Beltway Insider: Ukraine/Russia; Copenhagen Shootings; Ebola Czar Exits; Media Industry Suffers Loss

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President Obama acknowledging the U.S. Ebola crisis did not materialize to the extent originally thought has phased out the Ebola Czar Position created at the onset to manage the potential catastrophe and is focusing eradication efforts on West Africa.

According to Gallup, President Obama’s job approval, over the past week, increased one percentage point to 48% of those polled who approve of his effectiveness as President and those who disapprove of his effectiveness as President increased one percentage point to 48%. 

Ukraine/Russia Cease Fire

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko have potentially reached a ceasefire agreement, to begin February 15, 2015 that will bring an end to the fighting along the eastern Russian/Ukraine border.

Minsk 2.0, as the agreement has been named, was hammered out between the two nations with members of the G7, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President François Hollande, keeping up the pressure on both parties to end the fighting initiated one year ago by Russia’s aggressive action against its neighbor.

“We continue to pursue a diplomatic solution, although we have suffered a lot of setbacks.  These days we will see whether all sides are ready and willing to come to a negotiated settlement.  Russia obviously has a extraordinarily powerful military.   And Russia has paid a significant cost for its actions -- first in Crimea and now in eastern Ukraine.  It has not yet dissuaded Mr. Putin from following the course that he is on, but it has created a measurable negative impact on the Russian economy, and that will continue,” president Obama said.

The intentional violation of Ukraine’s territorial sovereignty, began one year ago after a triumphant display by the Russians at the Winter Olympics, days after its end, Russian tanks rolled into Crimea, a 10K square mile peninsula bordering Ukraine and Russian and promptly annexed the seaside city.

Unable to gain international support for annexation Putin immediately felt the deep freeze from all governing bodies resulting in a year of deep squeezing general and sectorial sanctions, which also resulted in expulsion of Russia from the G8.

“One particular priority was given to the conflict between Ukraine and Russia this morning.  We stand up for the same principles of inviolability of territorial integrity.  Russia has violated the territorial integrity of Ukraine in two respects:  in Crimea, and also in Donetsk and Luhansk,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said.

While the President Obama, German Chancellor Merkel and President Hollande, are celebrating the agreement, the Ukraine media has been less than favorable indicating as Putin is signing the agreement, not unlike other historical leaders, who simultaneously have moved troops or military plays into action while shaking the hands of the President, has moved more than 50 heavy tanks into eastern Ukraine.

The international community must not let cautious optimism get in the way of realism. Despite the reprieve that the newest cease fire gives to civilians in the conflict zone, there’s little evidence that Russia’s aggression against Ukraine is reaching its end.


Sanctions against the Russian Federation must stay in place until the Ukrainian government has secured its borders with Russia, the Russian military is removed from the country, and there is lasting stability in Donbas. France must not deliver the Mistral warships to Russia, which would not only reward Russia for misbehavior but could very well end up in Sevastopol’s harbor as floating monuments to Western vacillation.


Minus these prerequisites, Putin’s aggressions against Ukraine will only continue. Although unmentioned in the Minsk Agreements, the world must likewise not forget the cynical annexation and occupation of Crimea.


International pressure must continue to push for Ukraine’s entire territorial integrity, including Crimea, and acknowledge Russia’s responsibility for the physical and humanitarian destruction of the Donbas. - The Ukraine Crisis Media Center Editorial Board.


The Minsk agreement is heralded as a victory for all when in fact, Ukraine, for all its progression and determined action to separate themselves from the old guard must constantly live with the Putin and his iron fist at the door.

The French President and I have decided to make one further attempt to make progress through diplomatic means.  We have the Minsk agreement -- the Minsk agreement has never been implemented.  Quite the contrary is true.  The situation has actually worsened on the ground.  So now there is a possibility to try and bring about a cease-fire,” Merkel said.

Gunfire in Copenhagen Leaves Two Dead; Five Wounded

A free speech talk turned deadly as a terrorist fired through the Krudttǿnden café as it hosted a Free Speech seminar attended by Denmark cartoonist Lars Vilks, believed to be the intended victim targeted for his drawings and depictions of the Prophet Muhammad.

A 45 second audio recording of the initial attack depicts a calm crowd with no screams heard as those in attendance apparently took cover. One person died and three others sustained injuries. The French Ambassador was also in attendance.

The gunman moved on to Copenhagen’s main Synagogue where he opened fire killing one and wounding two police officers.

Both shootings were attributed to a single gunman. He was tracked and killed by police in an exchange of gunfire.

All of Europe remains on high alert, although the situation in Copenhagen is contained and under control.

The New York Times, CBS, Take a Heavy Hit; NBC, Comedy Central Shift Responsibilities

Beginning with the rumblings of a fast moving media storm, the week brought unimaginable and permanent damage as the industry suffered massive loss with revelations of fabrication, departures and death.

Brian Williams, the evening anchor at NBC, began the week by admitting he had become too much of what he does to continue effectively serving the people.

Essentially, the twenty-two year veteran, embellished his own harrowing experiences as he reported from major hotspots over the past decade creating, in effect, salacious additions guaranteed to play on the sympathies of the audience and edge up his own ratings.

Williams issued a statement and was suspended by his network, NBC, for six months which became the fuel feeding the speculation of a career ending scandal.

Williams has helmed the NBC Nightly News and maintained special assignments beginning in 2004, prior to which he was the NBC Nightly News Weekend anchor from 1993 to 1999.  

Creating the graphic highlights believable in the center of the reported news was nothing more than smartly added vine moments.

The news of Brian Williams’ journalistic negligence had barely cooled, when Jon Stewart, a seventeen year veteran of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, a liberal news program airing on Comedy Central, announced his retirement from the program by the end of 2015.

The Daily Show, outside the three main dominate network machines and still widely accepted as mainstream news, has held a solid audience, crossing all demographics and by admission mixes comedy and satire with the news.

Stewart, has won numerous television and journalism awards, as his trademark humor has proven successful in diffusing the taboo and difficult while informing an audience who look to him for the news of the day and in comedic format presented water down, palatable versions to which began a anchor of the network.

Hosting the show since 1999, Stewart has not suffered lackluster ratings, and offered no personal or professional reason for his decision.

His network, Comedy Central issued a statement praising his comedic skills, “unique voice and vision” and indicated he “will always be a part of the Comedy Central family.”

The shifting media landscape by Wednesday had media commentators gearing up for the bigger picture analysis and the many interpretations the smoke signals could take.

Unfortunately, as the two top media stories began to fill the late night talk shows with monologue fodder, word of worse came across the wire.

Bob Simon

Bob Simon, 73, a 60 Minutes newsmagazine correspondent, media stalwart, died of injuries sustained in a freak car crash on Manhattan’s West Side highway when the driver sideswiped a Mercedes Benz and careered out of control, smashing into the lane separators.

Simon, covering the fall of Saigon in 1975, was on one of the last helicopters leaving the American Embassy, his career spanned more than six decades, covering almost every major news story throughout the past half century and more.

War, famine, rulers, presidents, Simon saw it all and followed. His trusted reports were anchors on the 47 year old news magazine program. The CBS Veteran had spent his life dedicated to the pursuit of the story. His career was a brush with death as he traveled for the story into areas most refused to go.

Simon was rushed to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead of head and body injuries.

The sad news is compounded by the newest reports that the beloved anchor was not wearing a seat belt and disclosures of the driver’s known erratic performances reports.

Revelations the livery driver had been notorious for hostile driving, sustained countless violations, and was generally a road rage driver, aggressive, stalking vehicles who “cut him off,” doesn’t smooth over the deep loss or the injury. Those facts only add insult to injury.

David Carr

With the news of Simon’s death fresh, with accolades arriving from leaders, media, friends, and even subjects, the media world lost another.

David Carr, 58, New York Times media columnist, a Monday staple and analyst of the ever changing media landscape collapsed in the newsroom of The Grey Lady’s eighth avenue offices.

Carr, who admitted he was less of a Times-man than most, began his tenure at the Times in 2002 covering magazine publishing. Shaking up the high brow newspaper after a 2008 auto biography, titled The Night of the Gun, exposed his darker moments and detailed his own years as a crack addict, junkie, and the spiral of the junkies abyss in Manhattan.

Carr, a bespectacled man, adopted the urban intellectual appearance, suitable on his thin frame to afford him a pass into New York’s intelligencia society and glitterati worlds. He was real, with an outsiders’/insiders vantage and viewpoint.

A cancer survivor, Carr also carried within his slight frame other permanent reminders of his years as a crack addict. Heart disease, common to those who have led the life, was named by the medical examiner as instrumental in his death caused by lung cancer, which had metastasized.

He wrote with an honesty that is unusual detailing the night, the moment of choice, when god or a higher power intervenes with one last chance. His was with his two young twin daughters, sleeping in the back seat, as he made the choice to leave them alone, knowing that god would protect him, better than he could, as he scored. The pull for the addict to score, superseded all common sense.

A friend of the media, Carr wrote about his penance, that he eventually became an “attentive father.”

Oddly, Carr was never pretentious about his renewed found fame, or one apparently to take for granted the life he was fortunate to have and to keep, he wrote at the end of “The Night of the Gun, “ “I inhabit a life I don’t deserve.”

Carr often said, as he came to the New York Times, later in life than most, having passed through a gauntlet of life, and other lives, alien experiences to most who walk through the doors and inhabit the pages, he said, “I have an immigrants love of the place and its daily miracle.”

The media industry suffered a major hit this week. Liken to a horrific storm that seems slight in nature and turns instantly into a raging, catastrophic, nightmare. The week ended and the clean up, the far reaching long term effects linger.

Ebola Czar Position Ends

President Obama acknowledging the Ebola crisis did not materialize to the extent originally thought has phased out the Ebola Czar Position created at the onset to manage the potential catastrophe and is focusing eradication efforts on West Africa.

Ron Klain, the first appointed Ebola administer acting as a whole of government approach and reporting directly to the president has ended his tenure.

Fortunately the Ebola epidemic that ravaged West Africa, creating unimaginable suffering and death, did not materialize to the degree projected or expected and the position is no longer needed.

“His expertise helped to fortify our preparedness here at home. The results of that speak for themselves,” Obama said.

For more information on President Barack Obama:


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