In case you missed it---In a long story this past weekend in the New York Times, a “portrait emerged” of casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson, the guy who is helping to keep Newt Gingrich’s presidential hopes alive. The use of the “portrait emerging” language in the piece prompted a notion: Check to see whether the New York Times emerges more portraits than its competitors. The findings? So manyportraits emerge” in those pages. So many, in fact, that at least one other reporter has taken note of the trend, long before I had.

Elsewhere: The New York Times editorial board is saying what a lot of us have been saying. Debates — and many of them — are nothing but good. The piece starts with John McCain’s recent call to “stop the debates,” on the grounds that they’re hurting Republicans in the estimation of the voters.

But that’s not simply because the candidates have increased the intensity of their attacks on each other, nor is it curable by cutting back the mud-fighting, as Mr. McCain suggests. It’s also because voters have been exposed to the broken windows of the Republican idea factory. The value of debates is to put the candidates on stage to air their ideas. If voters find them dishonest and divisive, the Republicans are getting the wrong message if they think all they have to do to fix that is to stop talking so much.

Other debate bonuses, in the opinion of the New York Times: They have (finally) exposed Mitt Romney’s hollow attempts to distinguish between his own health-care overhaul as Massachusetts governor and that of President Obama, and they have shown that the candidates have little interest in addressing questions of economic fairness.

To that I’d add that they’re fun to watch.

*Politico is reporting a big take by Stephen Colbert’s super PAC, Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow. The group pulled in more than $825,000 between July 1 and Dec. 31 and now has about 674,000 cash on hand. Included in the group’s FEC filing is this note from ABTT’s treasurer, Shauna Polk:

“Stephen Colbert, President of ABTT, has asked that I quote him as saying, ‘Yeah! How you like me now, F.E.C? I’m rolling seven digits deep! I got 99 problems but a non-connected independent-expenditure only committee ain’t one!. I would like it noted for the record that I advised Mr. Colbert against including that quote.”

The report represents activities by Colbert’s PAC before he handed it over to Jon Stewart in a popular segment of the “Daily Show” that exposed the insanity of regulations stipulating that the head of a super PAC cannot coordinate with the candidate that the super PAC is backing.

*@Cali8mtn tweets:

Watching @Morning_Joe with my 9 yr old- he says “look at that guy texting (@mikeallen), I’ve never seen an old guy texting!”

*Mathew Ingram of GigaOm asks whether it’s good for journalism when sources “go direct,” as in Rupert Murdoch launching a personal Twitter feed. The answer? Yes, of course, though all the direct input from newsmakers is forcing reporters to move upstream with their skills:

So what is the job of a media or sports or political reporter now? There’s no question that we still need them, and in fact we may need them even more — but now we need them to filter and make sense of what is out there, and to probe beneath the surface for the real meaning behind what Murdoch says on Twitter or what a basketball star says about themselves or their career. In other words, we need less of a focus on “scoops” that are three sentences long and have a half-life of five minutes, and more smart analysis. So the reality is that all of those reporting jobs have gotten a lot harder.

*Bill O’Reilly plays back the fun between Fox News and the Muppets: Remember that bit of silliness when Foxer Eric Bolling accused the Muppets of advancing a “dangerous liberal agenda” by demonizing a oil mogul (Tex Richman) in their latest film. Below, the Muppets fight back, questioning the “news” part of Fox News. O’Reilly, with that smile on his face, tells the Muppets that “they better watch it.”