Names in the news, Feb. 25

Posted Feb. 24, 2012, at 4:11 p.m.

Faux news host Stephen Colbert isn’t the only comedian with a super PAC connection. Political satirist Bill Maher got into the act Thursday night, pledging $1 million to a political committee supporting President Barack Obama. Maher announced during a Yahoo-webcast special, “CrazyStupidPolitics,” that he was giving $1 million to Priorities USA Action, a super political action committee backing the president. Even as he made his sizeable pledge, Maher mocked the committee’s “tongue-twister name,” joking that it was dreamed up by Borat, the English-addled Eastern European comic creation of Sacha Baron Cohen. A cynic on politics who often takes liberal stands on issues on his HBO talk show “Real Time,” Maher joins Dreamworks Animation executive Jeffrey Katzenberg and the Service Employees International Union as the committee’s top funders. Katzenberg gave the group $2 million, and the union donated $1 million. Colbert created and funded his super PAC — Making a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow — to satirize the unfettered flow of corporate and union funds into political campaigns. More than half of the $60 million donated to groups supporting Obama and his GOP presidential rivals since early last year has come in million-dollar-plus donations. With Maher’s donation, $4 million of Priorities USA Action’s entire $5.5 million in contributions will have come from million-dollar-plus gifts. … NPR’s new chief executive Gary Knell announced Friday he was promoting Kinsey Wilson to the new role of executive vice president and chief content officer. Wilson joined NPR in 2008 from USA Today to lead the digital media division. Wilson will oversee all radio news, programming and digital content in the new role. Knell also appointed Margaret Low Smith to permanently lead NPR’s news division and its staff of nearly 400. Smith was a longtime producer of “All Things Considered.”

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