John McCaslin

HEIL, ASHCROFT

It's easy to criticize reporters, a leading congressman tells the Media Institute.

"It seems that everyone does," observes Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas). "But please consider this question: If one of your employees consistently provided you with only part of the information you needed, would you be satisfied with that employee's performance?"

Take ABC's Barbara Walters, the congressman said, who in narrating an interview last year with Fidel Castro said, "For Castro, freedom starts with education. And if literacy alone were the yardstick, Cuba would rank as one of the freest nations on Earth."

And Newsweek Assistant Managing Editor Evan Thomas, who as a guest on the TV program "Inside Washington" said: "If we'd really been watching and paying attention we could have headed off (Sept. 11). But the German prosecutorial system was pretty laid back and didn't want to be (Attorney General) John Ashcroft, you know, they didn't want to be the SS, they had that worry there, no Gestapos."

Said Smith: "Americans who only receive their news from these media outlets could reasonably conclude that Cuba is a virtual democracy (and) John Ashcroft is a Nazi ..."

WHATEVER WORKS

Wednesday (July 16) marked the debut of a new political Web site - www.PoliticsUS.com - produced by the Publius Group, which earlier launched state-based political Web sites in New Jersey, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania.

Besides collecting "all the political news you need to know," the site presents its own stable of columnists, primarily campaign operatives, including former Republican National Committee spokesman Bill Pascoe, former Virginia Democratic Party Chairman Paul Goldman, former Bush administration aide Donald Trigg and Democratic strategist Ken Snyder.

There's also a column by an anonymous editor who uses the pseudonym "Publius."

"By remaining cloaked and nonpartisan, he's able to get information out of people in the know that they wouldn't dare give a known journalist," says Pascoe. "Sounds screwy, but it works."

BALD-HEADED MOOSE

The epilogue to the newly released paperback edition of Ronald Kessler's The Bureau: The Secret History of the FBI (St. Martin's Press), claims it was a senior FBI agent - not Montgomery County Police Chief Charles A. Moose - who led the Beltway sniper investigation.


John McCaslin

John McCaslin is a contributing columnist on Townhall.com and author of Inside The Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans from around the Nation's Capital .

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