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Short Takes: Snow, Arianna, Fergie...

I'm watching Condoleezza Rice begin a round-robin of morning talk shows to answer questions about the letter from Iran and the struggle to contain that country's nuclear ambitions. And I'm struck by the game effort to get ahead of the news cycle and affect media dialogue on the issue.

On Monday, National Security Advisor Steven Hadley made the same morning show go-round, confirming the nomination of Gen. Michael Hayden as new CIA head before the president would formally announce it -- countering criticisms from prominent Republicans which had percolated in the media over the weekend.

Both moves seem unusual for a White House that has often chosen to media sniping over emerging issues rather than address it -- and one can't help wondering if this is one of the first signs of new press secretary Tony Snow at work.

If so, he may be teaching the Bush administration something old journalists have known for years -- many times, you get more out of making nice with the press than picking fights.

HuffPost Turns One Year Old

Arianna Huffington's collections of blogs turned one years old yesterday, and I couldn't resist pulling together a story about how its success has defied some traditional expectations about the blogosphere. It seems clear that she and some other "A-list" bloggers are punching up to affect the news cycle and bring new voices to the nation's political debate.

Some have also become profitable businesses, turning the top tier blogosphere from a field of sites for individuals posting columns in their spare time to organized, group efforts. It will be interesting to see where this new form goes -- and where it takes the national debate.

Craig Feguson Is God

I thought I was a little odd. It was a habit I couldn't really admit in polite company.

Then Denis Leary popped up on CBS' Late, Late Show last night and admitted to host Craig Ferguson that he has taped the Scottish comic's rambling, raucous monologues for a while -- transfixed by the skill of a guy who can entertain an audience for 10 minutes straight while looking like he's telling a story off the cuff.

Finally, I can let my own freak flag fly about Ferguson, whose quirky monologues I've been taping for weeks. And like Leary, I think he's the best monologist on TV; one of late night television's best-kept secrets.

Before taking over CBS' floundering 12:30 a.m. chat show from the insufferable Craig Kilborn, Ferguson was best known for playing Drew Carey's clueless boss on his ABC sitcom. When he was hired on after a succession of guest hosts, it seemed like a desperation move barely guaranteed to delay cancellation.

But then Ferguson took over. His trademark phrase "It's a great day for America, everybody," always prefaces a passionate, offhand lengthy monologue about whatever's on his mind that day -- from his sketchy relationship with his recently deceased father, to why he's got a chip on his shoulder about stuntman/magician David Blaine (doesn't everybody?).

He's a novelist, well-known comic in Britain, and has even written and sung the show's theme song.

One fave monologue line, delivered during a diatribe about a local Starbucks which has no bathroom, was captured by Wikipedia thusly: "How can you sell a diuretic beverage and not have a bathroom?"

Delivered with knowing irony through Ferguson's thick Scottish brogue, it's a high-wire comedy act that always delivers the funny. Check it out yourself -- set the TiVo if you can't stay up that long. Believe me, its worth a few fewer hours of naptime.

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 2:36pm]


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