Dispatches > The Buzz

QuickTakes

Issue: "TNIV makes its debut," Feb. 23, 2002

NOT EVEN A ROUNDING ERROR: Think Enron spent a lot of money on politics? Not really, as Michael W. Lynch explains in Reason. So much money floats around Washington that even major donors look minor by comparison to the whole. "$114,000 isn't even a rounding error in the $193 million that Bush raised on his way to the White House," Mr. Lynch writes. "And Enron, it turns out, is not even among the top 20 contributors to the Republican Party." No one even knows what political pork the bankrupt energy giant got for its money. Meanwhile, another columnist, Joseph Perkins, notes that Global Crossing's scandal has paled in press coverage to Enron's collapse. "No major newspaper and no network newscast has mentioned that Global Crossing has given more to Democrats than Enron gave to Republicans," he writes. "Nor has it been widely reported that Global Crossing Chairman Gary Winnick donated more than $1 million to the Clinton presidential library before Bill Clinton left office." The fiber-optic disaster is just another business story, but Enron is treated like the biggest political scandal since Whitewater. CABLE'S VISION: Millions of Americans subscribe to cable TV service and receive coarse programs they rarely, if ever, watch. That's what media critic Brent Bozell points out in a column about original programs on basic cable channels. Hardly anyone watches shows like Comedy Central's The Man Show, TNT's Witchblade or MTV's The Andy Dick Show, yet networks continually promote these shows, which are "far raunchier than the rot one finds on the broadcast networks." Mr. Bozell refers to a Parents Television Council study of 33 original prime-time cable shows. "On average, a child (or even an adult) is hit with disturbing imagery and/or language almost 22 times every hour," he said. That's double the rate of broadcast TV. Most of these barely seen shows are targeted at youngsters whose immaturity matches the programs. Mr. Bozell notes that the FCC has little power over cable programming, so the viewer's only recourse is to complain to the sponsors. BUSH'S BULLY PULPIT: Even with assisted suicide legal in Oregon, the number of cases remains small. Only 21 people died this way last year, The Oregonian's Don Colburn reports. That's less than 1 in 1,000 deaths in the state. The figures came from Oregon health officials. Of the 21, 17 were "advised" by a group called Compassion in Dying of Oregon. "The numbers are so small and consistent that proponents and critics alike said this year's report would have attracted scant national attention if the Bush administration had not taken political aim at the Oregon law last November," the reporter writes. BIAS BOOSTERS: Former CBS newsman Bernard Goldberg's insider liberal-media exposé Bias continues to sit atop the best-seller lists, and it's no doubt been helped by some very high-profile product placement. President Bush smirked as he carried the book in a very photo-friendly way to his helicopter on Jan. 25 ("Quotables," Feb. 9). When asked what message President Bush was sending, spokesman Ari Fleischer said, "I think it raises some interesting issues.... The president thought it also raised some interesting questions." On Feb. 8, Vice President Cheney appeared via videotape at the National Press Club Foundation dinner in Washington, and apologized that he couldn't make it in person because he was wrapped up with "a real page-turner," and then he held the Goldberg book up to the camera. Three days later, before reporters at the state Capitol in St. Paul, Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura, the man who once made journalists wear a pass reading "Official Jackal," was the most obvious in hawking Mr. Goldberg's tell-all. "I strongly suggest each and every one of you read this book and go home and look in the mirror, because I've been right all along."

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