In America: The great liberal media conspiracy (continued...)

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The Independent Online

* There they go again, conservatives grumbling about liberal bias in the American media. It's not the news they are complaining about now - hard when the Rupert Murdoch's blatantly skewed Fox News drew more viewers than the traditional networks during last week's Republican convention - but rather the book publishing industry.

The charge was made at a seminar attended by conservative commentator types in Manhattan last week. "It's the gatekeepers at the publishing houses," claimed the radio talk show host Cal Thomas, "that keep out people and ideas with which they do not agree."

Hmm. Of the 30 political hard-covers that reached the bestsellers lists, more than half were most assuredly not liberal. I mean, did Ann Coulter, Bill O'Reilly (he of Fox) and Sean Hannity (oops, also of Fox) have so much trouble finding someone to put their conservative dictums in print?

Ms Coulter, whose next book is called How to Talk to a Liberal (If You Must), is happily berthed with Random House. "It's a little bit facile of our author friends to suggest that they've been ignored or dissuaded," said Random's spokesman Stuart Applebaum. "I don't think there's any great conspiracy" against conservatives.

Stop whingeing, boys and girls, please.

* PANDORA HAS no political axe to grind, of course, so now back to Fox - the Fox television network here, as opposed to its cable news channel - and why we are learning to love it.

We are ga-ga for its newest reality offering, due to air later this autumn and tentatively called Ivana Man . This will be Ivana Trump first wife of Donald, hosting a show about older women trying to tumble with younger men.

Why not? "For years, rich older men have traded in their wives for pretty young women with bigger 'attributes'", the network commented.

Nicely put. And now it's the turn of "mature women".

Ivana, by the way, is 55 years young.

* HELEN THOMAS the veteran reporter who has asked questions from the front row of the White House press room since JFK was president, presumably will not be auditioning for Ivana. But at 84, she still gets around and, we can report, still cares about her appearance.

Hence the first lady of American journalism, was not in the least bit coy in the press centre at the Republican convention last week when she chanced upon the spa set up inside for the week by the fancy clothing store, Barneys, and plunked herself right down.

Bikini waxings, hair-dos and pedicures were among the services offered for free to weary scribes. Ms Thomas did elect, however, to keep the press-pampering above the shoulders.

* JENNA AND Barbara, the Bush-babes, knew better than to brave the press room. But get about in Manhattan they did. If they weren't attending the convention itself or various buttoned-up Republican soirées around town, then they were filling the wee hours clubbing.

We learn that they visited the Chelsea hot-spot 17 on two different nights, and on Wednesday took an entourage of pals to Avalon on Sixth Avenue. Avalon reportedly treated them very well with free drinks for a total of $4,500. And the tip the girls left behind? A puny $48, barely 10 per cent.

Not much trickle-down economics from the Bush offspring on that night.

* Talking of Republicans and buttons, how many of them managed to get them undone last week? Undone all the way. More than you might imagine. The enemy can be sexy, which must explain why randy New Yorkers crammed the casual-couplings column on the website with pleadings for attention from visiting conventioneers. "Looking for out of town Republican" was one of the more bland exhortations. Others, less subtle, ran from "Feely extra Bushy?" to "Are you a cocky Republican guy?" Oh, and yes, there were almost as many Republicans looking for frisky favours from their hosts.