White House Press Whores?
Top 10 media stories
1) White House Press Relations, Take 1: Paying off commentators. Issuing a White House press credential to a former gay escort working for a Texas-based Web site subtly titled GOPUSA. All in all, it was a lousy year for the White House's attempt to manipulate the press. But it didn't get any worse than press secretary and former Austinite Scott McClellan trying to defend his Ron Ziegler-esque assurance that absolutely, positively no White House staffer had anything to do with telling the press that Valerie Plame, wife of former ambassador and White House critic Joe Wilson, was a CIA agent.
2) White House Press Relations, Take 2: Turns out the White House, which just hates the damn freedom-hating pinko press, loves to slip reporters hot dirt maybe even classified info when it suits them. Who knew? And, oops, its looks like the vice-president's chief of staff may have lied like a bad dog when federal prosecutors asked him about Plame. And then it turns out that those loose cannons at The New York Times had agreed for more than a year not to print news that the president may have illegally authorized domestic spying. Damn that media.
3) But Liberals Ain't Funny: Air America is proving that liberal radio can spit back at Rush and his gang of radio bullies. Border Media Partners brought the format to Austin's KOKE-AM (1600) in March to general cheer (and mediocre ratings). If only Al Franken could pull eight-hour shifts.
4) Mariah Carey Fans Are, Like, So Happy: Here's something you don't see every day in the radio biz: Infinity Broadcasting (now CBS Radio) dropped the Beat, one of the most popular formats in town, to make room for Howard Stern. Then Stern announced he was jumping to satellite radio. With a loud "D'oh!" the station returned the Beat format to KXBT-FM (104.3) in January, re-engaging the one-on-one slap-down for hip-hop fans with Emmis Broadcasting's Hot 93.3.
5) Somebody Is Leaking All Over Us: The city hired a "fact-finder" at $250 an hour to investigate who leaked a recommendation from the citizens' police review board to a reporter from the Austin American-Statesman. Less mysterious was why the notoriously pro-developer Statesman ran a massive page-one press-release-style spread on the planned AMD Lantana development, after the company apparently "leaked" the plans to the paper.
6) Can You Spell Journalist? Community-access television producers were irate when city staff denied them press credentials to a Ku Klux Klan rally, declaring that they were not real journalists. Beyond prompting a lawsuit, the gaffe served to remind at least a few observers that in the age of the Internet, blogging, and cheap cameras, everyone is a journalist.
7) Like, Reality, Y'Know?: MTV's The Real World showed Austin as a great place to get drooling drunk. Highlights for the national TV audience included three arrests and a vicious Sixth Street brawl that left one cast member requiring reconstructive facial surgery. Meanwhile ABC decided not to air a glimpse at life in Circle C after concerns that the show may have shown a wee bit too much of the reality of racism and anti-gay discrimination.
8) But We Can't Understand a Word They're Saying: The eclectic hits format dubbed "Bob" was a ratings gorilla, and the rock radio competition lost "World Class Rock," Channel l02.3, dumped by Clear Channel in favor of a contemporary Christian format. But the big news in local radio was the emergence of the morning show El Chulo y la Bola on Spanish-language KHHL-FM (98.9), known as "La Ley." The show registered at No. 1 among listeners 18-34 years old, hinting at the true size of the Spanish-language audience in Austin.
9) He's Got Great Hair: Smooth-reading anchorman Ron Oliveira jumped from KVUE-TV to crosstown rival KEYE, the low-rated CBS affiliate. When he hits the air this spring (a noncompete clause in his old contract kept him on the bench for a year) he'll team with former partner Judy Maggio, creating a superstar tandem sure to ratchet up the local TV news competition.
10) No More of This Shit: Austin American-Statesman editors roused from their slumber to smite a Doonesbury cartoon that included the phrase "turd blossom," the president's wacky pet name for puppet-master Karl Rove. One of only a handful of papers around the country to pull the strip, the paper sent a clear message about its efforts to preserve the city's moral fiber, as well as about its own hazy standards. Confronted with evidence that he had used the term "poop" several times in recent weeks, Statesman columnist John Kelso replied, "I guess my column is completely full of shit lately."