Media Hustles

Am I wrong or do you agree that Paris Hilton would be a terrific TV anchorwoman? I mean, she has what it takes: She's blond. And she clearly has the intellect for it.

Yes, I know. That was a cheap shot. But cheap shots seem to be all around us. Take the New York Times and its series on Rupert Murdoch.

Far be it for me to defend his media. But the charges that they pander more than report are old news. And so are the accusations that Murdoch compromises them in the name of his business interests.

But here we have the New York Times fitting into print a series that regurgitates those charges just when Rupert Murdoch just HAPPENS to be involved in a bidding struggle to obtain one of the Times's main competitors. What an amazing coincidence. What an opening for Murdoch's people to claim that the reports were examples of precisely the same conduct they were alleging. 

The Remote Control

I don’t usually write about stuff that affects my clients, but today I have to get something off my chest.

This is not on behalf of my client (Newscorp), so what I say right now is not in any way, shape or form reflective of any position they may take.

In this day and age, with the approval ratings of the Congress, I think it is absolutely insane for any member of Congress to advocate taking the remote control away from the public. I don’t care if it is in defense of children. (And yes, I have a small child.)

We are the undisputed world leader in entertainment. If you go to any other country in the world, they first look at our stuff before they turn on their stuff.

You know why? Because government has stayed the hell out of it. 

Journalists and Campaign Checks Don’t Mix

Jesse Unruh, legendary Speaker of the California Assembly, once famously said: “Money is the mother’s milk of politics.”

And that’s true. But it doesn’t mean that everybody has to give milk. Some people, in fact, shouldn’t give milk, including priests, nuns, convicted felons — and journalists!

But, clearly, that feeling’s not universal. Upon researching candidate financial reports, MSNBC discovered that 144 journalists — most with the knowledge and blessing of their media bosses — had actually made campaign contributions: 125 to Democrats; 17 to Republicans; and 2 to candidates of both parties.

Uh-oh, here comes that old chestnut about “the liberal media” again! But, the point here is not whether the media is liberal or conservative. The point is: Journalists should not be writing campaign checks to anybody. Period.

Target, Target, Target

Move over, network TV. Step aside, major dailies. Talk radio — beware. Cable news is taking over. And the Web ain’t far behind.

No doubt about it, cable news is in. The recent issue of Adweek had an interesting survey about where Americans get their news on politics. The days of the major newspapers, Walter Cronkite-style anchors, and radio personalities dominating political news are over.

When asked “Where do you get most of your political information?” cable TV leads with 30 percent, followed by network TV with 22 percent, the Web at 19 percent and print media at 17 percent. Network radio is way down at 5 percent.

True Blue: Who Knew?

It doesn’t really matter that Democrats won back control of Congress; most Americans still prefer Republican ideals. Or, as Brit Hume pronounced on election night 2006, “from what we could see from all the polling and everything else, it remains a conservative country.” Oh, yeah?

That’s the conventional wisdom we hear from the mainstream media. And now we know it’s absolute bunk. A new study by Media Matters for America and the Campaign for America’s Future shows that on most issues, across the board, Americans are true-blue liberals ... and much more liberal than most members of Congress.

News Blues

I attended an awards dinner last night put on by the Society of Professional Journalists and came away with a number of questions:

1) In TV news, is it really only a choice between buffoonery and news from the crypt? Why is it so often a choice between Paris Hilton and something akin to watching paint dry?

2) In print: Actually, the questions are the same.

3) Why do we spend so much time aiming coverage at people barely past puberty, who couldn't care less anyway? (And yes, this is sour grapes. I am more than barely past puberty.)

Daring to Dream

I agree with Brent. Paris Hilton has got to go.

I feel as though this is déjà vu all over again — didn’t I rail against cable going crazy over the Anna Nicole Smith fiasco in a previous blog?

On Saturday, Pat Buchanan, Alex Witt and I did our usual Saturday morning bit on MSNBC and talked about immigration. But I couldn’t hold my tongue. They had just bumped Tucker Carlson the night before for “breaking news” on Paris Hilton, and all cable shows were competing for “the story.” My line was something to the effect that we had just been talking about 12 million people whose lives were hanging in the balance, yet nearly all the coverage was about one spoiled brat.

'Do-Nothing' Programming

I have such a GREAT idea for C-SPAN. Picture watching this: The Senate grinds on up to the point that someone announces debate is about to begin on the immigration legislation. Then the screen goes blank. Well, in this case, maybe it simply shows a 700-mile-long fence. But the point is that no one would have missed anything.

Think of the possibilities: On the cable news networks, aerial shots of Paris Hilton's motorcade could suddenly end. Fade to black.

Of course that will never happen. There would be an uproar. Besides, ratings would plummet. I mean, people really care about Paris Hilton. And as we found out, they really care about the "Sopranos"' ending, too, or the lack thereof. 

Paris Hilton: The Queen of Cable Television!

Give credit where it's due: Paris Hilton has just achieved a domination over cable news that was so total for a period it bordered on monopoly.

The urgent Marine Corps request from the front lines, for life-saving equipment, has been 90 percent ignored since 2005. This cost American lives but received no coverage compared to Paris.

Medical experts now forecast a huge increase in Alzheimer's, while biotech companies may find breakthrough treatments, but Paris Hilton overwhelmed it all.

Slipping Through the Cracks

If you focus too closely today on the third GOP presidential debate, the 30-month prison term of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby or the 16-count indictment of Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.), you will miss much more interesting political news, facts so fascinating I compiled a list. Let me know if you political junkies agree that this is a massive news day ...

1) Support for the new Democratic Congress is falling, according to a new ABC News/Washington Post poll that found six weeks ago the new majority had a 24-point lead over Bush but that, without action on the Iraq war, those numbers have "collapsed to a dead heat."

2) A USA Today poll has presidential contenders Sens. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) virtually tied.

3) Lynne Cheney could be a contender to replace Sen. Craig Thomas (R-Wyo.), who died yesterday, based on interest she has expressed in the past.