TPM News

Things are looking bad at the Washington Times: TPM hears from current staffers in the newsroom there has been an increased security presence at the newspaper in recent days. On Sunday, when three executives were fired, armed guards were brought up to the third floor where management works, according to three newsroom sources.

Newsroom sources tell TPM that employees have been told the third floor is "closed."

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During a news conference today regarding Republican obstruction of a Veterans bill, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) told reporters that he's confident he will be able to bring his health care bill to the Senate floor next week, after Congress returns from a brief Veterans Day recess, and then pass the bill by Christmas. But the number two man in the caucus, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) was far more cautious, suggesting that debate on the bill may have to wait until after Thanksgiving.

A reporter asked Reid whether he believes his hoped-for time line to begin and end debate on the bill is reasonable. Reid responded, "yes, and yes."

Earlier today, Reid met with Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT)--a key holdout on the bill, who says he'll filibuster it if it includes a public option. Reid says he's "confident [he and Lieberman] work something out."

Durbin shares that confidence, but isn't so certain about the time line.

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Six protesters were arrested this morning when they refused to leave Sen. Joe Lieberman's (I-CT) office and were charged with unlawful entry, Roll Call reports.

Last week, nine universal health care demonstrators were arrested in Lieberman's office.

Roll Call reports:

CodePink helped organize both sit-ins, protesting Lieberman's threat to filibuster the health care reform bill. Joan Stallard, a CodePink member who watched Tuesday as police carted off her colleagues, accused Lieberman of accepting money from the insurance industry and thus voting in the interests of those companies.

"As an independent, we expected him to be voting with Democrats," she said, later adding, "When the people's lives are at stake, there shouldn't be any hesitation."

Americans United For Change has a new round of TV ads, thanking key House members for voting in favor of the health care bill, with a clear focus on moderate swing votes.

"Congressman __________ knows it's time to reform health care," the announcer says admiringly. "It's time to take power back from the insurance companies. No more denying coverage when you're sick. Time to put medical decisions in the hands of you and your doctor."

The House members on the ad campaign list are Rep. Joseph Cao (R-LA), the only Republican to vote yes, and a longer list of Democrats: Chris Carney (PA), Kathy Dahlkemper (PA), Zack Space (OH), Steve Driehaus (OH), Baron Hill (IN), Brad Ellsworth (IN), Marion Berry (AR), Vic Snyder (AR), Ciro Rodriguez (TX) and Tom Perriello (VA). Interestingly, all the members on that same list voted in favor of the Stupak Amendment, restricting insurance coverage for abortion and arousing the ire of many liberals. But for the labor movement, it doesn't look like that amendment is a deal-breaker at the moment.

It looks like the drama at the Washington Times isn't quite over yet.

Newsroom sources tell TPM they aren't expecting executive editor John Solomon -- who hasn't been seen since the firing of three top executives late Sunday night -- to come back and suggested there may be a larger problem with the paper's growth and revenue figures. But Solomon's in a three-year contract -- which began in January 2007 -- so it may be difficult for him to break with the organization. Staffers were surprised he didn't check in amid all the turmoil and bad press yesterday, and as he lost one of his top reporters.

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White House Communications Director Anita Dunn is stepping down from her position at the end of the month, TPM has confirmed. While NBC News White House Correspondent Chuck Todd says the move is as expected, the news does come a bit earlier than planned -- the move was always expected at the end of the year.

Dunn was an interim replacement for Ellen Moran, who quit the position earlier this year to take a job as Commerce Secretary Gary Locke's Chief of Staff. Dunn was named as Moran's replacement in April. She was actually President Obama's first choice for the job, but declined due to family considerations.

Deputy Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer will replace Dunn, who will remain a consultant to the White House on media strategy issues.

Dunn made a name for herself in the temporary position as she led the charge in the Obama administration's battle with Fox News. In October, she called Fox "more a wing of the Republican party" rather than a news organization (video here).

"The reality of it is that Fox News often operates almost as either the research arm or the communications arm of the Republican Party," Dunn said. The cable network lashed out at the White House in response, calling Dunn's remarks "self-serving." Rather than backing down, the feud became protracted when senior Obama adviser David Axelrod said "it's not really a news station" and Fox once again responded.

In an interview with SkyNews last week, Rupert Murdoch, whose News Corp. owns Fox News, said Glenn Beck "was right" when he called President Obama "a racist" this summer.

Some background: In August, after a white cop mistakenly arrested a black Harvard professor in his own home, touching off a nationwide debate about race, Obama said during a news conference that James Crowley, the police officer, "acted stupidly."

Beck jumped on the comment, saying Obama has "a deep-seated hatred for white people." He later said, "I'm not saying he doesn't like white people. ... He has a, this guy is, I believe, a racist."

Asked about that comment last week, Murdoch -- ultimately, Beck's boss -- said Beck was right, even though he maybe shouldn't have said as much.

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A new survey of Maine from Public Policy Polling (D) has some dire news for Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME), with the moderate Republican potentially losing her 2012 Republican primary against a generic conservative challenger -- and by a landslide, no less.

The numbers: Conservative challenger 59%, Snowe 31%, with a ±4.8% margin of error. It is of course a long way from the idea of a generic conservative challenger to having an actual candidate, but the potential for success by just such an insurgent is certainly there.

Snowe's overall approval is 51%, to 36% disapproval. Democrats approve of her by 60%-29%, Republicans disapprove by 40%-46%, and independents approve by 51%-33%.

The pollster's analysis notes the importance of her vote for a health care bill in the Senate Finance Committee: "Snowe's numbers are steady with independents but down with both Democrats and Republicans compared to three weeks ago, an indication of the perilous political position she finds herself in. Republicans are mad at her for supporting any Democratic bill, while Democrats still are not completely happy with her because of her hesitance to support a public option."

This morning, Fox News host Bill Hemmer made the argument that the shooting at Fort Hood should be classified as terrorism.

If you're despondent, if you're depressed, if you don't want to be shipped out or deployed to be overseas, you take out yourself, and you commit suicide. You don't try and take out as many people as you can with you. So is this the act of a suicidal person, or is this the act of a terrorist?


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