Burying the Lead

The latest from the Political Grapevine:

Tough to Find in The Times

NBC News, as we noted earlier, has confirmed that one day after the fall of Baghdad, the Army's 101st Airborne Division visited the Al-Qaqaa Complex (search) and didn't find any high-powered explosives, but you'd never know that from reading the New York Times (search).

The closest the Times comes to that is to say a U.S. official said that at some point during the initial race to Baghdad, American forces went through the complex's bunkers but didn't see the materials now missing. And you don't find that out until 30 paragraphs into the story.

Air Apparent?

The owner of one of California's biggest broadcasters, Pappas Telecasting (search), has given 13 Republican committees in the state $325,000 worth of free air time to promote their candidates before Election Day. Democrats are demanding equal time, insisting Harry Pappas' donations are illegal, but a spokesman for Pappas says the donations do not violate election laws because they were given by an individual, not a company and they were given to committees, not the candidates themselves. Plus, he says, Democrats are free to buy an equal amount of airtime.

So far only one candidate — running for a state assembly seat — has taken advantage of Pappas' donation.

Plagiarism Problems?

A report in The New York Sun (search) today says many passages written by John Kerry in books, articles and on his campaign web site have been taken from someone else's work — without attribution — and may amount to plagiarism.

The report, based on the research of an unidentified doctoral candidate, cites 11 such passages, including this one from Kerry's campaign web site: "In many states, individual farmers and ranchers lease their property to wind power companies and receive an annual payment for having wind turbines on their property. With the right leadership, farmers can have an array of 'cash crops' around the country and stabilize rural economies..."

An Energy Department fact sheet from January of last year has nearly identical language... minus the phrase "with the right leadership," of course.

Conspiracy Theory?

A professor at the University of Minnesota Duluth, James Fetzer, is calling on Congress to investigate the death of Minnesota Democratic Senator Paul Wellstone (search) two years ago, insisting Wellstone was the target of a White House plot.

Wellstone, you may recall, died after his plane crashed into a Minnesota forest. A new book by Fetzer and another college professor — known as "Four Arrows" — insists the official government probe into the crash whitewashed a broad Republican murder conspiracy, and chose to blame the death on pilot error instead. Fetzer, quoted by the Minneapolis Star Tribune (search), says, "Something very wrong has happened in this case."

— FOX News' Michael Levine contributed to this report