McCain again

A network anchor shake-up? Plus: Speculation grows about 2004, and the grassy-knoll conspiracy theory gathers steam.

Published March 26, 2001 4:53PM (EST)


Drudge Report: "World Exclusive Developing ... Broadcast Network Mulls News Anchor Change" "The Democrats Should Get in Bush's Face, Starting Now"
Virginia Postrel: "Why do some girls reach puberty at usually young ages?"
WorldNet Daily: "More Benefits for California Homosexuals"
Kaus Files: "The Secret Wisdom of Washington's Influence-Peddlers"
Online Journal: "A Coup Attempt in Washington: A European Mirror on Our Recent Constitutional Crisis"

Big buzz
Responding to an item on the Drudge Report that Tim Russert has been offered Dan Rather's anchor chair at CBS, the folks at the Free Republic seem all for it. Despite the thread's title, Potato Head to Replace Pin Head," the posts were generally pro-Russert.

"I think it'd be a terribly smart move for CBS. Russert is a great improvement. He's a leftie who respects the right and, to some degree, understands it, who can ask tough questions of either side ... and who clearly likes Rush Limbaugh! If I were the Fox folks, I'd be worried," writes one Freeper. "Dan Rather should have been replaced years ago, the Liberal media are not very smart (trait of all liberals). They have to be on the edge of bankruption [sic] before they start waking up," another chimes in.

Over at, "Mr.G" was not impressed. "I'm sorry, but putting a new captain in charge of the Titanic would not have prevented the ship from sinking. Until they stop being 'journalists' (i.e., crusade-, ideology-, agenda-driven) and start becoming 'reporters' (i.e., objective, honest, balanced) things will not improve."

Another poster chimes in that if it ain't Fox, it ain't worth a damn. "At this point I could not care less what the networks do. I am finished with them and their double standard. Fox News Channel is the only one that gives both sides of all issues, and I will not abandon FNC no matter who fills Blather's tiny, tiny shoes."

The Table Talkers were equally skeptical, albeit for different reasons. "I wouldn't get to excited about this. CBS is probably sending out feelers to lots of people. It's more likely this was released by Russert's agent. Drudge has a habit of wetting himself over things like this. It makes him feel like he's a "journalist". Think of it as a cry for help."

Anger management
Perhaps it's just media boredom. Maybe they really did fall in love with the Republican senator from Arizona. Heck, maybe it's true. But for whatever the reason, as the debate over campaign finance reform continues in the U.S. Senate, the sea of stories about a possible 2004 presidential run continue. For his part, John McCain ruled out another run in an appearance on CBS's "Face the Nation." Asked if he would rule out challenging Bush in 2004, the 64-year-old senator said, "Absolutely. Yes."

The Freepers were unconvinced. "Why do I not trust this guy?" asked one poster. Another replied: "Because he is against everything American, and for everything the socialists want ... McLame is doing his best to upstage Bush and sidetrack the real issues needing to be addressed by Congress."

"John McClinton is running against Bush now!" adds another.

But there were also some big-tent Republicans on the thread. "McCain is at least as much a man of his word as is our good President Bush. The only thing McCain will be running for in 2004 is as a delegate to the Republican National Convention so that he can proudly cast Arizona's votes to reelect George W. Bush! Viva Bush! It's one thing to disagree with McCain on CFR and maybe taxes. I do. It's a whole 'nuther to attempt to trash his character."

Even if he does run, hypothesizes one Table Talker, Republicans are politically loyal enough to stay with Bush. "I don't honestly believe that the Religious Right, for instance, would vote Democrat if the Republicans ran a pro-choice candidate. They might vote for a third party but it's doubtful; they would prefer to see their boy win even if he isn't perfect. Repubs know how to swallow their bile and march in lockstep, something the Dems need to learn."

Other Table Talkers were daring to dream. "My predictions: ... As Bush continues to do to America what the Greeneville did to the Ehime Maru, Bush-Cheney's popularity will tank as well. Then, in 2004, the GOP will nominate McCain-Powell, dumping the dismal Bush-Cheney ticket, owing to the burgeoning wars in the former Yugoslavia and Colombia, the exploding deficit, etc. Can't figure out who the Democrats will nominate, but McCain-Powell will be almost impossible to beat (particularly as they'll repudiate Bush vs. Gore and the way the last post-election was conducted by their party)."

And speaking of rumors: The Washington Post reports that a new article in Science and Justice, a quarterly publication of Britain's Forensic Science Society, claims, about the assassination of John F. Kennedy, that "it was more than 96 percent certain that there was a shot from the grassy knoll to the right of the president's limousine, in addition to the three shots from a book depository window above and behind the president's limousine."

It's hard to tell whether the reaction online was sarcastic, or frighteningly serious. "It is called 'bi-location' and practitioners of ESP recognize it as one of the "psi" phenomena. That is, the power to teleport instantaneously from one point to another, and back just as suddenly," writes a poster at "The Russians were known to be studying applications of this power, and they may have found an excellent subject in Lee Harvey Oswald."

Other more traditional conspiracy theories are also present. "I have always believed there were two shooters, and that the one on the grassy knoll shot Kennedy in the neck, so that he clutches at his neck and starts to lean forward and then the other shot enters his head. It is possible that the second shooter is still alive, and that eventually secrets will be revealed to enlighten us further."

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By Anthony York

Anthony York is Salon's Washington correspondent.

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