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Tim Russert's Job: Horse Race Is On

Sunday, 29 Jun 2008 12:13 PM

By Special from Newsmax's Most Informed Sources

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Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. The Horse Race Is On for Russert's Job
2. Muslims Feel Snubbed by Obama
3. McCain's Favorite Comics — and Pet Peeve
4. Experts Are Jumping Off Global Warming 'Train'
5. Medicare Bill Vote Is Dire Omen for GOP Leadership
6. We Heard: Peggy Noonan, McCain, Obama, Oprah, More
 

1. The Horse Race Is on for Russert's Jobs

With the memorial service and the tributes over, eyes now turn to who will succeed the late Tim Russert as moderator of "Meet the Press" and NBC News Washington bureau chief.

A source within NBC tells Newsmax that it is doubtful any one person will fill both jobs, and whoever is eventually selected will not have the clout and influence that Russert built up over more than 25 years at the peacock network.

In reality, the D.C. bureau was Russert's fiefdom.

While not exerting total control, Tim was the only NBC News vice president based outside New York City, and he outlasted four NBC News presidents during his tenure.

Last Sunday, Brian Williams announced that former NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw would fill in as "Meet the Press" moderator through the November elections.

Brokaw's selection gives the NBC brass time to thrash out Russert's eventual successors.

Two men will make the final call on Russert's successors, Newsmax correspondent Stewart Stogel reports. They are Jeff Zucker, president and CEO of NBC/Universal, and Steve Capus, president of NBC News.

While several names have been mentioned in the Russert sweepstakes, two names are believed to be on the NBC News "short list": "Hardball" host Chris Matthews and PBS (and former NBC) correspondent Gwen Ifill.

Word is that Matthews would like to fill both of Russert's positions, "Meet the Press" moderator and Washington bureau chief.

Ifill, though at PBS, still periodically surfaced on "Meet the Press" as a guest journalist and could give a fresh and distinct direction to the broadcast.

It's not surprising that NBC has decided to wait till after the 2008 presidential election before installing Russert's replacement.

Sources say that should Barak Obama win, it is believed NBC would seek to capitalize on public sentiment and choose Ifill.

Should McCain win, Matthews' stock may rise since his combative approach to interviews may prove a ratings grabber in a Republican administration.

Then again, Brokaw could seek the "Meet the Press" job himself, according to Stogel.

Around NBC, Brokaw — often referred to as "T.B." — still gets what he wants. As one NBC insider said, T.B. not only stands for Tom Brokaw, but more importantly "The Boss."

Editor's Note:


2. Muslims Feel Snubbed by Obama

Muslims in the U.S. feel "betrayed" by Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, who spent his childhood years in Muslim Indonesia and is still thought by some Americans to be a Muslim himself.

Obama has visited churches and synagogues during his campaign, but has not yet appeared at a single mosque, according to The New York Times.

Muslim and Arab-American groups have repeatedly tried to arrange meetings with the candidate, but those invitations have been spurned — while Obama has met with their Christian and Jewish counterparts.

"In interviews, Muslim political and civic leaders said they understood that their support for Mr. Obama could be a problem for him at a time when some Americans are deeply suspicious of Muslims," The Times reports. "Yet those leaders nonetheless expressed disappointment and even anger at the distance that Mr. Obama has kept from them."

Two Muslim women wearing head scarves were barred by Obama campaign volunteers from appearing behind the candidate at a recent rally in Detroit. Obama later phoned the women to apologize.

"The community feels betrayed," declared Safiya Ghori, government relations director in the Washington office of the Muslim Public Affairs Council.

Some Muslims are reportedly dismayed by Obama's forceful denials of rumors that he is secretly a Muslim. On his Web site he calls the claim that he is a Muslim a "smear."

Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota, the country's first Muslim congressman and an early Obama supporter, told The Times: "A lot of us are waiting for him to say that there's nothing wrong with being a Muslim."

Obama's alienation from the Muslim community could cost him in key states where there are sizable populations of Muslims, including Florida, Ohio, and Michigan.

Editor's Note:


3. McCain's Favorite Comics — and Pet Peeve

"American Graffiti" is the movie that makes John McCain laugh the hardest . . . he likes the Showtime series "The Tudors" enough to TiVo it . . . and Marlon Brando and Marilyn Monroe are McCain's favorite actor and actress.

Those are a few of the personal nuggets that Bob Sansevere of the St. Paul Pioneer Press gleaned during a recent chat with the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.

In addition to "The Tudors," McCain praised several other TV shows, saying "I laugh out loud at 'The Office,' and '24' is one of my favorites, but it hasn't been on in, like, 21 months. And 'Lost,' I enjoyed."

As for comics, McCain said: "We all loved Peanuts, although certainly I was grown up by the time it exploded or came on the scene. I think Tarzan was one of my favorites . . . Blondie, obviously, was a favorite of my family. I read them all. Dick Tracy was one of my favorites."

McCain said his "best day" was the day he came home from prison after years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. His "worst day," not surprisingly, was when his plane was shot down over Vietnam.

McCain disclosed that while he was growing up, he always wanted to be a fighter pilot, "the epitome, in many ways, of the tradition of the knight out there — one person in combat with the other." But he remarked that the "Special Forces guys, the SEALS . . . are in some ways replacing the fighter pilot in the most admired category by adventuresome young Americans."

In his chat with Sansevere — which was also reported on the Politico Web site — McCain was asked to recall the worst thing he did growing up, and responded: I'm sure [it] was while I was at the Naval Academy, but the list is very long.

"When you say the worst, I broke most of the rules at the Naval Academy, and it would be hard to think of which ones were more egregious than the others."

McCain said his pet peeve is "sitting on the runway at an airport for an interminable length of time, taxiing back into the gate and then taxiing back out. That's a more and more frequent experience, particularly if you're trying to get to New York City from Washington, D.C., or vice versa."

McCain had a surprisingly answer when asked whom he would like to change places with for one day.

"I should live for a day with someone who is on a fixed income and facing the challenges of high gas prices, increasing inflation, more cost at the grocery store, job in jeopardy, enormous challenge in acquiring health insurance — that's what I should do."

Editor's Note:


4. Experts Are Jumping off Global Warming 'Train'

An award-winning meteorologist has written an article debunking fears of man-made global warming — and predicting that global cooling could be a more likely problem.

James Spann, chief meteorologist at station ABC 33/40 in Birmingham, Ala., first attracted worldwide publicity back in January 2007 when he disputed the assertion that global warming was caused by human activity, instead insisting it is part of the earth's regular climate cycle.

Now he has posted an article on his station's Weather Blog, headlined "Global Warming Movement Turns Cool," which reads in part: "Two years ago, it seemed like nothing could stop the global warming train. Most of the media, those in Hollywood, politicians (many on both sides of the cultural divide), and 'enlightened environmentalists' were all telling us that man was causing runaway warming of the earth's atmosphere, meaning global catastrophe only decades ahead for all of us. Scary stuff.

"The problem is that a majority of those in this almost religious movement have little training in atmospheric science, and little understanding of the issue. They jumped on the bandwagon because it matches their worldview, or pads their pocket."

The simple truth is that the man-made global warming train has "slowed to a crawl" and the riders are "jumping off as the facts are discovered," writes Spann, who has been named his state's best weather anchor nine times and won an Emmy Award for his tornado coverage in December 2000.

Spann notes that the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine this month announced that 31,072 American scientists signed a petition stating that "there is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane or other greenhouse gases is causing, or will cause in the future, catastrophic heating of the earth's atmosphere and disruption of the earth's climate."

Spann acknowledges that the climate is changing, but maintains that it always has changed and always will. He points to these "simple facts":

  • The earth is no warmer now than it was in 1998.
  • Carbon dioxide, which is being blamed for global warming, is not a pollutant but a gas indispensable to plant life. Plants, in turn, release oxygen, which sustains animal and human life.
  • The primary greenhouse gas is not carbon dioxide, but water vapor.
  • The lack of solar activity in recent months suggests global cooling might be our biggest potential climate change problem in coming years.

"I have been doing the weather on local television for 30 years, and every year I have had people come up to me and tell me that they can 'never remember the weather being this strange,'" Spann writes.

John Coleman, meteorologist and founder of The Weather Channel, has called the global warming movement the greatest scam in history, Spann points out, adding, "I encourage all of you to read material on both sides of the issue and make up your own mind."

Editor's Note:


5. Medicare Bill Vote Is Dire Omen for GOP Leadership

Republicans in the U.S. House have parted ways with GOP leadership and voted for a key Medicare bill — providing a possible sign of things to come before the November elections.

Despite Minority Leader John Boehner's aggressive push to convince GOP members to oppose the bill, 129 Republicans joined with all 226 Democrats to pass the legislation, which would prevent cuts in physician's fees under Medicare.

The Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call observed: "House Republican leaders' embarrassing failure to hold the line against a Medicare-related bill raised new questions about whether the rank and file will adopt an every-man-for-himself strategy as the election draws near."

Rep. Wayne Gilchrest, a Maryland Republican who was defeated in a primary earlier this year, told Roll Call that he views the Medicare vote as evidence that House Republicans are realizing they have to put their own interests above toeing the party line.

The American Medical Association and the pharmaceutical industry supported the bill. The GOP leadership opposed it partly in the belief that more "palatable" legislation is being drawn up in the Senate, according to Roll Call, which added, "With more sensitive votes expected in July and September, Republican leaders' ability to hold their rank and file in line will continue to be tested."

Editor's Note:


6. We Heard . . .

THAT as a frequent guest on TV news programs, Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan is rarely at a loss for words — but there's one interview she wishes she could take back.

Several weeks after being interviewed by writer Jacob Bernstein for a piece in Women's Wear Daily, Noonan — a former speechwriter for Ronald Reagan who coined the expression "read my lips: no new taxes" for George H.W. Bush — sent Bernstein an e-mail that read in part: "Please don't be mad at me. I don't mean to show disrespect for your time, or for you.

"You are a doll. I have to admit to second thoughts, none of which are connected to you. What I have been thinking each day is this: I really want the column to speak for me. Because it's better at speaking for me than I am . . .

"I feel I was babbly, nervous . . . Could you allow this to just pass, and not do the piece? I would be so grateful."

The e-mail went to no avail. Bernstein's piece, based in part on the interview, was published by Women's Wear Daily on June 20 — and it included Noonan's e-mail.

THAT the John McCain campaign has so little hope of the candidate carrying New York in November that officials have set up the state's headquarters in New Jersey.

The Republican's New York operations are based out of what the campaign has billed as "New Jersey/New York regional campaign headquarters," located in Woodbridge, N.J. — a 35-minute drive from New York City.

McCain is expected to conduct a more vigorous campaign in New Jersey, where John Kerry's margin of victory over President Bush in 2004 was 7 points, compared to 19 points in New York, the New York Sun reported. Recent polls showed Obama leading McCain by only single digits in New Jersey.

"I look upon this as being their New Jersey headquarters," said Rep. Peter King, a New York Republican.

The last Republican to carry New York was Ronald Reagan in 1984.

THAT The New York Times ran an article about AIDS in homosexual and bisexual men without ever using the words "homosexual" or "bisexual" — or even "gay."

Instead, the headline reads: "H.I.V. and AIDS Diagnoses Rise in Men Who Have Sex with Men."

Again, in the story the Times reports that diagnoses "in men who have sex with men" rose significantly from 2001 to 2006, while declining in "other demographic groups."

Are "gay" and "homosexual" politically incorrect now?

THAT during the Democratic primary campaign Hillary Clinton's aides referred to their rival as B.H.O., the initials of Barack Hussein Obama — including his middle name, which some say has been a politically sensitive issue.

Obama staffers referred to him simply as B.O.

"The B.H.O. shorthand is frowned upon inside Mr. Obama's campaign headquarters," The New York Times reported, "a warning for any Clinton staff members coming aboard."

THAT Bill Clinton snubbed Barack Obama's biggest supporter, Oprah Winfrey, at Nelson Mandela's 90th birthday celebration in London.

A source at the dinner told the New York Post's "Page Six" column that when Oprah went over to Mandela's table, where Clinton was seated, "Oprah and Bill, who used to be very close, barely acknowledged one another."

But insiders claimed the pair spoke to each other at a private reception before the dinner.


Editor's Note:

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