After rapper LL Cool J objected to an old interview of his being ripped out of context and used to promote the Thursday premiere of Sarah Palin’s new Fox News show, Real American Stories, the network was forced to drop the segment from the show. The network then called the rapper, star of the hit NBC series NCIS: Los Angeles, a “fledgling” actor.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … 10 KEY THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT THE HIGH-STAKES CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR’S RACE.
** QUICK HITS. President Barack Obama’s new plan for offshore oil drilling drew criticism from left and right today. That either means it’s a good idea or, well, not. The proof, aside from the question of potential damage to the coastlines, will lie in whether this helps get some GOP backing for his overall plans. … Billionaire Meg Whitman, running as a Republican for governor of California, is drawing a lot of legal debate over her plan to have public libraries carry her “policy book,” which is really a glorified campaign brochure. (The policies don’t add up, and she didn’t write the “book,” which the campaign is now calling a “magazine.” Which it also is not.) Let’s see now, can public facilities be used to display campaign signs or other advertising? Clearly not. That was easy.
** PALIN’S REAL AMERICAN STORIES NOT SO REAL: LL COOL J SAYS SHE LIFTED AN OLD INTERVIEW OF HIS. Rapper LL Cool J says, contrary to the promotion, he is not part of Sarah Palin’s inaugural edition of Real American Stories Thursday on Fox News.
“Fox lifted an old interview I gave in 2008 to someone else & are misrepresenting to the public in order to promote Sarah Palin’s Show. WOW,” he said in his Twitter feed on Tuesday night.
So Fox News has been forced to cut his segment from the show. And not exactly graciously, either, since the network ripped off his image and thoroughly misrepresented his purported appearance with Palin.
In response, Fox News cut LL Cool J from the ad and the show. “Real American Stories features uplifting tales about overcoming adversity and we believe Mr. Smith’s interview fit that criteria,” a spokesperson told Mediabistro. (LL Cool J’s real name is James Todd Smith.) “However, as it appears that Mr. Smith does not want to be associated with a program that could serve as an inspiration to others, we are cutting his interview from the special and wish him the best with his fledgling acting career.”
Again, highly inaccurate spin from Fox News.
LL Cool J doesn’t have a “fledgling acting career.” He’s one of the two stars of the season’s biggest new hit TV show, NCIS: Los Angeles. The series is a spin-off of the highest-rated scripted series on television, NCIS.
** SPEAKING OF FADING INSTITUTIONS … NEW POLL ON THE POPE. We spend a lot of time on the fading of faith in govermental and other public institutions. But no one is dropping faster in the Gallup Poll than the head of the Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI.
A new low of 40% of Americans view Pope Benedict XVI favorably amid new criticism about the Roman Catholic Church’s handling of child sex abuse by priests. Now, nearly as many Americans have an unfavorable view of the pope as have a favorable view.
The current results represent a major shift from two years ago, when the pope’s favorable rating jumped to 63% as he was concluding a well-received visit to the United States that included personal meetings between the pope and victims of sex abuse by U.S. priests. The latest allegations of lax handling of abusive priests mostly concern past abuse cases in Europe, but they implicate the pope, who had a central role in the Catholic Church’s handling of sex abuse cases prior to his becoming pope.
Pope Benedict’s image has deteriorated about equally among Catholics and non-Catholics from its 2008 high — by 20 and 23 points, respectively. Catholics continue to view him much more favorably than non-Catholics.
Pope Benedict’s predecessor, Pope John Paul II, also saw his U.S. favorable ratings drop in 2002 as the Catholic Church responded to similar criticism for its handling of priest sex abuse allegations, mostly from the United States — but only as low as 61% favorable and 26% unfavorable (compared to the current pope’s 40% favorable and 35% unfavorable). As the scandal faded, Pope John Paul II’s ratings improved, and Gallup’s final measurement on him showed a 78% favorable and 11% unfavorable rating.
In general, Americans viewed Pope John Paul II more favorably than they view Pope Benedict XVI.
Benedict represents a much more conservative strain of thought within the Catholic Church than did John Paul.
In June 2008 remarks in Jacksonville, Florida, then Senator Barack Obama explained why he opposes offshore oil drilling. Today he says that he’s for it. In his remarks, Obama criticizes John McCain for having changed his position on offshore drilling.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington today.
Obama has received the daily intelligence and economic briefings in the Oval Office.
At 8:05 AM Pacific, Obama delivers remarks on energy security at Andrews Naval Air Facility.
Obama, perhaps hoping to win some Republican support for his energy policies, is announcing a major expansion of offshore oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and along the Virginia coast. His plans do not extend to the California coast.
This is a sharp reversal from what Obama said he would do during his campaign.
Obama will also institute new policies to have the military, a major energy consumer, use fuel and energy more efficiently.
At 11:40 AM Pacific, Obama meets with the Chavez family and leaders of the United Farm Workers and signs a proclamation in honor of Cesar Chavez Day at the White House. Today would have been Chavez’s 83rd birthday. His birthday is an official state holiday in California.
At 1:30 PM Pacific, Obama delivers remarks at the closing session of the Forum for Workplace Flexibility at the Eisenhower Executive Office Bldg. (formerly the Old Executive Office Bldg.).
Vice President Joe Biden is in Illinois today. At 8:30 AM Pacific, he speaks at the “Partners in Peace” event at the Peoria Civic Center.
Obama is also monitoring geopolitical crises in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, and Iraq.
Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is in Afghanistan, touring the various fronts and holding follow-up meetings in the wake of Obama’s surprise visit to Afghanistan on Sunday.
Meanwhile in Iraq, the narrow election victory of former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi’s more secular Sunni slate of parliamentary candidates is being undermined.
The Iraqi elections commission has repeatedly denied demands by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki that results from the March 7th election be delayed in favor of a manual recount.
But a government commission, headed by the controversial Ahmed Chalabi, whose false intelligence fed neoconservative fervor for the 2003 U.S. invasion, says that it disqualified several candidates right before the election for supposed ties to the late Saddam Hussein. This includes three members of the Allawi slate, accounting for its narrow edge over the Maliki party.
And the Iraqi Supreme Court revised the election law, ruling that not only the first place party in the vote can attempt to form a parliamentary coalition.
Today is Cesar Chavez Day in California.
** FROM THE ARNOLD FILE. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is in Los Angeles today.
He has no scheduled public events.
The state Legislature is off on spring break this week.
Schwarzenegger won a court victory late yesterday when a state court of appeals knocked down a ruling by a local judge that would have ended the furloughs of state workers paid from sources other than the general fund. Had that ruling stood, the state would have had to find other ways to cut costs.
** 24: DOWN FOR THE COUNT? It’s end of the line time for 24, the ground-breaking TV series that, as much as any, seemed to symbolize the Bush/Cheney era. The word came out late last Friday from Fox that the series was ending, “by mutual agreement.”
Ironically, the show hit a high-water mark for the season last night, with a tense, rousing episode harkening back to its glory days. And there wasn’t a torture scene in sight.
Actually, the writing was on the wall last fall, when Fox executives said that this eighth season of the show might be the final one. And so it is. Ratings dropped during the Winter Olympics and haven’t come back up. Before the Winter Olympics, 24 averaged nearly 11 million viewers per episode. That dropped suddenly to 8.5 million when the Olympics began and never recovered; viewership is down to 8.3 million. (Despite the big drop, 24’s ratings are still only a little lower than those of Lost.)
Meanwhile, contracts are up — star Kiefer Sutherland (resolute series anti-hero Jack Bauer) reportedly makes $13 million per season and certainly wasn’t likely to take a pay cut — and so are costs, as happens with any long-running series. And by the end of this season, 24 will be the longest-running espionage series ever.
It would be tempting to say that 24’s controversial — and very unrealistic — reliance on torture as a ready solution to thorny plot points has something to do with ratings going down. But that would be wrong. (Be warned that there are a few spoilers ahead.)
The reality, as a brand-new CNN poll shows, is that most Americans agree with the hardball approach that 24 embodies. Popular support for closing the notorious prison at Guantanamo Bay is down sharply. It was 51% last year; now it’s down to 39%. … From my new column.
** NANCY PELOSI’S TRIUMPH: A LONG TIME COMING. It’s been a very heady few days for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
New York Times columnist Paul Krugman called her “a Speaker for the ages” after she ramrodded the national health care reform bill through the House of Representatives. “The most powerful woman in American history,” declared The Economist.
Which had not been my immediate expectation when I met Pelosi, whose 70th birthday is tomorrow, three decades ago at a party at her San Francisco home. … From my March 25th column.
** THE GHOST(S): OF TONY BLAIR, ROMAN POLANSKI, AND A WAR ON TERROR. Roman Polanski’s The Ghost Writer is one of the best films I’ve seen in recent years. It has masterful suspense, wit, humor, excellent casting and acting, fascinating design and music, and a highly relevant story which does not hit one over the head with a message. Yet it seems unlikely, at least in America, to break out beyond the art house hit status of The Hurt Locker and other much-admired and not widely-seen films. … From my March 22nd essay.
** THE MITT & MEG SHOW: “TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS” … From my March 17th column.
** MEG WHITMAN’S NEW! IMPROVED! POST-JOURNALISM! POLITICS. … From my March 12th column.
** IS MEG WHITMAN LIKE ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER? YES (IN THE WRONG WAYS) … From my March 9th column.
** IS OBAMA’S AFPAK STRATEGY ACTUALLY WORKING? … From my March 5th column.
** THE CALIFORNIA AS FIRST “FAILED STATE” DEBATE: SCHWARZENEGGER, DAVIS, WHITMAN, AND JERRY BROWN. With Democrat Jerry Brown finally declaring his candidacy for California governor today and billionaire Meg Whitman’s super-rich Republican rival Steve Poizner starting his own TV ad campaign against her, this seems a good time to talk about a big new negative theme about the rather tarnished Golden State. Is California America’s first “failed state?” That’s what a lot of people are saying. So I talked about that with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger; the governor he replaced, Gray Davis; and a famous former governor favored to be the next governor, Jerry Brown. … From my March 2nd column.
** THE BAND OF THE DECADE: THE BEATLES?! … From my January 1st, 2010 essay.
** HOW JERRY BROWN CLEARED THE DEMOCRATIC FIELD FOR GOVERNOR OF CALIFORNIA. … From my December 9th, 2009 column.
** OBAMA: RIDING WITH HISTORY. (NOTE: As Barack Obama was inaugurated as the 44th president of the United States, this column was the featured column on the top of the front page of the Huffington Post.) … From my January 19th, 2009 Huffington Post column.
** HELP FOR HAITI.
** 24/7 LIVE TV NEWS FEED FROM RUSSIA TODAY. Russia has re-emerged as one of the world’s great powers. Click here for a live TV news feed on your computer, bringing you English-language, jargon-free, fast-paced coverage of global and Russian news from the Russia Today channel. You probably already know about CNN International, BBC World, and Al Jazeera. Russia Today, which also features culture, entertainment, and sports, is based in Moscow and is owned and operated by the TV Novosti division of Russia’s state news agency, RIA Novosti. While it’s quite foolish to expect to see, say, criticism of Vladimir Putin on Russia Today, the channel is very interesting nonetheless. With U.S. cable news chattering away as it does, this sort of respite can be informative. The NWN live link to RT does not constitute an endorsement of the channel’s views. It’s presented as an otherwise unavailable new media window.
** 24/7 LIVE TV NEWS FEED FROM AL JAZEERA. With the US entangled in two wars in the region, it’s valuable to keep up with news and perspectives from the leading Middle Eastern-based TV news network. Based in the Gulf Arab state of Qatar, Al Jazeera is very influential and more than a bit controversial. Click here for a live TV news feed on your computer. The NWN live link to AJ does not constitute an endorsement of the channel’s views. It’s presented as an otherwise unavailable new media window.
** TRACK GLOBAL AND NATIONAL ENERGY PRICES IN NEAR REAL TIME VIA BLOOMBERG ENERGY MARKET WATCH. Having crashed over $147 for yet another record on July 11th, 2008, crude oil is trading around $83 per barrel.
This is up about $49 from the low of $34 per barrel prior to enactment of the Obama economic recovery program, reflecting a low point in global economic activity.
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