Political Scrapbook

Posted: Apr 25, 2001 12:00 AM
MEDIAPOLITIK If you don't think your favorite newspaper columnist or television anchor influences and shape world affairs, think again. Drawing upon his lifelong study of politics and journalism, political historian Lee Edwards has just published what the Catholic University of America Press calls the first scholarly examination of a powerful new phenomenon in world politics: the mass media. "Edwards argues that the media have become as important a factor in determining the course of international affairs and the future of nations as economic prosperity, military strength, natural resources, and national will," the publishing house says of "Mediapolitik: How the Mass Media Have Transformed World Politics." A senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation and adjunct associate professor of politics at Catholic University in Washington, D.C., Edwards employs case studies to show how the media have influenced and even "determined" the outcomes of major political acts. OTHER PEOPLE The Agriculture Department needs a "Hispanic Male and Male Person with Disabilities" to report to duty no later than June 8. So says a memo to department deputy chiefs, requesting candidates of such shade or disability to serve a three-year term (all travel costs covered) on the agency's National Civil Rights Committee, which is composed of men and women of the following categories: American Indian or Alaska native; Asian and native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander; black; Hispanic or Latino; white, and persons with disabilities. BUSH-ISMS Republicans counted down the days (2,920) until Bill Clinton left the White House. Now it's the Democratic National Committee that's peddling a similar Bush calendar for $17.95, "A year full of laughs. Each day a new Bush-ism." GORE LEGACY In response to "rampant violations" of voting rights, the Democratic National Committee at its 2001 Winter Meeting acted on a proposal submitted by Al Gore's former presidential campaign manager, Donna Brazile, and created the DNC Voting Rights Institute. Brazile's institute has the strong support of DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe and National Development Chairman Maynard Jackson, who together issued the statement: "We will not accept a repeat of voter disenfranchisement that stained Election 2000." Early last month, the DNC requested each state party chairman provide documentation of any voting irregularities that occurred in the state, and since then, we're told, the DNC legal department has been compiling "documented abuses" and other instances in which "democracy has been denied." The DNC will announce the findings at a news conference on National Law Day, Tuesday;, May 1. After all, as the DNC continues to insist, "when all the ballots are cast and every vote is counted, Democrats win." SCARY STATS Here's an eye-opener: Classroom teachers make up only 52 percent of the public education work force in the United States and 12 states have more non-teachers than teachers, according to the Education Intelligence Agency. The agency's 30-page report, "Tribute for a Light: Public Education Spending and Staffing," compiles the latest education information from the Education Department, the Census Bureau, the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers. RACIST BRAT It's been an irreverent month and more for CNN founder Ted Turner, who began the Easter season by labeling his own network's news staffers with ash on their foreheads "Jesus freaks" and concluded it by blaming his split from wife Jane Fonda on her newfound Christian faith. Now we pick up veteran broadcast journalist Daniel Schorr's new book, "Staying Tuned: A Life in Journalism" (Pocket Books, $26.95), due for publication on May 8, only to read more about "the casually bigoted Turner," as the author writes. "Once he had lunch with the Reverend Jesse Jackson, who was urging him to hire more Afro-Americans," reveals Schorr of the billionaire Turner, his former boss. "Flippantly, Turner said he was a minority, too, having to contend with the big three networks, that he was also poor, having lost $15 million the previous year. "And, Turner added, as Jackson shook his head unbelievingly, one answer to minority unemployment might be to have blacks carry missiles from silo to silo, 'the way Egyptians used to carry stone blocks during the building of the pyramids.' "Turning to Jane Fonda, his second wife, the civil rights leader said, 'Your husband is a racist brat.' "'He treats everybody that way,' she replied." WILDER BEAR It's not your father's Smokey Bear anymore. The national symbol of forest fire prevention since 1944, Smokey is becoming "contemporary" on us, with the new message: "Only You Can Prevent Wildfires." That's right, the "forest fires" Smokey warned us about for generations -- the longest running public service announcement campaign in U.S. history -- are passe. The new "wildfire" slogan, explains the U.S. Forest Service, responds to the rampant outbreak of wildfires during the past year. Hopefully, the new Smokey will be as effective as the old. Burned "forest" decreased from 22 million acres per year at the start of the Smokey Bear campaign to less than 4 million acres per year today. The number of wildfires, on the other hand, is dramatically up, with more than 102,000 started last year by human carelessness.