SpongeBob on Brit Hume's Target List
The steady creep to the top for Brit Hume's nightly Special Report on Fox--not just the No.1 Washington-originated cable show but also the fourth in all basic cable at 6 p.m.--has the host eyeing the next victim. "We've been having a series of meetings here about how we can beat Nickelodeon," he says. "We just hope that they don't put SpongeBob SquarePants up against us." Fun aside, Hume's hourlong mix of news and debate now reaches 1.5 million nightly while dominating the key 25-to-54 age demographic. And it happened in a very un-Fox-like way: without fanfare, even though Hume has recently surged to the No. 2 spot among all cable news shows, after Bill O'Reilly.
When Special Report started in 1998, the goal was giving the growing Washington bureau some visibility. Now the top audience-getter of Washington shows, including CNN's Situation Room and MSNBC's Hardball, Hume says, "We kind of pinch ourselves." Like a good boss--Hume is the managing editor of the D.C. bureau--he credits his news team. But the "poisonous" mood in Washington doesn't hurt either. "For those who have a rooting interest in it," he says, "they want to hear about it."
While beating the pants off SpongeBob is a long-term goal, Hume has a more immediate worry: No. 12 ESPN's March Madness coverage. "If they've got games on at 6 at night," he frets, "that's gonna be tough."
California Condi Has a Nice Ring
She doesn't want to run the country, she says, but Condoleezza Rice is the hottest thing in politics right now. Pollster Frank Luntz did a straw poll at the recent California Republican convention. Guess who won? Stanford University's provost before joining the Bush administration, Rice was first with 29 percent, followed by Virginia Sen. George Allen at 26 percent and former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani at 16 percent. What's it mean? With Rice on the 2008 ticket, even as veep, California could go Republican.
CIA to Bloggers: Honor the Oath
The CIA's Publications Review Board is sending out terse reminders to agency veterans reminding them of the rules requiring that any writings--even blogs--must first get agency approval. Among those getting the warning is outspoken blogger and ex-agency man Larry Johnson, who smells censorship. "It's very selective," says Johnson, who has been critical of the CIA's failure to defend outed ex-spook Valerie Plame. His note from CIA brass referenced his blogging. A CIA spokesman described the reminder as standard operating procedure. "Should anyone be surprised if CIA reminds people of the obligations they voluntarily assumed?" asks the agency in a statement. Exempted from the review list: radio and TV appearances--unless written notes are used.
New Hints That, Yep, Rudy's In
Republicans looking for some excitement in the lead-up to the 2008 presidential race are starting to chant Rudy, Rudy, Rudy. While Rudolph Giuliani, New York's 9/11 mayor and national hero, hasn't talked about running, there are hints he's ready. A key Republican senator tells us that Rudy's peeps are already at work in Florida. And we hear that he's making a trip to Iowa--home of the first 2008 presidential caucus--to help raise money for Republican gubernatorial candidate Rep. Jim Nussle.