On a warm Saturday in early July, an employee at the Maryland Historical Society placed a call to the police. He had noticed two visitors behaving strangely—a young, tall, handsome man with high cheekbones and full lips and a much older, heavier man, with dark, lank hair and a patchy, graying beard. The older man had called in advance to give the librarians a list of boxes of documents he wanted to see, saying that he was researching a book. At some point during their visit, the employee saw the younger man slip a document into a folder.
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.
Yesterday, I flagged an embryonic attempt by conservatives -- in this case, Chris Stirewalt of the Washington Examiner -- to defend right-wing coal mine operator Don Blankenship, one of whose mines recently exploded and killed two dozen workers. Stirewalt scoffs at the possibility that Blankenship ignored safety standards: We don’t know what caused the explosion – an electric arc, a spark from metal on metal, etc.
In his State of the Union address, President Obama executed his well-advertised double pivot toward job generation and fiscal restraint. Almost lost in the pundits' babble was the release of a CBO report, “The Budget and Economic Outlook: Fiscal Years 2010 to 2020,” coupled with CBO director Doug Elmendorf’s testimony to the House and Senate budget committees. CBO’s analysis makes it clear just how daunting the employment and fiscal challenges are over the next decade . . .
That New York Times piece on Roger Ailes I mentioned before also featured this quote from the Fox News executive waxing populist: “I built this channel from my life experience,” Mr. Ailes, 69, said. “My first qualification is I didn’t go to Columbia Journalism School. There are no parties in this town that I want to go to.” No parties he wants to go to? Comments like that might get Ailes disinvited from socialite Georgette Mosbacher's next Christmas party: RAY Kelly keeps one eye on crime and the other on fashion.
Good for Diane Sawyer. And good for Katie Couric for blazing this trail and taking all the abuse that the first solo female anchor was destined to take. Odds are, Sawyer won't face anywhere near the same scrunity--or abuse. Next step: Finding a woman to follow in Hillary's footsteps and finish cracking that glass ceiling.
In the days leading up to this September 11, CNN's commemorative tribute "America Remembers" occasionally cut to footage of a reporter on that day last year, blank faced, hair covered in soot. The reporter would force out the plain facts, insofar as they were known--"We hear another plane has crashed"--then fall silent, forgetting the usual first-name banter with the anchors. Sometimes the stunned reporter even got the day wrong--"Here, this Wednesday morning ...
A society that is notorious for its inability to remember is about to do nothing else. America eats the past, which is why people eaten by the past run to it; but even the American creed of newness will pause on September 11, and learn its limitations. The yahrzeit is here, and the least lachrymose country on earth is devising its rituals of commemoration. The interesting question is whether the memory will have life outside the media. September 11 will be a test of the American sense of reality, for it marks the anniversary of a day on which reality bested every representation of it.