Sunday, January 9, 2005

Sunday Reading

  • The New York Times editorializes on the exit of Tucker Carlson and Crossfire.

    As it turns out, an important moment in the annals of modern culture may have occurred when Jon Stewart of Comedy Central went on CNN’s “Crossfire” last October and decided to be serious. He told Paul Begala, on the left, and Tucker Carlson, on the right, that their show, which specializes in encouraging midlevel political types to yell slogans at each other, was “partisan hackery” that was lowering the level of political discourse. At the time, he was widely denounced for failing to be funny.

    But the fact that Mr. Stewart, a comedian, is perhaps the most influential political commentator on television is in itself a sign of the times, and it turns out he may be prescient about programming as well. Jonathan Klein, president of CNN, announced last week that he was canceling “Crossfire” and steering CNN back toward actual news.

  • The Washington Post profiles Virginia Governor Mark Warner and looks at his chances for running for higher office.

    A multimillionaire entering his final year as governor of a conservative, Southern state, Warner has cultivated an image of fiscal discipline and bipartisanship that is catapulting him into the ranks of “the mentioned” among Democrats. Many assume he will run for the U.S. Senate in 2006. Some believe he will make a bid to be president in 2008. A few people close to him say he wants to be governor again someday.

    “There are a lot of people within the Democratic Party who believe the party needs to reclaim the center,” Warner said in an interview on the eve of his last General Assembly session, which begins Wednesday. “There are a number of figures who can help move the party in that direction.”

  • Carl Hiaasen opines in the Miami Herald on how easy it is to get a book published. Just make a damn fool of yourself.

    Take Amber Frey. She briefly dated a man who turned out to be a killer, and now — less than two months after his conviction — she’s out promoting a 214-page memoir.

    In a bygone era, a person like Frey would have been so mortified by her fling with a monster like Scott Peterson that she would’ve dropped out of sight after the trial and attempted to resume a private, quiet life.

    Such decorous retreats into anonymity are rare these days. Fame is like crack, and it’s just about as accessible. We in the media are shamelessly ravenous for celebrity news, which means we require a steady manufacture of new celebrities.

    Once she came forward to admit her affair with Peterson, Amber Frey was golden. Even her name seemed tailor-made for the tabloids.

    Within days the unknown Fresno massage therapist was a household word, the willowy ”other woman” in America’s most sensational (for the moment) murder case.

    Obviously, Frey didn’t mind the attention as much as it first appeared. She quickly conjoined herself to a big-shot lawyer who went on every cable-news program in the free world to push Frey’s story.

    Gee, and here I am slaving over characters that I hope my readers will actually like and care about. What the hell am I thinking?

  • Football picks: They’re still playing? Okay, sentimental favorites win out over records and statistics. I’ll take Denver over Indianapolis and Minnesota over Green Bay for the simple reason that I’ve lived in Colorado and Minnesota. Is there a better way to pick?