Making the Grade at ABC News

And now the most intriguing two minutes in television, the latest pickings from the wartime grapevine.

ABC News has put together a database of 480 people and has announced that employees will be graded in part on how many of these people are used as experts on ABC News programs. The goal, according to ABC News President David Westin, is to make sure "we're considering a wide variety of possibilities, rather than simply going back to the same limited group." But USA Today reports that all of the 480 people in the database are minorities. And, says the paper, CBS and NBC say they have a policy similar to ABC's and grade producers accordingly.

CNN, which maintains a bureau in Cuba and has long enjoyed good relations with the Castro government, is now offering its U.S. viewers advice on how to get into Cuba illegally. The <I>Miami Herald reports that CNN Headline News recently featured an explanation by CNN travel consultant Chris McGinnis that it's hard for ordinary tourists to go to Cuba with U.S. government permission. As a result, said McGinnis to smiling anchor Robin Meade, "If you want to kind of go around the legal way to go, you have to travel to a third country." McGinnis suggested Nassau, Bahamas, some places in Mexico and Toronto, Canada, while CNN helpfully placed a diagrammed map on the screen showing the illegal routes.

The latest ABC News poll puts Abraham Lincoln first on the list of greatest presidents, chosen by 20 percent of those surveyed, with John F. Kennedy and George W. Bush in a statistical tie for second with 14 and 13 percent respectively. Perhaps surprisingly, Lincoln, who freed the slaves, was only second choice for greatest president among blacks. Their first choice: William Jefferson Clinton.

The president of the National Religious Broadcasters Association has been forced out after only a few months in office after saying that preaching the Gospel should take priority over seeking political influence. Wayne Pederson said he was "disappointed and sad to leave but would have been sadder still if a rift had resulted from this situation." The situation was that some members of the association, including Jerry Falwell and James Dobson of Focus on the Family, had threatened to quit if the organization chose to de-emphasize political issues.