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November 16, 2003 Odds and Ends

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President Bush and NAKED WOMEN!
         ... and an ironic Reuters dispatch at the end
Much had been written about over the last several weeks about how our president thinks the media filters the truth about things, and how he says he never, ever reads newspapers because he prefers his news "unfiltered" - in summary form from his subordinates. 
Perhaps that explains why George Bush decided that the one print interview he will give prior to his visit in the UK next week will be with The Sun - amid stories like one about "a woman who is 'made of two women' and is NOT the biological mother of two of the children she conceived and had naturally" and "Man begins 12-day sausage, bean and chip bath to promote Brit food," "German saboteurs plotted to bomb Palace with peas in WW2, files reveal," and "Sobbing islanders say sorry to the ancestor of minister eaten by natives." 
The Sun is what is called a tabloid.

I'm not sure what this is about.  Is Karl Rove, Bush's political advisor, making another in-your-face gesture to the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and New York Times - and all the other mainstream media that have been so irresponsible and reported bad things in Iraq and not the good things?  Perhaps. 
Perhaps the Washington Post who reported on this is right - this is a thank you to Rupert Murdoch, who owns the Sun, for all the support Rupert Murdoch's Fox News has given Bush.  Is has been widely reported that during the buildup to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, all 175 Murdoch-owned newspapers and media outlets worldwide editorialized in favor of the war.  He's a friend.  A good friend.
But Rupert Murdoch also owns the Times of London.  Well, the Times of London is a bit stuffy.  Or perhaps Rove and Bush see no difference between the Sun and the Times.  Perhaps Rupert Murdoch sees no difference.  Both are newspapers.  One is as good as another.

This exclusive Sun interview surely will not convince the skeptical Europeans that Bush is a man of high moral standing, of deep thoughtfulness, and of pure, Christian values.  Are Bush and Rove just tweaking the European public and mocking their "high seriousness" or something like that?

My thought is that this is an attempt to show Bush can connect with the "common man" - not the pointy-headed intellectuals who find out about the world through "the majors" (the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and New York Times and the ilk).  Real people read, and believe, what they see in the National Inquirer after all.


The story by Dana Milbank - Prez in Topless Tabloid - London Paper Nabs Rare Bush Exclusive was in the Washington Post Saturday, November 15, 2003 and opened with "President Bush has gone down-market."
After coming to office with a vow to restore dignity to the White House, the president yesterday took a brief sabbatical from that effort: He granted an exclusive interview to a British tabloid that features daily photographs of nude women and articles akin to those found in our own National Enquirer.

Press secretary Scott McClellan broke the news yesterday with nonchalance. "Good morning," he told reporters. "The president had his usual briefings this morning and just recently completed an interview with the Sun, for a discussion of his upcoming visit to the United Kingdom."
A British journalist for a more highbrow outlet was not about to let that slip by unnoticed. "Just to clarify," he asked, "why has the president chosen to do an interview with the Sun?  It's a newspaper which publishes daily pictures of topless women."
Good question!  Inquiring minds want to know!

But here's the Milbank teaser:
Word on Fleet Street is it's an obvious payoff to the Sun's owner, Rupert Murdoch, the conservative publisher behind many Bush-friendly news outlets such as Fox News.  Officials at the White House acknowledge that it was a reward to the Sun for its unstinting support of the United States regarding the war in Iraq. (The Sun's pro-Bush stance also got it an interview with Vice President Cheney in late 2001.)  But Bush aides also said it was done on the recommendation of Tony Blair, Britain's Labor Party prime minister, who has worked hard to bring the Sun away from its Tory Party roots.
Well, maybe so.  I like my "common man" theory better.

Oh, and by the way, just how influential and powerful is Rupert Murdoch?

Try this:

The Times is a broadsheet national daily newspaper in Britain. It is presently part of the News Corporation group, controlled by Rupert Murdoch. For much of its history it was regarded as without rival, the "newspaper of record" for Britain and played an influential role in politics and shaping public opinion to foreign events. More recently it has tended to reflect its proprietors conservative political views.

News Corporation holdings per the Columbia Journalism Review -


United States: New York Post
United Kingdom: News International, News of the World, The Sun, The Sunday Times, The Times
Australia: Daily Telegraph, Fiji Times, Gold Coast Bulletin, Herald Sun, Newsphotos, Newspix, Newstext, NT News  Post-Courier, Sunday Herald Sun, Sunday Mail, Sunday Tasmanian, Sunday Territorian, Sunday Times, The Advertiser, The Australian, The Courier-Mail, The Mercury, The Sunday Telegraph, Weekly Times

InsideOut, donna hay, SmartSource , The Weekly Standard, TV Guide (partial)
HarperCollins Publishers, HarperCollins General Book Group, HarperCollins, Perennial, Cliff Street Books, The Ecco Press, Quill, HarperAudio, Regan Books, Amistad Press, Zondervan, Morrow/Avon, William Morrow, Avon, HarperTorch, Eos, HarperEntertainment, HarperSanFrancisco, HarperInformatio, HarperBusiness, HarperResource, Access Travel, William Morrow Cookbooks, Branded Books Program, HarperCollins Childrens Book Group, Greenwillow Books, Joanna Cotler Books, Laura Geringer Books, HarperCollins, HarperFestival, HarperTrophy, Tempest

Los Angeles Dodgers [ ...he sells that this month to a guy from Boston - AMP ]
New York Rangers & New York Knicks (20% - Through partnership with Cablevision)
Los Angeles Kings (NHL, 40% option)
Los Angeles Lakers (NBA, 9.8% option)
Staples Center (40% owned by Fox/Liberty)
News America New Media
Fox Sports Radio Network
Broadsystem [ UK interactive services - neat stuff - AMP ]
Festival Records
Fox Interactive
Mushroom Records
National Rugby League
NDS [ ... supplier of open end-to-end digital pay-TV solutions for the secure delivery of entertainment and information to television set-top boxes and IP devices. - AMP ]
News Interactive
News Outdoor
Nursery World
Fox Broadcasting Company
Fox Television Stations: 
1. WNYW - New York City
2. WWOR - New York City
3. KTTV - Los Angeles
4. KCOP - Los Angeles
5. WFLD - Chicago
6. WPWR - Chicago
7. KMSP - Minneapolis
8. WFTC - Minneapolis
9. WTXF - Philadelphia
10. WFXT - Boston
11. WTTG - Washington D.C.
12. KDFW - Dallas
13. KDFI - Dallas
14. WJBK - Detroit
15. KUTP - Phoenix
16. KSAZ - Phoenix
17. WUTB - Baltimore
18. WRBW - Orlando
19. WOFL - Orlando
20. WOGX - Ocala
21. WAGA - Atlanta
22. KRIV - Houston
23. KTXH - Houston
24. WJW - Cleveland
25. WTVT - Tampa
26. KDVR - Denver
27. KTVI - St. Louis
28. WITI - Milwaukee
29. WDAF - Kansas City
30. KSTU - Salt Lake City
31. WHBQ - Memphis
32. WGHP - Greensboro
33. WBRC - Birmingham
34. KTBC - Austin
35. BSkyB
37. SKYPerfecTV
38. STAR
39. Stream
40. Fox News Channel
41. Fox Movie Channel
42. FX
43. National Geographic Channel
44. SPEED Channel
45. Fox Sports Net
46. Fox Sports South
47. Fox Sports Pittsburgh
48. Fox Sports Southeast
49. Fox Sports Midwest
50. Fox Sports Rocky Mountain
51. Fox Sports Arizona
52. Fox Sports Northwest
53. Fox Sports West
54. Fox Sports West#2
55. Fox Sports Detroit
56. Fox Sports Bay Area (with Rainbow Media Holdings)
57. Fox Sports Chicago (with Rainbow Media Holdings)
58. Fox Sports New England (with Rainbow Media)
59. Fox Sports New York (with Rainbow Media)
60. Fox Sports Ohio (with Rainbow Media)
61. Fox Sports Intermountain West
62. Fox Sports Southwest
63. Sunshine Network
64. Madison Square Garden Network
20th Century Fox
1. Fox Searchlight Pictures
2. Fox Television Studios
Murdoch is seeking to acquire DirecTV in 2003 for six billion dollars (US)
Friday, October 31, 2003
By Scott Lanman / Bloomberg News 
Friday, October 31, 2003
News Corp.'s agreement to buy a 34 percent stake in Hughes Electronics Corp., the biggest U.S. satellite-television provider, will be reviewed by the U.S. Federal Communication Commission this year, an official said. 
The FCC will decide whether to approve the purchase "certainly by the end of the year," Kenneth Ferree, chief of the FCC's media bureau, said at an investors' conference in Washington.
[... and so on and so forth ]
Here's an interesting item.  Our guys in Iraq are getting a bit testy.  Of course, this would never happen over here.  But it is one way of deal with people who have a "bad attitude."  Reuters is not owned by Rupert Murdoc.
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - American soldiers handcuffed and firmly wrapped masking tape around an Iraqi man's mouth as they arrested him for speaking out against occupation troops.
Asked why the man had been arrested on Tuesday and put into the back of a Humvee vehicle on Tahrir Square, the commanding officer told Reuters at the scene: "This man has been detained for making anti-coalition statements."
He refused to say what the man said. 
A U.S. military spokesman said he had no immediate information on the incident.
U.S. politicians and military commanders often say they toppled Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein so that Iraqis can enjoy free speech and democracy after years of iron-fisted rule.
Another U.S. soldier swore at Iraqis as he ordered them to move back. Schoolteachers and young students looked on.
The troops had earlier closed off the sprawling square with barbed wire to search for home-made bombs, which along with rocket-propelled grenades have killed 153 American soldiers since major combat was declared over on May 1.
Oh my.