For bitten fruit

Bee all you can’t be: One of the best parts of becoming a money-grubbing media monopoly is that suddenly you can become the center of national attention. Bites needs merely point to The Sacramento Bee’s parent corporation to illustrate the phenomenon. It seems the McClatchy chain’s recent $4.3 billion purchase of Knight Ridder is raising concern that the latter’s widely respected coverage of the war in Iraq may be jettisoned along with a dozen local dailies (small-time operators like, you know, The Philadelphia Inquirer and the San Jose Mercury News) in order to shore up the former’s sagging, debt-ridden bottom line.

“[T]he war that might have been averted by more skeptical reporting from the rest of the media will outlast Knight Ridder,” writes John Nichols in the current issue of The Nation.

Alas, Bites is sadly inclined to agree. When George W. Bush admitted earlier this week that he had declassified the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) brief on Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction that was later fed to various reporters via Scooter Libby back in 2003, the Bee’s story neglected to mention that Dubya kept part of the NIE classified. That’s right, the part where all of the various intelligence agencies involved noted that the claim that Iraq possessed WMDs was almost undoubtedly complete and utter bullshit.

Bee praised: Speaking of the only newspaper on Q Street’s sagging assets, Bites grudgingly commends the local daily on its coverage of its own current financial misfortunes.

“The McClatchy Co.’s credit rating is going to be downgraded by a second Wall Street rating agency, but not as severely as the first time,” writes business reporter Dale Kasler in a recent edition. It seems Standard & Poor’s downgraded McClatchy to BBB bond status thanks to the aforementioned debt taken on with the Knight Ridder acquisition.

Oh, and that first downgrade? Later we learn that was the one where Moody’s placed McClatchy “to a level just above junk-bond status.” Bites knew it all the time. The downgraded ratings will not apply until the acquisition is finalized. What’s that, investor? Is it too late to call the deal off?

Loud and proud: Are today’s young conservatives practicing consistency? Bites is happy to answer a resounding “Yes!” Yes, that is, if the issue is the Sacramento City Unified School District’s upcoming Day of Silence, and the young conservative in question happens to be John F. Kennedy High School sophomore Andy Nevis.

Nevis has become almost famous with his blog, California High School Conservative, which has been mentioned in publications as far away as The Washington Post. Bites caught up to Nevis while trolling the ’Net in search of opposition to the upcoming National Day of Silence, a protest calling attention to the harassment that gay, lesbian and transgender students regularly endure. SCUSD is joining the protest, and students who participate will zip their lips for the entire school day on April 26.

“My objection is not the event itself, but that it’s taking up instruction time to promote their agenda,” said Nevis, who thinks he may have been born conservative. By “their agenda,” he means the “lesbian and gay agenda,” although he’s uncertain about this agenda’s reach into the halls and locker rooms of JFK High. He says he has a few older acquaintances who are gay; he’s not sure if he knows of any gay or lesbian students among his classmates. “I’m sure I do, but I don’t know if they’re out yet,” he noted.

At any rate, Nevis has no problems with gays per se. “My objection is I don’t want them using class time,” he said. “I really don’t think teachers should take time out of their classes to promote a political agenda.” But what about a religious agenda, say, for instance, prayer in school? “I wouldn’t want a teacher promoting a Christian thing in class either,” the admittedly Christian sophomore said. Bites was suitably impressed—and just in the nick of time. Catch your education tax dollars in action at