Dean's scream, the union label, the beeb, the press, church sex, etc.

Posted: Feb 24, 2004 12:00 AM

Since last we met in this forum, much has gone up and gone down. The most exciting, perhaps, are the romps of the twin rovers Spirit and Opportunity across the Martian landscape. Astounding stuff. Less astounding but still notable were...

Howard Dean's implosion and his primal scream. Key pols lately have had their defining moments: Michael Dukakis in a tank, Ed Muskie in tears, Jimmy Carter and the killer rabbit, Bill Clinton and those bimbo eruptions, Teddy Kennedy and his Chappaquiddick swim. Add now Dean's post-Iowa outburst, confirming he had reached the end of the line - indeed had gone over the edge.

John Kerry is going to be the Democratic presidential nominee. And though he just took on a Secret Service contingent, he has had a royal retinue. Hear The Washington Post's Ann Gerhart, writing from Middleton, Wis. on Feb. 7: "There are traveling press secretaries, and Washington press secretaries, and advance press secretaries, so many that it seems even the press secretaries have press secretaries. There is a luggage handler, and special rooms in hotels for storing the luggage, and three buses to move the entourage. A primary-day bulletin helpfully suggests that traveling media fill the long afternoon dead time by eating at Cheeseburger in Paradise and shoe-shopping at DSW, the always-captivating discount warehouse."

Kerry just received the endorsement of the Big Labor big boys in the 64-union AFL-CIO umbrella group. What does it mean - what value are such endorsements? Hard to say. Earlier, major unions supported the now-departed Dean and Richard Gephardt, who in unionist Iowa finished third and fourth respectively (losing to Kerry and John Edwards even in union households). Union labor almost always goes Democratic - went for Al Gore in 2000. But it is losing its political bone and sinew. At a mere 13 percent of the total American workforce, union membership is a mere shadow of its former self.

At the height of two key merger negotiations last week, the press was full of breathless last-minute stories about how Comcast was going to gobble Disney and how Vodafone was going to get AT&T Wireless. Done deals, pressies closest to the negotiations said. Funny thing, though - the deals were not done. Disney spurned Comcast and AT&T went to Cingular. So much for the reliability of the inside skinny.

In press news, another insider has taken another whack at a maverick. Former Post ombudsman Geneva Overholser has resigned from the board of the National Press Foundation because of the group's decision to honor Fox News anchor Brit Hume at its annual D.C. dinner. Past recipients of the NPF's principal award: David Brinkley, Dan Rather, John Chancellor, Jane Pauley, Barbara Walters and Nina Totenberg. Hume is too much for Ms. Overholser because (her words) he and his No. 1-rated cable news network are practitioners of "ideologically connected journalism" - as though the past recipients and their networks were not. With the moderate Hume now inside the NPF's pantheon of honorees, it's hard to find any cracks in the walls.

Britain's once beloved "Beeb," the government-owned British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), has shown its true ideological colors as perhaps never before in its failed effort to bring down British Prime Minister Tony Blair. The BBC accused Blair of "sexing up" the case for war to remove Saddam Hussein - of ignoring traditional checks and balances promoting objectivity, of manipulating intelligence data for political ends. With Blair now exonerated and key BBC officials gone, other BBC employees and correspondents are providing further examples of the extent of the Beeb's anti-Western radicalism.

It all raises once more the question as to why vibrant democracies like Britain and the United States are in the business of funding - for domestic consumption - their own electronic press operations such as the BBC and (here) the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, both of which are heavily radicalized against the very governments that keep them going. In Britain and the United States it's time to sell government-subsidized news operations to the private sector.

CNN has reported on a massive study into priestly sexual abuse scheduled for release Friday. CNN says the study has concluded that based on information from the bishops of nearly all the nation's 195 Roman Catholic dioceses, since 1950 the Church received 11,000 accusations against 4,450 priests. Given that the vast majority of the accusations were made by males against predatory (male) priests, homosexuality is a key factor in the sexual-abuse scandal rocking the church.

And U.S. Episcopal Church hierarchs may be getting the message. A Church council earlier this month learned of a $3 million (6 percent) shortfall in this year's budget - largely a consequence of diocesan and parishioner parsimony with funds in protest of the ordination of the Church's first openly homosexual bishop.

Yet at about the same time, the Church of England's General Synod endorsed a report by bishops calling for "interpretative charity" regarding biblical condemnations of homosexuality. The bishop of Oxford, while acknowledging the Bible's disapproval of homosexual behavior as he introduced the report, said: "Debate about the interpretation of biblical texts has to be understood in the wider context of the societal shifts that have caused attitudes toward sexuality and sexual behavior to change in the modern era."