Jewish World Review March 7, 2002 / 23 Adar, 5762
http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com -- The Washington Post reported somewhat breathlessly this week that the White House had organized a shadow government just in case someone should mount an effective strike on the nation's capital.
The administration has created a couple of command centers for crucial government operations and placed them in hardened secure facilities -- presumably in mountains along the east coast. Two things about the story:
One: It's not really new -- US News reported it back in October and the Cleveland Plain Dealer also carried descriptions of the centers -- which have been functioning in some way for more than a decade.
Second, I'd be alarmed if we didn't have such an operation underway.
The Cold War may be over, but it's obvious we have a lot of enemies, and they'd love to cripple the government. It's not only sensible, but essential that we have contingency plans in place. My only quibble is that the centers reportedly have archaic technical equipment -- including clunky old computers.
Surely we can do better than that.
The big media story of the week: David Letterman versus Ted Koppel -- who will hold down the late-night television slot for ABC-TV?
Rumor has it that the network that once dominated broadcast television news is thinking about stealing David Letterman from CBS, which also once wore the king-of-news crown. But times have changed.
When Ted Koppel and Nightline first hit the airwaves, there was no cable news, and three broadcast networks divvied up the information business. Now, competition flourishes everywhere, and cable networks have taken on responsibility for getting news to viewers as it happens.
The broadcast networks increasingly are becoming entertainment outlets -- even the so-called news shows in prime time are more flash than substance. So Ted Koppel -- with his abstruse investigations of civic affairs around the globe, his cheesy town hall meetings and self-indulgent explorations of government arcana -- has become a bit of a museum piece.
Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin has become the latest target of plagiarism charges, standing accused of lifting blocks of prose from a variety of authors in an assortment of books.
The News Hour with Jim Lehrer has placed her on indefinite leave and the University of Delaware rescinded its invitation to have her speak at this year's graduation. But the New York Times may have gone easy.
While the paper used the word "plagiarism" in describing a similar controversy involving historian Stephen Ambrose, a long article about Goodwin's transgressions resorted to euphemisms such as "passages copied, "repeated sentences" and "inappropriate borrowning."
That last description was too much for B.C. Milligan of Cockeysville, Maryland, who dispatched a letter to the paper. He mused about how the "inappropriate" label might spice up our penal code. He recommended re-labeling the crime of speeding as "inappropriate acceleration" and burglary as "inappropriate possession of the property and others."
He forgot to mention that the Times itself was guilty of