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Caroline Kennedy's, Rod Blagojevich's and Sarah Palin's Botched Time in the Media Spotlight

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Palin also objected to Couric "bugging me" about abortion. The anchor had asked whether the procedure should be illegal for a 15-year-old raped by her father, and pressed Palin several times to offer a position on the morning-after pill.

"They didn't take my word for it when I would express my opinion, they would seek to want to ask a question to twist what I had just said and turn it into maybe what their opinion was about what I should have said," Palin said of the anchors.

But the follow-ups were asked because Palin, like most politicians, can be vague when she doesn't want to be pinned down. The onetime sports reporter's view of journalism seems to be that once she is asked questions, her answers should be taken at face value. Palin is understandably annoyed by some of her media treatment, but if she pursues a career in national politics, the questions aren't going to get any easier.

Blagojevich is hardly a big media booster; he was caught on the wiretaps saying the Chicago Tribune should "fire those [expletives]" -- the expletives being critical editorial writers -- if its parent company wanted state aid.

But he shrewdly fed television's appetite for controversial guests by appearing on more than a dozen shows last week, finessing the questions by insisting he could not get into the specific allegations against him. When Blagojevich repeatedly said it was unfair that the Illinois Senate wouldn't let him call witnesses, almost no journalist challenged the inaccurate claim. (He could have called anyone but a small group of witnesses put off-limits by prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald.) And while Blagojevich repeated like a mantra that the wiretap excerpts were "out of context," he refused to provide any semblance of context.

It's not that the interrogators went easy on him: "You've . . . been called narcissistic, delusional, a sociopath," ABC's Cynthia McFadden said. "One state senator says that you're not playing with a full deck. Are you playing with a full deck?" In fact, he shuffled the cards in such a way that he avoided the substance of the case.

"Blagojevich is a TV freakshow. Watching him is like watching Tammy Faye Bakker or Kato Kaelin," writes Baltimore Sun columnist David Zurawik. Yet each anchor lined up for a turn. It was, of course, good television.

In the end, Blagojevich did exactly what he told all those programs he wouldn't do, showing up at the Illinois Senate to make a rambling speech, which of course was carried live on the cable news networks. The media blitz didn't stop the Senate from unanimously ousting him, but perhaps he had a different goal. Blagojevich may have turned himself into enough of a celebrity to land a fat book deal -- if he can stay out of jail.

Google's Tentacles

The new issue of Wired features a story called "The Plot to Kill Google," which describes how the company's growth and ambition "have made it a target of some of the country's most powerful business and interest groups."

The New America Foundation, a Washington think tank, features the piece on its Web site, and little wonder. The co-author, Wired Senior Editor Nicholas Thompson, is a fellow at the foundation, which is chaired by Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt. A prominent ally of President Obama, Schmidt donated $1 million to the foundation last year.

The article noted Schmidt's and Thompson's role with the foundation toward the end. Thompson, who draws a stipend from New America, says the piece was fair and pulled no punches. "We go after Google as hard as we want and don't worry whether Schmidt will be offended," he says.

Liberal Flameout

President Obama may be riding high in Washington, but OBAMA 1260 is not.

The area's only progressive talk station is changing formats, dropping such syndicated liberal hosts as Ed Schultz, Stephanie Miller and Bill Press in favor of financial news, starting next week.

The move by Redskins owner Dan Snyder, who purchased the station, WWRC, and others in Washington last summer, leaves the city without a liberal radio outlet. Program Director Greg Tantum says he thought the station could work because of enthusiasm over Obama, but that ratings collapsed to a level that could not be measured after the election.

But ratings nearly doubled, he says, at Snyder's conservative station, WTNT, which features Laura Ingraham and Bill Bennett. Tantum said he will move Schultz to WTNT to give him another shot.


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