CNN, Fox News eclipse Big Three nets after 9/11
The 9/11 terrorist attacks did more than bring down the twin symbols of America's financial power when the World Trade Center collapsed. They also ended the dominance of network TV news, giving the edge to cable news. "It goes back to 9/11," says pollster Myra Miller. "People got into the habit of watching cable." In a new poll, Miller, of the Winston Group, finds CNN and Fox in the national TV news driver's seat, largely because people like tuning in for headlines whenever they want. "In the world of 24-7 news," says Miller, "people won't wait until the 6 p.m. news." In the poll--which confirmed a trend Miller has been seeing--folks were asked for their two top news sources. Newspapers ranked first at 50 percent, followed by CNN (23 percent), local TV (22 percent), Fox (15 percent), NBC (11 percent), ABC (9 percent), news websites and National Public Radio (8 percent), and CBS (7 percent). Talk radio, magazines, and C-SPAN barely ranked, and Sunday morning public-affairs shows were dead last--alongside The Tonight Show and The Daily Show.
Ted Nugent's Vote Scratch Fever
Sorry P. Diddy , but rock-and-roller Ted Nugent says your message to America's youth to just vote is, to put it mildly, garbage. "I'm scared to death when the left, the hippies, the MTV parolees go, 'Just get out and vote,' " the Nuge tells Whispers. "That's not good enough. It's like saying, 'Well, there's a child drowning in the river. Just do something. Here, I'll throw him a cinder block.' Well at least you did something," smirks the creator of such hits as "Cat Scratch Fever." "We don't need to do just something," barks the Republican activist and National Rifle Association board member. "We need to do the right thing, you understand? And I see this 'Just vote' from Puffy, Daddy, or whatever he is, to be frightening, pipe dream, fantasy world, youth ignorance," Nugent froths. You laugh? Don't. The Nuge is huge on outdoors TV with his top-rated Spirit of the Wild, pushes politics on his website, and is a hit on the USO tour with country's Toby Keith . His message: Be passionate and educated about politics. "Voting is the most important decision a free man can indulge in, can make!"
Bush Poster child
If the picture of little 3-year-old Sophia Parlock crying after some Kerry-Edwards supporters tore up her Bush-Cheney poster got to you, well, you weren't the only one. President Bush and even first pup Barney were dismayed too, we hear. It happened at a West Virginia rally last week for Democratic running mate Sen. John Edwards, to which Phil Parlock brought his daughter. After seeing the picture of the tearful Sophia on her father's shoulders, aides said the president was sending her a little note Friday along with a signed campaign poster and an autographed photo of the prez and his dog. "Dear Sophia," Bush penned, "Thank you for supporting my campaign. I understand someone tore up your sign. So I am sending you a new sign and a signed picture. Please give my best to your family. Sincerely, George W. Bush." And on the picture, he inked: "To Sophia, Best wishes from me and Barney." Phil Parlock tells us it really wasn't necessary. "He already said 'Thank you' when he hugged her" at a previous Bush rally they attended, he says. "She bragged for days."
Bedtime For Bill
Bill Clinton won't hit the campaign trail if the little woman gets her way. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has put her foot down against his yapping it up for Democrats in the fall, worried that it will stall his recovery from heart bypass surgery. Bubba's pushing to campaign the weekend before the election, but we hear that Mrs. C is saying no.
The newly restructured Kerry-Edwards campaign plans to charge in the final six weeks that President Bush is a liar on issues like the environment, Medicare, and his National Guard service. Call it the "Broken Promises Presidency," says a Kerry insider. Sen. John Kerry, says our tipster, "knows that elections are decided on a balance of issues and character and believes Bush is about to topple on both. It's high noon on character."
New proof that President Bush 's drive since spring to portray opponent Sen. John Kerry as a waffler is sticking: In a new Winston Group poll, even 34 percent of Democrats think he flip-flops on the issues.
The next time you order a pizza, pick up dry cleaning, or even buy a new house, you might get an unexpected pitch: Vote. KB Home, for instance, one of the nation's largest builders, offers voter registration forms in model homes and offices. And look out for more: We hear that the Kerry and Bush campaigns are being swamped by companies that want to sell ad space on pizza boxes, dry cleaning bags, and even emery boards.
Screening the dead
The folks who brought you tougher airport checkpoints--the Transportation Security Administration--are now making sure the dead are screened, too. To settle a little-known controversy over TSA cops opening metal cremation urns impenetrable by X-rays, the agency has teamed with funeral homes to get the ashes through security unopened. The solution: The funeral industry is providing wood and plastic urns for airplane transport.
Secrets on video
There's nothing the government hates more than revealing secrets, but all that might change when a new intelligence analysis of international terrorism is finished. Robert Hutchings, head of the National Intelligence Council--which just produced a "National Intelligence Estimate" showing trouble ahead in Iraq--plans to issue an unclassified version of a forthcoming NIE on terrorism. And he's even considering a video version. The reason: Heads of Fortune 500 companies and cops not cleared for the classified version need to know about the threat if they are to prepare for it.
Hooked in Iraq
Send our troops some worms and bobbers, because they'll soon have a new fishing lake at Camp Cook, near Taji, Iraq. At least that's the goal of Arkansas outdoorsman extraordinaire Rollie Remmel, who has talked the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission into getting a tanker of catfish, bass, and bream ready for shipment to Camp Cook, home to many state National Guardsmen.
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With Suzi Parker, David E. Kaplan and Kevin Whitelaw
This story appears in the September 27, 2004 print edition of U.S. News & World Report.