CNN NEWSNIGHT AARON BROWN
Did U.S. Get Bad Information on Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction?; Did Bush Administration Oversell Threat?
Aired May 30, 2003 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
AARON BROWN, HOST: Good evening again everyone.
We'll spend time tonight on the question of intelligence going into the war with Iraq. Did the United States get bad information about weapons of mass destruction? Did the Bush administration oversell the threat? Were those weapons the reason or simply an easily understandable argument to convince the country that war was the right thing to do?
The war was seen as part of the war on terror and that war starts the whip off tonight. The decision came today to lower the terror threat. Jeanne Meserve looking into the factors at play in that decision, so Jeanne start us off with a headline please.
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Intelligence analysis drove the decision. There were fewer signals warning of an attack and the holiday weekend passed without incident. The threat level has now been moved up and down four times and officials say there is still a significant risk that terrorists will strike -- Aaron.
BROWN: Jeanne, thank you.
A story about people detained for immigration problems and whether their cases have been mishandled. Justice Department Correspondent Kelli Arena worked that today so Kelly a headline.
KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Aaron, we have an exclusive preview of a crucial and hard-hitting report by the Justice Department's Inspector General. It criticizes that handling of immigrant detainees in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, setting the stage for more controversy over how the department is fighting the war on terror.
BROWN: Kelli, thank you.
And, on to the increasing scrutiny of the intelligence used to justify the war in Iraq, our Senior Pentagon Correspondent Jamie McIntyre on that for us tonight, Jamie the headline.
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: The Pentagon announced it is stepping up its efforts to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq even as the failure to find them has become an increasing source of embarrassment -- Aaron.
BROWN: Jamie, thank you, back to you and the rest shortly. Also coming up on this Friday edition of NEWSNIGHT, Florida's governor getting personally involved in whether a mentally disabled woman has a baby or has an abortion. He asked for a guardian appointed for the fetus. Susan Candiotti has the judge's decision there.
And, the debate over how much one media company should be able to own in your hometown. Will letting them buy more outlets damage free speech? Any debate that puts conservative Brent Bozell and not conservative Richard Dreyfuss that's safe to say on the same side is interesting to us. We'll hear from them and the voices that say the companies have every right in the world to buy all the media they want.
Also tonight, what we believe is the single coolest commercial we've ever seen. You do not want to miss this but then you don't want to miss any of this we hope.
All that to come on this Friday night, we begin with a welcome sigh of relief which assumes, we guess, that when the terror threat level is raised, as it was more than a week ago, many people outside of government and media pay attention. We're not actually sure about that but it went up then and it came down today, reporting for us tonight CNN's Jeanne Meserve.
MESERVE (voice-over): Ten days after it went up, the threat alert level came down. The Memorial Day weekend, considered a period of heightened vulnerability, is over and U.S. intelligence is picking up fewer indicators and warnings.
However, the danger of terrorist attacks is never eliminated and sources say there is continuing concern about suicide bombings or vehicle bombings like those seen earlier this month in Saudi Arabia and Morocco. A consideration in lowering the threat level, cost. For some local and state governments and private industry, threat level orange means green, as in money.
GOV. GEORGE PATAKI (R), NEW YORK: Well, there's no question that being at this heightened level of alert has cost New York state hundreds of millions of dollars.
MESERVE: Neighboring New Jersey says maintaining threat level orange costs $125,000 a day, and the city of Baltimore estimates its costs at $300,000 a week. But after four periods of orange alert, some cities are learning to target their security and spend less money.
The first of the deadly anthrax letters that surfaced in October, 2001, was received right here at the America Media Building in Boca Raton, Florida. As a result, the city got serious about security early on, angled aggressively for grant money, and learned to shave the costs of threat level orange.
MAYOR STEVEN ABRAMS, BOCA RATON, FLORIDA: We've developed some strategies so that we can minimize the cost to the city. So, for example, the first time we went to code orange we had a police officer assigned to just sit in front of City Hall. Now, we have a wrought iron gate.
MESERVE: Even New York City, which has remained on orange through fluctuations in the national threat level, is trimming the $5 million a week cost of its Operation Atlas security program.
RAYMOND KELLY, NEW YORK POLICE COMMISSIONER: We will perhaps use fewer people over time. We will continue to move our resources around. We think that is helpful to do on an unannounced basis. We'll just continue to do what we've been doing but perhaps staff it at a lower level.
MESERVE: The Department of Homeland Security has started to distribute money to help states and localities defray the cost of threat level orange. That has lowered the volume of complaints but it hasn't stopped them. Some officials say they still haven't seen the money -- Aaron.
BROWN: Is there concern in Washington over, when you hear Ray Kelly say we'll start to staff at lower levels, these sorts of things, is there any concern in Washington that states and cities are not taking these threats any more seriously perhaps than the population at large?
MESERVE: That's always been a concern. There have been polls done by the National League of Cities each time we've gone to threat level orange and very often there are a number of cities who say they have done nothing in response to this, either because of the expense issue or because they don't perceive the threat as having something to do with them. So, it's always been a matter of concern.
When they see the major cities scaling back a little bit, perhaps some uneasiness but there really is a sense that people have gotten smarter about how to do this, that they can do it more efficiently, that they now no longer feel that they have to deploy every police officer but they can deploy fewer of them more strategically and get the same protective effect.
BROWN: I don't know that this is a good thing or a bad thing. Is there concern that the rest of us don't take these threats seriously as each one comes and goes and nothing happens?
MESERVE: Well, it has been four times now that the threat level has been put up and put down and nothing has happened, so there is some skepticism amongst the public. We went out and talked to people today. Some people said they thought this was just a farce, but there are others who say they do take it seriously.
That's encouraging to the officials. What they always say is that they want people to keep their eyes and ears open, that they'll report anything suspicious and, frankly, they want them to do that whatever the threat level is. BROWN: Jeanne, thank you very much, Jeanne Meserve in Washington tonight.
Overseas there is no relaxing of the terror alerts, just the opposite. The American Embassy in Israel tonight warning Americans against traveling to Israel and to the Palestinian territories as well because of a threat of kidnapping.
President Bush, meantime, is in Poland tonight, the first stop in a week of traveling that ends with an Israeli-Palestinian summit meeting in Jordan. And, on that score, the two sides appear to be taking steps to be sure the meeting goes well, Israel today announcing a number of good will gestures and the Palestinian prime minister saying he expect to reach an agreement with Hamas and the Islamic Jihad shortly on ending terrorist attacks against Israel at least for a while.
Back in Washington, we've learned the Justice Department's Inspector General has been looking into the treatment of detainees after the attacks on September 11. His report may come out in the next few days and from what we've learned so far, parts appear to be critical of the FBI, the Bureau of Prisons, and even the leadership of the Justice Department itself; CNN's Kelli Arena with an exclusive report.
ARENA (voice-over): Hady Hassan Omar says 73 days in solitary confinement drove him into a depression so deep he wanted to kill himself.
HADY HASSAN OMAR, FORMER DETAINEE: I was confused and afraid.
ARENA: Omar an Egyptian immigrant was arrested on September 12, 2001 at his mother-in-law's house in Arkansas. He had bought an airline ticket at this Kinko's in Florida in late August, the very same place that September 11 hijacker Mohamed Atta bought a ticket just the day before. Omar was never charged with anything related to terrorism. He was accused of violating his visa. He says his humiliation started with a body cavity search.
OMAR: I was (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in front of a crowd of people while I was searched and they served me pork in prison; however, I told them from the first day that I can't eat pork and it's against my religion.
ARENA: Omar is suing the government claiming his treatment amounted to torture.
OMAR: When we make mistakes we go to prison and we're held accountable for what we do and it should be the same way with the government when they make mistakes.
ARENA: CNN has learned the Justice Department's Inspector General has found significant problems in the way immigration detainees like Omar were treated. Sources say the inspector general will report there was an unwritten policy, no bond for immigration detainees until they were cleared by the FBI, that the clearing process had low priority, was understaffed. Detainees were held much longer than necessary, and that there was insufficient oversight of prison conditions.
In defense, Justice officials say they "believe the report is fully consistent with what the courts have ruled, that the department's actions are fully within the law." In the past, the Justice Department has made no apologies for using every legal tool to prevent a future terrorist attack.
VIET DINH, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL: Each and every single arrest and detention that has been made by the Department of Justice since September 11 in connection to the events of that tragic day have been based upon an individualized predicate, either a violation of immigration law, a violation of criminal law, or pursuant to a judicially issued material witness warrant.
ARENA: The inspector general's report is expected to re-ignite the controversy over how the Justice Department has conducted the war on terror and it looks like the department is more than ready to tell its side of the story. After our piece aired earlier this evening, Aaron, Justice officials released a fact sheet on the former detainee that we profiled, Hady Omar, disputing that any of his rights had been violated -- back to you.
BROWN: Well, OK, I think we're just at the beginning of something. Is it possible that both the inspector general and his criticisms are correct, and that the Justice Department is correct when it says it has operated totally within the law?
ARENA: Well, the IG report from what I've seen doesn't really address whether or not the detentions themselves were legal or illegal. What it addressed was how those detainees were held, for how long, and under what conditions. And, the Justice Department had an answer for each and every one of those issues that we raised.
They said look, you know, providing manpower for the FBI clearing process of getting people out of detention was not a priority at the time. Finding out if there was another terror attack planned and trying to find out who was responsible for the September 11 attacks was the priority.
They said that when there were issues about prison conditions raised that they say that they've got ongoing reviews of anyone that leveled a complaint they say has an ongoing investigation underway.
So, they do say look this was an unprecedented attack on U.S. soil. It's something we had never been through before. There is room for improvement. That we agree with but we do have an explanation for each of the criticisms brought up by the inspector general.
But the inspector general's report does say that there were certain people who were kept for a very long time, some more than 90 days in detention and never charged with a terrorism violation -- Aaron.
BROWN: Kelli, thank you very much, Kelli Arena in Washington tonight as well.
On now to Iraq and the question we think writer Fred Caplan put best today in a piece in "Slate" magazine: "Enough already, where are the weapons of mass destruction?"
Good question. More than two months after the war premised largely on finding them, none have been found. In the meantime, there is no shortage of finger pointing on the search for said weapons and the selling of the war as well -- our CNN's Pentagon correspondent, CNN's Jamie McIntyre.
MCINTYRE (voice-over): U.S. commanders were warned before the war it was highly probable the Republican Guard units defending Baghdad had and would likely use chemical or biological weapons. So now, senior officers in Iraq are puzzled.
LT. GEN. JAMES CONWAY, 1ST MARINE EXPEDITIONARY FORCE COMMANDER: It was a surprise to me then. It remains a surprise to me now that we have not uncovered weapons as you say in some of the forward disbursement sites. Again, believe me it's not for lack of trying.
MCINTYRE: As the Pentagon announced the dispatch of a 1,300 member search team of experts from the United States, Britain and Australia to intensify the hunt for WMD, officials refuse to concede any intelligence shortcomings.
MAJ. GEN. KEITH DAYTON, DEFENSE INTELLIGENCE AGENCY: Things could have been either taken and buried, they could have been transported, or they could have been destroyed. It doesn't mean they weren't there when we thought they were there.
MCINTYRE: In New York this week, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld suggested Iraq may have destroyed its banned weapons before the war began, but two days later in a radio interview he returned to his insistence the weapons are most likely well hidden.
DONALD RUMSFELD, DEFENSE SECRETARY: Well, I can assure you that this war was not waged under any false pretext.
MCINTYRE: Rumsfeld did speculate that trucks the U.S. claims are mobile bioweapons plants may show Iraq had a just in time delivery policy and therefore may not have kept large stocks of banned agents as the U.S. originally believed.
Rumsfeld's apparent backtracking has stirred criticism in Europe and put staunch U.S. ally Tony Blair on the defensive. Blair is accused of overstating British intelligence to sell the Iraq war to the British people.
TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: The idea that we authorized or made our intelligence agencies invent some piece of evidence is completely absurd.
MCINTYRE: Adding fuel to the controversy remarks attributed to Deputy U.S. Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz. A widely circulated "Vanity Fair" press release alleges Wolfowitz told the magazine that WMD was stressed for bureaucratic reasons and that in effect weapons of mass destruction had never been the most compelling justification for invading Iraq.
A Pentagon spokesman says "Vanity Fair" only used a portion of the deputy secretary's quote. Their omission completely misrepresents what he was saying according to the spokesman.
(on camera): The Pentagon says the full interview transcript posted on its Web site makes it clear that Wolfowitz said weapons of mass destruction was the "core reason the U.S. went to war with Iraq."
Jamie McIntyre, CNN, the Pentagon.
BROWN: We'll continue looking at this question of the WMDs in a moment. We'll be joined by Ken Adelman, former director of Arms Control and Disarmament Agency.
And later tonight, should conglomerates be able to control even more of America's media properties and the unusual alliances that oppose that idea.
From New York, this is NEWSNIGHT.
BROWN: When Kenneth Adelman ran the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency during the Reagan years he was known as a skeptic among skeptics and on certain aspects of the Soviet weapons program history has proven him right.
The jury is still out on Iraq but there too Dr. Adelman has taken an especially tough view of things, so we wanted to get his take on the state of play about seven weeks into the search.
Mr. Adelman joins us from Arlington, Virginia tonight, nice to have you with us.
KEN ADELMAN, FORMER DIRECTOR, ARMS CONTROL AND DISARMAMENT AGENCY: Thank you, Aaron.
BROWN: Do you think it's fair to say at this point that whatever ends up being found in Iraq is going to be less than the administration seemed to suggest very strongly leading up to the war?
ADELMAN: I don't think that's fair. I think what we've seen is the destruction in Iraq far more than any of us ever predicted. We have seen the destruction of a people, the destruction of the family, the destruction of human beings and human life in that country is far, far greater than we ever expected. So, we know that the main weapon of mass destruction was Saddam Hussein and his regime and that has been stopped.
BROWN: Let me go back to the question. That was a pretty good move there though.
ADELMAN: No, but I mean you're talking about destroying things.
BROWN: I understand that.
ADELMAN: And the regime destroyed more than anybody ever suspected. I was a hawk for the war right from the beginning but I couldn't imagine the mass graves we've seen. I couldn't imagine the prisons full of kids, eight, nine, ten, and 11 years old that would still be in prison today were it not for our liberation.
BROWN: I understand that but the argument that was made at the United Nations in principle was about weapons of mass destruction, about chemical, biological, perhaps nuclear, and that was really as you know the thrust of the question. So, do you think in the end it will turn out that there were less, if any, but less than the administration suggested in the buildup to the war?
ADELMAN: First of all there were lots of explanations for the war and I remember being criticized and having the administration criticized for all the various explanations. Number two, I think it is fair to say, Aaron that the presence of the actual weapons of mass destruction in Iraq is far less than we expected.
That's not to say the evidence for a weapons program will be less than we expected because a lot of that evidence just hasn't come out and that evidence will come from documents that we find, from informers that we find. They'll put together the whole story of the weapons program. But if you're asking did we expect to see actual chemical weapons and biological weapons upon liberating Iraq I think the answer is yes.
BROWN: So, what happened? Is it that intelligence was faulty? Is it that there was a desire within the administration to believe in a sense or to portray the worst case? Is this an honest mistake? Was this a deliberate attempt to push this issue above all others because it was easily sellable and understandable?
ADELMAN: No, I think many issues were pushed on this, the human rights issue. The change in the Middle East was pushed, their weapons of mass destruction certainly was one, the breaking of the international resolutions, 17 resolutions that was another. There were lots of them.
But it's interesting looking back, Aaron. The one thing intelligence agencies, and not just our intelligence agency or the British intelligence, but those who opposed the war, the French Intelligence Agency, the German Intelligence Agency, other neighbors in the region, the one thing they all agreed upon was that Saddam Hussein had a weapons of mass destruction program that was very destabilizing for the region.
So, this wasn't any charade by the American CIA or the American administration or Bush and Blair. This was a worldwide intelligence conclusion by all three countries. I would say that there was a lot of weapons of mass destruction and a program that was vigorously pursuing this. We'll see how vigorous and we'll see what kind of program when all the evidence comes out.
BROWN: Do you think in the end if it turns out to be less than people either suggested or came to believe that the Americans lose credibility, and that the next time out they are less likely to be believed?
ADELMAN: I don't think so.
ADELMAN: I think every day when you wake up and you see the front page of the paper on mass graves, when you see the torture, when you see the horror that that country has gone through, Americans feel good about the liberation of Iraq.
I'll bet you if you did a poll today, as opposed to one week before the war, the support for the war probably has risen because Americans identify with the skulls and with these massive, massive and real violations of human rights. And, as I say, the main weapon of mass destruction was Saddam Hussein's regime and that is now gone, thank God.
BROWN: Dr. Adelman it's very nice to have you on the program. We appreciate your time on a Friday night particularly. Thank you, sir.
BROWN: Thank you. Coming up on NEWSNIGHT, a battle in the Florida courts, an important and highly emotional one, a judge decides who speaks for a mentally handicapped woman and her unborn child.
Around the world this is NEWSNIGHT.
BROWN: In Florida, an extremely vulnerable woman has suffered through a horrible experience and she's in the middle now of a firestorm not of her own making over abortion. She was raped. She's pregnant. She has the mental ability of a toddler. She's in state care and has no known family anywhere.
So who makes the choice on whether to abort? The governor himself got involved asking that a guardian be appointed to help make that choice, not on behalf of the woman but on behalf of the fetus; reporting for us tonight, CNN's Susan Candiotti.
SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Circuit Court Judge Lawrence Kirkwood ruled appointing a guardian for a pregnant woman who may be mentally incapacitated is one thing but a guardian for a fetus is out of order.
The case involves a 22-year-old disabled woman in the state's care who police say had the mental capacity of a one-year-old. The woman, identified by only her initials J.D.S., was raped and is now about six months pregnant.
The judge was responding to a petition from a woman described as an Orlando homemaker who wanted to represent the fetus. Among her claims, "the unborn child may be placed in immediate danger and in life threatening situations unless his or her interests are protected."
The judge ruled there is no Florida law which entitles a fetus to a guardian. If both fetus and mother had guardians, the judge said, disagreements between the guardians might jeopardize the life of the mother, which according to Florida law, should override concerns for the fetus. "Presumably if she was guardian for the fetus, she would attempt to prevent J.D.S. from taking her necessary medications."
Florida Governor Bush became personally involved in the J.D.S. case urging guardians for both fetus and mother.
GOV. JEB BUSH (R), FLORIDA: It is appropriate to have someone looking after the rights of the child as well as the mom and that's our intent.
CANDIOTTI: The American Civil Liberties Union called the case a thinly-veiled attempt by the governor to quash a possible abortion.
HOWARD SIMON, ACLU: This is not about abortion but what it is, is about quickly and promptly addressing what is in the health needs of this woman.
CANDIOTTI: Late Friday, Governor Bush said his state's child welfare agency filed a motion to intervene insisting there is case law to bolster his argument for a guardian for the fetus even though Judge Kirkwood's ruling said the Florida Supreme Court calls it clearly improper.
(on camera): Just this week in Miami, a judge ordered an abortion for another raped woman with mental and physical disabilities who was also living in the state's care. In that case, the woman's mother did not want her daughter to give birth and an abortion was performed Thursday.
In the case of J.D.S., there's a court hearing scheduled in Orlando Monday. A judge is expected to appoint a guardian for J.D.S. It will be up to the guardian to decide what to do about the pregnancy.
Susan Candiotti, CNN, Miami.
BROWN: As NEWSNIGHT continues on a Friday, should the big get bigger? Should media conglomerates be allowed to own even more stations than they do now and the strange alliances the proposal has generated?
This is NEWSNIGHT.
BROWN: And next on NEWSNIGHT, who owns that TV outlet you're watching. We'll take a break first.
BROWN: The editors of "The New Republic" once decided that the dullest headline ever written was "Worthwhile Canadian Initiative." By that standard, we imagine this one, "FCC Ponders New Ownership "Rules, comes in a close second.
But what sounds like something only a wonk could love, has the potential to reshape just about everything you watch, listen to, and read. The new rules would allow big media players to get even bigger. The fear is, they would narrow the marketplace of ideas in the name of greater market efficiency.
And people seem to get it. Calls and e-mails have been flooding the Federal Communications Commission all day two days before the vote is expected to take place. There are, in fact, powerful arguments on both sides of the issue, and we'll get a sampling of each in a moment. But first some background.
BROWN (voice-over): It is a battle that has galvanized the left...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The proposed changes in the ownership rules are bad news for people in this country.
BROWN: ... and the right as well.
BRENT BOZELL, PARENTS' TELEVISION COUNCIL: When all of us are united on an issue, then one of two things has happened: either the earth has spun off its axis, and we have all lost our minds, or there is universal support for a concept.
BROWN: What's at stake, they believe, is how millions of Americans will receive their news and information, Whether a relative handful of companies will be able to reach as much as 45 percent of U.S. television homes to ownership of television and radio stations across the country.
DAVID FIELD, CEO, ENTRECOM RADIO: We still fight tooth and nail for audience, and there are still a sufficient number of competitors in each market that the competition that's important in our society has prevailed.
BROWN: The Federal Communications Commission, the FCC, is to decide on Monday whether the same company can own even more media outlets. Sometimes in the same city or town than they already do. At present, the cap on that reach is 35 percent of U.S. households. The FCC, its chairman says, is worried, but...
MICHAEL POWELL, CHAIRMAN, FCC: I think we're very concerned about media consolidation. It's not true to say we're not. If we weren't, think we'd be proposing the elimination of any cap whatsoever, or the kinds of restriction, and would rely on antitrust authorities like we do every other sector of the economy, other than the media.
BROWN: Chairman Powell, the son of the secretary of state, is a Republican as are two others and the five-member FCC. So the betting is that the expansion of ownership will be approved.
But some long-time Republican allies are upset. The National Rifle Association, for one, fears that some in charge of big media corporations are too liberal. The new rules, it said, would concentrate media power in the hands of, quote, "a half a dozen anti- gun zealots in the top echelons of the media industry."
AD ANNOUNCER: So on June 2 Republicans on the FCC plan to get rid of an important regulation.
BROWN: Not all of those owners are liberals, of course. There's concern about conservative media titans, none larger than Rupert Murdoch, who owns Fox Television among other media outlets.
And entrepreneurs, like Ted Turner who founded CNN, says the proposal will, in effect, prevent smaller competitors from even getting into broadcasting in the first place.
WADE HENDERSON, LEADERSHIP COUNCIL ON CIVIL RIGHTS: A vibrant democracy is best served by media outlets, especially television and radio where Americans get most of their views, that are not owned by a handful of giant corporations.
ANNOUNCER: Tens of thousands of letters have arrived at the FCC, mostly objections to the proposed rules. Protesting phone calls have tide up comment lines. And a nonpartisan interest group says FCC officials have met privately more than 70 times with some of the nation's top broadcasters, many of whom have pressed for the new rules, but only five times with consumer groups who don't want them.
A compromise on some of the smaller issues seems likely. But not, it seems, on the main one.
JONATHAN ADELSTEIN, DEMOCRAT, FCC COMMISSIONER: We may be on the verge of making the most widely unpopular decision that the FCC has ever dared to make.
BROWN: In a few moments, we'll hear from two people who couldn't be farther apart on most issues, but find themselves united on this one, the actor Richard Dreyfuss and Brent Bozell who are both against changing the rules. That comes up in our next segment. But first we turn to a voice in favor, Adam Thierer of the Libertarian Cato Institute. Mr. Thierer joins us from Washington tonight.
I understand why this would be good for Disney and for Viacom and for the others, News Corp. I don't think I really understand why it would be good for the people who watch television.
ADAM THIERER, THE CATO INSTITUTE: Well, Aaron, let's start by stepping back and taking a look at what we're really talking about here. The media marketplace, or the landscape of today versus, say, 10, 15, 25, 30 years ago. And by almost every measure that you can go by, you can see that there is more diversity, more competition, more choice for consumers and citizens in these marketplaces.
You could have turned on the television or radio 20 or 30 years ago and found a handful of choices, true. But not nearly as many as you would find today.
Now, we have loosened the rules over the years, or grandfathered in certain companies to the rules as they come in violation of some of these caps and quotas. And frankly it's a good thing we have. You take -- you mention Fox and Rupert Murdoch. He came to this country and posed the first formidable challenge to the Big Three, ABC, NBC and CBS. We now have Fox, and that's a good fourth competitor, but now we have several others and we have more competition cable, satellite and the Internet.
Again, the situation looks pretty good.
BROWN: Adam, let me go back to the question. I understand why it's good for Viacom or Mr. Murdoch or Mr. Eisner Disney. I get that. I don't understand why it's better for viewers. Why is it better for viewers?
THIERER: Because, frankly, we can have more competition through a marketplace of ideas and choices. You know, consumers are going to demand choice out of the suppliers of information and news.
And frankly, there's not going to be a monopolization of entertainment in this country. There's always going to be more choices out there. We don't want government placing a limit on the number of printing presses that say a newspaper could use. Why do we want them placing a limitation on the number of broadcast stations a television company can own?
BROWN: Let me get to that question in a second. But tell me if this is fair. That what you're saying is, maybe it won't be better, but it won't be any worse? Is that what you're saying?
THIERER: No, I think it will only get better in the future regardless of which way these rules go. But I think it can only get much better if we get rid of the rules entirely. I mean why in the world are we facing a situation where the media industry is held to a different standard than every other sector or segment of the U.S. economy? BROWN: Because, I believe, if you read the Federal Communications Charter, the airwaves do not belong to these companies. They belong to the public. It is different from a steel mill in that regard. It is different from anything else. These are the public's airwaves. And I think what critics are saying is, shouldn't the government be encouraging a more diverse, broader ownership of the public's airwaves than a more limited one?
THIERER: But Aaron, the argument underlying that is that, frankly, we have to have basically one owner per media outlet. And somehow that will ensure perfect diversity.
The reality is that sometimes it makes sense to have several different media outlets under one larger umbrella, and they will provide more diverse choices. It will not be homogenized news under any exception of the rule. The fact of the matter is, is that in a local market, like, say, Chicago, where the Tribune company owns both a local newspaper and a local television station in violation of the FCC rules, you see more diversity and choice there than ever before.
And there are plenty of other examples like that throughout America where these rules are currently grandfathered in are being violated.
BROWN: Do you think -- well, first of all, do you expect that the commission, like everybody else I think pretty much expects that the commission will vote to loosen these caps on Monday?
THIERER: Yes, they will vote to loosen them. I think we're talking about a tweaking at the margin here. I doubt we're going to see a wholesale revision of any of these rules or an elimination of any of them entirely. So I think the real question now becomes, what happens when all of this goes back to the courts? A lot of people are blaming the FCC for a lot of what's going on, or are being angry with Michael Powell about this at the FCC. But the reality is that this was all thrown in the FCC's lap by the courts who have struck down these rules again and again for a variety of reasons, including First Amendment rationales, saying that really there's a threat to free speech and the First Amendment when the government limits the size of the soapbox that someone can build to speak to the American people on.
BROWN: And everybody's concerned about the First Amendment on this. Adam, thanks, nice job of representing that point of view. We appreciate your time tonight.
THIERER: Thank you.
BROWN: As we continue, from the right Brent Bozell from the left Richard Dreyfuss. But this isn't "CROSSFIRE" -- it's never "CROSSFIRE" here -- this is NEWSNIGHT, and we'll hear from them both in a moment.
BROWN: Safe to say that Richard Dreyfuss and Brent Bozell don't see eye to eye on much, but they do agree on the FCC vote, though perhaps, we'll find out, for different reasons. We'll get right to it. But not before welcoming both to the program. Mr. Dreyfuss is an actor and an activist and the kid who wanted to call the cops on Benjamin in "The Graduate." Mr. Bozell is president of Parents Television Council and other organizations, and we're pleased to have them both with us.
Mr. Dreyfuss, since you're here, we'll start with you. But the same question to both, when you look at media today, do you see diversity? Do you see wide range of opinion, or do you see a sameness?
RICHARD DREYFUSS, ACTOR: Diversity is one of those real buzz words that...
BROWN: Diversity of ideas.
DREYFUSS: I see some. I see less than I did when I was growing up. It's not a question of representing diversity of opinion, it's the more concrete idea of representing the public interest. And that's the wording in the FCC, and that's what we all grew up with. Television, as you said before, is owned by us. We, the people. And these people who are running the business of it are caretakers who are certainly encouraged to make profit, but I think the profit motive has gone completely, bizarrely haywire here.
People have forgotten that television and radio are the things that give us the atmosphere of the country, give us the tone of the country. We have more obligations than just making people laugh and selling cars and concerns. It's terrible and interesting to me that we're doing this interview on Friday night before the Monday. I think the media has done an absolutely frightening job uncovering this issue. It was kept off -- I don't mean in conspiracy tones, but it was kept off a lot of our television and news shows, because of different reasons for different people in different outlets. But this is a critically important issue.
BROWN: I agree with that. I want to come back to that point. OK?
BROWN: Brent, let me go to you. When you look at media today, do you see a sameness, or do you see a pretty vibrant marketplace of ideas going on out there?
BRENT BOZELL, PARENTS TELEVISION COUNCIL: Well, in terms of ownership, it's more and more sameness. What your last guest didn't mention in talking about this grandiose expansion of the media, is this. In 1989, the big three networks, ABC, CBS and NBC, owned 17 percent of the market. By the year 2002, with deregulation, their ownership share went up to 48 percent. Throw in the big three cable companies, and that's two out of every three viewers is controlled by six companies in America.
I think the reason so many liberals and so many conservatives are united on this is that we're all very uncomfortable about the -- in a democracy, about the world of communications being controlled by six companies. It's a dangerous concept. And darn it, what was said before is absolutely true, these are airwaves owned by the public. And here's the greatest shock of them all. Do you know that we have no idea what we're talking about here, that we don't know what's going to be voted on on Monday because they won't tell us?
BROWN: We don't know the precise ...
BOZELL: There's a gag. There's a gag. We're not allowed to know. And yet we own these airwaves. It's not that we have an interest in them, we own them. But we're not allowed to know what they're going to decide. This is Star Chamber stuff. And I, as a libertarian conservative, am appalled by it.
BROWN: I'm almost sure that Mr. Thierer would describe himself a libertarian conservative, and the libertarian idea is that there should be less regulation, generally, and specifically he made the argument here, less regulation. Why are you then, as a libertarian, saying there ought to be more regulation?
BOZELL: Because, Aaron, I'm in favor of competition. How in the world are you going to compete if you want to start a radio company, how are you going to compete if Clear Channel, which has $3.7 billion in sales last year, if it wants that company to? There's not fair competition. These aren't open markets. You've got Viacom and Clear Channel controlling radio, and you've got six companies controlling television if they want to. And what's the FCC poised to do? Give them more control. There's something that's not very competitive about that.
BROWN: One of the arguments they make is that there is the Internet, on cable and satellite, you can watch the BBC, you can watch Al Jazeera, you can watch a gazillion things, and in fact, people do.
DREYFUSS: Yes, and when you walk down the street, you can have little pieces of paper handed to you by guys wanting to get you into a strip club, too, and that's also information. I think it's nonsensical. I think everyone in this room, every crew member, you, me, we all know what's going on here. We all know it's a bad idea. We all know it's for profit. And we all know that people are ...
BROWN: I don't even think they'd deny it's for profit.
DREYFUSS: But what is being said, there are a couple of things being said. That profit, private interest profit, is somehow more important than the stated mandates of the FCC about public interest, which is an arguable point, at least.
And also, I think that this kind of thing will only develop its appropriate outrage after it's been, you know, set in place. But there will be, even if it's late, a real outrage at this one, because this one changes the way we live, breathe and think.
And it is a theft, and it can only be done from an attitude of utter contempt, because the one thing these guys know is that we're really not going to make too much of a stink about this. BROWN: Brent, these are your guys, in a sense, doing this. I mean, this is a Republican administration, this a conservative administration, this is the president's commission. Are you surprised, or is this a different wing of the Republican party? Is this the business wing?
BOZELL: I'm very surprised with at least two of the three. I'm surprised that they seem not to care that there is universal opposition to this concept.
BROWN: It is hard to find anyone supporting it outside the commission, I must say.
BOZELL: Yes. You know, Aaron, and Richard has seen the same thing, I'm sure, no one is lining up saying, we ought to do this. The only people who want to do this are a handful of these mega corporations, and Mr. Powell. That's it. They're the only ones who want to do it and they're going to get it.
DREYFUSS: I would like to add one thing.
DREYFUSS: The Congressmen who are not perhaps having to take a stand here, are themselves one of the worst victims of this situation because they're all going to go home to try to campaign. And they're going to find that there are no local outlets, that there are in every place in the country, "Friends," "Friends," "Law & Order," "Law & Order," "Will & Grace," and "Seinfeld," "Seinfeld," "Seinfeld," "Seinfeld." And in order to get time on what passes for local channels, you're going to have to go to some distant CEO.
BROWN: But there really hasn't, I mean honestly, I've got issues here. But in the television business there is certainly local TV, some places good, some places it's not. There's local news that makes money and that's why it exists. So I'm not really sure you're right there.
DREYFUSS: I think that what passes for local isn't local. What's local now is just cookie cutter from a larger entity that's, you know ABC looks the same, and everything looks the same. And I think that there's a real template of what's sayable or not sayable, that's working all over the country now. And it will only get worse. Everyone knows that in this area it being about the public interest, that less is less, and more is better.
BROWN: Brent, let me give you the last word. I think there is a sense, I have it, perhaps you do, too, that the networks themselves are a dying business anyway. That given the explosion of cable, both on the entertainment side and the news side, so maybe they'll just go away of their own given enough time.
BOZELL: Well, it is very true that the audience share is diminishing for them. But, by the same token, those networks are just gobbling up more and more cable properties, and now will be able to gobble up more and more and more. So the control ultimately continues that they have.
And again, do we want six companies controlling the flow of information in this country? I don't care who's at the top. The theory is a dangerous one. And I'm happy to be with the liberals, or if the liberals are with me, I don't care. I'm happy to be on their side and they're happy to be on my side. We're all in agreement on this.
BROWN: We're happy that you're both here. And talked eloquently about it. Thank you both for joining us tonight.
Program continues. We'll take a quick check of some of the top stories of the day. We're right back.
BROWN: Quickly a few other stories from around the country tonight. Beginning with the Peterson murder case. A source on the Scott Peterson defense team said it was, quote, "unbelievable" that Laci Peterson's family and friends entered the couple's home today and removed things. They took chairs, clothes, other things that apparently belonged to Laci Peterson.
The defense team said they had an agreement that no one would be allowed in the home, until they had finished their own investigation. An attorney for Ms. Peterson's family said there was nothing taken that had any bearing on the case.
The latest on the serial killer investigation in Louisiana. A concrete slab was dug up yesterday at the home where suspect Derrick Lee once lived. Investigators now say what they found was an animal bone, not a human bone. Investigators today were looking at other sites connected to Mr. Lee, who is charged with five counts of murder and rape.
And one more crime story tonight. Lawyers for the teenage sniper suspect Lee Malvo will ask a judge on Monday to move the case to another jurisdiction in Virginia arguing he cannot get a fair trial where the case is scheduled, Fairfax County. They admit they have a fight on their hands. The last time a judge in Fairfax County agreed to change of venue was 1974.
You thought the program was over. No, 30 minutes ahead, and we'll use some of it to take a look inside Iran. A break first. This is NEWSNIGHT.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) * BROWN: For more than a generation now, the United States has struggled to find a workable policy with Iran. Iran is no Iraq. It is larger, it is richer, and it is more powerful.
Tonight, a series of reports on Iran-U.S. policy, beginning with terror, because all else pales by comparison.
David Ensor begins our reporting tonight with that. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
DAVID ENSOR, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The American relationship with the Iranian Islamic regime got off to a terrible start in 1979 with what most of the world considered a terrorist incident, U.S. diplomats held hostage for 14 months.
The issue of terrorism still divides today, with the Bush administration accusing Iran of harboring al Qaeda terrorists. Not guilty, says Tehran.
JAVAD ZARIF, IRANIAN AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: For the past 14 months we have vigorously pursued a costly campaign against al Qaeda by strengthening security of our eastern borders and border areas, arresting, interrogating, expelling, extraditing, prosecuting, and jailing suspicious elements infiltrating our territory.
ENSOR: But U.S. intelligence officials say there is evidence al Qaeda's Saif al-Adel and others are in Iran. The question is, why?
SHAUL BAKHASH, GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY: There may be people inside the administration in Iran who want to hold onto these al Qaeda elements as a means of countering what they see as American hostility and pressure.
ENSOR: What to do about it? The Bush administration national security team has yet to decide.
KENNETH POLLACK, SABAN CENTER, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: There are some who are saying, We took care of Afghanistan, we took care of Iraq, we got to do Iran next.
ENSOR: But with U.S. forces tied down occupying Iraq, other administration officials say a conflict with Iran would be biting off more than even the U.S. can chew. Better, they say, to use the momentum the U.S. got from overthrowing Saddam Hussein.
They want to use this as a leverage to try to get the Iranians to cease their ties with terrorism and also to end their nuclear program, without having to go to war.
ENSOR: After all, Iranian officials hint, they may soon turn over some al Qaeda prisoners to Saudi Arabia or elsewhere. And since the 1997 election of President Mohammed Khatami, Tehran's support for other terrorism appears to have diminished.
BAKHASH: I think the Khobar Towers incident, when an American military housing complex in Saudi Arabia was bombed and many Americans were killed, and to which the Iranians were linked, that kind of thing we probably won't see any more.
ENSOR: But Iran still backs Hezbollah, freedom fighters, say President Khatami, suicide bombing terrorists, say Israel and the United States. And the shipload of weapons captured by Israel last year bound for the Palestinians were from Iran, say the Israelis. (on camera): Tehran and Washington may disagree about Hezbollah, but both call al Qaeda terrorists. The questions for U.S. officials, who from al Qaeda is in Iran? Who is helping them to stay?
The question for Tehran, what do you intend to do about it?
David Ensor, CNN, Washington.
BROWN: While many questions remain over Iran's connection to al Qaeda, some old questions were, if not answered, at least addressed today about Iran's role in terrorism past. U.S. district court judge today ruled that Iran is responsible for the October 1983 suicide bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon. Two hundred and forty-one American servicemen were killed in those attacks. The judge called them the most deadly state-sponsored act made against the United States before September 11.
And the judge ruled that the servicemens wounded in the bombing and the families of those killed have a right to obtain judicial relief from Iran. In other words, they could sue.
There's another potential export from Iran that's of concern to the United States, not the stuff of bombs and ammunition but of radical ideas and agendas. We've seen images of exiled Shi'ite leaders returning to Iraq, preaching Islamic fundamentalism to cheering crowds. They are images that are deeply troubling to the United States, because they recall, of course, another place and another time, Tehran, 1979.
Here's CNN's Bill Schneider.
BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): The Iranian revolution of 1979 came as a surprise to the United States.
JON ALTERMAN, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: We had a whole policy, a defense policy, in the Persian Gulf which was based on having the shah there protecting American interests. We were shocked when the shah fell.
SCHNEIDER: More than 30 years into the cold war, the U.S. assumed its enemies would come from the radical left, communists and communist-inspired radicals like the Soviet Union and Fidel Castro and the Viet Cong.
Suddenly in Iran, a whole new enemy appeared, a religious fundamentalist anticommunist and anti-American, a leader who seemed to want to take his country back to the seventh century, and a country that seemed to want that.
There was wild rejoicing when Khomeini returned to Iran in February 1979. Once in power, Khomeini wrought revenge on the country he called the Great Satan. The torment of 52 American hostages for 444 days helped bring down one U.S. president. Another president was lured into an embarrassing arms-for-hostages deal with Iran.
ALTERMAN: The idea of Khomeini standing up to the West and standing up for Iran and for Islam is something that a lot of Iranians still find attractive.
SCHNEIDER: But there's another side to Khomeini's legacy, a fundamentalist ideology that rejects freedom and human rights and subjugates women, a brutal reign of terror against opponents, death decrees against free thinkers like author Salman Rushdie, dangerous nuclear ambitions, and sponsorship of terrorist organizations like Hezbollah.
BAKHASH: The only positive thing you might say is that by politicizing a large number of Iranians, the demand now for democratic accountable government, for a system of checks of balances for the rule of law, is fairly widespread, and I think genuinely understood.
SCHNEIDER: Khomeini's model of Islamic government has inspired radicals all over the Muslim world, much as the Soviet Union once inspired leftist radicals. The radical Islamic threat has outlasted the communist threat and may prove to be far more dangerous.
Bill Schneider, CNN, Washington.
BROWN: Soon after the attacks on 9/11, a reporter for "The New Yorker" magazine asked a teenaged girl in Iran what her first thought was. "Woody Allen," she said. She was afraid her favorite filmmaker had been hurt.
It goes to the complexity of a country where there's an intense battle for the future, reformers versus fundamentalists, the young people who just want to watch "Annie Hall" and the entrenched leadership that would view that as a sin against the Islamic state.
A look at this ongoing power struggle from CNN's Christiane Amanpour.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is often said of Iran that there are two competing governments running the country. There is the popularly elected president, Mohammed Khatami, who was swept to power on a wave of hope in 1997, and then reelected with an even bigger majority in 2001.
There is an elected parliament, which is dominated by Khatami- style reformers. The population of Iran is young. More than half are under the age of 21, and many are fed up with the politics of religious extremism and international isolation. They desperately want their economy improved, because close to 1 million university graduates enter the job market every year, and many cannot find jobs.
These are the people who had been electrified by Khatami's message of democratic and social reform, and they had put their trust and faith in his ability to deliver.
But he has not been able to deliver, and that's in large part because of the other government running Iran. This is the unelected one. The most powerful person in the country is Ayatollah Khamenei. Iran's constitution gives him authority over all affairs of state. He is called the supreme leader and was appointed upon the death of Ayatollah Khomeini, who led Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution.
The supreme leader directs the army, intelligence services, foreign policy, and the judiciary. Indeed, although there is more democracy in Iran than in much of the Arab and Muslim world, watchdog bodies under the authority of the supreme leader also vet candidates for elections.
Since President Khatami's election six years ago, there has been an ongoing political battle between his reformers and the religious leaders over the country's future direction.
Recently, the parliament asked the supreme leader to stop the organizations under his control from blocking their reforms. In a rare move, members of parliament have told the supreme leader that the choice between democracy and dictatorship for Iran lies in his hands.
Voters in Iran are losing patience and hope with the slow pace of change at home, and analysts are divided over where this power struggle will lead. Many are also saying that mounting pressure from the United States, which calls Iran part of the axis of evil, has inflamed the power struggle, putting the democrats and the reformers on the defensive and putting national security in the hands of the clerical establishment.
Christiane Amanpour, CNN, London.
BROWN: A look at Iran.
About 70 minutes ago, we promised you a look at a very cool ad, and we'll show it to you after these commercials.
BROWN: OK, we admit this, we're about to give one car company a major freebie. We're going to show their commercial and talk about it for a few minutes at absolutely no cost to them whatsoever. And no, there is no check made out to Aaron Brown in the mail from either of them, so save the nasty e-mails.
They're getting the freebie because the ad agency came up with a new commercial that is so cool and so ingenious that we know you'll like it, freebie or not. And you can't see it in the United States.
So here's a look at "Cog," Honda's hot new ad.
(HONDA U.K. TV COMMERCIAL)
BROWN: Honda's ad has become one of those things that's being sent around online. In fact, we downloaded that which you just saw, which explains some of the fuzziness in it.
Barbara Lippert of -- the ad critic for "Adweek" magazine joined us earlier tonight to talk a bit about the ad.
Well, do we agree the ad is brilliant?
BARBARA LIPPERT, AD CRITIC, "ADWEEK" MAGAZINE: It is breathtaking, outstanding. It's a masterpiece.
BROWN: Why is it brilliant? Why is it outstanding? Why is a masterpiece?
LIPPERT: Well, it takes things that are so ordinary and commonplace and makes them into sculpture and art. It truly is more than the sum of its parts. It's so beautiful. It's sort of the poetry of the crankcase. You never think of it that way, you never think of a car as the sum of its parts. And the way it's engineered, it's just a masterwork.
BROWN: Do you know much about how it came to be?
LIPPERT: Yes, they did 600 takes before they got one in real time in two minutes that fit exactly, that everything worked perfectly, and that was the commercial that we saw.
BROWN: And what you see, then, is in that one take, is there's no edit in that take, there's no...
LIPPERT: Absolutely. It was just fluid and beautiful and worked perfectly. And as they said in the announcer, sometimes things just work perfectly.
BROWN: The 600 takes over how long a period of time?
LIPPERT: I guess over a couple of days.
BROWN: Because every time...
LIPPERT: And (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...
BROWN: ... you do a take...
LIPPERT: ... (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...
BROWN: ... you'd have to reset it up...
LIPPERT: Yes, and it's...
BROWN: ... you'd have to set it up again.
LIPPERT: ... it's elevating advertising into art. It looks like a museum setting. And I think it is so much better than so much performance art or environmental art that you see. It's just amazing, and it really makes the case.
BROWN: Are people in the business -- well, first of all, who made the ad?
LIPPERT: Weidman (ph) and Kennedy in London and Weidman Kennedy in Portland is the agency from like Nike. They've made all those brilliant commercials for Nike all along.
BROWN: So they are, as an agency, they are risk takers.
LIPPERT: Absolutely. And another wonderful thing about getting this commercial now is, the economy is so bad that most advertisers here are drawn back, take fewer risks, wanting to get really dull. And when they see something like this, it really -- it just puts the bar up for everybody.
BROWN: The -- It's a two-minute spot. Is that usual in Britain?
LIPPERT: I think it's more usual in Britain, but I think -- I don't think our attention spans could take it. It's like "War and Peace" for us, you know. We would need to really settle in with our -- with a drink and food, and really need to prepare to watch.
BROWN: You don't think that it is -- it is compelling enough on its own to hold our attention span?
LIPPERT: I think that people would see the beginning and think it's great, and then sort of dash out and want to hear about the ending.
LIPPERT: I think two minutes really, really presses it.
BROWN: The -- Is the whole industry talking about it?
LIPPERT: The industry is talking about it. It's going to win every award. There's a Cannes festival coming up, and it'll probably be the grand prize winner if it's entered this year. And I think it just sets the bar high for great car advertising, for every kind of advertising.
I mean, if you think about the pedestrian advertising you see on the air, you know, about people with gas or dentures or something like that, and you see this, it's just a whole different thing.
BROWN: And the fact that we came across it, and that it's, like almost everything else, I guess, floating out there on the Internet, and people are looking at it, it's an ad that will, quite apart from what viewers who just saw, I gather will be seen around the world. LIPPERT: That's the amazing thing about advertising. People tend to mail it to each other, because it's so short, and you can watch it on the Internet. And things happen that way that get cult followings, like "Wuz Up (ph)," which was the Budweiser stuff years ago, wasn't seen in Europe, and friends were mailing it all over there, and it got a cult following, and people in Europe were going around saying "Wuz Up."
BROWN: Is that right?
LIPPERT: Yes. So it gets this underground following on the Internet. So they don't really have to spend money here. I'm not sure whether they could make a two-minute media buy, but the Super Bowl would be perfect.
BROWN: What are they selling?
LIPPERT: Well, they're -- you know, it's interesting also that Garrison Keillor is the voiceover. Because when we want to show prestige for a prestigious car here, we use a Brit.
LIPPERT: And they used that sort of nedda (ph) American, Garrison Keillor. They're selling the fact that all of the parts are beautiful, they're -- it's science and its poetry, and that your car will work perfectly, and that you know everything that's in it.
BROWN: Well, whose ad is it?
BROWN: OK. I just wonder, I guess, if people watch the whole thing, they'll get it, but it is, just to watch every one of those parts move and click to the next one to the next one, is so...
LIPPERT: It's so meticulous.
BROWN: It's fun, too.
BROWN: Thanks for coming in talk about it.
LIPPERT: Thank you.
BROWN: Gave us an excuse to run it too. Thank you.
As NEWSNIGHT continues, another work of performance art, different sort, Steinway piano and the search for the perfect sound, even after 150 years. A break first. This is NEWSNIGHT on CNN.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BROWN: Imagine what you'd think if your husband decided to build a piano in the kitchen. Now imagine what you would think if your husband's name was Steinway.
Henry Steinway couldn't have known 150 years ago when he built that first piano in his kitchen that today his name and his work would be world famous. Steinway pianos aren't built in kitchens any more but in factories, 5,000 pianos a year. So it's easy to see why a kitchen would be too small, even a really big kitchen.
Recently we had a chance to see what makes them so special.
ERICA VANDERLINDE FEIDNER: My name is Erica Vanderlinde Feidner. What I like to do is to greet customers, welcome them to Steinway Hall, and to something that I call piano matchmaking. And so I'm not a sales rep but really a piano matchmaker.
Well, see if you like it.
We have 400 pianos here at Steinway Hall, and as they come from the factory I'll say hello to each one, which is to say, I'll just play a few notes or packages.
I can still hear purity, which is what I love about this one.
Christopher Zhong and I met here at Steinway Hall. At that point, I began searching through the inventory for something that might meet his needs, essentially.
CHRISTOPHER ZHONG, PIANIST: I have one question for you.
FEIDNER: He needed a very lyrical piano, one with power sort of lurking underneath, like an undercurrent, with a touch that he needed to work a little bit at in order for the quality of tones to come out.
ZHONG: I believe every piano has a soul to itself. I want to get a instrument that I like and to try to live with it.
FEIDNER: A little bit raspy, if that's what you like.
ZHONG: I played so many pianos around the world, but the Steinway's a instrument that I can make a communication, very personal, deep communication with. It's just like part of my life, you know, Steinway and me. And my children, and my parents. And we're just like a family.
This is a very serious choice. It's a life choice, you know.
FEIDNER: A Steinway piano is a handcrafted, beautiful instrument. Let's remember that 300 separate hands have worked on and touched virtually every Steinway. There are more than 12,000 parts, either made by hand (UNINTELLIGIBLE). And then it will take an entire year to assemble and produce this instrument. It's coming all together just like a human being. For instance, if you were to have met two identical twins, they will look the same, they'll have the same gene pool, but they'll have their own personalities, much like adopting a pet or even a child.
ZHONG: I just find the right piano. And now I can start to fantasize what will happen in the future.
FEIDNER: It's like being a guide and being able to introduce folks to an instrument that would fit right.
BROWN: Still ahead on NEWSNIGHT, starting the weekend off with tomorrow's news. Think of all the time you'll save. We'll check out morning papers after the break.
BROWN: OK, time to check morning papers from around the country and around the world. And guys, remind me about the picture too before we get too far behind.
"The Atlanta Journal Constitution," couple of things to -- actually, three. Well, we'll see. I don't know, we'll see. "Atlanta Rich in Million-Dollar Homes." It's the eighth-largest city, or it has -- it's in the top eight of million-dollar homes. I don't know why that matters so much, but there are 1,597 homes worth a million bucks in Atlanta. And if you want one of them, I'm sure one's on sale.
Down here, this -- one way or another, this story seems to be in just about every paper, "Remarks Inflame Weapons Skeptics." This is the comments about whether weapons of mass destruction were really the reason that we went to war with Iraq.
And "CDC Chief Pessimistic SARS Can Be Conquered." "The Atlanta Journal Constitution."
"The Sun Sentinel" in Fort Lauderdale of south Florida, "Director Defends CIA Work on Iraq, Weapons Intelligence Was Solid, Tenet Insists." I think there's a lot of skepticism about that.
"The Miami Herald," couple of terrific stories, actually, here. "General Says U.S. Fails in Arms, Iraq Arms Search, Premise of War Called Into Question." That's how they headline the story.
"The Cardinal in Cue." One minute, really? Wow, time flies, doesn't it? "Cardinal in Cuba Rejects Role in Politics." Cuba stories often make the front page in Miami, and they did again.
Let's just show the picture, I need to put my glasses on to see this. Thank you very much. This is an attack on an American submarine in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. It's actually an attack by a polar bear of an American submarine. That's the conning tower. And that's one of those pictures that will show up in many newspapers around the country.
"The Guardian," this is a very god story, British paper, "Straw, Powell Had Serious Doubts Over Iraqi Weapons Claims," so more and more of this sort of stuff is coming out.
And what have we got, a half a minute or less? Twenty, that's less than a half a minute, isn't it?
It'll be "Sodden" in Chicago tomorrow, according to "The Chicago Sun Times." And "A Tough Comeback for Sammy," clubs, clubs, Cubs slugger.
This segment, ladies and gentlemen, really isn't that easy to do. So we'll just stop.
Well, have a wonderful weekend. We'll see you all on Monday, 10:00 Eastern time, come back. Good night for all of us at NEWSNIGHT.
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