President Bush, Iraq and the National Media

And now the most interesting two minutes in television, the latest from the wartime grapevine:

Iraq and the National Media

President Bush's interviews on Monday with local and regional news outlets — bypassing the major national networks — are, in the words of CBS reporter John Roberts (search), the "equivalent of a declaration of war aimed at the national media."

ABC's Peter Jennings (search) said Mr. Bush "is not the first President to be unhappy with the coverage of America at war."

Another such president, it seems, is the president of Jennings' own news division, David Westin (search). Westin announced in a memo to ABC employees that he's "been troubled for some time about the reporting... on the situation in Iraq. We often seem to be captive to the individual dramatic incident — and... subject to one that comes with great video." He says ABC will now try to tell the rest of the story.

'Serious Moral Goals'?

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams (search) — an outspoken critic of the U.S.-led war in Iraq — is urging the U.S. to recognize that terrorists can have "serious moral goals," and that in ignoring this, the U.S. "loses the power of self-criticism and becomes trapped in a self-referential morality."

Williams, quoted by London's Telegraph, goes on to argue that no government should act as its own judge on whether to launch military action against a rogue state, implying that the U.S., in its response to the 9/11 atrocities, had acted as a "private interest."

Comic Relief

For the past two days, The Washington Post has refused to publish Aaron McGruder (search)'s nationally syndicated comic strip, "The Boondocks," which centers around two black children living in the white suburbs.

In yesterday's strip, a friend of the two children — Caesar — suggests National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice (search) find a boyfriend because "maybe if there was a man in the world who Condoleezza truly loved, she wouldn't be so hell-bent to destroy it."

Today's cartoon reiterates the suggestion, with another character, Huey, calling Rice "just lonely and bitter."

A Post spokeswoman said the paper does not publish comics commenting on the personal lives of political figures, and called the strips "a bit controversial."

Story's Story

It turns out the story we told you about yesterday, in which actor Ed Asner (search) reportedly said he admired the murderous Soviet dictator Josef Stalin (search), was based on erroneous quotes.

In fact, what Asner said was that — of any historical figure — he would like to portray Stalin because "nobody has ever really touched Stalin... Many people... speak of the fact that he killed more people than Hitler — why does nobody touch him? It's strange."