My Stories


“I’m a cooperator.” – Sen. Chuck Schumer

schumerThat was the headline I had written for this story from last week. My editor had a slightly different idea, thankfully. But when I went into the briefing on healthcare reform, attended by Harry Reid, Dick Durbin, Chuck Schumer, and Patty Murray, I found myself bemused. Now, say what you will about Reid, but he has a discerning stare that can intimidate, so I was a bit frozen in my tracks to start, but managed to get the first question in.

I asked whether, after the murder of George Tiller, Reid saw any role for Congress in encouraging people to enter that field of late term reproductive care. He deflected, but Murray took the opportunity to talk about the title she’d inserted in committee to ensure physicians of all fields would be available in proportion to newfound demand under a public plan.

When she mentioned that the Education, Health, Labor and Pensions committee expected to go to markup by this week, some of the reporters wondered at how quickly they would go from not knowing what the health plan would look like, to marking up a draft bill. But Murray assured everyone they’d spent “literally hours” on the proposal. Heartening and reassuring, to be sure. I spend literally hours watching reality television every week but you don’t see me helming the federal transition to digital tv.

Schumer then suggested he could get together with Kent Conrad to come up with a co-op alternative to the public option to try to get Republicans on board with health reform, saying, “We have lots of co-ops in this country. My apartment in New York, in Brooklyn, is a co-op. I’m a cooperator.” Let’s see how well he really cooperates with Republicans on health care this summer.

By the way, doesn’t he look spectacular in soft light?

Katie Couric’s post-Palin ratings boost leveled off earlier this year, and then, well, what goes up…Couric

Last week, Couric delivered the worst overnight ratings for the CBS Evening News since Nielsen has kept records of it.

But she took a moment away from turning off her viewers to turn off the Princeton Class of ’09, berating them for choosing The West Wing star Bradley Whitford before they gott around to inviting her. Students, however, said they chose Whitford because West Wing had been a formative show for their generation, and many of them were inspired by his character to get into public policy. He gave thoughtful remarks about modern politics and called his own fame trivial:

In presidential politics there is nothing more important than being good on television. In the age of television, viability and style are substance. … I spend my life trying not to be bad on television. I would hope the leaders of the world would be held to a higher standard than a television actor.”

Whitford has put television fame to work for children in America and abroad by founding Clothes Off Our Backs with wife Jane Kaczamarek (Malcolm in the Middle). That charity collects and auctions off celebrity clothing and memorabilia, donating the proceeds to a number of children’s charities. It has raised several million dollars and counting. Whitford also works extensively with Heifer International, a charity that, among other things, provides plants, livestock, and education in sustainable agriculture to poor families across the globe.

Couric instead celebrated the moment that garnered her pats on the back from colleagues and propelled her to ratings mediocrity:

Coming here was a real no brainer. After all, I can see New Jersey from my house!

Let’s not forget that Charles Gibson at ABC was the original offender, editing out nearly all of Governor Palin’s substantive remarks on Russia — at some points even cutting her off mid-sentence to wipe the record of any modulated, thoughtful, knowledgeable, or insightful comments. And Couric gave her a forum to set the record straight, on the CBS Evening News, but chose to ignore what was said on her own program.

But if we’re taking a joke as a joke, we can set all that aside and look at the fact that this comment, among other digs at conservatives (Limbaugh, Carrie Prejean, Dick Cheney), was contained in a speech where she urged Princeton grads not to give in to “the haters,” and to instead “celebrate excellence.”

After the story got distributed to blogs around the web, I got a bunch of feedback through email and comments.  My favorites…

Via E-mail:

And CBS has to wonder why the ratings are tanking? Ms. Couric, a former daytime TV hostess turned self-styled newswoman-journalist-hard-bitten news anchor is an abject failure. I am surprised even 5MM are watching her ….probably left the TV on by mistake after watching the local news. She is biased, rather of the Rather school of journalism, make up what you can’t prove. She is mean-spirited, snide and a thoughtless very self-centered neighbor in Lithgow NY (Dutchess County). No one likes her up here for many reasons dating back a decade. But possibly now that she has her boy-toy she won’t come back as often since she will be busy taking him to Chuckie Cheese and the video game parlor in the city.

From the site:

According to her latest ratings, that was the largest group of people that listened to her all month.

From someone who was there, this article does not do justice to Couric’s speech. It was, in fact, far worse than reported. It was all about her: her on-air colonoscopy, her “rise” in journalism, her hard work, her ability to support herself after her husband died. She spoke to only half the graduates–focusing her remarks on what women can and should do. She had the gall to tell this group of exceptionally bright and already accomplished female graduates that, regardless of having children, they needed to be able to fend for themselves through their own careers. In fairness to Princeton, the University did not invite her–this was the “Class Day” event, which is run entirely by students. In fact, there were 3 student speakers…each of whom put Couric to shame with the brilliance and hilarity of their speeches. The official University speaker at the Baccalaureate service was General David Petraeus. Needless to say, he made up for the horror of sitting through Couric.

You can read the full story here and her full remarks at HuffPo here. You can donate to Clothes Off Our Backs here.

And here I am in the right column, thanks to Matthew Nathan. Click thumbnail for full pic.drudgegrab