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Special Report

Tough Times for Some Media Outlets

And now the most fascinating two minutes in television, the latest from the political grapevine:

Hard Times

The New York Times reports it is taking out a $225 million mortgage on its building — in order to get through a serious cash squeeze. The company owns 58% of the 52-story, 1.5 million square foot tower. The Times is trying to save money as it attempts to pay off more than $1 billion in debt. Executives have slashed the dividend by nearly 75% and might sell parts of the company.

Meanwhile, media conglomerate Tribune Company has filed for bankruptcy protection because of a $13 billion debt. The group owns the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times — as well as a Denver station and the Chicago Cubs.

Left Turn

There is growing anger on the left over President-elect Obama's Cabinet appointments. Tim Carpenter, the national director of the Progressive Democrats of America tells the Politico newspaper:

"He has confirmed what our suspicions were by surrounding himself with a centrist to right Cabinet."

Chris Bowers at the liberal Open Left Web site asks, "isn't there ever a point when we can get an actual Democratic administration?"

And John Aravosis, the editor of the left-leaning AMERICAblog says, "There don't seem to be any liberals in Obama’s cabinet... it reminds me a bit of ... when the Obama campaign didn't seem particularly interested in reaching out to progressives."

Flat Tax

A federal proposal to tax farmers for owning cows and pigs is causing heartburn in rural America. The Environmental Protection Agency is floating the idea after the Supreme Court determined last year that gas emitted by belching and flatulence in livestock was in fact air pollution.

The fees would apply to farms with more than 25 dairy cows, 50 beef cattle or 200 pigs. Farmers would be charged $175 per dairy cow, $87-50 for a head of beef cattle and $20 for each hog.

Farmers are expressing outrage. One estimate puts the cost for a modest-sized cattle ranch as high as $40,000/year. Perry Mobley, the director of the Alabama Farmers Federation's Beef Division says, "it seems there is an ulterior motive, to destroy livestock farms. This would certainly put them out of business."

Bad Example

And finally, a contract worker in Nevada was called to the Carson City Jail Friday night to test the blood of a person suspected of drunken driving. But Kathleen Cherry — a phlebotomist trained to draw blood for lab tests — was then accused of drunken driving herself. Cherry told a sheriff's deputy who smelled alcohol on her breath that she had drunk just one margarita.

But police say cherry had red eyes, droopy eyelids and a blood alcohol content over the legal limit. She was charged with misdemeanor drunken driving. Adding insult to injury, Cherry's SUV was towed because it was parked in a zone at the sheriff's department marked for police only.

— FOX News Channel's Zachary Kenworthy contributed to this report.