December 20, 2007

Today's Front Pages Analysis

With Christmas almost here, the Grinch isn’t far behind

If Christmas is around the corner, can the Grinch be far behind? For our out-of-country readers, the Grinch is a cartoon character created in 1957 and known for messing up the holiday season. To some, Grinch is a different way of saying grouch. And that’s the way some U.S. dailies treated Congress in its closing hours before the Washington, D.C., part-timers go home for the holidays.

For example, the lead story in The Arizona Republic in Phoenix carries the headline, “Congress’ Dems see few gains on goals.” Put another way, down at the bottom of Page One of The Wichita Eagle in Kansas readers find this story: “Democrats control Congress, but little has changed.” The Lincoln (Neb.) Journal Star is a little softer with “Democrats struggled to meet their goals,” while the Las Vegas Review-Journal squares off “Democrats count ups, downs” while pointing out in the drophead that “Long list of accomplishments doesn’t include war funding.” The New York Sun takes on the situation squarely with the head, “Democrats will start 2008 with low ratings.” The Herald-Sun in Durham, N.C., also leads with the Democrats’ efforts, its headline saying, “Little to show for year in power.” The Philadelphia Inquirer reports to all that “Congress ends session that fell short,” while The Oregonian in Portland notes that “GOP outflanks Democrats again.”

Other dailies reported on earmarks, the supposedly disappearing system of congressional appropriations for pet projects that occasionally are difficult either to explain or justify. The New York Times has a Page One analytical piece reporting, “The earmark bounces back” — almost 9,000 of them in the latest budget package. The Salt Lake Tribune reports on one that supposedly is a mistake with a Page One head about Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch saying that “Earmark tied to son’s client an ‘oversight.’” The Omaha World-Herald reports, “Federal cash will flow to Nebraska,” and the Billings Gazette reports, “Budget carries $111.6M in Montana projects.” The Sun in Baltimore tells readers that “Md. share of earmarks exceeds $200 million.”

The Grinch appears in other ways. The Tri-City Herald in Kennewick, Wash., squares off a story reporting, “Woman insists she’s alive — no really,” about a 76-year-old trying to convince the Social Security folks that she isn’t dead.

Gene Mater is a Freedom Forum media consultant.

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