Remembering Irving R. Levine and John Wilke

The Hill yesterday published a heartfelt letter from Nelson Lewis on the recent passing of news legend Irving R. Levine. While Lewis includes personal anecdotes of how Levine served as a mentor, he also makes clear Levine's prescience and influence, writing:

Were it not for Mr. Levine — who co-founded the predecessor to CNBC, the Financial News Network — the entire financial TV news industry would not exist in today’s form. ... Mr. Levine will be remembered as a pioneer of American broadcasting. His precise delivery and unique ability to explain the intricacies of international finance in everyday language made him a top-notch raconteur, whom others have subsequently tried to emulate."

Save the Newspapers — Is It Time for Congress to Act?

I have to admit my bias — I love newspapers.

I love that one of my earliest memories as a kid was reading the newspaper to my dad (try to do that over a computer screen). I love waking up and picking up the newspaper on my front lawn (it so seldom makes it anywhere near my front door, btw). I love that there are smart writers, columnists and journalists on an array of topics that I can read on any given day.

Tea Parties, Brought to You by Fox News

Today marks a new first in television journalism. Normally, it’s the networks’ job to cover news events. Except for Fox News. They no longer just cover events. They now create events first — and then cover them.

Take today’s so-called “Tea Parties.” Without Fox News, they wouldn’t exist.

Yes, they were designed, planned and paid for by three right-wing organizations: FreedomWorks, dontGo, and Americans for Prosperity. But they were promoted — exclusively! — on Fox News.

The Bare Facts

Thankfully, The New York Times has a sense of humor.

Amid the reports of daily tragedy, doom and disaster, a clever editor included John Tagliabue’s “Appenzell Journal.” It exposes naked hikers in the Alps, as if they needed exposure. Apparently, it is a common practice there to hike wearing only shoes (and sunblock), and there is a cheeky photo of two hikers doing so, accompanying Tagliabue’s expose. “… the hills,” he writes, were “alive with the sound of everything but the swish of trousers.” One is left to ponder where they keep their car keys.

Chris Matthews Has Lost All Journalistic Credibility

When you get some time today, you must watch this MSNBC clip of an often-heated exchange between “Hardball” host Chris Matthews and former White House spokesman Ari Fleischer.

The clip runs over 16 minutes (unheard of on cable programming these days with just one guest) and shows Mr. Fleischer repeatedly and aggressively rebutting Matthews on a litany of issues.

CNBC and the Stockholm Syndrome for Speculators and Greed

Jon Stewart rakes CNBC over the coals. Jim Cramer, in full costume with his sleeves rolled up, finally surrenders. Those who attacked the president with the fall of the Dow are tongue-tied in a week the Dow has risen. Banks suddenly realize they had two profitable months while the CNBC "free market" defenders are on the defensive as the abuses they failed to report for years are revealed, Jon Stewart is on the march, Jim Cramer is apologizing for his sins and Americans want Bernie Madoff put in a zoo.

Memo to the Republican Party: Time for an Ideological Vasectomy

Now, I don’t expect the Republican Party to heed the advice of a Democrat, but I will offer it anyway. It’s time for the Republican Party to undergo an ideological vasectomy. (Ouch!)

Yes, it’s time for Republicans, if they want to survive as a viable political party, to cut off the far-right voices like Rush Limbaugh and Tom DeLay, move their party more to the left (or in their case, closer to the center), and come up with real ideas and solutions that don’t make the American people think that Republicans are completely out of touch with reality or living in an alternative universe.

I'm Sorry, Rush

My version of the fill-in-the-blanks form on the website:

Dear Rush,

I am sorry I called you a thorn in the side of the Obama socialist agenda. In fact, the Democrats are terrified of you, so you are obviously much, much more than a mere thorn.

My comments were greatly understating the level of fear you instill in Obama, Pelosi, Reid, et al.

Needless Distractions for the GOP

I’m having difficulty understanding the latest drummed-up “saga” between Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele and radio personality Rush Limbaugh.

The media has seized on this political chum in the water, and Democrats are all too eager to toss more overboard. Yet if you pause and think about it, the two shouldn’t really care what the other is doing. Rush is an entertainer. Period. Yes, he has a following, and that is good for ratings, ad buys, even stoking the masses when the left missteps — all integral parts to an entertainment show. But he’s still first and foremost an entertainer.

GOP Hitches Its Wagon to Limbaugh’s Star

Who’s the leader of the Republican Party? That’s a lot harder to answer than you might think.

It’s certainly not John Boehner (Ohio), Republican leader of the House.

Nor is it Mitch McConnell (Ky.), Republican leader of the Senate. Nor Newt Gingrich, although he’d like to be. It’s not even Michael Steele, newly elected chairman of the Republican National Committee.

No, clearly, the leader of the Republican Party is right-wing talk show host Rush Limbaugh — as Michael Steele learned the hard way. When Steele dared criticize the big talker for saying he wants Obama to fail, Limbaugh slammed Steele for being an apologist for Obama. And poor Michael Steele was forced to say, “I’m sorry, Rush.” Which just proves who’s calling the shots for the GOP. And it ain’t Michael Steele.