Five by 8 – 3/10/10: And a comedian shall lead them

1) While most of the mainstream media was consumed with whether a former New York congressman groped a man, comedian Jon Stewart — again — turned in some of the finest journalism of yesterday when he took on Marc Thiessen, whose column in the Washington Post this week suggested that attorneys who represent terror suspects are, themselves, terrorists.

Last night’s debate was breathtaking television for the sheer intellectual challenge — a comedian going toe to toe with Thiessen, that left Thiessen complaining when it was over that it wasn’t a fair fight.

The Comedy Channel made the unedited interview available. Here’s the first part:Here’s part two.

The New York Times is featuring a debate on the subject from some of the country’s big-named legal scholars.

Meanwhile, on the two major real news networks, the main subject was tickle fights among men.

2) Some stories — the really great ones — leave you asking “what would I have done in that situation?” Tim Post’s splendid story today on college students who get emergency cash to get through tough situations is a prime example, specifically the story of Howard Books:

A few years ago, the 15-year Army veteran was injured while working, and lost his union carpentry job. Then he got a divorce. And then he lost his house.

To add insult to injury, his truck broke down, and he couldn’t afford to fix it. Without a truck, he knew he couldn’t make it from his home in Woodbury to school at Inver Grove Heights.

A few bucks to get a truck fixed was the investment a college fund made with the bigger picture in mind. Big points go to the Inver Hills Community College counselor who steered him to help — a college fund for just such emergencies.

Discussion point: What similar act in your life made the difference for you?

Meanwhile, friends of a Mahnomen County deputy sheriff, severely wounded a little more than a year ago, are turning to a TV reality show for help, the Fargo Forum reports (reg. required).

Since the couple’s return to Minnesota last month, relatives and friends have offered their help to Emily, who handles everything from feeding Chris to acting as his “voice.”

But the Deweys, who rented in Mahnomen, found no bank would give them a mortgage to buy their own home. Emily accepted her parents’ offer to put up the couple in Cambridge, about 50 miles north of Minneapolis.

“As much as it kills me, at 25, to live with my parents, it is the best solution to providing for Chris,” Emily writes on the CaringBridge site. “So now, the issue becomes the logistics of making their home accessible.”

3) The Bad News Bears were sponsored by Chico’s Bail Bonds, but there won’t be a Constitution Arms Twins in Maplewood, New Jersey. A youth baseball league has turned down the request of a gun dealer to sponsor a team:

“I voted against it,” said Craig Gruber, secretary of the committee. “Personally … given the nature of that business, I’m certain there’d be quite a bit of contention. We don’t need the headache. … We have our hands full with deciding whether infield fly rules should be in effect for 9-year-olds.”

4) Bank of America’s decision to stop providing “overdraft protection” on purchases made with debit cards is a good news-bad news story. Good that you’ll no longer be charged the $39 fee for running over your balance, bad — maybe — because now your card will simply be declined.

Expect other financial institutions to follow suit. Good or bad?

You’ve purchased something with your debit card and you don’t have enough in your account, would you….polls

5) How an airliner is recycled (BBC).


The Legislature is considering tighter requirements governing a proposed copper-nickel mine near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. In tough economic times, should environmental protection take a back seat to job creation?


This is the last 5×8 for a few weeks. Mrs. News Cut and I are going on our first go-somewhere….anywhere vacation in nearly two years — spring training.

Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: Indigent defense gets a new look from Attorney General Eric Holder. Holder has said if more Americans knew how poorly the public defender system worked in many cases, “they would be shocked and angered.” Legal representation of the poor in Minnesota, according to the legislative auditor, is hampered by caseloads that are too high. Two public defenders talk about what they see as a long overdue look at the system from the feds.

Here’s a piece I wrote about this more than a year ago.

Second hour: The Internet and DNA testing are enabling amateur and professional genealogists to trace family lines back hundreds of years. These tools, combined with a growing interest in our roots, are leading many people to investigate their family history.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: President Obama travels to St. Louis for another health care rally. Washington University professor Steven Smith discusses the politics of the health care debate, and what Congress might do next.

Second hour: Two Minnesota women recount their World War II experiences. Elizabeth Strohfus served in the Women’s Air Force Service Pilots — WASPs — during the war. Sabina Zimering is a Polish Jew who survived the Holocaust by assuming a false identity.

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: Massa Cries conspiracy, Palin crosses the border, Obama fires up over health care, and Crist charges illegal back waxing. Talking politics with NPR political editor Ken Rudin.

Second hour: As bombs fell on Baghdad in the first gulf war, poet Sinan Antoon immersed

himself in his writing. Poets play a key role in political and cultural life around the world. March is National Poetry Month. Neal Conan talks to poets fromPuerto Rico, Iraq and the United States.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak gives his State of the City Address. MPR’s Brandt Williams is listening.

MPR’s Chris Roberts profiles Gretchen Seichrist, leader of the indie band “Patches & Gretchen.”

From NPR: Sixteen countries. One currency. The Euro gained strength as more nations across Europe adopted it. But the Greek financial crisis has exposed a weakness of

the European Union’s money. Re-evaluating the strength of one of the world’s

strongest currencies.

  • Jeff Mulfinger

    It’s truly amazing how these authors come to his show so ill-prepared. Who are the publicists for these people? Do they really think Stewart will just let them self-promote without him holding them accountable? Do your homework, people!

    Without question, Stewart really is one of the better journalists on TV.

  • CHS

    I’m very glad that I took the time to get through all three parts of the interview. The third part is by far the most important. I would disagree that Thiessen came unprepared for the interview, I believe he was just unprepared for how passionate and direct Stewart can be. He did get steamrolled in that first segment. By the 2nd and especially the 3rd segment the discussion was much better and really quite insightful. There were some very interesting points brought up on both sides, some I wasn’t as versed in as I should have been. They did deviate from the original point though of whether or not the lawyers should be publicly known, and how they are being portrayed. That issue should have been explored much deeper.

  • boB from WA

    Thanks for all the tidbits and insights. Have a great spring training with the Mrs.

  • bobbydole

    the guy comes off as a big baby at the end.