Dissing Dan?

Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:

Dissing Dan?

Retiring CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather (search) has long been in third place in the network news race and now even newsmen from his own network say they're not watching. "60 Minutes" creator Don Hewitt (search) tells the New Yorker he prefers ABC's Peter Jennings.

Former CBS anchor Walter Cronkite says he often watched NBC's Tom Brokaw, and says Rather seemed to be "playing the role of newsman...whereas the other two appeared to be more the third-party reporter." And veteran "60 Minutes" correspondent Mike Wallace says Rather is "uptight and occasionally contrived," adding, "I believe him. But I don't find him as satisfying to watch."

Media Misunderstanding

Meanwhile, Russian President Valdimir Putin's (search) response to the fallout from those forged CBS documents has left some U.S. officials convinced that Putin does not understand how the U.S. works.

Newsweek reports that Putin questioned President Bush's tough talk on freedom of the press at their summit meeting last week, telling the president, "We didn't criticize you when you fired those reporters at CBS." Though Bush explained that the U.S. government has no power to fire journalists, White House aides fear that former KGB officers in Putin's inner circle have given the Russian President a "twisted picture" of U.S. policy.

Republican Evil?

Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean (search), who recently said he "hates the Republicans and everything they stand for," now says, in effect, that Republicans are evil. Dean told a group of supporters in Kansas that the battle between Democrats and Republicans is a "struggle of good and evil. And we're the good."

The head of the Kansas Republican Party said he was "shocked" by Dean's remarks, calling them "full of hatred." But one woman in the audience told the Lawrence Journal-World Dean didn't go far enough, adding, "I feel like he was a little bit too conservative. It didn't move me."

Missing Munitions

In the week before last year's presidential election, the New York Times published 16 stories and columns on 380 tons of munitions that had allegedly gone missing from the Al-Qaqaa weapons storage site in Iraq. The Times also ran 7 letters to the editor on the subject, all of which criticized the Bush administration.

But since November 2nd, the story has not received a single mention in the Times. The paper's ombudsman, Daniel Okrent, tells the National Review's Byron York that editors apparently feel that there is nothing more to report on the story, but he says that there are unanswered questions that should be pursued.

— FOX News' Michael Levine contributed to this report