OFF LIMITS

The big shill: A certain Denver-based talk-radio host may be all the rage nationally (after duking it out on Ricki Lake, the Black Avenger next takes on Montel Williams), but Ken Hamblin wasn't the fellow who raised the ire of Chicago Tribune writer Jon Margolis. In his January 25 column blaming the heartland--and not Washington, D.C.--for much of this country's stupidity, Margolis wrote: "It is not along Constitution Avenue, but along Main Street, where people believe the ignorant loudmouths of talk radio. It is not in Washington but in down-to-Earth Denver where one of those loudmouths has not only his radio show but also a newspaper column, even while he records commercials for local businesses. Where there are standards of honesty, those who comment on public affairs do not shill for stores..."

Ready to name that goon? It was Denver Post columnist, Jag-and-Lexus-driving (and -hawking) Mike Rosen, whom Margolis tuned in on KOA while visiting Denver. Unlike the "entertainers and ignoramuses" of talk radio, Margolis says, newspaper columnists at least "come to the discussion with clean hands." "Sez who?" responds Rosen, who implies that Margolis is no Prints Charming himself. Two years ago Margolis revealed himself as "economically illiterate" during a conversation on tax rates that took "half an hour of my precious time," Rosen says. Even worse, Margolis took a shot at him in print then, too. "He's flatly wrong, and I would be more than happy to let him come on the show and show what he knows," offers Rosen.

The brawl's in your court, Jon.

Crossing the line: Operation Rescue Colorado's information line is usually chock-full of such cheerful information as the number of abortions performed each working day in the state (seventy, according to the current recording) and the schedule for Operation Rescue picket lines--"We must put feet to our prayers"--outside the homes and clinics of certain targeted doctors. Recently, though, a hacker broke through Operation Rescue's own phone lines and substituted this message as the group's greeting: "Pro-choice wins. We give up."

According to Operation Rescue spokesman Philip Faustin, the prankster caused little confusion. To be taken seriously, he should have recorded "something a little more realistic," Faustin says. "Operation Rescue would never surrender."

Pull the plug: Ken Auletta's February 7 New Yorker exclusive with TCI cable cowboy John Malone is hardly the epic we were led to expect. During their fifteen-hour chat, Auletta essentially learned that although Malone wants to merge TCI with Bell Atlantic in order to spend more time with his wife, he is not "henpecked." The profile Malone presents is a marked contrast--and no doubt intentionally so--to the picture that emerges in the current Vanity Fair story on the sale of Paramount Communications. "Let me tell you about Malone," Paramount CEO Martin Davis says. "The guy is a genius--but then, so was Al Capone. He's the smartest guy you'll ever meet. He's brilliant. But he stands for nothing, believes in nothing, and has contempt for anyone that walks and talks. I'll tell you something else. He talks too much.

 
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