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Feb. 28, 2011, 1 a.m.

Nath­an Cum­mings Found­a­tion, a private found­a­tion which “owns a small amount of stock” in the News Corp., “has writ­ten a let­ter to the com­pany’s board ob­ject­ing to its polit­ic­al con­tri­bu­tions” to GOP causes.

“The mo­ment that caught it for me. It al­most brings tears out, when you see ‘Su­per Mario’ get­ting out of the cap­sule and lead­ing the whole gang in cheers.”
MS­N­BC’s Pat Buchanan, on the res­cue of the Chilean miners, “Morn­ing Joe,” MS­N­BC, 10/13

The found­a­tion pro­motes “pro­gress­ive causes” and “owns 3,820 shares” of News Corp., called for “com­plete dis­clos­ure of all polit­ic­al spend­ing” by the News Corp. be­fore 10/15, when the “com­pany’s board of dir­ect­ors meets for its an­nu­al share­hold­ers meet­ing.”

The let­ter reads: “The ap­par­ent lack of a stra­tegic ra­tionale for News Corp. raises very ser­i­ous con­cerns for share­hold­ers as to wheth­er Mr. Mur­doch and the rest of the News Corp. Board of Dir­ect­ors are truly tak­ing share­hold­er in­terests in­to ac­count when they ap­prove polit­ic­al pay­ments made with share­hold­ers’ as­sets.”

The found­a­tion con­cludes that without dis­clos­ure: “… there are clear repu­ta­tion­al risks in­volved in polit­ic­al ex­pendit­ures - par­tic­u­larly for a news me­dia com­pany - and un­ne­ces­sary po­ten­tial for ab­use of cor­por­ate treas­ury funds to fur­ther the per­son­al polit­ic­al agen­das of cor­por­ate man­age­ment.” News Corp. spokes­per­son Teri Ever­ett “de­clined” to com­ment (Shear, New York Times, 10/13).

FNC, which is owned by News Corp., de­b­uted a new web­site “tar­get­ing Lati­nos” with FoxNews­Latino.com.

The “bi­lin­gual site spans top­ics in­clud­ing news, en­ter­tain­ment and life­style, with a twist fo­cus­ing on Latino cul­ture and in­terest.” FNX ex­ec. Mi­chael Clem­ente, in a state­ment: “The launch of Fox News Latino cre­ates an un­pre­ced­en­ted op­por­tun­ity to ex­pand our reach by en­ga­ging the fast­est grow­ing minor­ity audi­ence.”

In its first day, stor­ies in­cluded fea­tures on SCOTUS So­nia So­to­may­or and the “im­min­ent free­dom of the trapped Chilean miners.” The site’s man­aging ed­it­or Al­berto Vour­vouli­as-Bush, told the Miami Her­ald: “We’re aim­ing at Lati­nos whose first lan­guage is Eng­lish, who in­form them­selves in Eng­lish, who are deeply Amer­ic­an, but share some of the cul­tur­al sens­ib­il­it­ies of their par­ents or grand­par­ents” (Me­lillo, New York Post, 10/13).

And those in NY or Philly “could lose” their FOX TV net­work, which means bye bye to the “MLB play­offs,” if “talks with Cable­vi­sion over a new con­tract aren’t re­solved this week.” Cable­vi­sion ex­ec. VP Mac Bu­dill sent a let­ter to FOX “ur­ging the com­pany to re­con­sider” what Bu­dill called a “fair of­fer” and “ask­ing that Fox not re­move Chan­nel 5 or Chan­nel 9 while the two con­tin­ue to ne­go­ti­ate.”

Fox “be­lieves pay-TV com­pan­ies should pay for car­riage of its TV sta­tions,” is also “hash­ing out new terms with Dish, the satel­lite TV pro­vider” (Atkin­son, New York Post, 10/13).

This Morn­ing On TV

“Today,” “GMA” and “Early Show” lead with the dra­mat­ic res­cue of the Chilean miners who’ve been trapped for more than two months.

Ob­vi­ously Re­liv­ing Their Youth

MS­N­BC’s “Morn­ing Joe” hosts Joe Scar­bor­ough and Mi­ka Brzez­in­ski “have signed on to serve as con­sult­ing pro­du­cers” on NBC’s new drama “Young Turks.” Oth­er be­hind the show are “Pro­spect Park, the shingle run by Jeff Kwat­in­etz, Paul Frank and Rich Frank.”

“Young Turks” is about the “per­son­al and pro­fes­sion­al lives of a group of New York­ers in their 20s,” whose char­ac­ters “find them­selves in the high-powered worlds of fin­ance, polit­ics and me­dia.” Jonny Umansky and Zach Hy­att “penned” the script while John Ro­mano is “on­board” as EP. Uni­ver­sial Me­dia Stu­di­os is be­hind the show (Schneider, Vari­ety, 10/13).

One Doesn’t Be­long

Two “quirky, polit­ic­ally minded in­die docs” premiere this month to “drum up elec­tion-time aud sup­port.” “Ghetto­Phys­ics: Will the Real Pimps and Ho’s Please Stand Up” is a “left-lean­ing look at power dy­nam­ics in the mod­ern world,” which opened 10/8 in “lim­ited re­lease,” is dir­ec­ted by Wil­li­am H. Arntz, of “What the Bleep Do We Know!?” fame and E. Ray­mond Brown, who penned the book which “in­spired” the film.

The oth­er doc, “I Want Your Money,” tar­get the oth­er side of the polit­ic­al spec­trum. The film, which opens 10/15 in 500+ theat­ers around the U.S., tar­gets “politi­cians and polit­ic­al groups on the right for en­dorse­ments of this con­ser­vat­ive screen take on the eco­nom­ic crisis, which casts a crit­ic­al eye on the ex­cesses of big gov­ern­ment.”

Arntz, on mak­ing the doc: “The vis­ion that guided me was build­ing a fire. We would ba­sic­ally go to one place and let de­mand there get really, really in­tense and then ex­pand out.”

“Money” is dis­trib­uted by Free­style Re­leas­ing and the mar­keters are Motive En­ter­tain­ment, the co. that “pushed” “The Pas­sion of the Christ” and “The Chron­icles of Nar­nia: The Li­on, the Witch and Ward­robe.”

So far, “Money” has “at­trac­ted” at­ten­tion from the right, log­ging “some 3.5 mil­lion views on You­Tube.” And Motive En­ter­tain­ment’s Paul Lauer: “The only way to reach mil­lions of people is to go through the or­gan­iz­a­tions that have thou­sands of mem­bers or hun­dreds of thou­sands” (Cox, Vari­ety, 10/13).

Oh Irma! But Not Of The Robert Byrd Kind

CNN host Eli­ot Spitzer really can catch a break, ex-call girl Irma Nici, “who claims Dav­id Beck­ham was a cli­ent,” al­leges Spitzer “couldn’t last as long in bed as his one-hour CNN show.”

Nici tells Page Six: “It was 45 minutes at most, and that would in­clude un­dress­ing. … Some­times he would come over in jeans, a base­ball cap and white gym socks. … He would hardly un­dress, he would keep the hat and the socks on and just go.” Nici claims she “can’t bear” to watch “Park­er Spitzer,” “I don’t like to look at him, that little grem­lin” (New York Post, 10/13).

Well she isn’t the only one not lov­ing CNN’s new show. In­siders say that guests have been giv­ing book­ers for the show the “cold shoulder,” mostly due to “the two hosts — both new to TV — be­ing un­pre­dict­able as with the show’s poor first-week rat­ings.” One in­sider claims: “The book­ing pro­cess [on ‘Park­er Spitzer’] hasn’t been easy. … It’s about the fact that the show has a new, young staff with little un­der­stand­ing of and con­nec­tion to polit­ics … and everything with [‘Park­er Spitzer’] be­ing a new show with no track re­cord and on a third-place cable net­work.”

However, an­oth­er source think just one big guest will do it: “As soon as they get a heavy hit­ter who makes news, oth­ers will likely fol­low suit” (Starr, New York Post, 10/13).

Do Kids Even Know What Via­gra Is?

The Par­ents Tele­vi­sion Coun­cil, a “me­dia ad­vocacy group,” is “work­ing with phar­ma­ceut­ic­al gi­ants Eli Lilly & Co. (Cial­is) and Pf­izer (Via­gra) to provide a warn­ing to con­sumers on when and where com­mer­cials for their pills will ap­pear.”

The two phar­ma­ceut­ic­al com­pan­ies “have agreed to provide the PTC with sched­ules of what shows their spots will be run­ning in every week.” Al­though the sched­ules “will only cov­er broad­cast tele­vi­sion, not cable TV, which is where most kids do the ma­jor­ity of their view­ing.” PTC pres. Tim Winter: “This is an im­port­ant first step in ad­dress­ing the con­cerns many par­ents have about ad­vert­ise­ments for erectile dys­func­tion drugs.”

However, it will be an up­hill battle for the two com­pan­ies since “ad­vert­isers have me­dia com­pan­ies buy their com­mer­cial time and such pur­chases are made in bulk and not in in­di­vidu­al shows.” Buys are “de­signed to hit a cer­tain num­ber of view­ers in what demo­graph­ic the ad­vert­iser seeks” and of­ten doesn’t “know un­til after the fact what shows their spots ac­tu­ally ap­peared in” (Flint, “Com­pany Town,” Los Angeles Times, 10/12).

CoCo’s Robin Re­turns!

On 10/12, it was an­nounced that TBS’ Con­an O’Bri­en’s long­time sidekick, Andy Richter “will be join­ing him on his new TBS show.”

Richter, in a state­ment: “I’m thrilled to be go­ing back to work with Con­an, and very ex­cited to start a whole new ven­ture on TBS. However, I am mostly look­ing for­ward to get­ting out of the house again.”

O’Bri­en, jok­ingly on Richter’s re­turn: “The de­cision was made without my au­thor­ity. I will get to the bot­tom of this” (New York Daily News, 10/13).

Restor­ing $an­ity

On the 10/7 ‘Daily Show,’ Com­edy Cent­ral’s Jon Stew­art “an­nounced the Trust for the Na­tion­al Mall, which is ded­ic­ated to restor­ing and im­prov­ing the Mall, as the of­fi­cial non-profit of his ‘Rally to Re­store San­ity’” on 10/30.

Dur­ing the 10/12 ‘Wash­ing­ton Un­plugged,’ Trust pres. Cath­ar­ine Cun­ning­ham “said” $55K “has been donated to the group since Stew­art’s an­nounce­ment.”

Cun­ning­ham “told CBS News they thought Stew­art was jok­ing when they first re­ceived the call from his pro­duc­tion staff.”

Pub­lic Cit­izen’s Joe New­man: “Jon Stew­art’s rally could be big­ger than Wood­stock which had 500,000 people, and I wouldn’t be sur­prised if we have 100,000 or 200,000 people show up just from what people are say­ing on­line” (Delargy, “Polit­ic­al Hot­sheet,” CBS News, 10/12).

Laugh Track

Jay Leno: “And Jerry Brown‘s staff spent the week­end com­ing up with a new cam­paign slo­gan, ‘Just say ho.’ That’s their new cam­paign slo­gan. And gubernat­ori­al can­did­ate Jerry Brown’s cam­paign is in trouble, again for al­legedly, call­ing their op­pon­ent Meg Whit­man a whore. And of course now real whores are up­set with Brown be­cause they don’t want to be mixed up in polit­ics. You know there are some things they won’t do. … This elec­tion gets weirder and weirder. We’ve had a witch. We had a whore, and now we have a Nazi. Do you know about the Nazi? Heard about this? A Re­pub­lic­an can­did­ate for Con­gress in Ohio, a guy named Richard Iott, ap­par­ently pho­tos have sur­faced of him dressed in a Nazi uni­form. He would go to Nazi reen­act­ments dressed as an SS storm troop­er. And did you hear what he said, he said he only dress as a Nazi as a bond­ing ritu­al with his son. Really any oth­er kid do that with their dad? Dress up as Nazis? I don’t want to fish I don’t want to play catch, come on lets dress up as Nazis!… But you know there were signs, like his cam­paign slo­gan, ‘In your heart you know he’s Reich’” (“To­night Show,” NBC, 10/12).

Jon Stew­art: “Strap it in, every­body. I’m go­ing to take you on a jour­ney to the past back to 2004. When many of you were noth­ing more than twinkles in your par­ents bulky 4gig iPods and a cha­ris­mat­ic go get­ter, named John Kerry, with an un­usu­al com­mon man’s touch ran for pres­id­ent. And would have won, too, if it wer­en’t for those med­dling kids and the large dog with a snatch fet­ish. Sorry I meant group of vet­er­ans who hate him. … Without that ad John Kerry would have been our next pres­id­ent. … The Swift Boat Vet­er­ans for Truth was a polit­ic­al group, clas­si­fied as a 527, mean­ing that they could re­ceive un­lim­ited cor­por­ate dona­tions for their polit­ic­al ads, as long as they did not ex­pli­citly tell people to vote for a cer­tain can­did­ate. And also re­por­ted the names of their donors to the IRS. I know what you are think­ing. That sounds pretty re­strict­ive. Well, don’t worry. The Su­preme Court Cit­izens United rul­ing fixes this 527 un­loop­hole al­low­ing oth­er groups not bound by the ban on pre-elec­tion can­did­ate ad­vocacy to feed more fully from the cor­por­ate trough. These groups called 501-C4’s, not to be con­fused with the Levi’s line of ex­plos­ive jeans, … brought with them an ad­ded bo­nus. … That’s what is so ex­cit­ing about it. It’s like a hot dog, if you knew what was in there, you wouldn’t want to eat it or a glory hole. … The an­onym­ity pro­tects whistle blowers. Like the secret group that blew the whistle on 17th term Demo­crat­ic con­gress­man Nick Ra­hall‘s long hid­den ter­ror­ist agenda. … You know what I’m go­ing to call the West Vir­gin­ia Con­ser­vat­ive Found­a­tion just to say thanks for that ad. Ex­cuse me a minute. … They don’t have a phone num­ber. They op­er­ate out of a PO box mean­ing they are a front or­gan­iz­a­tion that ex­ists only to fun­nel money to an­onym­ous polit­ic­al ad­vert­ising or they’re ex­tremely tiny. … Now, the Demo­crats are furi­ous, furi­ous about these un­trace­able ads be­cause of their stance again fear-mon­ger­ing. … Secret for­eign money. And I wouldn’t be sur­prised if that money has secret Chinese herpes on it. … It seems the fear mon­gee has be­come the fear mon­ger. And that’s when this whole thing gets so bizarre that Karl Rove, the ar­chi­tect, has to ex­press out­rage over polit­ic­al tac­tics. … If only we had some way to show that Karl Rove’s out­rage over phantom, ‘where is the money com­ing from’ al­leg­a­tions were in some way hy­po­crit­ic­al. To do that we would have to go all the way back to slightly less than two months ago. … It might be Muslim money, dirty, dirty Muslim money. In fact it seems that Mr. Rove’s en­tire net­work has found a new found re­spect for not chas­ing the money. … In their de­fense they are talk­ing about Muslim money” (“Daily Show,” Com­edy Cent­ral, 10/12).

Jimmy Fal­lon: “Today, Pres­id­ent Obama met with George Clooney at the White House to dis­cuss vi­ol­ence in the Su­dan. Un­for­tu­nately the meet­ing was re­peatedly in­ter­rup­ted by Nancy Pelosi who kept ac­ci­dent­ally spill­ing wa­ter all over her blouse. ‘Oh, I have to go change my shirt. George, you want to help?’” (“Late Night,” NBC, 10/13).

Jimmy Kim­mel: “The second low­est score of the night last night went to Bris­tol Pal­in. What an en­ter­tain­er she is. Not only is Bris­tol Pal­in on ‘Dan­cing With The Stars,’ she’s also now mak­ing ap­pear­ances in a mu­sic video. How she finds time to do all this and con­vince teens not to hump each oth­er, I don’t know. Her ex-boy­friend, fath­er of her child, Levi John­ston, his mu­sic video just came out the oth­er day. He’s act­ing in it. I don’t know if this is, a re­sponse to that, or what, but wow what a tal­en­ted fam­ily. I mean they’re like the Os­monds with semi-auto­mat­ic weapons. And not only are Levi and Bris­tol mak­ing the mu­sic video rounds, even little Piper Pal­in has a mu­sic video with the rap­per DMX. … I think it’s go­ing to be a hit. The Novem­ber elec­tions are just around the corner. Former Pres­id­ent Clin­ton has been out cam­paign­ing for vari­ous Demo­crats. Yes­ter­day he was West Vir­gin­ia cam­paign­ing for Sen­ate can­did­ate Joe Manchin, and I’ll tell you what, even ten years our of of­fice he still has that ma­gic touch. … Some­how she loses con­scious­ness and he takes it as a com­pli­ment” (“Jimmy Kim­mel Live,” ABC, 10/13).

TOP TEN ENTRIES ON BARACK OBAMA’S EN­EMIES LIST 10. The smug know-it-all at Apple geni­us bar. 9. Gen­er­al Hos­pit­al’s Patrick for cheat­ing on Robin with Lisa. 8. Sec­ret­ary who an­swers the phone “Yell-O”. 7. Late Show au­dio tech­ni­cian Tom Her­rmann. 6. Those Chilean miners… you’re trapped, we get it. 5. On­line store that still hasn’t de­livered his Cap­tain Kirk chair. 4. Any­one who doesn’t think Glee makes your spir­it soar. 3. Drug­stores that don’t carry To­pol, the smokers’s tooth pol­ish. 2. Late night talk show hosts who de­liv­er lame Top Ten lists at his ex­pense. 1. Bas­tard who lost his birth cer­ti­fic­ate (CBS, 10/12).

Con­gress’s dis­ap­prov­al rat­ing is spik­ing — an NBC News/Wall Street Journ­al poll re­leased this week showed ap­prov­al of Con­gress at a pathet­ic 13 per­cent. Voters didn’t much like last month’s debt-ceil­ing bill and are angry at Wash­ing­ton — both Pres­id­ent Obama and le­gis­lat­ors — for fail­ing to fix the eco­nomy.

Voters seem to feel that law­makers, in fail­ing to take ac­tion to spur hir­ing, are fail­ing to do their job of rep­res­ent­ing their con­stitu­ents. That view is wrong.

Con­gress is not do­ing much for more the op­pos­ite reas­on. Law­makers are by and large pur­su­ing policies that en­joy sup­port from, at least, the vot­ing co­ali­tions that elec­ted them. The prob­lem is that they rep­res­ent voters who, des­pite shar­ing an­ti­pathy to Wash­ing­ton, dis­agree with each oth­er on what Wash­ing­ton should do.

Many Demo­crats want the GOP to drop op­pos­i­tion to in­fra­struc­ture spend­ing. Up on the Hill, some Re­pub­lic­an aides ex­press in­credu­lity that Obama con­tin­ues to push such spend­ing after what they call the fail­ure of the 2009 stim­u­lus bill. In each case, hopes that one party will re­act to bad news by do­ing what the oth­er wants ig­nores a simple fact: Mem­bers on each side of the aisle are play­ing to mostly dif­fer­ent audi­ences.

Vari­ous polls, such as a Pew Re­search Cen­ter sur­vey in mid-Au­gust, find that Re­pub­lic­ans and Demo­crats still over­whelm­ingly say they will vote for their party’s can­did­ates. And voters on each side back their party’s eco­nom­ic plans.

Al­though views have changed in two years, these par­tis­an di­vi­sions led to a di­vided gov­ern­ment in 2010. Amer­ic­ans voted for a Re­pub­lic­an-con­trolled House, while the Sen­ate and White House re­main in Demo­crat­ic hands. We are watch­ing the res­ult.

In block­ing each oth­er’s pre­ferred eco­nom­ic agenda, the House and Sen­ate are be­hav­ing pre­dict­ably, and, as they see it, con­sist­ently with con­stitu­ents’ wishes. It is there­fore sur­pris­ing, in a way, that the res­ult has dis­ap­poin­ted people. Con­gres­sion­al stas­is may be a fail­ure of lead­er­ship. But it is an ex­er­cise in demo­cracy.

Law­makers will not change course un­til voters change their minds, not about who they dis­ap­prove of but what mem­bers should do. Along those lines, polls show no con­sensus; they also show no clear shift by in­de­pend­ents or oth­ers that might push law­makers to change the eco­nom­ic policies they pur­sue.

Con­gress is stuck not be­cause mem­bers ig­nore the pub­lic but be­cause they re­flect the pub­lic’s di­vi­sions. And with Con­gress di­vided, the 2012 elec­tion is prob­ably the only means to un­di­vide it and al­low for more ro­bust Hill ac­tion.

Demo­crats — take, for ex­ample, the re­marks of Sen­ate Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Harry Re­id, D-Nev., on Thursday — are call­ing on the GOP to end “polit­ic­al” stalling and al­low Demo­crat­ic jobs pro­pos­als to ad­vance.

Don’t look for Re­pub­lic­ans to com­ply. The con­gres­sion­al land­scape will change not be­cause the parties avoid par­tis­an polit­ics, but be­cause they suc­ceed in such be­ha­vi­or and win the power at the bal­lot box to push their agenda.

Sen­ate Minor­ity Whip Jon Kyl, R-Ar­iz., a mem­ber of the su­per com­mit­tee seek­ing $1.5 tril­lion in de­fi­cit cuts, said this week that the pan­el might struggle to find com­prom­ise on Medi­care and tax-code re­form. But “after the elec­tion, one party or the oth­er has a dom­in­ant hand, we may be not so much in need of com­prom­ise,” he said. “It might be easi­er to do.”

Re­pub­lic­ans may be­lieve that rather than com­prom­ising now, they can op­pose Demo­crat­ic pro­pos­als, win power next year, and of­fer their own plans for re­form­ing Medi­care and the tax-code later.

In many eyes, such cal­cu­la­tions would sug­gest a breath­tak­ingly cyn­ic­al view of the le­gis­lat­ive pro­cess. But these people dis­play a sort of faith in the elect­or­al pro­cess as the ar­bit­er of policy fights — and a more prag­mat­ic view of law­mak­ing than that ex­pressed by law­makers who call for ig­nor­ing elect­or­al con­sid­er­a­tions.

The truth is that both parties are already as fo­cused on fram­ing the land­scape in 2012 as they are on le­gis­lat­ing. Pres­id­ent Obama’s ad­dress to Con­gress rep­res­en­ted an em­brace of an ex­ist­ing Demo­crat­ic strategy of for­cing Re­pub­lic­ans to either ac­cede to what seems a reas­on­able com­prom­ise to spur hir­ing, or to be seen as ob­struc­tion­ist.

A seni­or Sen­ate Demo­crat­ic aide said that Demo­crats do not as­sume they will get none of the pro­pos­als, par­tic­u­larly the ex­ten­sion of a payroll-tax re­duc­tion for work­ers, en­acted; they don’t ex­pect to. In­stead, they hope that the GOP’s re­jec­tion of such plans in­creases that party’s own­er­ship of a bad eco­nomy.

Spend­ing the next 15 months man­euv­er­ing for the 2012 elec­tion is the kind of con­gres­sion­al be­ha­vi­or that en­rages voters, but it would not be worth­less. It will provide a long look for Amer­ic­ans to sharpen their polit­ic­al and policy pref­er­ences.

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