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

“The best revenge is massive success.” – Frank Sinatra

toastEver since Hillary Clinton moved out of Russell 478 and into her new Foggy Bottom digs, she’s faced a steady tide of negative press, catching the most flack for handing a Russian diplomat a “reset” button that actually said “overcharged.” Such gaffes were attributed to an over reliance on her inner political circle as opposed to the vast human capital available to her within the State Dept.

She was seen to be doing too little human rights issues in China and had apologized for the U.S.’s role in the Mexican drug war, suggesting a majority of weapons used to fight it originated in the US, when that number stood at more like 3%.

At the same time, former Clinton lackey and full-time creeper Dick Morris was trying everything to convince us that HRC’s move to State was a spectacular mistake, a ruse on Obama’s part to neutralize her as an external critic while crowding her out of the policy-making process.

On May 26, “The Incredible Shrinking Clintons”:

It may appear odd to describe a secretary of State as marginalized, but Obama has surrounded Hillary with his people and carved up her jurisdiction geographically. Former Sen. George Mitchell (D-Maine) is in charge of Arab-Israeli relations. Dennis Ross has Iran. Former U.N. Ambassador Dick Holbrooke has Pakistan and Afghanistan. And Hillary has to share her foreign policy role on the National Security Council (NSC) with Vice President Biden, U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, CIA chief Leon Panetta, and NSC staffer Samantha Powers (who once called Hillary a “monster”).

With peers who are competitors and subordinates who can deal directly with the president, Hillary is reduced to announcing foreign aid packages for Pakistan while Holbrooke does the heavy lifting.

Part of Hillary’s problem is the institutional shrinking of the State Department. During the Bush years, while war raged, the Defense Department became more relevant to the conduct of foreign policy. And, under Obama, the financial crisis has propelled the Treasury into the forefront. State, with its emphasis on traditional diplomacy, has been forced to take a back seat. Even though Obama appointed Hillary, he clearly has not been willing to make her a co-president and confines her to the diminished role of her department.

You have to imagine that, at the very least, HRC has her share of awkward moments and enraged thought bubbles as she sits across a table from shrieking ideologue Samantha Powers, who’s made a career of bravely calling genocide bad and expressing concern over “the sins of our allies in the war on terror” like Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and…oh, and Israel. Powers hates Hillary and Israel, incidentally two of Hillary’s all-time favorite things.

Morris said as much in an earlier column from February:

While sympathy for Mrs. Clinton is outside the normal fare of these columns, one cannot help but feel that she is surrounded by people who are, at best, strangers and, at worst, enemies. The competition that has historically occupied secretaries of State and national security advisers seems poised to ratchet up to a new level in the current administration.

But something’s changed in the past few weeks. The author of the best-selling fictional tome, Living History, charmed Indonesian youth by appearing on the cairohillaryvariety show Awesome, re-branded Obama’s weak diplomacy tactics to conservatives’ liking, set new guidelines for relations with Cuba, and before the ink was dry, jetted off to Cairo to support Obama’s speech to the Muslim world sporting a ruffled hijab that just screams cultural inclusion.

New York Magazine took notice and made HRC’s turnaround a feature in this week’s issue:

Just over a year ago, Clinton was bottoming out in her doomed presidential race, telling reporters she was soldiering on against Obama because, after all, “we all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California.” Now, she has turned herself into Obama’s greatest asset, on Capitol Hill as much as around the world, in fashioning a national-security policy that has closed off all policy differences between the former Democratic rivals, co-opted many Republicans, and left the rest of the administration’s opponents astoundingly marginalized.

This is all a stark departure from the bleak picture Morris seems to be painting with a purely speculative brush. It seems that Hillary got her groove back by doing what she does best. Anyone who knows her can tell you she has tremendous managerial acumen and she’s far more effective and charismatic in person, with a knack for positioning herself to minimize the impact any single decision has on perceptions of her.

So, was she victimized by Obama or has the President met his match. It seems to me like a bit of both. She’s happy to carry out his policy agenda as long as it’s helpful to her, and he’s happy believing she really doesn’t have any power.

Although she told George Stephanopoulos that Barack has proven he has what it takes to answer the 3 a.m. call, it’s nice to know Barack can always transfer the call to Clinton, provided Joe Biden’s not tying up the line telling inappropriate anecdotes.

Meanwhile, Bill told the New York Times he couldn’t even get Hillary on her cell phone. “I saw her on CNN talking about Afghanistan. Then she flew to Dallas for something. I don’t know why.”  I’m pretty sure Hill warned him back in the 1980’s that he’d get left in the dust, if not earlier.

Check out the full NYMag piece here.

So, it would appear that MTV has found a place to film the next season of The Real World, in Washington D.C. It’s on 20th and S Streets NW, right near the desirable and architecturally significant “Kalorama Triangle” (within Calvert St, Connecticut Ave, and Columbia Road, all NW natch).

Setting of Real World DC

Setting of Real World DC

According to the blog Borderstan, they’ll also shoot extensively at 1435 P St NW, also known at Halo Lounge. The site is kind of laughable because it’s blasting Beyonce’s single. I hope the actual bar isn’t playing power ballads all night, although that won’t deter me from starting my own storyline on the show by camping out there morning noon and night.

Bunim-Murray Productions has dispatched a guard to sit out front as a crew works to renovate the inside (because if there’s no indoor hot tub in the 19th century walk-up, then it’s not really Real World, is it?), but she looks like all it’d take is a few singles to get some info out of her.

According to Prince of Petworth,

It seems of the four level house, levels 1, 2 and about half of 3 are living … with the other half of level 3, then all of level 4 being production space. I don’t think I ever realized from my Real World watching days of yesteryear how much of an internal space would be for production purposes on location. It seems as if there will be four bedrooms … then also a gym, a pool table, etc.  From looking out the windows – it seems to be the right location, which would be definite confirm (if any more confirmation were needed) that this is indeed the house.”

This should be the busiest corner in the city aside from wherever that new Indian food cart parks on the Capitol campus. They should really give the leg-aides a break…they have enough stains on their ties already, they don’t need masaala sauce on there too.

Because Hill staffers are frumpy…see what I did there?

In the construction of Immortal Fame you need first of all a cosmic shamelessness.
– Umberto Eco

Looking at the proliferation of personal web pages on the net, it looks like very soon everyone on earth will have 15 Megabytes of fame.

– MG Siriam

Hey Guys,

So I’m starting a blog for a couple reasons:
1) To update family and friends
2) Post stories I write and others I think you should read
3) To chronicle my dogged, relentless (shameless) attempts to get myself onto Real World: DC or The Real Housewives of DC.

Check back a couple times a week and see if I’ve made it to MTV/ a permanent job.