CBS

The U.S. economy being what it is, it should come as no surprise that most Americans, including the minority with a keen interest in foreign policy, have been focused on domestic issues. What is less understandable is why that internationally-minded remnant should have been so concerned with events in Libya to the virtual exclusion of any other part of the world. This has been particularly true of mainstream liberals, and the media outlets that reflect their views, above all the New York Times, CBS, ABC, and NBC.

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Andrew Breitbart has clipped an exchange from today's press at conference at the White House. In the exchange, reporter Norah O'Donnell press Jay Carney by asking, "Democrats are saying, 'You gave them everything they wanted and we got nothing." Commentary has picked up the story, giving it the headline, "CBS's O'Donnell to Carney: We got nothing." CBS’s Norah O’Donnell peppered Carney with terse, accusatory questions about the lack of tax revenue (read: tax increases) in the debt ceiling deal.

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In the marquee scene from the 2010 documentary Gasland, nominated earlier this year for an Academy Award, a man is shown warily holding a lighter underneath his running kitchen faucet. The flame quickly ignites the tapwater, briefly producing a fireball in the sink. Something appears to have gone wrong—and the culprit, the film inveighs, is the sinister local shale gas industry. Gasland’s incredulous depiction of flammable drinking water is but one expression of the anti-shale gas sentiment that is increasingly permeating American popular consciousness.

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Kathmandu, Nepal—This fall, the world should have its first official, national head-count of people in a single country who identify as “third gender.” That’s because Nepal, the small nation crammed between India and China, has included the designation on its 2011 census, the country’s first since the fall of a Hindu monarchy and the end of an armed conflict with Maoist rebels.

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Via Eli Lake, an ABC commercial from 1987 that promoted the network's fall lineup with an extended montage of cowboys, pies to the face, the Washington metro, fighter jets, dancing, boats, farms, sunsets, toddlers, marching bands, and a whole lot of patriotism: Possibly the most anachronistic part is a woman (at 1:42) saying, "There's two things I can't stand. One of them's NBC, and the other one's CBS." There really was a time when it was considered normal to have a loyalty to a television network.

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The Love of Monopoly

Network Nation: Inventing American Telecommunications By Richard R. John (Belknap Press, 520 pp., $39.95) Once upon a time, some thought it obvious that competition was a bad thing, particularly in communications. As Theodore Vail, the president of AT&T, put it in 1913, “The public as a whole has never benefited” from competition. Monopoly, he said, was the better choice. The reason, he argued, is that “all costs of aggressive, uncontrolled competition are eventually borne, directly or indirectly, by the public.” Nowadays corporate executives carefully avoid expressing such sentiments.

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Neutralized

The day after I arrived in Chicago to cover the mayoral debate, an Appeals Court removed frontrunner Rahm Emanuel’s name from the ballot. The decision, which reversed findings by the Chicago Elections Board and a Circuit Court judge, ignored more than 150 years of Illinois election law in denying that Emanuel met the residence requirements for a mayoral candidate. Not surprisingly, the ruling drew outrage.

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[Guest Post by Isaac Chotiner] Earlier this week, Jon wrote an item about this PPP poll of likely Republican primary voters. The survey found that 51% of respondents did not think President Obama was born in the United States, and another 21% were not sure. On his show this evening, Bill O'Reilly expressed his outrage at the pollsters: not only is PPP a Democratic firm, he said, but the survey wasn't large enough to be accurate. His interview guest, who was in full agreement with that analysis, was Karl Rove.

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One Monday morning in November, according to the admittedly rough transcript provided by the Federal News Service, “Morning Joe,” anchor Joe Scarborough spoke 3,213 words; his co-anchor Mika Brzezinski spoke just 644. Most of her words seemed merely to remind the audience that she was still awake: Yeah. Okay. Yes. No. Maybe. Right. Terrific. Scarborough dominated the meaty segments; Brzezinski piped up mainly during the transitions.

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Disclosure

America has always been a libertarian country—and right now, the suspicion of authority that defines our culture and politics seems particularly strong. By huge margins, Americans say they do not trust the federal government. On both the left and the right, conspiracy theories abound regarding the nefarious designs of power-mad politicians, colluding with the rich and well-connected to steal the freedoms of ordinary individuals.

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