Monthly Archives: November 2004

Best Media Critic

USA Today has a profile of Jon Stewart, except that Stewart refused to be interview, fearing he’s getting overexposed. Point well taken. But his impact is clear.

The accolades are as ubiquitous as he is. Stewart’s effectiveness as a political humorist is akin to Will Rogers “and probably two or three others in the last 100 years,” says Darryl Paulson, a political scientist at the University of South Florida.

“There have been days when I see what they’ve done and I say, ‘Wow, he’s the best media critic I know,’ ” says Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism. This year, the Television Critics Association gave Stewart’s show, a five-time Emmy winner, its award for best news and information program. And this from Tom Brokaw: “He sees that the emperor has no clothes, and some of the mainstream media don’t have the same 20/20 vision.” Watching his show is “a little like watching Seinfeld. You just can’t get enough.”

There’s a special live edition of The Daily Show tonight at 10:00 EST, an hour earlier and 30 minutes longer than usual.

Virginia News

The latest Richmond Times-Dispatch poll has Governor Mark warner’s approval rating at 61%. Not shabby for a Dem. in what is supposed to be a rock solid Red state.

But I think it’s less so and may surprise a few folks tomorrow. Clearly, Kerry has an uphill battle here. A Mason-Dixon poll in the last week of October had Bush up by 6%. That’s within what I call the MOMTIONV — margin of misrepresenting the impact of new voters. We’ll see.

But the long-term view is very encouraging. I talked with someone recently about the turnout at town hall meetings on taxes last winter. Though sympathetic, he was of a mindset that that was an organized effort led by Mame Reilly, Warner’s PAC director, and therefore discounted it. But the RTD poll also found that a clear majority of Virginians – 56% — say the tax increase was necessary. Only 21% — one on five – say it wasn’t; the rest are undecided. It seems the anti-tax crowd is dying a slow death.

Here in Fairfax County, the Fairfax County Taxpayer Alliance has posted road signs saying “Bonds=Taxes” and urging a vote against park and transportation bonds. The FCTA was helped by a Washington Post story the other day of a Club for Growth TV ad that’s run lately against the bonds. We’ll see how that goes.

With no party registration, we rely on self-identification. And the RTD polls say GOPers enjoy a 31—27% margin over Dems. That leaves over 40% independent. If you say that the lion’s share of the 21% who opposed the taxes are GOPers, there is room aplenty for Dems and more moderate voices to be heard in the next General Assembly session – and in the 2005 House of Delegates elections.

Dirty Tricks Scale

Dirty tricks, including some that used to circulate as jokes (Dems vote one day, GOPers another), are rampant this year, and most are designed to favor Republicans. Of course, the local GOP official will deplore such tactics and suggest that Dems are actually behind them to discredit the GOP. But clearly, the Republicans are committing the vast majority of such fraudulent activities.

Yet Howard Kurtz can’t bring himself to admit it in his online discussion today.

New York, N.Y.: Dear Mr. Kurtz: My disappointment in the performance of the press both during the runup to the war and now, during the election, is profound. I no longer trust you guys at all.

Here’s one reason: you’ve got case after case, in state after state, of clear, specific, readily verifiable instances of Republican attempts to suppress the vote, tamper with the voting process, and perpetrate fraud on the electorate–and on the other side, frivolous Republican accusations about Dem voter misregistration, which don’t hold up under scrutiny.

I think the organized Republican effort to throw the election by fraudulent means is a national scandal and a disgrace, and newsworthy in its own right.

The media’s take? A glib, “Both Sides Do It!”

Do you personally know of any SPECIFIC instances where Democrats are deliberately perpetrating election fraud? And if not, can you explain to me the media’s fondness for providing “balance” where there actually is none? In what way is the public’s interest being served here?

Howard Kurtz: I bet I can guess which side of the electoral divide you’re on. I happen to think the reporting in this area has been pretty good. While the Republicans in some states have been very aggressive in trying to intimidate or restrict or knock off potential voters who are probably Democrats, there have been some instances of real voter fraud as well — people like Mary Poppins voting, votes being traded for crack cocaine, and so on. It’s our job to look at both sides.

Kurtz wouldn’t know balanced reporting if it smacked his GOP operative wife upside the head.

Ohio GOP Can’t Challenge Voters

Two Ohio judges put a big crimp in GOP plans to intimidate voters. One judge said Ohio’s law allowing challenges was unconstitutional, and another judge said only poll workers could challenge a voter’s rights.

“In light of these extraordinary circumstances, and the contentious nature of the imminent election, the court cannot and must not turn a blind eye to the substantial likelihood that significant harm will result not only to voters, but also to the voting process itself, if appointed challengers are permitted at the polls,” [U.S. District Judge John Adams of Akron] said.