Fox News Attacks ‘Lesbian Air America Host’

Even by the low standards of the Republican News Network, this morning's attack on Rachel Maddow, on the Fox News network, as a "lesbian Air America host" was a despicable new low. Those words, an open appeal to bigotry and hate, said by an alleged media analyst named Tim Graham, were met with laughter and chortles by the Fox News team on air. This is sick and despicable stuff, even for Fox News.

Here is a message to Barack Obama: You need to spend more time fighting back against the lies and smears of a Swift Boat campaign more ugly than the campaign against John Kerry, and less time having sweet-talk meetings with Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes followed by professorial discourse with Bill O'Reilly. This is war, Barack, and you had better fight back.

America’s Most Influential Journalist

No doubt about it: When Bob Novak hung up his gloves, America lost its hardest-hitting and most influential journalist.

Launched in May 1963, Novak’s column was the nation’s longest-running political column. It was also the most powerful. Columns by others may appear in more newspapers, but nobody has Novak’s clout.

Why? First, because he works so hard at it. He never stops. Until now, he never took a break. He had more sources, and better sources, than any other journalist.

His column was also so powerful because Bob Novak is much than just a political commentator. He’s an old-fashioned, deep-digging, relentless reporter. He never just gave his opinion. He reported news. And he often made news.

Tony, Tim and Tradition

It's not popular in Blogdom to say nice things about Washington insiders, even when they die. But at the risk of attracting venom from those who see debate only in the poisonous black and white of good and evil, I'm going to explain why the premature deaths of Tony Snow and Tim Russert just four weeks apart are such huge losses.

Both Tony and Tim represented the very best of politics' "Competition of Ideas." Both were champions of the honorable disagreement, where skeptical reporters and passionate advocates could hash out the best solutions to society's problems through intense debate.

The Bankruptcy of The Washington Post Editorial Page

To understand why Washington insiders are so often so wrong and why big-city newspaper circulation is down so far, read the editorial page of The Washington Post.

Not only was the editorial page dead wrong about the Iraq war when it mattered, becoming the house organ for neoconservatives. It was so intolerant of alternate opinion that the Post had to write a semi-apology editorial several years ago.

Even the long list of retired military personnel who publicly opposed the war, and active-duty military leaders whom everyone in Washington knew privately opposed the war, were not even mentioned or allowed op-eds in the Post for two solid years.

Speeches and Line-Dancing

Where do we draw the line? Where do I draw the line? And also, why do I suddenly care about drawing lines?

Because I get paid, sometimes, to make speeches. A lot of fortunate journalists and opinion-makers do. Others want to, but their employers either won't let them or impose severe limitations on these lucrative appearances.

The thinking is that if we take the big bucks from the very groups that can afford to pay, our objectivity might be compromised and we might slant our reporting to favor the wealthy special interests. At the very least, we might look like we are.

The Task of Following Russert

The date was Oct. 24, 1999, and at the campaign headquarters for Senate Republicans, we were just getting word that Sen. John Chafee (R-R.I.) had died.

Within an hour of the news being confirmed, reporters were calling me — as the spokesman for the campaign committee responsible for electing Republicans to the U.S. Senate — to get information on what his death meant with respect to a special election in Rhode Island or the possible appointment of Chafee’s son to the Senate. Then, on July 18, 2000, history repeated itself as Sen. Paul Coverdell (R–Ga.) — one of the hardest-working people in the Senate and well-liked in both parties — died. We were stunned by the news. And again the media calls poured in to me and we scrambled to find and explain what the special election or appointment procedures were in Georgia. It seemed so cruel, but the political machine churned. As time has gone on, I’ve found this it is not a sign of disrespect to the person but an acknowledgment of the business and passion they chose to pursue.

What Would Russert Do?

I was moved by the many, incredible tributes to Tim Russert I watched and read this weekend. The ones from dear friends like Mike Barnicle, Joe Klein, Al Hunt and Judy Woodruff were especially poignant, and the interview that Luke Russert gave Matt Lauer on "The Today Show" this morning was the killer.

But I wanted to share another one from Chuck Todd, political director at NBC, that you may have not seen. It appeared this morning in First Read, which Todd and his team publish each day, informing the political world with analysis and the top news stories.

People Need to Make Their Health Deadline a Priority

So many things come to mind in the wake of the passing of the great and gifted Tim Russert. But two are fitting for this column.

First, what a small town our capital city still is, isn’t it? Nearly everyone has a Tim Russert story — about how they met him in a restaurant or at the ballpark, how he remembered your kids’ names and asked about them like he really cared — because he did. He’d show up at my IFE/INFO Policy Roundtables and be the first one there, eager to talk with people, learn what folks were thinking. Tim certainly could call any of the IFE/INFO speakers and get straight through, but he liked listening to the Q and A. He valued that personal interaction, which was a key to his success.

Tim Russert: Always a Gentleman

Like millions of other Americans, out of habit I tuned into “Meet the Press” Sunday morning. It’s still hard to believe Tim wasn’t there — and Sunday mornings will never be the same without him.

Tim was, first of all, a great guy. Larger than life, and great fun to be around. He loved life, loved his family, and loved politics.

As famous as he became, Tim never forgot his working-class roots in Buffalo. And he never abandoned his Catholic faith. In fact, Tim came to journalism through politics. And he came to politics through his faith, where he learned politics — and, later, journalism — as the highest form of public service. For him, the Catholic faith was all about helping those less fortunate than we are. I considered it the greatest compliment when he once called me a “Sermon on the Mount Catholic.”

Tim Russert

Tim Russert was not just another pretty face.

Let’s face it. He wasn’t really a pretty face.

But he was the best at his craft.

He wasn’t a traditional journalist. He migrated from politics to journalism, so he knew well the field that he covered.

You could always sense that Tim loved politics as much as he loved the country.