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August 30, 2004

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What is it with high-ranking Republican progeny getting gigs as entertainment reporters? First it was hyperactive Access Hollywood mainstay Billy Bush, the president’s nephew, who was recently chosen as host Pat O’Brien’s successor. Now Governor Pataki’s daughter Emily is following suit, with a last-minute, weeklong new job reporting for Extra! Emily, who’s hosting a post-convention fête with fellow political kids Emma Bloomberg and Taylor Whitman, will be interviewing celebrities. She got started this week covering some Republican events like the Bush twins’ party at Roseland and the governor’s—uh, Dad’s—party for the New York media at Elaine’s. Does she consider Billy Bush a TV role-model? “I love his work,” she says, diplomatically. “But Access is a very different show.”

Miller: Doing Time?
Could the next source Judith Miller protects come from the cell across the hall? Floyd Abrams, a First Amendment lawyer and scholar—who represents Time’s Matthew Cooper in the Valerie Plame leak case—says it’s likely that reporters will end up serving serious jail time over their refusal to name confidential sources in the case of the unmasked CIA agent. Subpoenaed earlier this month, the Times’ Miller was the latest reporter called to testify about the leak. At a Sunday-morning roundtable on the press and the election at the Harvard Club, Abrams said that if reporters end up behind bars for protecting sources, it wouldn’t be long before the whole notion of truly confidential sourcing is tossed. “If we wind up where I think we could, and a lot of journalists end up in jail, then journalism institutions will advise reporters to stop promising confidentiality to sources,” Abrams said.

An ‘F’ For ‘R: The Party’?
The Bush twins’ “R: The Party” at the Roseland Ballroom was touted as the celebrity event of the convention. But for the mass of paparazzi that was arrayed outside, the event delivered more hype than heat. Though Stephen Baldwin, Don King, and the Bush girls themselves were among the few bold-faced names in attendance, the party’s organizers tried to maintain the illusion of a hot ticket by keeping journalists cordoned off outside. Desperate for a glimpse of someone important, reporters even chased a Ford Expedition full of girls around the back of the building, only to find out that the women were not famous at all but simply lost. The few reporters who got to cycle through an inside media pen for seven to eight minutes at a time were treated to appearances by nameless professional wrestlers. In fact, the main excitement at the party came when Vanity Fair photographer Larry Fink was thrown out.

Robert Novak’s Daily Dose
Robert Novak has taken his knocks since he “outed” a covert CIA officer last summer, but what did he do to rile Jon Stewart? The usually genial host of The Daily Show has been whipping the cranky columnist since March, when Novak accused Richard Clarke of resenting Condoleezza Rice because she was a black woman. “Wow, who even knew this deck had a race card?” Stewart responded. “That’s the thing about Novak. He’s all about fighting injustice. He’s a douche bag for liberty.” More recently, Stewart slammed Novak for his gushy review of the Kerry-bashing potboiler Unfit for Command. And when presumptive CIA director Porter Goss told reporters he’d investigate Novak only if “somebody sends me a blue dress and some DNA,” Stewart promptly doctored up a photo of Novak in drag and renamed him “the Human Stain.” For once, Novak is taking the high road, but Stewart shows no sign of letting up. But if Dick Cavett’s recent appearance on Hardball is any indication, anti-Novak sentiment may be catching. “I’m embarrassed that Pat’s here, because I once called him a moral and intellectual thug,” cackled Cavett, gesturing at a grinning Patrick Buchanan. “But I obviously confused him with Robert Novak.”

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