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Katrina-Clip Miss Disses Fox's Smith

Apparently, when Fox News anchor Shepard Smith was invited to lead a panel discussion on covering Hurricane Katrina at the Radio-Television News Directors Association conference last week, nobody thought to tell the editor of the clip reel celebrating the most exemplary TV coverage.

Smith, a Mississippi native, was a model in reportorial courage, covering the storm on the ground in New Orleans and tracking its impact on his home state extensively thereafter.

But you wouldn't know it from the long highlight video that preceded the panel talk. While the montage included the heroics of local stations WWL and WDSU—and even prominently featured reports from Fox competitors MSNBC and CNN—Smith was nowhere to be found.

The omission wasn't lost on the brash anchor. “We covered it, too,” he said dryly after the video ended. “I guess no one was watching.”

The panel's organizer, WBZ Boston Station Manager Angie Kucharski, apologized profusely at the panel's close, explaining that footage of Smith's reporting had been left out accidentally. “What you didn't see,” she said, “is one of the reasons we asked him to moderate.”

Bet that wouldn't have happened to Anderson Cooper.

Vegas No-Shows

Chalk another one up to the JackAbramoff effect. Even the myriad temptations of Las Vegas could not induce members of Congress to risk the faintest association with scandal-ridden lobbyists by attending last week's National Association of Broadcasters convention in Sin City.

Historically, key members of the House and Senate Commerce Committees have been mainstays at the NAB show, often on the trade association's dime at an average $3,700 or so per trip. But just as they were at last month's National Cable and Telecommunications Association show in Atlanta, the senators and congressman were MIA.

A policy breakfast usually lousy with pols (and the station executives who love to woo them) was a ghost town. Attendees munched on Special K while political consultant Stuart Rothenberg talked about the upcoming midterm elections.

The only elected official spotted was Congresswoman Shelly Berkley (D-Nev.). (Of course, it was probably only a short drive from her district office.) Still, here was a full roster of FCC commissioners, led by Chairman Kevin Martin, and about 20 commission staffers.

According to an analysis of Congressional disclosure statements by the Web site Political Moneyline, frequent NAB junketeers who didn't make it include Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) and Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.), both of whom are breaking a streak of five consecutive years in attendance.

The prize for the top hotel bill goes to Kentucky Republican Hal Rogers, who racked up $2,764 in charges on a no-doubt memorable trip to the 2001 convention.

Dubya TV

When George W. Bush tapped Fox News personality Tony Snow to be his press secretary last week, it was hardly the first time the media-savvy White House has poached TV news talent.

For all his professed disdain for what he has called “the filter,” the president seems to be quite fond of broadcasters—so long as they're playing for his all-star team.

Karen Hughes, Bush's message maven who gave the world “compassionate conservatism,” was a reporter at NBC affiliate KXAS Ft. Worth, Texas, for seven years before leaping into Republican politics.

J. Dorrance Smith, the new assistant secretary of defense for public affairs (and successor to onetime NCTA flak Tori Clarke), was executive producer of This Week With David Brinkley and Nightline.

Scott Sforza, a former Good Morning America producer, helped design the U.S. Central Command's $250,000 wartime media set in Qatar and choreographed some of Bush's most brazen TV stunts, including his Top Gun landing on the U.S.S. Lincoln.

Then there are former NBC cameraman Bob DeServi and ex-Fox News producer Greg Jenkins, and Patrick Rhode, who presumably learned all he needed to know about disaster management as a news anchor in Arkansas and Alabama before he became chief of staff for FEMA washout Michael “Brownie” Brown at the emergency agency.

And though only a contractor for Health and Human Services, video-news-release queen Karen Ryan didn't just play a journalist on TV. She really was one...once.

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