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July 16, 1998

Media Blitz: What a bad month it's been for journalism. "Dateline NBC" has to pay $525,000 for defaming a trucker and trucking company. The Cincinnati Enquirer paid $10 million to Chiquita for stealing company voicemail; the Boston Globe and New Republic fired writers for making up quotes; and CNN retracted its Vietnam nerve gas story. "To top it all off, Jerry Springer just proclaimed himself the 'Most Trusted Man in America.' " (Argus Hamilton)

Spice Who: The Spice Girls have been removed from the latest edition of the international "Who's Who." "That's OK. In a few years, someone will mention the Spice Girls and people will say 'Who? Who?' " (Premiere Radio)

Postal Pastime: Psychologists say office workers use toys like Slinkys, Nerf balls and squirt guns to help reduce stress. "Except, of course, Postal Service workers, for whom toy guns seem to have the opposite effect." (Paul Steinberg)

Lewinsky Music: San Francisco musician David Gans has recorded a tribute song to Monica Lewinsky. "Linda Tripp has already made a tape of it." (the Daily Scoop)

Consumer Alert: The Federal Aviation Administration slapped America West with a $55-million fine for safety violations. "When the flight attendants gave safety instructions, they advised passengers that the heavyset person next to you could be used as a flotation device." (Joshua Sostrin)

Power of the Pen: Milton Berle's son is writing a tell-all biography about his dad. "It's called 'Uncle Miltie Dearest.' " (Premiere)

The Veep: According to a new poll, 25% of Americans say they wouldn't recognize Al Gore if he were standing at their front door. "And 25% said they wouldn't have recognized him either if he hadn't held out that can and asked for a contribution." (Steve Voldseth)

Promiscuous Practices: The stars of "Saving Private Ryan" underwent a real U.S. Army 10-day boot camp in preparation for the movie. "They spent 12 hours a day harassing female subordinates." (Hamilton)

La Arachnophobia: Thanks to El Nino, spiders are out in record numbers. "There are so many, in fact, it's been difficult for many spiders to find a Web site." (Joe Kevany)

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