• Katie Couric's YouTube channel provides real service journalism: While chitchatting with Joe Biden, the CBS anchor recommends viewers tune into her favorite viral video — the one where a little girl watches her goldfish get flushed down the toilet. [HuffPo]
• The New York Times op-ed columnists can't endorse political candidates. This "isn't a problem" for Maureen Dowd because she doesn't "do a partisan column." [NYO]
• Vegas, take note: Big Apple broadsheets are front-runners in the race for the Pulitzers. [E&P]
• NBC golden boy Ben Silverman sells his production company, Reveille, to
Rupert Murdoch's daughter, Elizabeth. [LAT]
• CNN producer Chez Pazienza is forced to pack his bags after blogging for the Huffington Post. [TVNewser/Mediabistro]
• Us Weekly reports that OK! magazine "sensationalized" Grey's Anatomy star Eric Dane's battle with cancer in a cover story. (Actually, he only had some malignant cells on his lip frozen off in a doctor's office.) "This isn't the first time OK! has been wrong," they note. But is Us really crusading against yellow journalism? Or are they just annoyed they didn't get the scoop? [Us Weekly]
Just now in a phone call to CNBC, warmhearted gagillionaire Warren Buffett said his Berkshire Hathaway would help out troubled bond insurers by offering a second level of insurance on up to $800 billion in municipal bonds.
The holding company already made the offer of reinsurance, he said, to insurers Ambac, MBIA and FGIC, all of whom have had problems with subprime mortgages and other loans and are in danger of losing their AAA credit ratings. One firm rejected the offer, and he is still waiting to hear from the other two. The offer is designed to make Berkshire Hathaway money, he added; it's not just "a good deed."
Warren Buffett Offers to Reinsure $800B in Municipal Bonds [CNBC]
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• William A. Ackman of Pershing Hedge Funds got everyone freaking out about bond insurers by issuing a report yesterday afternoon predicting that MBIA and the Ambac Financial Group might just lose $24 billion on mortgage investments. “Here comes Ackman at the 11th hour upsetting the apple cart,” Douglas M. Peta, chief market strategist at J.& W. Seligman & Company, told the Times. “I don’t think anybody has really thought it all through, but we all understand the implications of real trouble in the bond insurers could be far reaching.” [NYT] Related! MBIA announced a $3.5 billion write-down this morning. [CNN]
• Wharton is still the number-one place in the universe to pick up an MBA.
• Following in the steps of other CEOs with giant mortgage-related losses, Merrill won't give its top brass any bonuses. But they will give them stock options "to promote the continuity of the management team as they continue to navigate through challenging market conditions in 2008." That's one way to hang on to staff. [Reuters]