3:30 p.m. ET: With Christmas fast approaching, the lid is on until Monday morning. The only things The Rundown will be running down between now and then are (hopefully) some lovely gifts. And the only thing he'll be browsing is the dessert buffet. So happy holidays to you and yours, and let's meet back in this space Monday at 8 a.m.
8 a.m. ET: It's called "the benefit of the doubt" and Barack Obama gets it right now, at least as far as the media is concerned. That's the takeaway from yesterday's release and today's coverage of the long-awaited Blegojevich report, a document prepared by White House counsel-designate Gregory Craig which found that there was a bit of contact between the incoming administration and the embattled governor's office over the vacant Illinois senate seat, but nothing inappropriate.
Maybe there really is nothing to see here, and it is Christmas Eve. Still, it's striking how little skepticism there is in this morning's stories, both of the report's result and the process by which it was crafted. Imagine that there was a potential scandal like this involving the Bush administration -- far-fetched, we know, but play along for a moment. And imagine that Bush announced right away that he had done nothing wrong, but then said his staff would mount its own internal investigation, based on parameters and guidelines that he set. Next, imagine that the White House counsel produced a report, which said no one did anything wrong. Would the media buy that? Would that really be the end of the matter? The contrast between the leeway allowed the current administration and the incoming one is striking, though you could argue that the former earned a healthy dose of skepticism over the last eight years.
But enough being a media scold. It's the morning before Christmas, and Santa's sleigh is already in the air! And the Blagojevich report isn't the only negative story out there, though it seems to be the only big one. For example, Carol Browner is getting heat for deliberately not using email, to avoid the prying eyes of lawyers and reporters, during her stint as EPA chief. And Sonal Shah, an official with Obama's transition team whom you may have never heard of before now, was apparently an active member of a "controversial Hindu group." But overall, Obama "is proving to be an elusive and frustrating target." Except for the paparazzi.
Caroline Kennedy, however, is not proving to be such an elusive target. Her Senate candidacy may have turned a decisive corner, as her detractors grow and supporters have failed to make a case for her beyond her name and fundraising prowess. Is it possible that she will eventually withdraw her name before being on the receiving end of a snub by David Paterson? Just asking.
At least the senate situation in New York seems a bit clearer than the one in Minnesota, where it's increasingly likely that neither Norm Coleman nor Al Franken will be declared the winner by the time Congress convenes Jan. 6. Between now and then, state officials still have to deal with challenged ballots, absentees, possibly double-counted ballots and, possibly, a plague of locusts.
December 24, 2008; 8:00 AM ET
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