And "Simon Says" is a totalitarian training exercise!
Opponents of Bill Simon, California's Republican gubernatorial candidate, are going to great lengths to paint him as some kind of religious extremist. On Sunday, two Bay-area papers had news articles suggesting he's some kind of theocrat. The San Francisco Chronicle assigned two reporters to cover Simon's appearance on the Trinity Broadcasting Network's Behind the Scenes show. "Simon made no controversial statements on the TBN broadcast," the Chronicle reported, but the news is that he appeared "on a controversial religious cable network that has featured flamboyant faith healers and showy ministers who promise to raise loved ones from the dead."

The candidate refused to play the game. "Simon, who is a vice chairman of PAX-TV … said that he doesn't support all the teachings on the Trinity Broadcast Network or the controversial programming, or wasn't even aware of them," the Chronicle reported. But the paper keeps pushing. The article's subheads say it all: "TAPES OF SHOW SURFACE" (gotta love the word surface, as if internationally broadcast shows are kept secret), "'LUNATIC FRINGE,'" "STATE VOTERS MORE SECULAR," and "NETWORK'S WEALTH AND REACH."

"The question is not his religious beliefs; the question is the company he keeps," said Hoover Institution research fellow Bill Whalen. (Funny thing about Whalen: He's the dominant voice in the story, yet the fact that he was a media consultant for Richard J. Riordan, whom Simon beat in the Republican primary election, is never mentioned. He's just quoted as an independent scholar.)

The question apparently isn't just the company he keeps, but also the company of the company that his company keeps. The San Jose Mercury News ...

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