And now the most intriguing two minutes in television, the latest from the wartime grapevine.
President Bush may be unwilling to label Yasser Arafat a terrorist, but a new poll indicates a majority of Americans think he is. The telephone survey, by Rasmussen Research, found that 51 percent think Arafat is a terrorist, 17 percent disagreed and 32 percent were unsure. Forty-six percent, meanwhile, blamed the Palestinians for the current crisis, while 14 percent blamed Israel and 28 percent blamed both sides equally. Fifty-six percent thought President Bush is doing a good or excellent job on the Mideast, with 23 percent rating his performance only fair and 16 percent finding it poor.
Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta has been given much credit for quickly grounding all U.S. flights after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The Transportation Department says Mineta was responsible and so did the widely read series by Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Dan Balz. But it turns out, according to the online magazine Slate, that 15 minutes before Mineta heard about the attacks, the No. 2 man at the Federal Aviation Administration, Monte Belger, had ordered all planes grounded. The Transportation Department press has continued to play along with the Mineta myth, but Washington Post reporter Don Phillips gave away the secret in a speech last week.
Speaking of domestic flights, a Frontier airlines 737 bound from Washington's Reagan National to Denver last night violated restricted airspace over the White House. The FAA says the pilot was immediately contacted and acknowledged making a mistake. Officials said no action was taken, and there is no indication that the fighter jets who patrol over Washington were alerted.
And the British Broadcasting Company is insisting that the interview that Prince Charles gave competing network ITN about the late Queen Mother was not a snub of the BBC. There had been complaints that BBC news anchor Peter Sissons, who reported the death of the Queen Mother on Saturday evening, was wearing a burgundy tie, instead of the black tie said to be customary for such solemn announcements. But the BBC said its policy is for black ties to be worn for funeral coverage and that ITN got the interview because such things are done on a rotating basis and it was their turn.