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As Treasury Secretary, Tim Geithner's public image has generally seemed "not quite ready for prime time." But his PR acumen as president of the New York Fed was in large part credited for landing him the job -- and now we know why. Geithner made one-on-one coffee dates, luncheons, tennis games, dinners and conference calls with reporters a major part of his job at the New York Fed, from the looks of the official schedule posted this morning by the New York Times. In addition to regular press briefings, backgrounders and whatever Geithner slipped in on his own time, Geithner scheduled one-on-one time for more than 68 journalists from 2007 to 2008, including twelve from the New York Times, ten from the Wall Street Journal and eight from the Financial Times. His favorite journalist by far appears to be Krishna Guha, an editorial page writer at the Financial Times, to whom he granted 12 interviews.

The Journal's Jon Hilsenrath and David Wessel, the FT's Gillian Tett and Chrystia Freedland and House of Cards author William Cohan also make a lot of appearances on Geithner's schedule, in addition to professional pundits Fareed Zakariah and Tom Friedman. What's particularly striking about Geithner's media schedule is how willing he seemed to be to speak individually with multiple reporters from the same media outlet: some days he would speak separately with three different FT journalists. As the Times has pointed out, Geithner wasn't necessarily satisfied with his press; the schedule shows three meetings with a publicist who represents Citigroup, and a few others with New York PR patriarch Howard Rubenstein.

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In our last post on the Jane-Harman/AIPAC story, we noted growing evidence that Bush administration officials worked aggressively to prevent Congress from learning about Harman's wiretapped conversation with that suspected Israeli agent. But Ron Kampeas of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency had an (unfortunately titled) post late last week that took things in a very different, but equally interesting, direction.

Kampeas conducts a close reading of a New York Times report on the affair from last week to make a strong case that it was Porter Goss, then the CIA director, who took the initiative in going after Harman after hearing her on the wiretap, by trying to have authorized a separate wiretap of the lawmaker herself.

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A new Gallup poll finds that a narrow majority of Americans favor investigations of interrogation methods -- though it's not a resounding mandate, relative to other issues.

The question as asked is: "Would you favor or oppose a government investigation into the use of harsh interrogation techniques of terrorism suspects?" The result is 51% in favor to 42% against. From the pollster's analysis:

While a slim majority favors an investigation, on a relative basis the percentage is quite low because Americans are generally quite supportive of government probes into potential misconduct by public officials. In recent years, for example, Americans were far more likely to favor investigations into the firing of eight U.S. attorneys (72%), government databases of telephone numbers dialed by Americans (62%), oil company profits (82%), and the government's response to Hurricane Katrina (70%).

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We haven't been following Kathleen's Sebelius' confirmation fight as closely as we have those of some other Obama nominees because, initially, she seemed like a shoe-in. The Senate Finance Committee advanced her nomination to head the Department of Health and Human Services by a wide margin just last week. But in the wake of some complaints from anti-abortion groups--including about her April 23 decision to veto the latest in a series of efforts by the Kansas legislature to limit late term abortions--she'll now be subjected to a cloture vote (or, if you don't speak Congress-ese, a filibuster).

Her initially-non-controversial nomination will likely come to a vote tomorrow, though, and she'll likely clear the 60 vote hurdle with the help of Maine Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, and possibly others.

But, of course, there's another female Obama nominee who's running into some trouble.

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On Sunday, April 26th, the US government declared a public health emergency after confirming 20 cases of swine flu in the country. American officials stressed that the cases here were all mild, with only one person hospitalized. Here, Dr. Richard Besser, Acting Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), center, participates in a press briefing at the White House with Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, left, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, center left, and John Brennan, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security, right.

Newscom/Sipa

The World Health Organization confirmed 40 cases of swine flu in the United States by 11:15 am Monday, April 27, a jump of 20 from that morning. Here, Napolitano speaks at a press briefing.

Newscom/PTS

In Mexico, where the outbreak began, swine flu is believed to have killed 103 people as of this writing-- 22 of the deaths of have been confirmed as swine flu, and 81 are suspected cases.

Newscom/Sipa

1,614 people are sick in Mexico with swine flu symptoms.

Newscom/PTS

In Mexico, soldiers have handed out 6 million face masks to help stop the spread of the virus.

Newscom/PTS

From the CDC: "Probably the most well known [past example] is an outbreak of swine flu among soldiers in Fort Dix, New Jersey in 1976. The virus caused disease with x-ray evidence of pneumonia in at least 4 soldiers and 1 death; all of these patients had previously been healthy."

Newscom/Sipa

A man buys masks at a pharmacy in Mexico City.

Newscom/PTS

Journalists set up outside the St. Francis Preparatory School in Queens, New York on Sunday, April 26. The CDC confirmed that eight students at the school have been infected with swine flu.

Newscom/PTS

Father Bill Sweetney, principal of St. Francis Preparatory School, addresses the media outside the school on Sunday, April 26. Cleaning crews spent Sunday scrubbing down St. Francis, which will be closed for days. Schools have also closed in Texas, California, South Carolina and Ohio.

Newscom/PTS

European Commissioner for Health, Androulla Vassiliou of Cyprus, adressed the media at the EU General Affairs and External Relations Council meeting in Luxembourg on Monday, April 27. Vassiliou has urged Europeans to postpone nonessential travel to U.S. and Mexico. Germany's largest tour operator suspends all charter flights to Mexico City.

Newscom/PTS

Airports screen travelers from Mexico and United States. China, Russia, Taiwan and Bolivia to quarantine anyone with symptoms. Pictured here: the Narita International Airport in Tokyo.

Newscom/Kyodo

Prime Minister Taro Aso addresses a Cabinet swine flu crisis meeting in Tokyo on Monday, April 27.

Newscom/Kyodo

Officials at the Japanese Ministry of Health and Labor field telephone calls from people seeking advice and information the swine flu.

Newscom/Kyodo

Staff members wear masks in their work at Hong Kong International Airport in on Monday, April 27.

Newscom/PTS

This swine flu involves a new type of strain - SIV-H1N1 - the origins of which so far remain unknown. Journalist David Kirby says that "one theory is that Asian and European strains traveled to Mexico in migratory birds or in people, then combined with North American strains in Mexican pig factory farms before jumping over to farm workers."

Newscom/Zuma

With President Obama's first 100 days nearly finished, let's take a look at how he's done in the polls, from the honeymoon to the present.



Obama's approval rating remains solid, but has fallen by about ten points as the honeymoon effect has worn off, while disapproval is up by about 15 points due to the loss of soft support and some initial undecideds. And the system appears to have found a temporary equilibrium state, a general range that could potentially hold until future events disrupt it.



The Pollster.com graph tells the story:







One thing to note is that Obama's support has gone down since the initial grace period around inauguration -- but during March, it basically leveled out. The growth in disapproval has been a bit higher than the decrease in approval, probably because the honeymoon had a mixture of people who would normally disapprove instead approving or being up in the air, but have now made up their minds.



Some further analysis after the jump.

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Speaking of the 'bad guys' centrists, the group MoveOn.org is raising money to fund ads intended to run in the districts of Democratic members who may oppose House efforts to advance climate change legislation.

In particular, the ads would target Reps. Rick Boucher (D-VA), Mike Doyle (D-PA), Charles Melancon (D-LA), and Charles Gonzalez (D-TX)--all from either oil, coal, or manufacturing states. Boucher used to head the subcommittee with jurisdiction over this issue, but he swapped out this winter with Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA), who, along with Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), co-authored the bill in question.

Today, the New York Times reports that Boucher--a veteran environmentalist foe--wants the Waxman-Markey bill all-but-gutted.

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Get ready for Jack Abramoff: The Movie.

The well-sourced Hollywood blogger Nikki Finke reported Friday that Kevin Spacey and director George Hickenlooper were visiting the disgraced former lobbyist in prison -- as part of their research for Casino Jack, which will start filming next month, with the man who once played Keyser Soze in the lead role. (Variety had reported last August on plans for the project, then known as Bagman.)

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Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) seems to be emerging now in a very important role for the Republican Party: To be the leading bogeyman for the Democrats, now that folks like George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Rick Santorum, Jesse Helms, etc., are all long gone and out of office.

The DCCC is now getting in on the Bachmann game, launching BachmannWatch.com:



Rather than focus on the easier target of Bachmann's record of extremism, McCarthyism and talk of revolution, the Dems are instead setting out to pro-actively debunk things she's said that simply aren't true. An example:

$1430 for Everyone in the World?

BACHMANN CLAIMS...

"The amount of money that's been committed by this Democrat government already, the amount of money that they have committed, your tax money to spend, would equal, and I'm not making this up, a check in the amount of $1,430 written to every man, woman, child in the world."

http://minnesotaindependent.com/26721/bachmanns-statements-on-stimulus-raise-a-few-eyebrows

THE FACTS Basic math: dividing the $789 billion recovery package by the estimated world population of 6.7 billion only equals $116.


Check out the press release announcing the site, after the jump.

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On the face of it, the lengthy Tim Geithner profile in today's New York Times is not quite as unflattering as last Friday's cover story in Portfolio -- but it's pretty close. Both perpetuate a slightly altered narrative about the Treasury Secretary: where earlier hit jobs depicted Geithner as a limp-wristed bureaucrat who took marching orders from the plutocrats who appointed him to head the New York Fed, the latest stories further the notion of Geithner as precocious, fundamentally unprepared child -- a sort of Sarah Palin of Clinton-anointed technocrats. A structured finance expert accuses him of "magical thinking" in the Times; Portfolio quotes Mike Barnicle's "eyes of a shoplifter" observation. "Think Bambi looking into the headlights on an 18-wheeler," says one economist of Geithner's fumbling through a question-and-answer session in 2006. "People thought, 'Whoa, that's kind of out there,'" says comptroller of the currency John C. Dugan of a short-lived proposal Geithner advanced last June to guarantee all bank debt. Management expert Peter Cohan suggests Geithner is flailing because he isn't very "good at math."

Between the lines of both stories, tough, are some more tangibly problematic signs for Geithner's future in the post.

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