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Media & Politics (one section only today)

Permanent link to MTA daily media news

And a Happy St. Paddy’s Day to ya!

President Obama: Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen and He “May Be Cousins” (by Jake O’Tapper at Political Punch, ABC News)
President Obama welcomed Irish Ambassador Michael Collins to the Oval Office today with some interesting news. “My mother’s family can be traced back to
Ireland,” President Obama said, “and it turns out that our first Irish ancestor came from the same county that Taoiseach once represented. So we may be cousins. We haven’t sorted that through yet. But even if blood we’re not related by culture and affinity … by friendship we are certainly related.” Collins was joined by Irish Ambassador Michael Collins and Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin (pronounced MEE-hull Martin, according to some helpful Irish reporters who have clearly already been celebrating). All three were sporting green ties and shamrock “bouquets” on their lapels.
I think the prez must have kissed the Blarney Stone today.

WH Names Ambassador to Ireland (by Alegre)
In keeping with today’s holiday, I thought I’d introduce you to our new Ambassador to
Ireland, Pittsburgh Steelers Owner Dan Rooney.  He’s a lifelong Republican who endorsed and stumped for BHO during the Pennsylvania primaries and GE last year. I’ve gotta give him credit for naming someone who formed an organization that promotes peace and education in Ireland to this post, but still… a Republican?

NY atty gen says 73 AIG execs got $1M bonuses (AP)
Troubled insurance giant American International Group paid bonuses of $1 million or more to 73 employees, including 11 who no longer work for the company, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday.

Limbaugh on Cuomo’s letter asking for names of AIG bonus recipients, negotiators: “Is [Cuomo] working out of the Reichstag or what?” (video at County Fair, Media Matters for America)

House Republicans Planning To Try To Force Treasury To Recoup AIG Bonuses (by Greg Sargent at The Plum Line)
Looks like House Republicans are about to make a big political move on the AIG issue by trying to compel the Treasury Department to try to recoup those AIG bonuses, A senior GOP aide familiar with ongoing discussions tells me that two freshman Republicans — at the direction of Eric Cantor and other House GOP leaders — will introduce a bill to “direct” Treasury to recoup the bonuses. The two Republicans are Rep. Paulsen of Minnesota and Rep. Lance of New Jersey.

A 100% tax rate? I like it! I like it! (by Joseph Cannon at Cannonfire)
A few Dems in Congress are talking about slapping AIG fatcats and their feline brethren with an excessive pay surtax. The sponsor of the bill wants to tax the bonuses at 100 percent. This move puts Obi in a place where he can’t negotiate. He must support (and possibly sign) this bill or he must act against it. If he does not support it, then we know that his recent denunciation of the AIG bonuses amounted to “just words.”

On CNBC, Business Week’s Farzad says of Obama’s directive to pursue every “legal avenue” to block AIG bonuses “What would Hugo Chavez do?” (video at County Fair, Media Matters for America)

Santelli on AIG bonus rage: “You know, $165 million is like worrying about 16.5 cents, while $165 maybe necessitates a little more outrage” (video at County Fair, Media Matters for America)
And how did you feel about the small percentage of money dedicated to earmarks in the budget package, Rick?

Morris’ crystal ball: “Socialist” Obama “going to be at 30 percent [approval] in a year” (video at County Fair, Media Matters for America)

Bonus Quote of the Day (Political Wire)
“Follow the Japanese model… resign, or go commit suicide.” – Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), quoted by the Washington Post, on AIG executives who took bonuses despite a massive government bailout. An aide later explained the senator does not actually want executives to kill themselves.

Conservatives Suggest Torture Tactics For AIG Execs: ‘Exemplary Hanging,’ Guillotine Party, ‘Boiling In Oil’ (Think Progress)
[O]n Fox News, far right pundit Charles Krauthammer and his milder counterpart Mort Kondracke argued that some should be put to death: “KRAUTHAMMER:… I would be for an exemplary hanging or two. Have it in Times Square, invite Madame DuFarge. You borrow a guillotine from the French and we could have a party… KONDRACKE: I was going to recommend boiling in oil in
Times Square.”
Click through to watch the video.

Republicans Who Opposed Wall Street Salary Caps Last Month Now Condemning ‘Outrageous’ AIG Bonuses (Think Progress)
As outrage mounts over the $165 million in executive bonuses paid to AIG staffers, many Republicans are trying to tap into the widespread public anger by striking uncharacteristically populist tones… However, when Congress debated limiting executive pay last month, these same key Republican lawmakers stood firm in opposing such caps.

Flashback: Dem Leaders Scuttled Proposal to Rescind Big Exec Bonuses (by Greg Sargent at The Plum Line)
Elana Schor reminds us of a rather pertinent detail involving this AIG mess: Last month, Democratic Congressional leaders stripped from the stim bill a stringent proposal to force bailed-out companies to rescind bonuses to executives. That proposal, by GOP Senator Olympia Snowe and Dem Senator Ron Wyden, would have retroactively recovered “all cash bonuses to bailout recipients that exceeded $25,000,” Schor reminds us, and “could have prevented much of the current AIG flap.” In the wake of the current AIG mess, Snowe and Wyden are pushing to reintroduce their legislation, and many others from both parties are jockeying for political advantage.

Give the Bonuses Back—Or Else (by Matt Miller, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and author of The Tyranny of Dead Ideas: Letting Go of the Old Ways of Thinking to Unleash a New Prosperity, writing at the Daily Beast)
Can’t any of these people who made out like bandits for years find it in their character to use their special skills to see the country through what they agree is an epic crisis by helping run these firms for, say, two years, and viewing it as a public service?… As Obama could explain, answering the call of country to help restore the functioning and credibility of
America’s financial sector would be honorable service for which the nation would be grateful-and in which bankers’ families could take pride.

Given the Dick Grasso-Stan O’Neal-Chuck Prince style of business ethics in which Wall Street’s “leaders” have been schooled, I’m not holding my breath for any takers. In which case Obama can always instruct America’s taxpayer-owned banks to withhold the bonuses anyway, doing what turns out to be more common in business than people think: making executives sue for what they say they’re owed.
The trouble, Matt, as you well know, is that we have been trained for many years to admire people simply for making money, no matter how they get it.  He who has the gold rules.  Do unto others, but do it first.  Winning is the only thing.  Public service is stupid.  Public ANYTHING is stupid, unless you can use it to enrich yourself at the expense of others.

Why Are AIG’s Contracts Sacrosanct But Not Union Workers’ Contracts? (Think Progress)
[Sunday] on ABC’s This Week, Larry Summers, head of President Obama’s National Economic Council, called insurance giant AIG’s plan to pay out $165 million in bonuses “outrageous” but insisted there was little the government could do about it… Summers cited the sanctity of contracts… Of course, not all contracts are sacrosanct. When Detroit’s Big Three arrived in Washington last year to plead for federal bailout funds, the right wing demanded that the United Auto Workers ignore their contracts and accept “steep cuts in pay and benefits” — on top of the cuts they already shouldered in 2007. The UAW agreed to “make major concessions in its contracts,” acceding to most of the right’s demands.

The sanctity of AIG’s contracts (by Glenn Greenwald at Unclaimed Territory, Salon)
Apparently, the supreme sanctity of employment contracts applies only to some types of employees but not others. Either way, the Obama administration’s claim that nothing could be done about the AIG bonuses because AIG has solid, sacred contractual commitments to pay them is, for so many reasons, absurd on its face. As any lawyer knows, there are few things more common – or easier — than finding legal arguments that call into question the meaning and validity of contracts… [T]his claim from Larry Summers that the sanctity of contracts precludes any alternatives is not just false, but insultingly so. 

The real scandal of AIG: We’re helpless (by Robert Reich, writing at Salon)
The real scandal of AIG isn’t just that American taxpayers have so far committed $170 billion to the giant insurer because it is thought to be too big to fail … — nor even that AIG’s notoriously failing executives, the very unit responsible for the catastrophic credit-default swaps at the very center of the debacle, are planning to give themselves over $100 million in bonuses. The scandal is that even at this late date, even in a new administration dedicated to doing it all differently, Americans still have so little say over what is happening with our money.
WE may be helpless, but Congress is not.

Barney Frank: It’s ‘Nonsensical’ To Retain AIG Employees To Undo The Mess They Created (Think Progress)
ThinkProgress sat down with Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), who chairs the House Financial Services Committee and has called for the firing of AIG executives. When asked to respond to [economic writer Andrew] Sorkin’s claim that only AIG employees can navigate the economy out of the mess they created, Frank dismissed it as “nonsensical”.fact almost counter, because the argument that you take the people who made the mistake and put them in charge of undoing the mistake goes against the human impulse not to admit a mistake.
Click through to watch the video.

The Heretik

Tapper’s WayBack Machine (by Alegre)
Ok so it’s only two weeks ago.  But Jake Tapper reminds us of WH assurances that they knew just where all the bailout money for AIG was going and what it was used for.  They asked for another $30 billion for AIG two weeks ago, and Tapper asked Gibbs if they knew what happened to the money AIG had already raked in… This sort of flies in the face of earlier reports of how outraged BHO is over those bonuses.  I’m probably not the only one muttering WTF today. 

Richard Cohen defends financial execs & business media; blasts Stewart (by Jamison Foser at County Fair, Media Matters for America)
Once again, Richard Cohen devotes his Washington Post column to attacking a … comedian. Worse, he is again attacking a comedian for having higher expectations for journalism than he does. In 2006, when Stephen Colbert delivered a devastating take-down of the political media during his performance at the White House correspondents dinner, Cohen blasted Colbert… And now Richard Cohen is upset that Jon Stewart made Jim Cramer and the financial media look bad… Cohen … offers several paragraphs worth of “proof” that the financial media didn’t know about the financial shenanigans… [His] argument suggests: That the people closest to a given situation know it best, and the media shouldn’t question their judgment and behavior. If that’s the case, why do we need the media at all?

Uh Huh (by Susie at Suburban Guerrilla)
From Deep Capture: “…[F]rom a journalist: ‘I was working on a story about naked short selling and Deep Capture. Then, suddenly I was stopped. It’s weird because I have been a journalist here for 9 years. I have built a great reputation with my editor, and have never had a story interfered with. But I got a couple months into this story, and suddenly I was stopped from above. I’ve never seen that happen before.’ I replied, If you only knew how many times a journalist has said that to me in the last couple years…” This is exactly what I mean by “corporate media.” It’s media that serves the financial interests of the corporation which owns it, not the interests of the public. Killing stories that expose market manipulation? Classic.

Menendez To Treasury: Investigate Morgan Stanley Bonuses Too (by Sam Stein at the Huffington Post)
Senator Bob Menendez is urging the Treasury Department to look at the retention bonuses issued not just by AIG, but those handed out by fellow bailout recipient Morgan Stanley. In a letter to Secretary Timothy Geithner, the New Jersey Democrat urges the administration to live by a clear standard that any company that needed rescue by TARP or bailout funds be prohibited from using that money on financial bonuses.

Wall Street Pursues Pay Loopholes (Wall Street Journal)
Some Wall Street firms are looking for ways to sidestep tough new federal caps on compensation. In response to expected bonus restrictions, officials at Citigroup Inc., Morgan Stanley and other financial institutions that got government aid are discussing increasing base salaries for some executives and other top-producing employees, people familiar with the situation said.

Did Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit lie to Congress about his compensation? (Think Progress)
As ThinkProgress noted, in February, bailed-out Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit told a House committee that he received only $1 million in salary and “no bonus” in 2008… But Reuters reports [Monday] that Citigroup awarded Pandit “$10.82 million of compensation in 2008,” despite the bank accepting $45 billion in TARP funds. The package included a “$958,333 salary, $9.84 million of stock and option awards and $16,193 of other compensation,” according to an SEC filing. As of February, Citigroup still owned or was leasing a private jet.
I guess it depends on what “compensation” is.

FASB Moves Toward Giving Banks More Flexibility on Fair-Value (Bloomberg, thanks to Calculated Risk)
The Financial Accounting Standards Board, pressured by lawmakers to change the fair-value rule blamed for worsening the financial crisis, proposed permitting companies to use “significant judgment” in valuing assets.
Now, I know I’m crazy for asking, but wasn’t it bankers’ “judgment” that got us into this mess in the first place?  And didn’t allowing savings and loans to determine the value of their assets in the 1980s bring us the bailouts of the Bush I era?

US wrong to assume no bank can fail (by Dean Baker)
The Fed and Treasury are now guaranteeing deposits in money-market mutual funds. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation doubled the size of the bank accounts it guarantees, and non-interest-bearing accounts of any size are guaranteed. In addition, the Fed is now lending hundreds of billions of dollars directly to non-financial corporations, establishing a channel of funding that goes outside the banking system. These and other measures have restored some measure of stability to the financial system. Now that we have these measures in place, is it still true that we can’t subject Citigroup, Bank of America or Goldman Sachs to a managed bankruptcy (aka “nationalisation”) without the world coming to an end?

Now It’s Official: Public Private Partnership to Overpay for Toxic Bank Assets (by Yves Smith at Naked Capitalism)
We have been saying from the first time the idea that Team Obama floated the idea of having a “public private partnership” buy toxic bank assets, that it was merely a very costly way to disguise overpayment… Our suspicions have finally been confirmed. From Andy Lees at UBS…: “The U.S. will give further details of the Geither public/private partnership plan to take bad assets off banks books, later this week a senior department official has said…” Lees said by e-mail that reports suggested that the deal would have two subsidies: first to the investors to let the pay more for the assets that their current market prices, second, further capital contributions to the banks to allow them to take a haircut on their marks. That would allow for a deal to be done at prices somewhere between the banks’ inflated marks and the current market prices.

This is what readers ought to be upset about. The AIG bonuses are rounding error, and an done deal. This is billions to avoid price discovery, which is what it needed to assess the magnitude of the problem, attract private capital, and do triage on sick financial firms. This is simply a Japan solution with a lot of moving parts to disguise the essence of the undertaking.

Rahm’s Saturday Sessions (Political Wire)
Every Saturday, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel convenes a special meeting for members of President Obama’s inner circle in the historic Roosevelt Room, according to U.S. News and World Report. The weekly event “is one of the most important sessions in Obama’s White House. It’s there that senior advisers map out the course of action for the new administration, often for weeks at a time. It’s part of a master plan to seize the moment and use the current economic crisis to remake the country in some fundamental ways.”

“These previously undisclosed Saturday meetings show not only how long the hours are in Obamaworld but also how methodical and disciplined his inner circle has been in planning Obama’s first 100 days as one of the most productive presidential beginnings in history.”

Obama Team Derides Cheney’s Criticisms (Washington Post)
The Obama administration responded sharply yesterday to former vice president Richard B. Cheney’s comments in a weekend interview that the new president “is making some choices that, in my mind, will in fact raise the risk to the American people” of another terrorist attack. “I guess Rush Limbaugh was busy,” Robert Gibbs, Obama’s press secretary, said during his daily briefing to journalists at the White House. “So they trotted out the next most popular member of the Republican cabal.”…

The back-and-forth represented a political opportunity for the Obama administration, despite its pledges to avoid partisan confrontation. A Washington Post-ABC News poll conducted when the Bush administration left office in January found that 30 percent of respondents approved of Cheney’s performance, lower than Bush’s own approval rating.

More than a bad day: Worries grow that Barack Obama & Co. have a competence problem (by Michael Goodwin, New York Daily News)
Not long ago, after a string of especially bad days for the Obama administration, a veteran Democratic pol approached me with a pained look on his face and asked, “Do you think they know what they’re doing?” The question caught me off guard because the man is a well-known Obama supporter. As we talked, I quickly realized his asking suggested his own considerable doubts. Yes, it’s early, but an eerily familiar feeling is spreading across party lines and seeping into the national conversation. It’s a nagging doubt about the competency of the White House.

End of the Honeymoon (by David Broder)
[I]t is not too soon to say that the Obama honeymoon period is over. His critics in
Washington and around the world have found their voices, and they are subjecting his administration to the kind of skeptical questioning that is normal for chief executives once they settle into their jobs… Among those who follow government closely, there has been an unmistakable change in tone in the last few weeks. These are not little Limbaughs hoping that Obama fails. They are politicians and journalists measuring him with the same skeptical eye they apply to everyone else.
You mean, Mr. Broder, the kind of skeptical eye always applied to Democrats, but not applied to Bush until well into his second term.  You may be trying to fool yourself, but you’re not fooling us.

Team Obama rolls out the welcome mat for Family Research Council, Concerned Women for America (by Pam Spaulding at Pam’s House Blend)
Well, folks — the gloves are off. Right Wing Watch reports that Joshua DuBois, head of the Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, will welcome representatives from the Family Research Council and Concerned Women for
America, two organizations being monitored by the Southern Poverty Law Center for their anti-gay, womb-controlling activities, into the Obama White House to discuss policy… I agree 100% with Kyle of RWW: “…These are not moderate, open-minded groups looking for common ground – they are militant, anti-choice groups committed to, above all, making abortion illegal everywhere and for everyone, with no exceptions. It is hard to understand what the administration expects to gain by meeting with such groups to discuss efforts to reduce abortion considering that the only option such groups support is to outlaw them entirely.”
And will Unity ’09 be supporting this?  Again, we see the problem of refusing to put principles before personalities.  And by the way, isn’t this the THIRD morphing of the vaunted Obama machine?

Obama mulls making vets foot bill for service injuries (McClatchy)
The Obama administration is considering making veterans use private insurance to pay for treatment of combat and service-related injuries. The plan would be an about-face on what veterans believe is a long-standing pledge to pay for health care costs that result from their military service. But in a White House meeting Monday, veterans groups apparently failed to persuade President Obama to take the plan off the table. “Veterans of all generations agree that this proposal is bad for the country and bad for veterans,” said Paul Rieckhoff, executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. “If the president and the OMB [Office of Management and Budget] want to cut costs, they can start at AIG, not the VA.”

White House may seek to bypass filibuster rule in Senate (McClatchy)
The White House budget director said Tuesday that the Obama administration may take advantage of a rarely used congressional rule that would strip Republicans of their filibuster power to get some controversial proposals through the Senate by simple majorities.
Great!  The filibuster has been used for some truly evil purposes, like keeping slavery going.  If the Democrats had ever used it, I might have second thoughts, but they didn’t, so it’s time for that rule to die.

Flaws Abound in FOIA, If Obama Wants to Fix Them 
President Barack Obama is promising to reinvigorate the Freedom of Information Act by opening more of the government’s filing cabinets without a fight. Obama has begun to deliver, but there are conflicting signs about how far he will go — and it’s a task that’s far easier said than done

Obama administration rejects Sanford’s attempt to redirect stimulus funds. (Think Progress)
Last week, Gov. Mark Sanford (R-SC) said he would ask the Obama administration if he could redirect $700 million in federal stimulus money to pay down the state’s debt — instead of for its original purpose of school funding and public safety. The Obama administration today rejected his request, saying that the legislation doesn’t allow Obama to “make an exception for that cash”.

News Flash – America Discovers the Dignity of Labor (by campskunk at Alegre’s Corner)
It hasn’t been that many generations for many of us since our ancestors got off the boat with a dogged determination to make something of themselves in this new country. They didn’t bring anything BUT human capital… and a change of clothes. The one luxury they ever coveted was the chance to get their kids an education, knowing that an education would be the human capital multiplier they themselves never had a shot at. The Democratic party was formed from these folks who wanted a chance to better themselves through labor.  I used to think there were a lot of us around… but with all the talk lately about labor unions being a special interest, and the idea of making everyone a member of the investment class, we seem to have drifted away from this bedrock principle.

All I can say to the people who have been off obsessing about their property value and stock portfolio, and taking their job for granted is… welcome back to reality. The people who wrote you that mortgage and home equity line of credit, and the people who told you which stocks to buy… they weren’t your friends. People like that are the reason your ancestors immigrated to America.. to get away from those folks.  

Employee Free Choice Poll Gives Labor Backers Big Boost (by Sam Stein at the Huffington Post)
Proponents of the Employee Free Choice Act received a big boost Tuesday morning with the publication of an independent poll showing majority support both for the legislation and the greater concept of increased unionization. Gallup Surveys released a study on Tuesday finding that 53 percent of respondents favored a new law that would “make it easier for labor unions to organize workers.” Only 39 percent of respondents opposed such a law.

Union Unleashes Brutal Video Tying Anti-EFCA Blue Dog Dem To Dead Worker (by Greg Sargent at The Plum Line)
This is some rough stuff. The SEIU has just launched a hard-hitting Web video that ties Blue Dog Democrat Dan Boren to the horrific death of a worker in his home state, yet another sign that the battle over the Employee Free Choice Act is shaping up as a no-holds-barred free-for-all. The video — an effort to make Boren pay a political price in his home state for his recent declaration that he’ll vote against EFCA — dramatizes the plight of a father of four who, according to the video, worked at an industrial laundry and was dragged into a heavy duty dryer, where he was violently tossed around for 20 minutes and eventually died…

The vid accuses Boren of supporting companies like the one employing the dead workers in its efforts to prevent unionization. “Tell Dan Boren to stop risking workers’ lives, and to support Employee Free Choice,” it concludes. The video targeting Boren, the only Dem to declare that he’ll vote against EFCA this year, is designed to demonstrate the sort of political price those who oppose EFCA might pay. It’s also an effort to humanize the stakes of the EFCA fight and shift the debate away from an argument over the “secret ballot” provision and towards a more fundamental one over worker safety and quality of life.
Rough, indeed. I’m not sure they’ll keep those poll approvals with this kind of tactic.

Afghan war hits peak of disfavor (USA Today)
American support for the war in
Afghanistan has ebbed to a new low, as attacks on U.S. troops and their allies have hit record levels and commanders are pleading for reinforcements, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll shows. In the poll taken Saturday and Sunday, 42% of respondents said the United States made “a mistake” in sending military forces to Afghanistan, up from 30% in February… Those who said the war is going well dropped to 38% in the latest poll, the lowest percentage since that question was asked in September 2006.

Research Center’s Role Faces Scrutiny (Washington Post)
A Pennsylvania defense research center regularly consulted with two “handlers” close to Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.) as it collected nearly $250 million in federal funding through the lawmaker, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post and sources familiar with the funding requests. The center then channeled a significant portion of the funding to companies that were among Murtha’s campaign supporters.

Few Ripples From Supreme Court Ruling on Guns (New York Times)
About nine months ago, the Supreme Court breathed new life into the Second Amendment, ruling for the first time that it protects an individual right to own guns. Since then, lower federal courts have decided more than 80 cases interpreting the decision,
District of Columbia v. Heller, and it is now possible to make a preliminary assessment of its impact. So far, Heller is firing blanks. The courts have upheld federal laws banning gun ownership by people convicted of felonies and some misdemeanors, by illegal immigrants and by drug addicts. They have upheld laws banning machine guns and sawed-off shotguns. They have upheld laws making it illegal to carry guns near schools or in post offices. And they have upheld laws concerning concealed and unregistered weapons.

Federal Judge OKs Use of Pepper Spray in Police Training (Law.com)
A federal judge on Friday dismissed a lawsuit brought by naval police officers who wanted to stop the Navy from blasting recruits’ eyes with pepper spray during their training. The officers argued that the practice of subjecting trainees to a direct shot of pepper spray was dangerous and deprived them of their constitutional rights to due process and equal protection…
Pepper spray is known to cause swelling, irritation, blisters, respiratory problems and, in some select instances, death.

Justice Thomas: Americans don’t sacrifice as much (AP)
Americans today are self-indulgent and don’t make the sacrifices that their parents and grandparents did, and the nation’s leaders don’t ask people to act for the higher good, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas said Monday at a Virginia college in a rare public speech. “Our country and our principles are more important than our individual wants,” Thomas told close to 400 people who greeted him with a standing ovation at Washington and Lee University, a Shenandoah Valley liberal arts school.
“Washington and Lee is one of the last bastions of the Confederacy,” says the Voice from the Blue, who grew up in northern Virginia.  And I must ask Justice Thomas, what sacrifices have YOU made for your country, sir?

ABA Resumes Vetting Nominees (Political Wire)
Heard in the CQ newsroom: The American Bar Association has resumed its traditional role of vetting judicial nominations before the president makes them. Former President Bush had discontinued the practice of having the
ABA vet judicial picks before submitting them to the Senate.

Republicans Strong in 2010 Gubernatorial Race (Political Wire)
According to a new Inside Michigan Politics poll, three potential Republican candidates for governor in 2010 show surprising strength against the leading Democratic candidate, Lt. Gov. John Cherry (D). In head-to-head races with Cherry, Attorney General Mike Cox (R) led 41% to 34%, Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land (R) led 39% to 34% and County Executive L. Brooks Patterson led 38% to 34%.

Strickland Well Ahead in Re-Election Bid (Political Wire)
Despite a recent drop in his approval ratings, a new Quinnipiac poll finds Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland (D) remains well ahead of the two leading candidates for the Republican nomination to oppose him in 2010. Strickland leads former Rep. John Kasich (R-OH) 51% to 31% and tops former Sen. Mike DeWine (R-OH) 50% to 34%. In a GOP primary for that nomination, DeWine leads Kasich 32% to 27%.

Hutchison Leads Perry in Texas Primary (Political Wire)
A new UT Poll shows Sen. Kay Baily Hutchison (R-TX) leading Gov. Rick Perry (R) in a Republican gubernatorial primary, 37% to 29%. Meanwhile, Roll Call reports Hutchison “now appears likely to stay in the Senate even as she runs for governor, counter to what was originally expected when she began preparing to seek her state’s top post last year.” 

Palin’s Office Denies She’s Hosting Fundraiser (Political Wire)
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s (R) spokesman said that congressional Republicans “were mistaken” in announcing the governor would headline the biggest Republican fundraiser of the year, reports the Anchorage Daily News. The governor’s office said Palin has not even confirmed she would be attending the event. Said spokesman Bill McAllister: “I communicated with the governor directly and she did not know anything about it.”

Is the Country Fixed Yet? (Political Wire)
Walter Shapiro: “Now that we have created this 86,400-seconds-a-day expectation of instant political news, it is virtually impossible to return to prior laid-back ways of thinking about
Washington. The problem, of course, is that successful governing requires far more than merely winning a particular morning’s news cycle. But our foreshortened attention span gets in the way of long-term perspective. As a result, it is easy to get caught up in the fiction that the fate of Obama’s presidency rides with the short-term direction of the stock market, the cleverness of Robert Gibbs’ putdowns of Dick Cheney, or even the pace of appointments to the sub-Cabinet.”

Obama Considers “Fireside Chats” on Economy (Political Wire)
“In an effort to educate the public on the state of the economy and his plans for improving it, President Obama is considering a series of short televised addresses similar to Franklin Roosevelt’s fireside chats,” John Dickerson reports. Press Secretary Robert Gibbs “has told the television networks that the administration may request more time than usual for a president. Gibbs did not provide a schedule but described the addresses as lasting about 10 minutes each.”

Obama Plans Travel With Eye Towards 2012 (Political Wire)
Tom Jensen notes that President Obama has visited seven states since being sworn in:
Arizona, Colorado, Indiana, Florida, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia. What do they have in common? Six of the states are where Obama had his smallest margins of victory in the 2008 presidential race, an indication that the White House is planning his public appearances with an eye towards 2012. Even in Arizona, the state he’s visited that he didn’t win, some polls suggested Obama could win if Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) wasn’t his opponent last year.

View: Barack Obama on Jay Leno’s ‘Tonight Show’ is ‘Bypass the Press’ (by Phil Rosenthal, Chicago Tribune)
By agreeing to be Leno’s guest on “The Tonight Show,” President Barack Obama is venturing into a genre that has become a requisite touchstone for rising high-profile pols. But it’s territory where NBC says a sitting president, always a sitting duck in the nightly monologues, never before has sat as a guest… The White House move is every bit as calculated as a
Hollywood studio’s campaign for a new blockbuster.

The commander in chief, whose White House run got an early boost from a popular daytime talk-show host, is banking he will seem presidential enough with Leno that his message will carry substantive weight. Yet, eight weeks into his presidency, the chosen forum signals he wants to remind followers of the campaigner who was loose while staying on message.

Peter B. Collins Show to leave the air next Friday (The Brad Blog)
Another progressive talker falls victim to the rightwing corporate stranglehold of our public airwaves…
The Peter B. Collins Show will come to an end, as of next Friday, according to an announcement by Collins on today’s broadcast. After nearly five years on the air, the economic climate, and the stranglehold of rightwing corporate control over the public’s airwaves has made it impossible for him to continue.

Power Line makes us laugh (by Eric Boehlert at County Fair, Media Matters for America)
For anyone still wondering how the GOP’s Rush worship panned out politically, especially for the GOP’s Congressional leaders who dutifully lined up beyond him, here’s a graphic from the new Pew Research poll. Note the two lines–one for the Dems and one for the GOP–are heading in opposite directions. But Power Line is certain Democrats were the big loser last month.

Republicans Now Losing Ground With Republicans (Political Wire)
In the new Pew Research poll, Greg Sargent notes that the approval rating of GOP leaders has plummeted 12 points in the last month — among Republicans. Is this a sign the Democratic effort to make Rush Limbaugh the de facto GOP leader is working?

BUT:
Poll Shows Tie in Generic Congressional Ballot
(Political Wire)
A new NPR poll shows that while President Obama’s job approval rating is still very high at 59%, his party doesn’t do nearly as well in a congressional match up. When likely voters were asked whether they’d vote for the Republican or Democratic congressional candidate if the 2010 elections were held today, the result was a tie: 42% to 42%. Said pollster Glen Borger: “There’s concern about the spending plans and other paths that Obama and Democrats in Congress are taking, so I think you’re seeing a little bit more move toward a balance.”

GOP ‘trackers’ stalk Dems in hunt for ‘macaca’ moment (McClatchy)
Rep. Chris Carney was walking down a Capitol Hill street when suddenly — bam — an anonymous Republican with a video camera who’d been following him asked him a question that was intended to embarrass the Pennsylvania Democrat… The National Republican Congressional Committee is sending out video “trackers” to ask provocative questions of Democratic members of Congress. The trackers, who are congressional committee staffers, were earlier reported by Congress Daily, a specialty publication distributed largely on Capitol Hill. NRCC spokesman Paul Lindsay told McClatchy that Democratic complaints were “whining,” adding that “The modern-day world of campaign politics demands that we track our opponents’ steps and missteps. We have nothing to hide when it comes to asking tough questions, but it appears that Democrats do when it comes to answering them.”

Note to Ed Henry: that’s spin, not a scoop (by Jamison Foser at County Fair, Media Matters for America)
CNN’s Ed Henry…: “In terms of the politics, what’s fascinating is that Robert Gibbs clearly feels that dragging both Dick Cheney and Rush Limbaugh back into this debate is good politically for this White House. I can tell you a lot of Republicans on the other side are telling me privately, though, they wonder whether this could blow up in the White House’s face.” Oh, the Republicans are privately saying this might backfire on the White House? They must really mean it, huh? When political actors make statements against their own interests, it may be justifiable for journalists to grant them anonymity. And those unattributed statements may have added credibility, for the very reason that they are contrary to the interests of the speaker.

But in this case, Henry’s “lot of Republicans” are telling him something that is consistent with their interest. Indeed, they are telling him the most predictable spin possible

Fox News apologizes for dishonest splicing of Biden clip. (Think Progress)
Yesterday, ThinkProgress noted that Fox News spliced a six-month old clip of Vice President Biden to misleadingly imply that he recently said the “fundamentals of the economy are strong.” Today, Fox News’s Martha MacCallum apologized to viewers and said it was an “inadvertent” error.
That’s pretty amazing.  I don’t think Fox News has ever apologized before.

So eager to call CNN ‘Communist News Network,’ Fox fudges name of Latin American leader (The Raw Story)
In the war between Fox News and the facts, the facts are always handicapped. On Fox & Friends Monday, host Steve Doocy took time to note that a former CNN employee, Mauricio Funes, has been elected President of El Salvador. “He is from a party down in El Salvador that is essentially the communist party,” Doocy explained. “I wonder if he is just on a leave of absence from CNN, which, given his political inklings CNN could stand for the Communist News Network,” he said. But Fox was so eager to tie CNN to communism that they couldn’t get the name of Venezuela’s leader right when making an unsourced allegation.

A sad, sad indictment of our times:
Glenn Beck’s Friday Special Is No. 1 For the Month
 (TVNewser, Media Bistro)
Glenn Beck’s “We Surround Them, You Are Not Alone” 5pmET special, featuring a studio audience and viewing parties around the nation, was the top-rated show on cable news in the A25-54 demo last Friday, with 993,000 viewers. In fact it was the #1 show in that demo for the month of March. Beck was a close second to The O’Reilly Factor in Total Viewers, 3.07 million v. 3.19 million. There were more viewers watching Beck’s 5pm show than watched the entire prime time (
8-11pm) lineups on CNN and MSNBC.

Glenn Beck channels X-Files (by Eric Boehlert at County Fair, Media Matters for America)
Jeffrey Feldman at HuffPost notes that Beck’s latest bout of on-air insanity, in which the talks about how FEMA under the Obama administration may be building concentration camps in order to take totalitarian rule of the country, appears to be lifted directly from the The X-Files movie. Maybe that’s why even Fox News anchors can’t stop mocking Beck.
Actually, it was the Bush administration that built the facilities that could be used as concentration camps.  On our dime, of course.

Tucker Carlson: “[W]here was Jon Stewart when the bubble was swelling? How many shows did he do on the coming financial collapse? Why didn’t he warn us?” (County Fair, Media Matters for America)
From a March 16 Washington Post online discussion.

Miller explains why O’Reilly’s Stewart criticism is off-base: “His is a comedy show.” (video at County Fair, Media Matters for America)

WHY DIDN’T JOHN KING ASK CHENEY ABOUT THE “EXECUTIVE ASSASSINATION RING”? (by Margie Burns)
In an interview resembling an hour-long infomercial for the GOP looking toward 2012, King omitted the most recent piece of news immediately relevant to Cheney, the figure he interviewed—Seymour Hersh’s statement, last week in a University of Minnesota forum, that a select but shadowy special operations team in the military conducted secret assassinations abroad, reporting directly to Vice President Cheney. King did not ask Cheney—at least on air—even one question, however politely worded, about the “executive assassination ring” referred to by Hersh.

What If Jon Stewart, Instead of John King, Interviewed Dick Cheney (by Arianna Huffington)
Jon Stewart’s Jim Cramer interview was a pivotal moment — not just for Stewart, Cramer, and CNBC but also for journalism. It was a bracing reminder of what great research and a journalist more committed to getting to the truth than to landing the big get — and keeping the big get happy, and ensuring future big gets — can accomplish. Stewart kept popping into my head as I watched John King interview Dick Cheney on Sunday. Each time King let Cheney get away with spouting gross inaccuracies and revisionist history, I kept thinking how different things would have been had Stewart been asking the questions. Stewart without the comedy and without the outrage — just armed with the facts and the willingness to ask tough questions.

All in the family (by Jamison Foser at County Fair, Media Matters for America)
Marcy Wheeler weighs in on the NYT’s friendly write-up of Dick Cheney’s CNN appearance: “The son of Arthur ‘Pinch’ Sulzberger Jr, AG Sulzberger, is the author of this masterpiece of hard-hitting journalism.” So the son of the NYT’s publisher was tasked to write a ridiculously solicitous article regurgitating the former Vice President’s propaganda for daddy’s paper. That’s troubling for a number of reasons.

Paunch’s daddy (I’m taking liberties with the family’s naming conventions), after all, was the guy who delayed a story reporting Cheney’s illegal wiretap program for over a year–up until the time James Risen threatened to scoop the NYT with his book. And, at precisely the same time Pinch Sulzberger was bowing to Cheney’s request not to expose the illegal wiretap program, Sulzberger was actively shielding Scooter Libby’s perjury in the name of reporter privilege. From October 2004–just before the Presidential election–until late 2005, Daddy Sulzberger was helping Cheney hide two incidences of egregious law-breaking. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised to see Paunch taking up the family trade, then, protecting Dick Cheney?

Media Matters president Burns joins others in signing letter demanding changes at CNBC (by Karl Frisch at County Fair, Media Matters for America)
[Monday] Media Matters president Eric Burns joined several prominent writers, journalism professors, economists, media critics and progressive leaders in signing a letter demanding CNBC take substantial steps towards fixing their broken network. Among many others, the letter was signed by Co-director of the Center for Economic Policy Research Dean Baker,
Columbia University journalism professor Todd Gitlin, President of the Economic Policy Institute Lawrence Mishel, economist at the Institute for Research on Labor & Employment Sylvia Allegretto, and Senior Economist at the Center for American Heather Boushey. You can read the letter for yourself here.

Morris concludes Obama is “obviously a socialist,” Hannity replies, “I told you so” (video at County Fair, Media Matters for America)

Shuster highlights Fox News comparison of Obama to Madoff, asks, “[I]sn’t there a danger when the rhetoric goes off the charts?” (video at County Fair, Media Matters for America)

Conservative columnist belittles the idea of a liberal media (by Eric Boehlert at County Fair, Media Matters for America)
In her weekend column, Kathleen Parker bemoans Dittoheads and the “non-journalists who have been demonizing the media for the past 20 years or so and who blame the current news crisis on bias.” Writes Parker: “There is surely room for media criticism, and a few bad actors in recent years have badly frayed public trust. And, yes, some newspapers are more liberal than their readership and do a lousy job of concealing it. But the greater truth is that newspaper reporters, editors and institutions are responsible for the boots-on-the-ground grub work that produces the news stories and performs the government watchdog role so crucial to a democratic republic.”

Wash Times editor John Solomon claims ‘Conservatives’ site won’t be a ‘blurring of the lines’ of objectivity. (Think Progress)
In his Media Notes column today, the Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz previews the Washington Times’ newest project, The Conservatives.com, which is aimed “reinventing the right.” In an interview with
Kurtz, Washington Times executive editor John Solomon claimed that the new site wasn’t a “blurring of the lines” for the newspaper’s objectivity… In a memo he issued soon after becoming the Times’ editor, Solomon said he would maintain “a bright line between news coverage and the advocacy of the editorial and opinion pages.” But as FishBowlDC points out, “it’s not the content, it’s the contributors that are blurring the line between opinion and news.”

Don Imus battling prostate cancer (Boston Herald)
Controversial talkmeister Don Imus is expected to host his radio show in the Hub this morning – a day after telling listeners he’s battling prostate cancer. The 68-year-old radio veteran said he was diagnosed with stage II prostate cancer Wednesday.

Commentary: Best defense against unemployment is having options (By Jack Z. Smith, Fort Worth Star-Telegram)
There’s nothing like a brutal recession to reinforce the value of a good education… The more education you get, the greater your job security and the higher your income likely will be.
Not if you’re in your 50s or 60s, Jack.  Education doesn’t do you a damn bit of good then.  In a few years they’ll be begging us to work, but right now we’re not welcome.

RCMP urged to bar Bush from Canada (Calgary Herald, Canada)
A lawyers’ group is trying to block former U. S. president George W. Bush from visiting
Calgary for an upcoming speaking engagement this month. The group has asked the RCMP to bar Bush from entering Canada, citing torture and war crimes committed in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay.
Sadly, it didn’t work.  But some activists were prepared, anyway.

Canadian activists build ‘shoe cannon’ to hurl shoes at effigy of Bush. (Think Progress)
Former President Bush is in
Calgary today giving his first speech since leaving office last January. While it appears Canadian human rights lawyers and activists were unsuccessful in banning Bush from Canada (he arrived safely last night), protesters have gathered to rally against Bush’s invasion of Iraq and his terror and detention policies. As part of the protests, local activists have collected shoes from Canadians around the country and constructed a shoe cannon that will launch shoes at an effigy of Bush:

Somebody’s gonna git him.
Bush No Longer Enjoys Diplomatic Immunity
(by connecticut man1 at Corrente)
Leading up to a 2004 visit to Vancouver, Canada, lawyers there sought to have him charged for his criminal behavior resulting in a court decision that reflected the Canadian Attorney General’s view that Bush could not be brought up on torture charges at that time because he had diplomatic immunity: “These charges were properly laid and backed up by powerful evidence. The government didn’t deny that evidence because it couldn’t deny it. Diplomatic immunity is purely procedural. It doesn’t affect the validity of the charges, only whether they can be proceeded with, for the time being, in a foreign court, in this case a Canadian court. Even if Bush has immunity, it’s only temporary and it won’t shield him or anyone in his administration from Canadian law, or any other law, when they leave office.”

Are Small Businesses Starting to Hire Again? (by Andrew Gelman, thanks to Economist’s View)
Some statistical analysis
 says yes:

U.S. housing offers hope on economy (Reuters)
U.S. housing starts and permits rebounded in February from record lows, rising for the first time in 10 months, according to data on Tuesday that gave a glimmer of hope for the recession-hit economy. Analysts said while the data did not mark a change in trend for the depressed housing market, it hinted at some stability that could ease pressure on the economy going forward.

Media Matters for America headlines

Boehlert: Rampage Nation: The press no longer cares about epic gun violence

Hannity falsely claimed that under Pelosi, Republicans “can’t offer amendments”

Suggesting “your house will be worth more burned down,” Doocy peddled itemized deduction falsehood

Media repeatedly declare that Obama’s “honeymoon” is “over” — but the cliché lives on

Fox News presents deceptively cropped six-month-old Biden clip as new

Wash. Times uncritically reprints NRO columnist calling released detainee an “al Qaeda jihadist”

NY Times uncritically quoted Cheney saying Bush administration detention policies were “done legally”

Journalist ‘shield’ law advances in Texas Legislature
Police and court subpoenas intended to get a look at a journalist’s notes or coerce a reporter to reveal sources would have to be reviewed by an independent judge under a bill approved by a House committee Monday. Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio, called his bill a way to protect the free flow of information and ensure that whistle-blowers feel safe informing about wrongdoing.
Yes, but it shouldn’t be a way to shield high-level lawbreakers from scrutiny.

Teen journalist: “I’m fascinated by what’s happening multimedia-wise”
“It’s going to open doors as far as what we can do as journalists,” says high school newspaper editor Josiah Jones. “We’ll continue to even out all our options between Internet-based publications, print journalism and everything in between.” The 18-year-old plans to pursue a journalism career, undeterred by the forces buffeting the profession.

Pelosi goes to bat to keep Bay Area papers alive
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, worried about the fate of The Chronicle and other financially struggling newspapers, urged the Justice Department Monday to consider giving Bay Area papers more leeway to merge or consolidate business operations to stay afloat. In a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, released by Pelosi’s office late Monday, the San Francisco Democrat asked the department to weigh the public benefit of saving The Chronicle and other papers from closure against the agency’s antitrust mission to guard against anti-competitive behavior.

VIDEO: Not Quite the Future of Newspapers
Panel Pits Out-of-Work Journalist Against Publishing Poohbahs

Doing Less With Less (by Hamilton Nolan at Gawker)
Just about every print media outlet has fewer editorial employees than it did five years ago. Does this actually mean that the publication is producing “more” for “less?” No. It means the reader gets less (and less, and less) for the same price.

Will Critique Work for Food (by Tom Jacobs at Miller-McCune)
Arts organizations and artists themselves are nervously pondering what will take the place of newspapers. After complaining for years of unfair or insensitive reviews, arts administrators have come to the realization that the only thing worse than getting criticized is being ignored.

Google to host ads by European news agencies
Google is ramping up its efforts to make money from its controversial Google News service by striking deals with eight European news agencies, and launching a contextual ad service to display adverts around their stories. Google said today it had struck news content hosting deals with news agencies EFE, which services Spain and Latin America; LUSA, across Portugal and Brazil; Switzerland’s Keystone; APA in Austria; Poland’s PAP; MTI in Hungary; ANA in Greece and Belga in Belgium.

From today the news agencies, which are members of the European Pressphoto Agency, will run contextual ads next to articles that appear on their Google News-hosted sites.

How the 9,000-circ Norwalk Reflector is doing without AP
Just fine, says publisher Andy Prutsok. There’s been no reaction from readers, he tells Josh Benton. “It’s a bigger deal to us than it is to them. Our readers couldn’t care less if we carry the same news that they can get off the evening news.”

Why doesn’t a group of newspapers buy Craigslist?
Michael S. Malone throws out that idea, and others. “Target the next platform,” he says. “My gut tells me that the future of news delivery is to e-Books, like Kindle, and, even more, Smart Phones. So rebuild your paper for those platforms — automatic downloading of the daily news directly to e-books, and powerful new navigation and social-networking (i.e., story reporting and sharing) tools for the phone.”

Note to Joel Stein: You aren’t the first columnist to solicit product placement
Tom Scocca reminds Romenesko that Baltimore City Paper’s Joe (“Mr. Wrong”) MacLeod promised to “repetitively and relentlessly” mention a product for a mere $50 four years before Joel Stein “decided to be the first columnist to solicit product placement.”

Sun-Times scraps plan to outsource copy editing
In January, the paper proposed cutting 30 jobs by outsourcing copy editing and page designing to
Canada or India. The Sun-Times union learned Thursday that management dropped the plan.

Chicago Tribune tries very hard to win back a reader
A few weeks ago, Coleen Davison told the Wall Street Journal that “the caliber and depth of your reporting is incredible and easily surpasses the Chicago Tribune … Our growing discontent with the Tribune’s diminishing quality became intolerable after their redesign last fall.” Michael Miner reports Davison complained to the Tribune before she wrote to the Journal. In January, the Tribune gave her a tour and invited her to sit in on an editorial board meeting. That wasn’t enough to get Davison to subscribe again.
I disagree with Ms. Davison.  I think the Tribune is a fine newspaper, even though I disagree with its editorial stance.  It’s much better than the New York Times, and especially the Washington Post.

Sulzberger: “My view is that what we offer is quite valuable and our profession will endure”
“I am tired of reading about the death of — take your pick — journalism, newspapers, engaged readers,” says Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. ”Even The Times today was wondering out loud on the front page as to where newspapers where heading, et tu brute. …We have renewed our analysis of how paid content can augment our core advertising business. The trick, of course, is to garner incremental revenue from the user without significantly cannibalizing the high rate ad pages that now account for a very significant amount of money.”
Yes, well, look no further than your own son, Pinch, for the reason why a lot of us have so little respect for your paper any more.

Seattle Post-Intelligencer newspaper goes Web-only
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, which has chronicled the news of the city since logs slid down its steep streets to the harbor and miners caroused in its bars before heading north to Alaska’s gold fields, will print its final edition Tuesday. Hearst Corp., which owns the 146-year-old P-I, said Monday that it failed to find a buyer for the newspaper, which it put up for a 60-day sale in January after years of losing money. Now the P-I will shift entirely to the Web.

ABC Cancels Annual Conference, Rescinds Key Rule for Mid-Sized Papers 
The Audit Bureau of Circulations has decided to cancel its annual conference scheduled for November in
Toronto. The board also decided to rescind a proposed rule that would have allowed newspapers with circulations between 50,000 and 75,000 to be audited every other year.

Jerry Roberts and Phil Trounstine Launch California Politics Blog
Two of California’s most seasoned political editors have launched a new politics blog, according to a joint announcement sent Monday. Jerry Roberts, former editor of the San Francisco Chronicle, and Phil Trounstine, former political editor of the San Jose Mercury News, have launched www.calbuzz.com. “With more than 60 years’ combined experience covering and engaged in California politics, we believe our new site for political news, analysis and commentary has something to add to the conversation,” the duo said in an announcement. “We rather envision ourselves as a Germond and Witcover for California politics – except we’re both the fat guy in the middle seat.”

Stony Brook proposes to hire 50 laid-off journalists to teach “news literacy”
The university hopes to get funding from foundations and the federal government’s economic stimulus plan. The plan is to have out-of-work journalists teach “news literacy” to non-journalism majors.

Conde Nast Media Group Preps for Layoffs
Corporate Sales Staff Under Richard Beckman Numbers 135

Why Total Music Purchases By Web Users Are Stil Falling (by David Kaplan at Paid Content)
As Virgin Megastores get their “going out of business signs” pinned up, the loss of a major brick and mortar music retailer will certainly hasten the demise of the CD and the continued rise of online downloading. The latest research from market analyst NPD group is hardly a surprise: there were 17 million fewer CD buyers in 2008 compared to the year before… And while the number of internet users who paid for music increased by 8 million to around 36 million last year—purchased music downloads grew by 29 percent since last year, accounting for 33 percent of all music tracks bought in the U.S.—NPD’s report could not mask the dire circumstances the music industry finds itself in. Without CDs, it seems that many people are giving up on buying music entirely…

Asked why they hadn’t been buying music, the 4,000 respondents to NPD’s online survey said they were spending less on entertainment in general due to the recession. Meanwhile, web users are becoming more aware of free streaming services.

Cash Crunch: IGA Worldwide Puts Itself On The Block (Paid Content)
The gaming industry may be recession-resistant, but in-game advertising is getting hammered just like every other ad sector. Case in point: in-game ad firm IGA Worldwide is now up for sale. Chairman and co-founder Justin Townsend told VentureBeat that the company was just weeks away from securing its third round of funding, but that it had to pursue a possible sale as a “fiduciary duty” to shareholders.

Facebook Lets You Open Your Profile to Everyone (Mashable)
Continuing its effort to become a more open social networking site, Facebook is introducing a new privacy (or lack thereof) option that lets you make your entire profile viewable to everyone. Previously, Facebook let you open up different elements of your profile as far as the networks you belong to, meaning everyone in your designated region, school, or employer. Now, you can make your profile, status updates, photos, and wall posts available to anyone on Facebook. The privacy settings still allow a high-level of specificity, so you can make only certain profile elements visible to everyone and others visible to only specific people.

Moontoast Offers a Better Way to Give Lessons Online (Mashable)
Moontoast is primarily designed around the experts’ needs and allows them to create a profile, list their expertise, host online video and chat sessions, set their rates, receive payment for services, and essentially create an online office space for teaching. People searching for help, training, tutorials, and anything else can use the site to find the teacher of their choice and view how other pupils have rated that individual.

100 Great Resources for Design Inspiration (Mashable)
Finding inspiration is not always as simple as it sounds, whether you’ve been designing for years or only weeks. Below is a collection of 100 great web resources to find inspiration and direction on your next project, whether it be online or in print. These range from galleries of graphic and web design to online magazines and a few unconventional sources of inspiration.
Click through to see the recommendations.

Twitter Now Growing at a Staggering 1,382 Percent (by Adam Ostrow at Mashable)
Maybe it’s Jimmy Fallon’s integration of it into his new TV show, Shaq’s use of it to interact in real-life with fans, or blog’s ability to write about it non-stop, but one way or another, Twitter’s growth just continues to explode. The latest numbers from Nielsen Online indicate that Twitter grew 1,382% year-over-year in February, registering a total of just more than 7 million unique visitors in the
US for the month. Not only is that huge growth in one year, but in one month as well, as in January, Twitter.com clocked in with 4.5 million unique visitors in the US, meaning the service grew by more than 50 percent month-over-month.

Elsewhere in the social networking space, Facebook continued to widen its lead on MySpace, with a total of 65.7 million unique visitors versus 54.1 million for its increasingly distant competitor. Meanwhile, the recently re-launched Bebo, which now plays in the social networking aggregation game, is showing some promise, growing 40 percent from last year to register a total of nearly 3.2 million US visitors in February.
Click through to read the full report.

MillerCoors Steps Up Sports, Events as Anheuser-Busch Scales Back
At RAB Conference: Local Radio Supports New Strategy 

Drag-And-Drop Sports Stars: The Latest Hope For Display Ads (Paid Content)
Despite the problems surrounding display ads—spending dropped 6.4 percent last year, will stall this year, and the low CPMs can’t keep publishers up and running—the industry doesn’t really have a scalable alternative other than search. So publishers continue to try to find a magic bullet for display. The latest example: letting advertisers plug celebrity sponsors into their banner ads on the cheap. The company behind the new units is Brand Affinity Technologies; according to Adweek…

Advertisers can pick their celeb and drop a photo or video of them into a banner ad, though the athletes have veto rights over all offers or creative. The company tracks online buzz about the athletes so that advertisers know where to target ads for the most impact. It also lowers the cost barrier for celebrity endorsements: CPMs for these ads run in the $1 to $2.50 range, meaning a 10-million impression campaign could cost $25,000 tops.

The Best Print Ads of 2008
MRI Starch Names Top 10 Ads Based on Engagement

Marketers, Agencies Not Ready to Spend, Even Online
Fewer Expect to Increase Web Spending in Next 6 Months

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