Friday, August 1, 2008

The TR: Corruption, Condoms and the Cuil Kids

The A/C is blasting, the kids are off to summer camp and the interns are getting all kinds of newfangled iced drinks for the office to enjoy. Ahh, it must be August. It must be Friday. It must be - the Turner Report!


The opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics next week promise to be gorgeous, according to rehearsal footage aired by South Korean TV. What can we look forward to this year, apart from watching our favorite events at strange hours of the day and night due to the 12-hour Beijing-DC time difference? Well, we of the new TR Athletics Commission will do some round-robin blogging on media coverage of the games. Of course, those of you actually IN China may be denied access to the TR blog, but don't worry, we keep an archive!

NBC News will air a special townhall next week to discuss its controversial reality show "The Baby Borrowers," which portrays five teenage couples trying to juggle real, live babies along with their usual teen angst and drama. If you've kept up with the season so far, leave us a comment and let us know what sage advice celebrity rehab counselor Dr. Drew Pinsky is offering.

Next week, security researcher Dan Kaminsky plans to lay out possible solutions for the critical domain name server flaw he found in most Internet servers while he was at a conference in Las Vegas. Apparently the URL for just about every website we visit is vulnerable to being re-directed to any other site by hackers. Identity theft, DNS flaws, Trojan viruses - it's a big, scary Internet out there, folks. Save us, Obi Wan Kaminsky!

The AFL-CIO is asking its members to protest McCain's planned visit to the Fermi Nuclear Plant in Michigan next week. With Obama and McCain in a tight battle for the Wolverine State, they'll both be passing through, which boosts the likelihood of news coverage. For the most recent list of swing states, by the way, The Fix has you covered.

It will be up to Speaker Pelosi to decide whether Karl Rove is going to the slammer for contempt of Congress now that the House Panel and the courts have spoken. Whaddaya think folks, will they throw the book at him because it's election year? Or does the Evil Genius still have his magic powers? Bets are piling up in the TR office pool.

Luke Russert - son of Tim - will take on reporting duties of his own soon, focusing on youth issues during the election cycle. We wish him the best of luck, and we look forward to checking out his coverage of the DNC for the NBC News department.

The Week That Was

The ad wars began for real this week. McCain's attack squad painted Obama as everything from glory hound to tabloid celebrity. Obama hit back by claiming that McCain... isn't being very nice! Topping it off? The "destructive force" of the race card is officially in play (and we'll watch how it continues to hurricane through media coverage). O, it's time to take a page out of the Clinton playbook and go to the mattresses with the right-wing attack machine. Starting a "Low Road Express" website is a step in the right direction.

A few ex-Google hotshots launched the much-anticipated search engine Cuil (pronounced "cool"), which handles like a dream, with better formatting and more detailed results than its predecessor. But once everyone rushed to the site to see what all the fuss was about -it crashed. So until the Cuil kids get their act together, we'll rely on our usual nerdy-but-reliable search engine to keep tabs on who's saying what about whom!

Everyone's favorite Scrabble-esque Facebook application was canned. Our Arts Minister has to wonder: Was it really worth it to ruin ALL her Scrabulous game at once, just to bring the game back with round tiles?

A reluctant tip of the hat to the diabolical person at Lifestyle Condoms who sent out a press release saying the company offered 15-year-old Miley Cyrus $1M to star in its ads (to reduce teen pregnancy, of course). The stunt gained Lifestyle big exposure with no money down. (Cyrus' camp says no dice.)

Israeli Prime Minister Olmert announced his intention to step down this week after a seemingly never-ending list of scandals and blunders. However, it's undeniable that a leadership shake-up this close to the end of the Bush era would be a step backwards for peace in the Middle East. It's going to be up to Condi and Co. to get the issue above the fold if they want the process to move forward.

We've been negotiating the twists and turns of the "series of tubes" to read about Sen. Ted Stevens' spectacular and long overdue fall from grace. Expect to see his mug on future DNC ads detailing how the Republican culture of corruption is still alive and well. He's been granted a speedy trial, but even the GOP may be ready to cut him loose.

We'll end this week on a somber note. We had a lot of fun at Bob Novak's expense last issue, but we were also saddened to find out that he was diagnosed with a brain tumor earlier this week. Novak loves the back and forth of the Beltway crowd and we've enjoyed having him as a dancing partner. Here's hoping for a speedy recovery.


We anticipated that the non-profits would pile onto the Pakistani Prime Minister during his first trip to the U.S. for his country's poor human rights record. We were pleasantly surprised to hear Obama describe his meeting with Yousuf Raza Gilani as "productive." Could this be a sign of progress on civil liberties? We can only hope!

Finally, our summer intern and Squire of Snark Jake has reviewed the latest incarnation of the stereotypical high school movie. Check it out here and get some of the younger generation's perspective.

Have a great weekend!


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