get over it.

Jackson’s death, whether you celebrated (as my dad said, “now those kids can live in peace”) or mourned it — it’s news.

NewsBusters has been having a field day criticising all the coverage, but it’s still news. I wasn’t alive when Elvis died, and was only 1 when John Wayne died. But I’m sure both were covered like crazy by the media. Shoot, Elvis’ death is still commemorated every year by the media.

When I was in kindergarten, I distinctly remember my grandpa picking me up from school and then going home and have grilled cheese sandwiches and talking about Ronald Reagan. I also remember my babysitter, Marcy, and her record (yes, record) of Michael Jackson.

Like him or not, Jackson is news. That’s why it’s being covered. And it’s a slow news week.

And frankly, some of us should be thankful for the summer distraction. At least it draws attention away from the infighting between Sarah Palin and former-loser-McCain staffers.

So can everyone in the “conservative” media shut up and realize that news is news? Even if it’s about someone we don’t agree/appreciate with or despise?

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Outrage for the sake of outrage

LETTERMAN-775520I have a confession to make. I watched David Letterman last night. Actually, on most nights at about 11:35 p.m., you’ll find my TV tuned to CBS. If that means I have to relinquish my conservative credentials for committing apostasy, so be it. I’m not so self-absorbed, thin-skinned and uptight to allow a stupid joke to change my viewing habits.

For the past two weeks conservative media — radio, TV and on the Internets — has been screaming about the crack Letterman made about Gov. Sarah Palin’s daughter getting “knocked up” by Yankee third-baseman Alex Rodriguez during the seventh inning stretch at a baseball game. The late-night talk show host took another shot at Palin during his “Top Ten” list, comparing her wardrobe to that of a “slutty flight attendant” (why didn’t he just say “stewardess?”).

Mayhem ensued. Conservative media folk called for a boycott, demanded apologies, pressured Dave’s advertisers to drop their ads on Dave’s show, picketed outside the Ed Sullivan Theatre, and, of course, they called him a pervert.

When I heard the joke, I admit, I let out a little chuckle. I don’t buy the conservative line that Letterman was attacking Palin’s under-age daughter, Willow. It was clear he was talking about Bristol Palin, who in fact did get knocked up by an Alaskan douchebag during the lead up to the 2004 campaign.

In a classic “gotcha” moment, the right-wing bloggers and blowhards pointed out that Bristol wasn’t at the Yankee game, but Willow was. It’s just stupid to think Letterman was talking about Willow. The joke would be even less funny if he was.

The Letterman incident came on the heels of the now-infamous Playboy “hate f*ck” list of conservative hotties, which was treated with equal amounts of shock, outrage and disdain by conservative media.

The most surprising part of both incidents (other than that apparently some people actually do read Playboy), is that conservatives showed they seem to be just as thin-skinned as their liberal counterparts. Just as the left takes anyone to task for mocking race, the poor, gays or any other special interest, there’s a conservative thought police out there ready to pounce when idiotic comments are made.

I’m a big fan of Sarah Palin, but we really need to chill out. Letterman and Playboy aren’t worth getting your grannie panties in a bunch. Besides, isn’t this the game the left plays? Is it not ridiculous that comedians who make racial comments have to go groveling to Jesse Jackson to apologize? Was it not ludicrous that Trent Lott had to step down from his leadership position for complementing Strom Thurmond? Then how is it not just as absurd for conservatives to demand the same?

Yes, as many have pointed out, there’s a double standard. Liberal leaders and celebrities get a free pass when they say something stupid. But that’s nothing new, and frankly, we should be proud that conservatives are held to a higher standard — because, hopefully, we hold ourselves to a higher standard.

And aren’t there more important things to occupy two weeks worth of our time on radio, TV and online? During the same week that Letterman told his jokes, an abortion clinic in Philadelphia was giving out free abortions in “honor” of Dr. George Tiller, the gunned-down Kansas baby-killer. If you’re looking for something to channel your outrage — something that actually matters — get angry about that.

So I’ll continue to watch Letterman, at least until the thought police of the right forces me into rehab. And I’ll keep eating at The Olive Garden (I mean, c’mon, the never-ending pasta bowl promotion is awesome). I’ve got more important things to do than worry about what a comic says at midnight.

Let’s leave the feigned outrage for the sake of being outraged to the liberals.

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