Friday, April 25, 2008

The TR: The Zeitgeist zags; Admiral Fallon's out and Jimmy Fallon's in

Hillary beats Barack in Pennsylvania, and the race goes on! We pitch forward at our desk and hit the surface with a thud -- God, when will it be over? Read on, dear friends, and see how we try to acknowledge there's other news in the world beyond the Democratic primaries.

Our Forecast

The beginnings of a global rice shortage and resulting overseas food riots are causing knee-jerk hoarding on American shores, with Costco limiting the amount of rice customers can buy per visit. Editors, who can smell your fear, will make rice a main course on the front page menu in the days to come. Isn't it tragic that we want something most when it becomes scarce? Now why doesn't this apply, say, to literacy?

My, how quickly the zeitgeist changes! Hill barely gets one cheek back on the Sofa of Safety, and suddenly O just "can't close the deal!" He "can't win the big states!" We predict all this O-doom won't stick; the hand-wringing over the Democratic Party flame-out will continue to dominate the discussion, accompanied by an obsessive slice-dice-rehash of various and sundry polls.

The Queen must admit that O is looking a bit wan -- can't we have another historic speech, please, or another rousing "Yes, We Can" video? He'd better brace himself, because Johnny-boy has an ace up his sleeve. Courtesy of the North Carolina GOP, a scathing anti-Obama ad featuring the notorious Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr. is set to hit the airwaves next week in some of our most racially retrograde regions. Johnny-boy, by publicly rejecting the ad, has succeeded in building anticipation for it while looking honorable. Credit goes to the National Review for spotting this neat bit of triangulation. We predict the ad gets heavier exposure than the economy-focused anti-McCain ads the DNC is spending $500K to run on national cable. Yes, the Ad Wars are on.

FYI, the freshly ubiquitous Rev. Wright has given Bill Moyers his first post-scandal television interview, which airs tonight.

Other pratfalls await Obama. By winning Pennsylvania handily, Hillary has changed the conversation on the nomination fight for the coming weeks. Winning on points is now irrelevant; electability is the measure of success. So says Rep. Steny Hoyer, and some superdelegates will adopt the same outlook.

Next week, the Dept. of Veterans Affairs kicks off an ambitious program to phone 570,000 Iraq and Afghanistan war vets. Why? To make sure they're taking full advantage of the range of services available to them... such as they are. Given the sorry state of the V.A. the last couple of years, expect a fresh round of horror stories.

The Week That Was

Ignore the TR at your peril! A few weeks back we mentioned how few in the press picked up on Admiral Fallon's resignation from Middle East Central Command over Iran policy. But no one's asleep at the wheel this time. The President's favorite general, David Petraeus, will now take over Fallon's old stomping grounds. Is it quid pro quo for his accommodating help in making the administration's Iraq policy digestable? Perhaps, but we're more concerned about what it could mean if Bush gets legacy-happy and decides to level Iran.

The New York Times landed a devastating left hook to cable TV last Sunday. The Gray Lady reported that many of the "independent" military advisers regularly invited onto panel shows are Pentagon plants whose purpose is to disseminate administration-friendly talking points through the mainstream media. Pair this with the steep decline in war coverage across the board, and it looks like the Iraq War has virtually become a big cover-up. Nervous TV execs hope the story goes away fast.

Rupert Murdoch has put the moves on Newsday, offering to buy the Long Island-based paper for $580 million. The Chicago Tribune has until next week to match the offer. Otherwise, Murdoch's media Mordor, motivated by ka-ching rather than by public service, will soon cast its shadow over two television stations and three newspapers in the lucrative New York market. So much for media diversity for the sake of a well-informed democracy. Where are the anti-consolidation advocates in this time of need?

Speaking of Murdoch, farewell WSJ managing editor Marcus Brauchli. You'll probably be better off now, but the paper won't.

We may soon be saying goodbye to some New York Times staffers too. Well, once professional journalists have all entirely disappeared, the White House briefing room can be turned back into a swimming pool!

We thought we had spotted the latest issue of The Onion the other day when we saw the headline "Pope waves to gay Catholics" followed by the subhead "Dignity members claim 'we got our message across.'" In fact, it was The Washington Blade, the freebie lesbian/gay weekly, in a deadpan display of wry humor. According to the story, during his D.C. visit Pope Benedict XVI waved from the Popemobile as he passed people whose banner identified them as members of Dignity, the organization of LGBT Catholics. Though it's hard to imagine the octogenarian Pope could make out the fine print on the banner -- the part that includes the LGBT words -- from the moving Popemobile, it's harder still to imagine that he intended his wave as any kind of affirmation of Dignity's admirable goals of inclusion in the church or equality in society -- after all, this IS Joseph Ratzinger in a new hat. But without hope, where would we be?

Speaking of gay, who knew Larry King was so cool? (Try not clicking THAT link!)

This week, GOP Senators successfully blocked the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, a piece of legislation that's been under the radar and gaining momentum for nearly a year. Pay equity has always been a top priority for the women's lobby, so expect feminists to come down hard on McCain and the other Republicans who prevented a vote from even taking place. At TR Central, we're ready to start hurling eggs.

But forget lobbying Congress. Petitioning Oprah is how you get real results. A pair of Connecticut high school students launched a yearlong campaign to get their favorite band, the Jonas Brothers, on Oprah's show. But this wasn't your typical case of fan fervor. These girls championed their cause in a hyper-organized Internet campaign that included a frequently-updated YouTube video blog, an online petition, and several e-mail-writing campaigns. In the end they won and got to visit Oprah and bask in her blinding fabulousness. Now let's get these girls working on universal health care, stat!

In our continuing quest to ensure that TR readers have the best bookmarks and RSS feeds anywhere, we refer you to the recently announced finalists for the 2008 EPpy Awards for the best media-affiliated internet services, presented by Editor & Publisher and Mediaweek. Congrats to the folks who toil away over hot keyboards to bring you those sites.

Finally we know who is to replace Conan O'Brien on Late Night when the red-haired wunderkind moves to The Tonight Show after Leno's forced retirement next year. And the winner is -- Jimmy Fallon!? You've got to be kidding. If he makes it through his first monologue without cracking up on camera, drinks are on us!

Conan gets the last word: "President Bush made a special taped appearance on the game show 'Deal or No Deal.' Afterwards, Bush said, 'I like this show, because randomly pointing at boxes is how I make decisions, too.'" Oh dear, it's too believable to be funny.

Scorecard

While we didn't do much predicting last week, what we did anticipate came to pass. Especially with the major movers and shakers in the blogosphere on the Ben Stein film. Have a great weekend everybody!

Friday, April 18, 2008

The TR: Mayors and Guns, Environmental Pets and the New Katie Couric

Wow, we were really asleep at the wheel last week. Our forecast totally spaced on the Pope's visit (are we God-less?), forgot about IMF meetings (heartless?), ignored the Hill-O debate (numb?) and went to press about 60 seconds after the Obama "bitterness" comments broke (too quick out the door to happy hour?). Must be the paint fumes in this new office.

Anyway -- we'll be better this week. Read on.

Our Forecast

At long last, the Pennsylvania primary! If Hill wins by a significant margin, expect Obama-mania to become Obama-depression. Anything less than a double-digit win means the current spin cycle remains on auto-repeat.

Early next week, big city mayors get serious about gun control as they launch "Mayors Against Illegal Guns." Pre-primary ads that show all three candidates stumping for gun control will run throughout Pennsylvania. The organization's goal is to hold the candidates' feet to the fire so they make good on their promises. But, wait ... in Pennsylvania? We're not quite sure we get it. Mike Bloomberg's leading the charge -- does he aspire to be an agitator in the 2008 race? Or is the New York mayor an "elitist" who doesn't get that the Keystone State "clings" to God and guns?

Ben Stein's new anti-Darwin diatribe, "Expelled," opens in select cinemas today. High-decibel blogosphere outrage abounds. Imagine what they'll say when they actually see the film. No advance screenings for scientists or film critics only means more progressive backlash. To us, it looks like Stein's PR team xeroxed a few pages out of Mel Gibson's marketing plan for "The Passion of the Christ." Look for much blog and cable news noise on this one.

The First Lady will guest host The Today Show this coming Tuesday. Is Laura the new Katie?

Jeff Stier's attempt to incite worries about Obama's health will go nowhere -- but wow Jeff, that's some creative thinking....

Finally, just in time for Earth Day, we have a new campaign -- Pets for the Environment -- designed to whip your children into utter outrage. You've probably already received the cute crayon-ready cartoons as part of their very successful, (truly?) viral e-mail campaign. Oh, yes, and don't forget to visit the giant party planned on the Mall (expect metro page coverage).

The Week That Was

Last week's TR press-time just missed the breaking Obama "bitterness." In a meteoric Macaca-like flash, the quote began as a crude tape recording on a little-read Obama supporter's blog, graduated to the Huffington Post and flooded into the collective psyche of the mainstream media, where it became one of the thoroughly-flogged commentator questions in the last Hill-O debate. While the remarks were offensive, it's a bit off-putting to watch Hillary and the GOP share bash-Obama messaging. Watch Hillary's TV ad, then compare it to vituperative GOP mailings for a Pennsylvania House campaign. Yikes!

Well Obama may be facing a tougher time in Pennsylvania, but it's nothing compared to the battle Jack Cafferty will face if he runs for president of China. Hmmm, we wonder which network will be particularly predisposed to air critical reports of the host nation during the Olympics?

The historic visit of Pope Benedict XVI to D.C. snarled traffic and gave us all food for thought. We applaud Der Papst for acknowledging the sex abuse scandal in the church and for meeting with victims. The Church has too long dragged its feet, litigated and obfuscated. But enough request for forgiveness, and a little more proactive rooting out the problem, please. It's not enough to blame it on America's secular environment. We hate to remind his Holiness of the main tenet of reconciliation (newfangled word for confession): You must confess to a priest, and then honestly embrace new behavior. The Queen is a proud Catholic convert who's honestly afraid to take her gorgeous little boys to CCD (that's Sunday School, for you Protestant heretics out there).

Meanwhile, the American Life League placed full-page ads in The Politico and The Washington Times asking why certain Catholic pro-choice lawmakers are still allowed to receive communion. With photos nearly begging for an instant papal excommunication. (Check out the 1995 Papal Encyclical of Life -- Catholics aren't even allowed to express support for abortion.) Man, that's harsh and wrong.

Speaking of retrograde, McCain's sudden embrace of pro-life activists was chilling, though the ads scarcely moved the needle on Capitol Hill. Well, what do you expect from a guy who's older than plutonium?

Bush's much-ballyhooed Rose Garden speech on climate change was meant to turn heads but turned stomachs instead. The media saw the gesture as an attempt to block progress. We at the TR are feeling a wee bit hopeful -- the Prez's statement that solutions were required by legislators elected by the people, not courts or regulatory agencies, might actually be a tiny white flag. Could it be a signal to push Republicans to engage in the current "fix," i.e. the Senate's expected June vote on the Lieberman-Warner Act? Get busy, says corporate America, before the expected November bloodbath brings in more Dems! (And before another Manhattan-sized piece of the Arctic ice shelf crashes into the ocean!)

According to a study issued by the American Society of Newspaper Editors, the number of newspaper writers currently employed is near a 25-year low. Yaaawwwwnnn. So what? With citizen journalism both making and reporting the headlines, the news hole is infinite and the information is out there. But there's so much info, we still need professional reporters to help us work through the info-overload. We wish ASNE would stop whining about the declining number of newsroom jobs with bennies and use its influence to disseminate journalism standards more broadly. Or, better yet, help professional journalists wean themselves from the teat of established-but-faltering media companies and join the online masses to help define a NEW kind of journalism and also raise the bar for everyone. And (sigh) SUCH OLD NEWS. TR Internet genius Gloria Pan has been blogging on this for years. Being on the cutting edge is hard -- it takes the rest of the world so long to catch up.

(P.S. At a recent ASNE event attended by the presidential candidates, Hillary shone in her speech and Obama was clearly exhausted and read from index cards. So says a newspaper editor insider and faithful TR reader who was there.)

ABC News was thoroughly trashed for focusing on trivial beltway gossip during the Clinton-Obama debate in Philadelphia. Even Charlie got heckled by the live audience in a viral snippet that's been making rounds among the blogs. For once, Georgie-boy defended the performance of supposedly "liberal" journalists. Shame that the final debate of the primary season was such a dud. However, we were fascinated by the bizarre Roman-Senate-meets-Star-Trek set, with eerie turquoise light bathing the concentric rings of onlookers.

Fortunately the campaign trail still has its fun moments, as evidenced by the appearance of the Democratic candidates on the Colbert Report. And sometimes, apparently, being a presidential candidate means boozing like a college student. As Jay Leno said of Hillary's chugfest, "She took the shot with the beer chaser. Did it like an old pro. To give you an idea how much she drank, when the phone rang at 3 a.m., she slept right through it." But who can blame her for feeling celebratory, now that she's within three percentage points of the big O?

Finally, actress and playwright Tricia Walsh-Smith updated Andy Warhol's famous quip: everyone is famous for 15,000 web hits. In Smith's case, it was 2.2 million views of a YouTube video in which she eviscerates her soon to be ex-husband in a series of bizarre and embarrassing ways. Let's hope they both signed a firm-but-fair Facebook pre-nup and worked out decent MySpace visitation rights.

Reader Comments

We received a slightly outdated (but still interesting) copy of Garry Wills' comparison of Obama's race speech to Abe Lincoln's famous Cooper Union remarks in the New York Review of Books from one of our favorite readers. Since the South Carolina primary we too have been thinking about the similarities between O and L: not hugely "experienced" (the latter was a failed one-term congressman when he ran for the Big Job), came-from-behind, great campaigner, considered a uniter, tall and lanky, from Illinois, etc. (Okay, Hillary folks -- go ahead and flame me and call me at home on Saturday morning if you truly must, blind to my love as you are. That is, if you haven't all unsubscribed already.)

Scorecard

We've already lashed ourselves quite thoroughly for last week's shoddy forecast. We went from awesome to awful in the blink of an eye. Everyone can have an "off" week once in a while, no?

OK, I've enjoyed our weekly visit, but it's time to get back to coupon-clipping so my little princes can go to college. 2008... what a year.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

The TR: Huckabee's Second Coming, Tibet's Grand Slam

Mmmm, love those balmy evening breezes (but ack, the smell of the air conditioner after it's been idle for months). In some mythically innocent bygone spring we might have relaxed under a shady tree, but in the all-too-real present we're surrounded instead by shady campaign advisors, shady veep negotiations, and shady superdelegate dealmaking. Well let's have an iced tea together and make the best of it....

Our Forecast

Huck's Doomsday ClockRemember Mike Huckabee? Check out his creepy countdown, due to expire this coming Tuesday. What does he have up his sleeve? Is it his deadline for getting McCain's VP nod? New diet tool? Inside info on the Rapture?

Airlines are toast. Better make sure your summer vacation destination is driveable.

GOP IdolWhile the three major candidates were busy being bumped by American Idol Gives Back, Condi and Mitt staged some conservative idolatry of their own as they strut their stuff in behind-the scenes campaigning for a spot on the Republican ticket. Reports coming in under the radar. Expect them to pick up steam post-Pennsylvania.

Newseum fever has gripped us here at TR Central. The new, state-of-the art ode to media opens today in D.C., with 14 galleries that tell the story of news, as well as a 40-by-22-foot HD media screen. Totally our scene, right? Well, we'll see.... Rumor has it that bookings for its event space are quickly filling up with wedding parties, which, if true, means we may soon have our own version of the Central Park-style cliche locale for that must-have shot of white tulle against the skyline. And yes I know the museum cost half a billion (really) but what's with the $20 admission fee? Let's think about it for a moment: even if the nearby dinosaurs and rocketships weren't FREE, can you picture the kiddies saying "mommy! daddy! let's go look at news media stuff!" Even in a whole week, tourists can't see all the cool free stuff here. Who is going to keep the Newseum afloat? Forecast: that fee drops at least 25% within a year.

Our crystal ball tells us many of you will spend time this weekend finishing your taxes. Just keep Jimmy Kimmel's words in mind: "You know, we all hate paying taxes, but the truth of the matter is without our tax money, many politicians would not be able to afford prostitutes."

With 11 days to go before the Pennsylvania primary, Obama's campaign is doing damage control over accusations that he insulted blue-collar Pennsylvanians in his comments at a recent San Francisco fundraiser. Measured by their likely effect on the primary vote, Obama's comments (available in audio and transcript here) were clearly a misstep. The challenge for Hillary's PR team is to sustain the story beyond Friday-Saturday when people pay less attention to the news. McCain's team will help.

The Week That Was

Olympic torchThe Tibetan freedom protestors have managed to steal the headlines. "Olympic Torch Used To Ignite Tibetan Protesters." Sorry, that's the Onion. It's Friday, so sue me.

But seriously, Iraq War critics take note! Aggressive picketing of the Olympic Torch as it makes its way around the globe has re-sparked the human rights debate with a bang. Movers and shakers such as Nancy Pelosi have even advocated boycotting the opening ceremonies. McCain jumped on the bandwagon, saying, "If Chinese policies and practices do not change, I would not attend the opening ceremonies."

Was Petraeus 2.0 a Trojan Horse? While the media fixated on hearings hype, the President suspended his planned summer troop reduction. One hundred years in Iraq is looking more likely everyday. (BTW, Petraeus reassures the curious that he will never -- and he means ever -- run for office. In case you were concerned.) "With so many more patriots to honor, the Iraq War Memorial has been extended past the Washington Monument and into the southbound lane of 14th Street." That's the Onion again.

Hillary buttonNews of Mark Penn's shady free-trade lobbying on behalf of Columbia led to his hasty demotion from chief Clinton campaign strategist. Poor guy -- we're sure his ego took a painful beating. As CEO of Burson-Marsteller, Penn has lobbying ties to bad guys of all stripes, according to reports that have swirled around the blogosphere for months. Hillary, don't you know that Caesar's wife must be above reproach?

Hey Mark, China is looking for a PR agency to advise the government on strategies to repair its image before the Olympics. Quit sniffling and call Beijing! Actually I'm just kidding about the sniffling.

Speaking of blogs, who knew? Blogging kills! So reports the New York Times. But we hear more people die in front of crossword puzzles than computers, so for geeks, it's really "pick your poison."

To all you liberal types who've been clamoring for a more effective platform with which to pummel the GOP in the general election: your prayers have been answered. Progressive Media USA, soon to be headed by Media Matters' David Brock, will take aim at McCain with a $40 million budget going into November. We'll say this: If the talking points are feeble, it won't matter, 'cuz they have $40 billion. Still, there's a big difference between hitting a single and hitting a home run. We hope they find the right message before going in so they can really knock it out of the park.

And the foundations of CBS News seem again to be a-shaking. After a year-and-a-half of disappointing ratings, it seems that $15M-per-year evening anchor Katie Couric may depart long before the expiration of her contract. What's more, CBS is rumored to be thinking of outsourcing its news reporting to The Anderson Cooper Network. As CBS News, iconic for its dominance throughout the Golden Age of News in the post-war era and beyond, declines along with its old-media counterparts, we worry about who will provide the news critical to the functioning of our democracy.news history Online media can more than fill the void, but with what? As soldiers blog their own coverage in war zones, can "first-hand journalism" attain the level of quality symbolized by the Murrows and Cronkites of years past? And who will handle quality control?

AS I TYPE, news arrives that Washingtonpost.com CEO/Publisher Caroline Little is out, and Katharine Graham's granddaughter Katharine Weymouth will now head both the newspaper and the web site.

Speaking of the Post, congrats to the home town paper on its six Pulitzers--the most it's ever won. Several of the Post's winning entries had online components, reflecting what Jonathan Dube of CyberJournalist.net says is a Pulitzer trend.

Speaking of online, if your bookmark collection is getting stale, browse the freshly-announced Webby Award nominees.

We'll wrap up with a quote that should bring a smile to any flack. This is from IBM product manager Mike Moran, in his luncheon keynote speech earlier this week at Media Relations Summit 2008: "Instead of looking at the Internet as a threat, look at it as something that makes everything you know more valuable than it was before-bigger and more important. You know how to get past gatekeepers because you've always had them. What you need to think about is who these new gatekeepers are on the Web. It's not the marketing people that are the hot shots at viral messaging. It's you."

Reader Comments

In response to our bit about calls for Hillary to drop out of the race, one alert reader wrote: "I completely disagree with your assessment of Sen. Clinton. ... Keep in mind there are a lot of us, close to half of the voters, that WANT her to stay in the race." Whoa, Nelly! We here at TR Central actually DO believe in the Democratic process. Sorry if that wasn't clear.

Scorecard

Vets for Freedom DID get their face time with McCain and Lieberman the day of their Capitol Hill rally.

About Us

As you may know, dear readers, we're more than a snarky, adolescent e-zine. We're also a giant monolithic PR firm (or not).

We had to share... one of our clients, a research scientist, suggested a new tagline: "Smart, Quick and Not a Chicken-Shit Invertebrate." Alas, as messaging experts, we know that one should never define oneself in the negative, so our tagline must remain as is for now. Check it out at TurnerStrategies.com!

Friday, April 4, 2008

The TR: It's 3 a.m., and will the phone please shut up already

cherry blossomsO How Fleeting are the lovely cherry blossoms, already being rinsed from their knobby branches by the Spring rain. Though the National Cherry Blossom Festival continues here in D.C. until the 13th, we've already passed the peak bloom. Hanami, the Japanese word for a flower-viewing party, has a bittersweet undertone; the blossoms are precious for being so fleeting, like the Queen's youth ... but markedly unlike the 2008 presidential election.

Take a deep breath of April air and share with me this weekly look at our odd corner of the universe.

Our Forecast

PetraeusGen. David Petraeus is up before Congress again next week, though with less fanfare than last time. The goal of the GOP is simple: keep this story below the fold and limit his appearance to a two-day story. All news is bad news and they know it. Expect instant reactions from all three campaigns, with McCain's at the forefront.

Continuing the trend from this week, Obama will pick up even more party endorsements to add to the most recent thumbs-ups from Gov. Dave Freudenthal and former Rep. Lee Hamilton. Soon, perhaps, even one from ex-peanut farmer cum President who shall remain nameless? With these additional endorsements, expect more prominent stories on how the party is slowly putting a protective layer of bodies between Obama and the Clinton attacks. Don't forget, each time he nabs key endorsements, Obama wins the news cycle for the week.

GoreLook for more buzz about Al Gore's future. The man is primed to be everywhere once again. After announcing on 60 Minutes his landmark $300 million project on global warming, he has thrown down the gauntlet for accomplishment: What have the rest of you Dems been doing other than fighting in committee or taking embarrassing photo ops on the campaign trial? Democrats, for the love of God, do something! Plant a tree? Mow your neighbor's lawn? Anything!

And because we all have to show up our friends online, Myspace next week will challenge Apple's iTunes Store by launching a music service that will give users access to a wide range of music for a monthly fee. While this will usher in a new era for struggling music labels, which are collaborating with Myspace on this, we're too pre-occupied with getting our own TR mix in order. Send us your mixes, people, and we'll post ours next week!

The Week That Was

Let's dispense with the circus right off the bat. Obama out-raised Hillary two-to-one in March, and New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine -- a superdelegate and longtime Clinton supporter -- may defect. As someone posted below the latter story, "If (the Clinton campaign) were the Titanic, the band would be playing Nearer My God To Thee just about now."

3 a.m. phone partyAnd yet she is hanging tough, with a new 3 a.m. ad (suddenly this has become its own genre) in which she goes after McCain. Next came a McCain ad that cleverly uses the same footage with a new voiceover. We await Obama's entry.

Speaking of whom, the man is flawed, he can't bowl! But at least his horrendous score of 36 gave campaign journalists, bored during the lull between primaries, something to do: trawl the highways and byways of America for incriminating score cards. Don't you get 20 points for just picking up the ball?

Katie Couric finally gets her shot as a debate moderator, now that Hillary and Obama have accepted CBS News' invitation to face off later this month in North Carolina.

So Hillary, resolutely in the race, appears to still have a shot. But some cynics believe it's an illusion based on crass manipulation by an avaricious media. Time will tell.

John McCain got a key endorsement this week from Heidi Montag, the new Boss Tweed of reality shows, who, BTW, is a feminist hero, breast implants and all. McCain also made a key stop at his old high school on his "biography tour." Whoa, John, you shouldn't have reminded people that you graduated before "Rock Around the Clock" by Bill Haley and the Comets was a hit.

So it's a circus, but we could have it much worse. We could live in Zimbabwe, where the anxious populace now waits to find out whether Robert Mugabe will meet his defeat with or without bloodshed. While the octogenarian despot contemplates his dwindling options, his police have detained Pulitzer Prize-winning NY Times correspondent Barry Bearak -- not a good sign.

Bernanke has uttered the "R" word, and sure enough jobs are down in D.C. by one point from February and 30 points from a year ago according to the Monster Employment Index, which tracks employer online recruitment activity. If you're out of work, consider Atlanta or Wichita, where apparently things are looking up. Whatever you do, don't bother trying to break into TV news, where stocks, revenues and axes keep falling, or newspapers, which are reeling from the worst ad revenue plunge in 60 years. Consider instead becoming a citizen journalist! I don't know about the money, but it'll keep you in the game.

Or be Tina Brown and Barry Diller. They're launching a new news aggregator, sweeping scraps into what may perhaps pass as a robust news source. Oops, there goes the Queen's launch party invitation.

We found ourselves cheering Sen. Debbie Stabenow's gritty performance after the revelation that her husband paid $150 dollars for an encounter with a prostitute. At least this gave us a new variation on the spouse-by-one's-side post-scandal statement.

A transgender man, formerly a Miss Teen Hawaii U.S.A. finalist, is six months pregnant. Thomas Beatie says that pregnancy does not make him feel feminine, and that he has "a very stable male identity." Wow, if the ability to have children is not what distinguishes women from men, what does? The Queen feels her universe shifting.

Finally, Ted Turner forecasts that due to global warming, in 30 or 40 years, nothing will grow and what's left of the human race will be cannibalizing each other. Best take the Queen's advice: eat lots of fruits and vegetable while you can, bone-up on your BBQ skills and start hoarding ketchup.

Scorecard

We went perfect. Did you really expect anything less? Have a great weekend.