The Liberal Press?—Maybe so—a little. The media magazine Editor & Publisher found that 36 newspapers that ran editorials endorsing the election of Bush in 2000 flip-flopped this year and went for Kerry. All told, Kerry led Bush in editorial endorsements, 142 to 123.
The pro-Kerry list included the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, thePhiladelphia Inquirer, the Detroit Free Press, the Miami Herald, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Des Moines Register, the Seattle Times and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
Among the once-pro-Bush newspapers now for Kerry were the Chicago Sun-Times; the Los Angeles Daily News; the Memphis Commercial Appeal; the Morning Call of Allentown, Pennsylvania; the Idaho Statesman of Boise; and the Bangor Daily News in Maine.
Nine other papers abandoned their 2000 praise of Bush but threw up their editorial hands and made no endorsement this year. The drop outs included the Detroit News, which had backed every Republican presidential candidate since Ulysses S. Grant.
The Liberal Ball Games—The Boston Red Sox, the beloved baseball team of the Democratic candidate whom Bush kept calling “a Massachusetts liberal,” won the World Series for the first time since 1918—and did it, ironically enough, in a pre-election game at a ball park called the Busch Stadium, in St. Louis.
If that wasn’t a Kerry-wins signal—it wasn’t—in the daylight of Halloween afternoon there came another statistical spook. The Washington Redskins have played football games just before 17 presidential elections since 1936, and according to Keith Olbermann, the guy who hosts theCountdown program on MSNBC-TV, their fortunes have always been a forecast of the White House winner. When the ‘Skins have won the pre-election game, the incumbent president has won re-election. When they’ve lost, the challenger has invariably won.
In a home game in Washington on October 31 the Redskins lost to the Green Bay Packers, 28 to 14. Go figure. But a lot of voters didn’t, and Bush won his second term.
Campaign Whoppers—There were too many of them, on both sides, to track them all, but fact-checking by the nonpartisan Annenberg Center at the University of Pennsylvania found so many twisted fictions and outright falsehoods in both Republican and Democratic campaign speeches and broadcast ads that an inglorious record may have been set. The dreary list can be seen on-line at www.factcheck.org.
The Murk at Merck—As we reported in our October 15 FYI, the pharmaceutical magnate Merck & Co. finally cancelled its blockbuster arthritis pain pill, Vioxx, after it became public that it triggered heart attacks and strokes.
Now the Wall Street Journal (November 1) has discovered that Merck knew there were patient risks but “fought forcefully for years to keep safety concerns from destroying the drug’s commercial prospects”—sales of $2.5 billion a year. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which may have—or should have—known of the risks has been forced to open its files to an independent investigation.
A Rave Review—Max Holland, who wrote our October 1 issue and is the author of a new book,The Kennedy Assassination Tapes, got a very favorable assessment in the Sunday New York Times book review (October 31).
Holland’s book, a patient examination of hours and hours of President Lyndon Johnson’s self-taped telephone conversations about J.F.K., and of the Warren Commission’s findings about his death, is praised by the Times reviewer as “an instructive, even poignant, look at how self-interest and accident may complicate the federal investigation of a national calamity.” The reviewer called Holland’s analysis “crisp, informed and consistently reasoned—on a subject that has inspired any number of writers to take leave of their senses.”