We waited so long to post this, there's been a new development in the Peterson trial! Also, something about some thingee in Iraq. Guest morning reporter Mac hit the morning show highlights, including John Danforth being unreasonably thoughtful on Fox, Zell Miller and his wacky "liberal filter," and Al Sharpton's secret love.
Fallujah again this morning: US troops supplemented by Iraqi forces (thought to what degree is a matter of debate this morning) are involved in house-to-house fighting in the center of Fallujah. Three US troops were killed in the last twelve hours; no other stats available. [10, as of press time. -- W] Prime Minister Allawi has called a nighttime curfew. Arafat's coma has reportedly deepened; he may be dead as you read this. [Who knows!? -- W] The Scott Peterson trial may be headed for a hung jury or a mistrial. And a 57-year-old woman is pregnant with twins. Let's play our game!
7:08 NBC. TodayHoward Varinsky is the jury selection consultant for the prosecution in the Scott Peterson case, and I bet he never suspected he'd be splitting this particular hair on national television. The defense has argued that Peterson's boat is too small to support the prosecution's case, that is would have capsized if someone had attempted to throw a pregnant woman off of it. The jury asked to examine the boat during deliberations, and two jurors actually climbed into the boat and rocked it. Varinsky, clearly hoping to avoid a mistrial, says the jurors weren't conducting a test, they were just trying to get "a feel" for the boat. Your second-stringer Mac has also frequently employed the "just a feel" defense.
7:13 NBC. Today I would've changed channels, but who can pass up Newt Gingrich? The former House Speaker weighs in on the How Far to the Right? debate, says Bush won't compromise on the judges he wants. He says liberals are trying to rule out any people who act on faith, that they are in fact trying to impose a "faith test" on appointments. Gingrich is clearly hoping "faith test" will be the new "litmus test." He reasonably enough argues that reforming health care should be Bush's first initiative out of the gate, since it's a uniter, but then seems to gaffe big-time when Katie Couric asks him to name one mistake Republicans have made. As Marines continue close combat in Fallujah, Gingrich replies "Not giving Iraq back to the Iraqis a year earlier."
7:28 FNC. Fox & Friends. The Fox And Her Friends are talking to Joe Allbaugh, a campaign chair for Bush/Cheney '04. Allbaugh says keeping Andrew Card as chief of staff was the right call and that Rumsfeld needs to stay on at least through January elections in Iraq. On policy expectations for Bush Term 2, he hits the usual three -- war on terror, tax reform, social security -- avoids Christian right issues, and adds a Palestinian State to the Bush front-burner.
7:32 FNC. Fox & Friends US Ambassador to the UN John Danforth makes a lousy Fox & Friends guest. He's somber, thoughtful, barely partisan, and allergic to melodrama, and he's driving them crazy. He's on to talk about the UN "North-South" talks in Nairobi which are aimed at stopping the ongoing genocide in Sudan. The Friends listen politely, and then E. D. Hill can't take it anymore and asks if there's an anti-American coalition forming in the UN. Danforth: "No, I haven't seen anything like that." He says other countries continue to look to the US as an example. Brian Kilmeade tries a different tack the oil-for-food scandal: If it reaches as high as Kofi Annan, will Annan be ousted? Danforth: "That's such a big 'if.' I can't answer that. The main thing is to make sure the investigation has everything it needs."
7:38 NBC. Today.Katie Couric is interviewing Dr. Frederick Licciardi, a prominent OB/GYN, about the 57-year-old mom and the overall ramifications of older women having babies. Kouric, reportedly a grown woman, says "A lot of men in their seventies and eighties become fathers -- ew!" She asks if it isn't discriminatory to discourage older women from having babies. Licciardi does not spit out his water, and says it's different with women; at this point, a woman having a baby in her late-fifties has to be considered an experimental medical process.Couric: Should there even be an ethics to this? Shouldn't this be personal choice?(Your male second-stringer wonder: are there lots of women who want to have babies in their fifties?)
Licciardi: Not with egg donations. The established ethics is, don't use them for prolonging a woman's reproductive life past a safe point.
7:42 MSNBC. Imus In The MorningImus has his theory on why Bush won: "No matter who they were, people decided that Jesus was a better role-model than Michael Moore." His guest, An Unflattering Photo of Zell Miller (not that the man himself gets mistaken for George Clooney) says that "People don't want some high-brow hussy from New York City telling them they're stupid." Imus then refers to Andrew Sullivan as "gay and liberal." These two should just talk all the time. Miller's advice for Democrats: Stop putting candidates through that "liberal filter," i.e. the Iowa primary. Imus asks why the Defense Department is misrepresenting the degree to which Iraqi soldiers are actually fighting in Fallujah. Miller: I have confidence in any soldiers who are being trained by our Marines. His prediction: "We're gonna level that place."
7:49 NBC. Today Let's take a little break with Elton John, shall we? Wouldn't a little Elton John clear the ol' pallette? John tells Matt Lauer that he was initially skeptical about doing a show in Las Vagas -- "usually the graveyard of a career" -- but believes his reviews there have vindicated him. "I'll show you idiots I can do something good there." Get back, Honky Cat!
7:54 FNC. Fox & Friends. Back in the game with Al Sharpton who, despite his politics, makes a way better guest for the Friends than John Danforth, and they look delighted to see him. Sharpton's plugging his reality show "I Hate My Job." Kilmeade asks if the Dems are taking blacks for granted. Sharpton: Only if they weren't doing anything for us. He points out that Bush has more African Americans in higher posts than any previous administration and they still aren't getting the black vote "because they aren't addressing our concerns." Kilmeade again: What about Kerry in '08? Sharpton: "What about a lot of us in '08?" Then Sharpton made my morning when the Friends asked about his current dating life. He says to E.D. Hill: "You told them about us?" The tow-headed wolverine shrieks "That would come as a surprise to Mr. Hill!"
8:02 NBC. Today. Embedded reporter Kevin Sites is calling in from Fallujah. This is one of those classic war dispatches, with the reporter yelling over explosions and cries. He says at the moment it seems as if every citizen of Fallujah owns a rocket-propelled grenade launcher. I think the appropriate term here is "Fanfuckingtastic."
8:07 CNN. American Morning.Soledad O'Brien is talking to Iraqi UN Rep Samir Sumaidie about Fallujah. Soledad: Aren't there other fugitive cities? Sumaidie: None as important as Fallujah. If we take Fallujah, we hobble the insurgency. No questions about how many Iraqi troops are actually fighting.
8:12 MSNBC. Imus In The Morning Now the intrepid Kevin Sites is on Imus, and there are fewer explosions interrupting him. He says it's taken his unit three or four hours to get down the street they're on, so "if this kind of opposition continues, it's gonna be a long campaign." An Unflattering Photo of Jim Miklaszewski, Chief Pentagon Correspondent for NBC News, tells Imus there are a few Iraqis on the front-line with US troops, but very few. Miklaszewski says we need them in this fight for the political fallout later, as there are certain to be substantial civilian casualties in this kind of fighting.
8:32 FNC. Fox & FriendsE.D. Hill hits Christian-right activist Gary Bauer with a tougher question than I would have expected: Didn't the President support civil unions himself the other week? Bauer is mad-uncomf, says something about hospital visitation and inheritance being something you can set up legally now anyway without civil unions.
8:40 NBC. Today. Your second-stringer is pleased to close out his tenure with Katie Couric hitting on bestselling author Tom Wolfe. Couric keeps putting her glasses on so she can take them off and chew on them flirtatiously. It's awesome. Wolfe remains sadly unflustered. He's talking about the research he did for his new novel I Am Charlotte Simmons, visiting several colleges including the alma mater of your second- and first-stringer morning reporters, UNC-Chapel Hill. (Go Heels!) Wolfe says college girls would show him their date books listing their sexual conquests -- sometimes something as simple as "guy in green Wu-Tang t-shirt" -- and various symbols to indicate which sexual acts were preformed. Couric: Will this book make parents want to keep their kids out of college? Wolfe: "It's so hard to get into a competitive school these days, I think parents' attitude is, 'I don't care what happens as long as we get 'em in.'"
OVERALL: Sharpton's the only Dem on television today, so GOP still on top. Lesson for the day: E.D. Hill may not be secretly dating Al Sharpton, but picturing it just before meals is the diet-plan of the millennium! Back to you, Dan!