BEHIND THE NEWS: Changes

February 4, 2009 2:08:30 PM PST
Whatever you think about the new President, one thing's for sure. He's different than his predecessor.

Mr. Obama's "I screwed up" mea culpa yesterday was a 180-degree shift from the Bush years.

Remember when Mr. Bush was asked a couple of years ago if he could think of any mistakes he made in office? And he said none came to mind? Hello?

Anyway, watching the new President during his network TV junket last night, he was certainly engaged and present -- in the issues, in the current firestorm of controversy over his vetting process and the downfall of two of his nominees, and ..... in his job.

A big shift, indeed, from the prior administration.

Today, the President finally put some teeth into this government bailout of the nation's banks. He put a salary cap of $500,000, which is 25 percent more than he makes, for any executives whose companies receive federal bailout money.

"We all need to take responsibility," Mr. Obama said.

Whether this helps right the economic shift -- could be at least a year before we find out.

We'll have the latest on the economy, and Mr. Obama's proposed stimulus package, tonight at 11.

And speaking of 180 degrees from Pres. Bush, the Obama Administration is set to announce that it's rescinding the controversial oil and gas leases the Bush Administration issued for drilling near national parks in Utah. The actor Robert Redford had been a leading opponent of the leases.

And finally, the big push to get everyone ready for the digital TV transition on Feb. 17 has been delayed. Congress late this afternoon voted to postpone the end of analog television signals until June 12. The problem is that -- despite big successes by broadcasters in the New York metro area, where about 200,000 households still have analog, the lowest percentage of the population in the nation -- there are still about 6.5 million Americans with older TVs who don't have cable or satellite.

We have been holding town hall meetings in various boroughs, and have presented several half-hour specials on the DTV transition. But the government ran out of funds to help people pay for the digital converter boxes, so many people haven't yet made the transition.

Broadcasters have spent billions upgrading their equipment and educating people about this transition. We're still ready to make the change. My suggestion: If you know someone who doesn't have digital, and can't afford to buy the converter boxes ($40 to $60), then buy one for them. It's a good gift.

Stay tuned.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather forecast, and Marvell Scott (in for Scott Clark) with the night's sports. I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11.

BILL RITTER


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