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Vexed by Viagra

Updated

That, and other news, in today’s Roundup and Recap.

Could the end be in sight for Viagra jokes? Several bills have been introduced in Congress to limit TV commercials for prescription drugs, reports the New York Times.

“You should not be going to a doctor saying, ‘I have restless leg
syndrome’ — whatever the hell that is — or going to a doctor saying, ‘I
have the mumps,’ ” said Rep. Jerrold Nadler (R-N.Y.), who has a bill to restrict pharmaceutical companies from deducting the cost of their commercials as business expenses. “You should not be
diagnosed by some pitchman on TV who doesn’t know you whatsoever.”

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) has a bill to bar ads for new drugs after a period following FDA approval. Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) has another to ban sexual aids from advertisements based on decency grounds.

The ads represent a big chunk of revenue for TV networks, particularly in programs that draw older demographics like newsmagazines. That’s why the proposals are meeting resistance not just from Pharma, but the National Assn. of Broadcasters. And there are serious First Amendment concerns as well.

Obama and Gates: Peter Baker of the Times wrote about President Obama’s penchant for making off-handed or too-candid remarks, most recently about the arrest of Henry Louis Gates. “They want to be genuine, they want to speak their mind,” said Ari Fleischer, who was press secretary for President George W. Bush.
“But there’s the recognition that you’re no longer able to muse the way
you’re used to. If you’re too candid, that can really haunt you. So
presidents learn the art of being circumspect. And they chafe at it.
They want to be genuine. But in many ways, they all become more guarded
as time goes on.”

Olson’s Case: Ted Olson explained to Patt Morrison in the Los Angeles Times how he came to be the lead counsel seeking to overturn Proposition 8 on the federal level.

Chad Griffin “and Rob and Michele Reiner were having lunch — or maybe just Rob
and Michele — and they bumped into my former sister-in-law and
mentioned that they thought Proposition 8 was going to be upheld in the
California Supreme Court, and they were thinking about a legal
challenge. She said, “Why don’t you think about Ted Olson?” Chad called
me up and talked to me, and then we went from there.”

Walter’s World: In the Washington Post, activist Mark Segal recalled the day that he got into the newsroom of CBS News and interrupted Walter Cronkite’s evening news broadcast with the sign, “Gays protest CBS prejudice.” Segal said that Cronkite reached out to him, the news division’s coverage changed, and they became friends.

So Early It’s Still Late: Willie Geist’s new show, “Way Too Early,” debuted this morning on MSNBC at 5:30 a.m., with White House spokesman Robert Gibbs as the first guest.

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