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Vitter Speaks--But Only Briefly

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By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, July 17, 2007; 7:42 AM

There came a point in David Vitter's take-no-questions press appearance last night that I had to suppress a chuckle.

After a week in seclusion, the tense-looking senator apologized, said his wife had forgiven him for being in touch with the D.C. Madam, denied messing around with any New Orleans prostitutes, and then declared he would not keep answering questions about this (actually, he's answered zero) and intended to resume work on the water resources bill.

The water resources bill?

I feel hosed. Doesn't a senator who preaches the sanctity of marriage and then breaches it have a responsibility to do more than read a statement? Does Vitter think reporters aren't going to dog him about this at every subsequent public appearance?

More impressive was his wife, Wendy (yes, the one who once threatened to pull a Lorena Bobbitt on him if he strayed but now says she forgives her man). She told the media to stop camping outside her house and stop following her and her children to church. She sounded properly emotional and reasonable, and did not gaze lovingly at her husband, toward whom she did not look all that loving.

I'm not in favor of these stakeouts -- especially when kids are involved, have a heart -- but I doubt the senator can successfully run against the media here. The reason the camera crews were chasing him is that he went into hiding for a week. He says he's not going to help sell newspapers by talking about the scandal, but he has built his career on a platform of moral values and sanctity of marriage. Now, having used that spotlight to boost his political career, he wants his privacy? He wants the reporters to go away? It doesn't work that way.

Salon Editor Joan Walsh is unmoved:

"What a performance. Such hypocrites. Praise the Lord, and come out swinging. Say you're sorry -- but blame your political enemies and the media for your suffering." Vitter, she says, is "part of a generation of hateful, divisive right-wing leaders who've demonized gay people to build political support. And he's one of a growing number of hard-right, gay-demonizing guys who've been revealed to have their own sexual issues."

It's been apparent for weeks that Rupert Murdoch was on the verge of gaining control of the Wall Street Journal, even as many media types wrung their hands over whether he would tarnish one of the world's great newspaper assets. It's now all but a done deal, according to the WSJ itself:

"News Corp. reached a tentative agreement for the purchase of Dow Jones & Co. at its original $5 billion offer price. The deal will be put to the full Dow Jones board this evening for its approval, said people familiar with the situation.

"In what could be the final round of talks, yesterday negotiators from News Corp. and Dow Jones -- including Chief Executive Richard F. Zannino, company advisers and two independent directors -- reached an agreement in principle on a deal first proposed by News Corp. in mid-April. News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch resisted pressure from Dow Jones to raise his initial $60-a-share offer, which represented a 67% premium to where the Dow Jones stock was trading before news of the offer became public. But Mr. Murdoch suggested the possibility of nominating former Journal Managing Editor Paul Steiger to the board of News Corp., according to a person who was there.

"The deal still faces its biggest hurdle -- getting approval from the Bancroft family, which controls 64% of Dow Jones's voting power. Mr. Zannino has indicated to News Corp. that the family's position on the deal is too close to call, according to a person who spoke to him."


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© 2007 The Washington Post Company

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