I’m back after nearly a week of tough business travel, culminating in four hours at the Boston airport. The worst thing about being stuck in an airport these days is the televisions running CNN non-stop. But today Judy Woodruff’s Inside Politics was so over-the-top that it provided comic relief. In one hour she ran the following stories:
1. Big business is rewarding President Bush for past favors and purchasing additional influence by paying for the inauguration festivities. Pro Bush companies, particularly energy and financial services companies, are paying $250,000 a pop.
2. The inaugural festivities cost too much — at least $40 million. It’s true that Clinton’s cost about $33 million, but that was when we had budget surpluses and no natural disasters like the current one in Asia. (But I thought big business was footing the bill in order to buy influence — if so, in the absence of a lavish inauguration, they wouldn’t be allocating the bribe money to pay down the budget deficit or provide humanitarian relief).
3. Torture, always torture. Public opinion surveys showing that Americans (like their president) don’t favor torture provide the pretext for CNN to show more Abu Ghraib footage and to take another shot at Alberto Gonzalez.
4. President Bush lacks public support for privatizing social security. And, according to Democratic consultant Ann Lewis, it’s no wonder, what with the market down 100 points today and the same people who told us there were WMD in Iraq now telling us that social security is in trouble. (I’m not making this up; thank God Lewis is a Democratic consultant).
5. “Everyone loves Laura?” I’m not sure what the question mark was doing in the story, since CNN’s poll showed that Laura Bush has an approval rating of something like 86-5. But CNN is quick to claim that this rating tends to go down when the First Lady takes controversial positions on public policy issues.
Woodruff also included a piece on blogging, in which CNN’s reporter noted that blogs aren’t going away now that the election is over. Instead, they are focusing on substantive issues and local political races. But even this unobjectionable piece was marred by Woodruff’s need to explain that “blog” is short for “web log.”
During breaks, CNN ran a commercial touting its war correspondent Christiane Amanpour. According to Amanpour “being a war correspondent is more than being a war correspondent,” since her stories, “told well have the power to make a difference” and her “job is to make a difference for the good of the world.” Judy Woodruff presumably answers to the same job description. Dan Rather too, for a little while longer.
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