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Special Report

Critics Still Focused on Palin Even After She's No Longer in Charge of Alaska

Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:

Rumor Mill

Another case of what appears to be Sarah Palin Derangement Syndrome has reared its head. Juan Cole at the liberal salon.com Web site has compared the former Alaska governor to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Cole writes: "It is remarkable how similar they are... both are known for saying things that produce a classic Scooby-Doo double take in their audiences." Cole says the two are right-winged populists who: "claim to represent the little people against the wily and unscrupulous elites, and against pampered upper-middle-class yuppies pretending to be the voice of democracy."

Meantime, Saturday, an Alaskan blog claimed that Palin was getting a divorce and moving to Montana. But her spokeswoman, Meg Stapleton, wrote on Facebook: "Yet again some so-called journalists have decided to make up a story... the Palins remain married, committed to each other and their family, and have not purchased land in Montana."

One pro-Palin blog, Politik Ditto, says: "Even off the stage — liberals still attack." Another, Scared Monkeys, adds: The left just can't seem to get over Sarah Palin Derangement Syndrome... they can't even seem to leave her and her family alone — now that she is a private citizen."

Tough Call

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel reportedly made phone calls to the heads of some television networks to pressure them to air the president's July 22 primetime news conference.

The Washington Post's Howard Kurtz writes Emanuel made calls to top ABC, NBC and CBS executives in an effort to persuade them into giving up a chunk of their schedule. CBS Senior Vice President Paul Friedman says they feel pressured and that, "the news divisions also have mixed feelings about whether they are being used." CBS Chief Executive Les Moonves says about taking a news conference instead of regular programming: "We lose more than three million dollars a show."

NBC Washington Bureau Chief Mark Whitaker says he would feel better if White House officials, "were approaching us with the sense that they had something new to say."

And Kurtz writes, had it not been for the last answer about the Cambridge police arrest of professor Henry Gates, there would have been no news in that "news conference."

The FOX broadcast network declined to carry the last two prime time news conferences. President Obama has held four of them in his first six months. President George W. Bush had the same number during eight years in office.

Pulling the Plug

And Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is continuing his socialist agenda by shutting 34 radio stations across his country. Government officials say the stations failed to comply with regulations, but, critics insist this is a crackdown on free speech.

The head of Venezuela's council of journalists has denounced the move, and one opposition party member, Juan Carlos Caldera of Venezuela’s Primero Justicia Party, says: "This government has turned into a mutilator of rights."

But Chavez says: "We haven't closed any radio stations, we've applied the law." Adding that the stations, "now belong to the people and not the bourgeoisie."

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