Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:
Televangelist Pat Robertson's political influence may have been declining since he came in second in the Iowa Republican caucuses 17 years ago and he may have no clout with the Bush administration, but you wouldn't know that from watching CNN today.
CNN covered his call for Hugo Chavez's assassination at length, undeterred by the fact that during the noon hour CNN's own analyst, Bill Schneider, said Robertson had little influence. At the top of the next hour, there it was again followed by a glowing report on the alliance between Chavez and Cuban President Fidel Castro. And it led CNN's three-hour "Situation Room," followed minutes later by live coverage of reaction from the Venezuelan ambassador, and then nearly two hours after that — an in-studio interview with the ambassador.
Papers Should Push for Withdrawal?
The editor of the nation's leading newspaper industry magazine, Editor and Publisher, is urging papers to push for a full withdrawal from Iraq. Greg Mitchell, writing in his magazine, says, "It's time for newspapers, many of which helped get us into this war, to use their editorial pages as platforms to help us get out of it. So far, few have done much more than wring their hands."
He says Iraq is becoming a "decentralized, pro-Iranian state," so, "The time for the press to act, if it ever does, is now."
Artist Now Angry
Remember last month we told you about a painting in the California Justice Department's cafeteria, which, with its image of the U.S. spiraling into a toilet, angered many Republicans? Well, the artist who made it is now the one who's angry, after state Attorney General Bill Lockyer moved the painting to his 17th floor office where public access is limited.
Artist Stephen Pearcy, quoted by the San Francisco Chronicle, accuses Lockyer of violating his First Amendment rights, insisting, "The decision to move it was based on the content and the viewpoint being expressed." Lockyer's office denies that, saying the painting and two others in the cafeteria were moved out of respect for Israeli settlers leaving their homes in Gaza. As for how Pearcy's painting and the Israelis are connected, Lockyer's office wouldn't say.
An Offer He Can Certainly Refuse?
Financial services firm JP Morgan Chase is now apologizing after a California man of Palestinian descent received a credit card offer in the mail, saying, "Dear Palestinian Bomber." What's more, 54-year-old Sami Habbas says that when he called to complain, the operator addressed him as "Mr. Palestinian Bomber."
Habbas says he is "very upset ... scared and humiliated." JP Morgan Chase says it's sorry and "embarrassed," insisting the name came from a third-party vendor's mailing list, and was missed by screening procedures.
— FOX News' Michael Levine contributed to this report