President Obama has decided not to release photographs of a dead Osama bin Laden. Here are his comments about the subject, told to “60 Minutes” correspondent Steve Kroft:

“The risks of release outweigh the benefits,” Obama said. “Conspiracy theorists around the world will just claim the photos are doctored anyway, and there is a real risk that releasing the photos will only serve to inflame public opinion in the Middle East.

“Imagine how the American people would react if al-Qaida killed one of our troops or military leaders, and put photos of the body on the Internet,” he continued. “Osama bin Laden is not a trophy — he is dead and let’s now focus on continuing the fight until al-Qaida has been eliminated.”

I completely agree with Obama’s reasoning. Here’s what I tweeted about his decision before I read his comments:

“I think that’s the right decision. No need to risk upsetting the wrong people (potential terrorists) just to satisfy conspiracy theorists.”


“Besides, would conspiracy theorists really be silenced if photo released? They probably would claim it’s doctored.”

Obama’s comments about not releasing post-mortem images of bin Laden will air today on “CBS Evening News.” The full interview will air Sunday on “60 Minutes.”


It’s my observation that there are three types of newspaper reporters when it comes to Internet use beyond searching for information: those who “get” it and totally embrace its use as a way to report news; those who don’t understand the Internet’s value as a media source and, as a result, resist its use as much as possible; and those who fall somewhere in the middle (they essentially understand or accept the value of online media methods but don’t use them quite right).

The first type is self-explanatory. If you understand the power of online reporting and the use of social media to further the reach of a reporter’s words, you know a reporter who “gets” it when you see his or her work.

The second type is still too common. A great example of this type can be found locally. There are two smaller daily newspapers that primarily cover La Salle County — The Times and the NewsTribune — and they both have reporters who “get” it and reporters who resist having to do anything beyond writing and occasionally shooting a photo for the print product. Reporters at both newspapers obviously were directed to create and use Twitter accounts, and as best I can tell, all the NewsTribune reporters embrace this to varying degrees, but there are still some Times reporters who don’t use Twitter at all — one reporter even locked his account so you can’t follow him unless he approves you doing so! They obviously don’t understand the value of reaching out to a wider audience through such newfangled means.

An example of the third type works for the Chicago Sun-Times. Lynn Sweet, a columnist and Washington bureau chief for the newspaper, uses Twitter and blogs, but she doesn’t do it quite right. Earlier today, she tweeted a reminder that the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner is tonight, and that people can follow her at @lynnsweet for notes and photos from it. That is a good use of Twitter. But when I clicked on the link she included in her tweet, I found her accompanying blog post, which began as follows:

WASHINGTON–The White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner is tonight, with Saturday Night Live headwriter and comic Seth Meyers the headliner. Meyers–I locked eyes with him for a mini-moment at the New Yorker party Friday night–speaks after President Obama, always a hard act to follow.

That is an example of Sweet trying too hard to impress and not quite “getting” it, which she tends to do on her blog. Believe me, nobody cares that Lynn Sweet locked eyes with Seth Meyers for “a mini-moment.” Another example of her trying too hard on her blog is the many instances of her writing “as I reported earlier” or a similar phrase. Newspapers have a long tradition of patting themselves on the back for reporting something first — and I have no problem with that — but when it’s done often by the same reporter in the first person, the writer can come across less favorably.

With that said, at least Sweet is using social media, and she gets credit for that. Too many reporters still resist using social media, and that’s a real problem in the journalism industry.

As you surely know by now, President Obama released a copy of his long-form birth certificate Wednesday to prove to Donald Trump and the birthers that he was born in the United States.

I wish I could say with any certainty that this will end the birther movement, but I think it’s more likely those people who hate Obama so much they wouldn’t believe he was born in Hawaii now will find something else equally ridiculous to believe and pester the president about.

And while Trump is not to blame for those people believing such nonsense, he is responsible for stoking the fire that fuels their craziness. (Incidentally, Lawrence O’Donnell, host of MSNBC’s “The Last Word,” said “NBC has created a monster” in Trump. I agree with him.)

Since most of us who are sane are tired of hearing about the birther nonsense and Trump’s feeble attempts at logic, the president’s action Wednesday was most welcome (and sad that a sitting president had to produce his birth certificate to prove again that he was born in the United States). I just wish Obama would’ve done this on Friday so there would be something big to report that day other than the royal wedding that’s being covered way too much in this country. I’ve already accepted that the final launch of the space shuttle Endeavour, which will be attended by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (the shooting victim whose husband, Capt. Mark Kelly, is helming the Endeavour’s final voyage), will practically be ignored by comparison.

I expect to take a day off from watching TV news on Friday because of the royal wedding overkill. I’ll stick to the Internet (Twitter and websites of news organizations) for my news that day so I can avoid the royal wedding as easily as possible while still staying informed about whatever important is happening.

With less than 30 hours left before federal funding runs out, it’s time to start really worrying that we’re going to experience the first partial government shutdown since 1995.

Budget negotiations will continue tonight during a White House meeting between President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and I hope they agree on a funding bill that both political parties can accept. I don’t know what to expect, though; I’m not sure whether they actually will reach an agreement in time to avoid a partial government shutdown.

This is serious stuff, but I think an injection of humor is needed right now. Fortunately, TBS broadcast a 2007 episode of “The Office” today wherein Darryl asks Michael for a pay raise. During the negotiation meeting, Michael loses the upper hand (if he ever had it) when Darryl notices he is wearing a woman’s suit. That prompts the following reflection from Michael:

“Negotiations are all about controlling things, about being in the driver’s seat, and you make one tiny mistake, you’re dead. I made one tiny mistake: I wore a woman’s clothes.”

Keep that advice in mind tonight, guys. Don’t wear women’s clothing to the negotiation meeting. Not only would you lose control of the negotiations, but it might make Boehner cry, too.

Actor Steve Carell’s 7-year run as Michael Scott comes to an end on Thursday, April 28, and “The Office” will miss him. Will Ferrell’s four-episode arc as Michael’s temporary replacement, Deangelo Vickers, begins next week. Michael’s permanent replacement will be revealed during the season finale on Thursday, May 19.

Let’s hope that if a government shutdown takes place, it’s over before then.

It is the best of times and the worst of times on the radio now, at least as far as these two stories are concerned:

First,  the good news. Apparently conservative crazy Glenn Beck has lost significant ground among people under 50 in the Nielsen ratings. In the past quarter, Beck’s FOX News Channel show dropped 46 percent in the younger demographic of ages 18 to 49. It seems the wolf in sheep’s clothing has been exposed, and the only demographic that seems to be sticking with Beck is the 50-and-older crowd, which tends to buy more into his suspicion-feeding, fear-mongering rants than younger people.

Now, the bad news. Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich is being given a microphone to speak behind again. The Chicago radio station WLS (890 AM) is letting him and his wife, Patty, fill in for the vacationing Don and Roma, who normally occupy the 5 to 9 a.m. time slot. Why does WLS keep giving Blagojevich a platform to spew his half-truths and Blago-spin versions of reality? Other than reporters who have to listen to him for work purposes, I don’t know of anyone who ever listens to Blagojevich on the radio. Then again, I don’t run with a crazy crowd that finds our corrupt ex-governor to be a speaker of truth.

I cannot wait for Blagojevich’s retrial to be over so he can be locked up already. It will be nice to not hear his name or his inane ramblings for a few years.

This is shaping up to be a Rod Blagojevich-filled week. First came the former Illinois governor’s surprise cameo appearance Monday on “The Daily Show”; then, on Tuesday, his lawyers withdrew his request to travel abroad a month before his retrial is scheduled to begin.

Now comes today’s development: Blagojevich’s attorneys moved to have their client sentenced on the charge he was convicted on last year (making false statements to an FBI agent) and have the remaining 20 charges he faces dismissed, partly because the attorneys haven’t been paid in months and they don’t have the funds at their disposal that Blagojevich’s first defense team did. They say Blagojevich would drop his appeal of his lone conviction but not admit guilt in doing so, as long as the federal government drops the rest of its case against him.

There is no way prosecutors will drop the charges against Blagojevich — especially the accusation that he tried to sell a U.S. Senate seat to the highest bidder. This latest motion from Blagojevich is just the latest way for him to try to garner sympathy from people (including potential jurors): poor Blagojevich doesn’t have enough money to afford a defense beyond what the state can afford to give him. Guess what, Blago? If you’re such a man of the people, you deserve to get the same defense as the average person in the criminal justice system. And if you want to avoid your trial, come to a plea agreement with the prosecution beforehand.

Blagojevich’s “motion to dismiss the second trial and proceed to sentencing in the interest of justice and saving taxpayer funds” can be read in its entirety here.

Blagojevich’s second trial is scheduled to begin Wednesday, April 20.

I’m filing this report from my hidden lair along the border between the dangerous Northern Province and the rest of Illinois …

For the sake of those who didn’t see “The Daily Show” Monday evening, I must mention that during a segment wherein correspondent John Oliver searches for the “Wisconsin 14,” Oliver travels through the “Northern Province” of Illinois (which, judging by the “Daily Show” map, appears to be everywhere in the state north of Interstate 80) and calls it a “savage, frozen territory.”

Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, whom Oliver referred to as a “notorious former warlord,” made a surprise appearance, providing the segment with its (bleeping) golden moment. In a nutshell, Oliver asks Blagojevich if he knows where the Wisconsin 14 are, Blagojevich says he doesn’t, and Blagojevich issues a statement of support for the Wisconsin 14.

“These lawmakers standing up for working people, and the fundamental rights of working people to bargain collectively with their employers — that is (bleeping) golden,” Blagojevich says.

Also, Oliver asks Blagojevich if the convicted ex-governor is allowed to “just walk around here.”

The segment can be found here on NBC Chicago’s website.

In other, more serious Blagojevich news today, the former governor withdrew his request to travel to England to speak to the Oxford Union, a student society at Oxford University. Blagojevich likely would have had to pay for his international airfare out of his own pocket, which would have created a new problem for him since he is using public funds to pay for his defense.

Whether Judge James Zagel would’ve granted permission is unknown, though he did reject a similar request in 2009 when Blagojevich wanted to appear on the TV reality show “I’m A Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here!” (Instead, his wife, Patti Blagojevich, appeared on the show. I blogged here at The Bread Line about Patti’s jungle adventures on the show, and you can find those posts here.)

I also learned today that Chicago Tribune reporters John Chase and Jeff Coen are working on a book about Blagojevich. Coen’s last book, “Family Secrets: The Case That Crippled the Chicago Mob,” was widely praised. I already knew that Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jimmy Breslin also is working on a Blagojevich book, with Blagojevich’s blessing — which means Breslin’s book will be the BS version of the Blagojevich story.

Unfortunately, Blagojevich’s publicist Glenn Selig previously said the former governor also would like to write another book. Please, no.

Next Page »