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Last Build Date: Fri, 30 Dec 2011 22:03:32 EST

Copyright: Copyright 2011 POLITICO

Remainders: Onward

Fri, 30 Dec 2011 16:59:32 EST

Ben Smith, who wrote his final blog post for POLITICO today, sitting on the steps of New York's City Hall, where he has long blogged about politics. (Photo: Axel Dupeux, for Adweek

Ben Smith moves on.

Iowa media gets its moment in the sun.

Journalists are secretly rooting for electoral outcomes.

The candidates have a broad view of presidential power.

Ron Paul has an abortion problem.

Mitt Romney has a humor problem.

He claims he's not a Wall Street guy.

His son strays from the playbook.

Santorum is really surging...

...and seeking a ticket out of Iowa.

Gingrich seeks boost from 30-minute spot.

And a list of ten people who should leave the media business.

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The latest from Newtland

Fri, 30 Dec 2011 16:07:08 EST

The latest email from pro-Gingrich Super PAC Winning Our Future: 


In field of Seven — 45% of all advertising in Iowa was directed at the former Speaker

In what must be one of the most stunning political statistics in a long time — a survey quoted by put cold hard numbers to what most already knew. Newt Gingrich has undergone an unprecedented barrage of attack ads from his opponents.

According to ABC News, the Campaign Media Analysis Group (CMAG), 45% of all campaign advertising in Iowa has been aimed directly and singularly at Newt Gingrich. Meanwhile, pro-Newt advertising has accounted for only 6% of the Iowa ad buys.

As a colleague notes, complaints aren't necessarily a positive sign four days out from Iowa.

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Sunni leader denies NY Times byline

Fri, 30 Dec 2011 15:53:49 EST

Iraqi parliament speaker Osama al-Nujaifi is denying his participation in a New York Times op-ed bearing his byline, Agence-France Press reports

"The article published in The New York Times ... has been written without the knowledge of speaker Nujaifi," a statement issued by his office today said.

The article, "How to Save Iraq From Civil War," is attributed to three leaders of the country's Iraqiya party — Nujaifi, Finance Minister Rafa al-Essawi and Iraqiya leader Iyad Allawi — and accuses Prime Minister al-Maliki of turning the country's security forces and judiciary against Sunni opponents.

The statement from Nufaifi's office claimed his name had been "inserted in an attempt by some people to diminish the importance of [Nujaifi's] leadership."

We've reached out to the Times to ask how this happened and what, if anything, they'll be doing to correct the attribution.


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Fri, 30 Dec 2011 10:48:40 EST

I thought for a time I'd never write this item: That I'd literally keel over in front of my keyboard in a couple of decades, and leave behind a post with even more typos than usual.

Instead, this is my last blog item. You'll still find my columns every week over on the front page of POLITICO. But I wanted to say thanks before handing over the keys.

I'd like to thank, in particular, my regular readers and correspondents, dozens of whom I’d call friends, and some of whom I’ve been in an email correspondence with since 2005. Many favorite items are the ones emailed in by perceptive or well-placed readers, and I hope my respect for that highest common denominator of news junkies has been clear. I feel like I actually know my audience, a rare luxury in this business, though something that's become increasingly possible.

I’m also thrilled to maintain my relationship with POLITICO, where I’ve had the incredible privilege of working for bosses – Jim VandeHei, John Harris, and Bill Nichols – who’ve always had something to teach me not just about the craft of reporting but the substance of politics and policy. They've also been remarkably open to the changing medium, willing to give me enough virtual rope to hang myself on this blog many times over.

I have too many great colleagues and editors to list, but want to mention three. I’ve had the best reporting partnership of my career here, with Jonathan Martin, a truly great and devoted reporter who couldn't imagine how I – or anyone – would give up one of the truly great political reporting jobs. And this really became a dream job when POLITICO hired two of my closest and smartest friends in the profession, Maggie Haberman and Glenn Thrush, out of our old shared basement office in New York City Hall.
Along with my POLITICO column, I'll be striking out into some new online space at BuzzFeed starting January 1, but this blog isn’t going away. I’ve followed my interests in recent months toward a beat that focuses on the intersection of politics and media, and the dangerous and talented Dylan Byers – who has been on fire since he started here this Fall -- will continue to to explore and expand that conversation. Please treat him with all the copious respect and deference I always got.

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Fox bites man

Fri, 30 Dec 2011 10:48:00 EST

Paul Farhi has the latest in a series of stories reflecting Fox's course correction since the glory days of the Beck era:

But just days before the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucus takes place, there’s not much evidence to suggest that Fox News has crowned any one candidate as the eventual nominee.

There’s little question that Fox is an important news and opinion source for conservative voters, despite the relatively small audiences that cable news attracts (Fox News, the ratings leader, rarely reaches more than 2 million people at a time). Among Republican voters in Iowa, 37 percent said they got most of their news from Fox, making it the leading TV source, a recent New York Times/CBS News poll found. By contrast, a mere 2 percent said they relied on MSNBC, which has forged a more liberal identity.

But campaign watchers are hard-pressed to detect a tilt by the network toward one candidate. Even the two candidates who have worked for Fox News as on-air contributors, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, don’t appear to have had any special access or advantage during the campaign.

Fox doesn't like these stories, because they imply that it's something other than an ordinary news organization; but it's certainly more ordinary than it has been at times in the past. 

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MSNBC explains Bain Capital disclosure

Fri, 30 Dec 2011 10:36:58 EST

Jeremy Gaines, vice president of communications at MSNBC, writes in to explain why his network's anchors are only now disclosing NBC's business ties to Bain Capital, the buyout firm co-founded by Mitt Romney:

Given Bain's ownership stake in the Weather Channel, we thought it was appropriate to disclose this as the voting is about to begin in the GOP primary.

Gaines doesn't explain why Bain's co-ownership of the Weather Channel with NBC Universal is pertinent information now, but wasn't during earlier stages of MSNBC's election coverage.

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Dept. of unnecessary evasion

Fri, 30 Dec 2011 09:46:17 EST

My colleague Keach Hagey notes Fox News' odd reluctance to comment for a Washington Post story that (mostly) portrays it as a fair and balanced news organization, which is its slogan.

"There’s little question that Fox is an important news and opinion source for conservative voters, despite the relatively small audiences that cable news attracts," the Post's Paul Farhi writes. "But campaign watchers are hard-pressed to detect a tilt by the network toward one candidate. Even the two candidates who have worked for Fox News as on-air contributors, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, don’t appear to have had any special access or advantage during the campaign."

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Landing Romney

Fri, 30 Dec 2011 09:30:58 EST

The Huffington Post landed an exclusive interview with Mitt Romney yesterday, its first-ever with the Republican presidential candidate and a significant step in its move away from the liberal political identity it had during its first presidential cycle four years ago.

Earlier this year, Arianna Huffington told the New York Times that the Huffington Post was "beyond left and right," and resisted the suggestion that it was ever "lefty," an argument cast as 'spin' by right-wing and mainstream media alike. But as the website's reach has grown (especially under AOL), it has gone more mainstream and abandoned its identity as the left's answer to Drudge Report, presumably in search of more readers.

It has also -- despite its still heavy reliance on aggregation -- put more of an emphasis on original reporting from the campaign trail. So far this cycle, it has interviewed Jon Huntsman, Ron Paul and Rick Santorum, and also talked to Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich, according to political editor Sam Stein.

But the interview with Romney, conducted by Jon Ward, was its most extensive interview yet, and likely the one that will gain the most ground in the media, given Romney's frontrunner status and the fact that he compares President Obama to Marie Antoinette.

"When the president's characterization of our economy was, 'It could be worse,' it reminded me of Marie Antoinette: 'Let them eat cake,'" Romney told Ward.

The President may have a chance to respond in the same venue. "We have plans to follow up with all the candidates, including the president, as the campaign progresses," Stein told us. 

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The textbook late surge

Fri, 30 Dec 2011 09:19:02 EST

Former Edwards aide Jonathan Prince noted recently that Rick Santorum's path this year seems a lot like John Edwards's near-miss 2004 bid, in which he worked Iowa for months with no evident results, then surged into second place at the last moment, propelling him onto the ticket if not into the top slot.

And a reader points out this 2004 AP article on the state of the race, printed the day before the caucuses:

John Kerry and John Edwards are surging close to Howard Dean and Dick Gephardt to create an electoral free-for-all going in to the state's Democratic presidential caucuses on Monday.

Polls in the state suggest all four are competing for the lead within the margins of error. A Research 2000 poll released Thursday showed Dean at 22%, Kerry at 21%, Gephardt at 18% and Edwards at 18%. The undecided vote was at 13% and other candidates were in single digits.

"Any one of those four could win," said pollster Del Ali of Research 2000, who conducted the poll for KCCI-TV of Des Moines. "The biggest surge without question is Edwards. Both Kerry and Edwards have momentum."

A Research 2000 poll released a week ago found Dean (29 percent) and Gephardt (25 percent) battling for the lead with Kerry in third place at 18% and Edwards at 8%.

After losing ground in polls in New Hampshire, Kerry has been campaigning hard in Iowa to create a spark for his struggling campaign. Edwards has been lagging in polls throughout the year, but has been energized by the recent Iowa campaigning, especially after being endorsed by The Des Moines Register.

Edwards had positioned himself like Santorum: He had the discipline to stay out of the fray, and as voters turned away from wounded front-runners, he was a known, reliable quantity.   Edwards also had in the Register endorsement the kind of moment Santorum has lacked so far — outside validation to affirm and accelerate the trend. The rough equivalent would be a late endorsement from Steve King.


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Remainders: Dawning

Thu, 29 Dec 2011 16:59:28 EST

An election year dawns without Keith Olbermann.

The campaign hinges on electability.

Karl Rove makes his predictions.

Romney seeks business leaders.

His victory could make history.

Ron Paul supporters descend on Iowa.

A pro-Paul PAC takes on the racism issue.

Newt Gingrich gets glorified.

The New York Post revels in Times "lie."

And CNN's new morning shows have boring names.

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