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CNN NEWSNIGHT AARON BROWN

Israeli-Palestinian Truce Holding for Now; Teammate of Missing Baylor Basketball Star Suspected in Disappearance; States Facing Budget Deadlines

Aired June 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.
Today, we remember that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was a college wrestling champ. His opponent today was our Jamie McIntyre trying to pin Mr. Rumsfeld down over the definition of a guerrilla war and whether the situation now in Iraq fits it. The exchange speaks for itself. You'll hear it as to the implications of both the question and the answer.

It is one of a number of important stories, we don't use the word important lightly here, that begin this holiday week, and we begin it with Jamie McIntyre in the whip, the latest look at the effort to stop the attacks on the Americans in Iraq, Jamie a headline from you.

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Operation Desert Sidewinder is underway for a second day of raids in northern Iraq, still no sign of Saddam Hussein or his sons. Today, Secretary Rumsfeld in his understated style said of that: "The absence of closure is unhelpful." The secretary also said a lot about guerrilla war and quagmire and, of course, Vietnam. We'll bring you all of that.

BROWN: Jamie, thank you very much.

To the Middle East next, a very fragile situation there between the Israelis and the Palestinians, some violence today but still some reason for hope, Mike Hanna in Jerusalem, Mike a headline.

MIKE HANNA, CNN JERUSALEM BUREAU CHIEF: Well, Aaron, still no day without violence but the past 24 hours have given a faint glimmer of hope to those who believe that a peaceful resolution to this interminable conflict is possible.

BROWN: Michael, thank you.

And, back to the United States now and a crime story out of the state of Texas, the case of the missing Baylor University basketball player. Ed Lavandera has been working the story today, Ed a headline.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Aaron. Well, Baylor University is a place that likes to pride itself as a family and this family is hurting tonight as there is news suggesting that one of its own might be responsible in the disappearance of that Baylor basketball player -- Aaron. BROWN: Ed, thank you, back to you and the rest shortly.

Also coming up tonight on this Monday and back once again on all the CNN worldwide networks live every night, my goodness, the Laci Peterson case, the summer soap opera that cable news networks here in the United States can't get enough of. Maureen Orth of "Vanity Fair" joins us tonight to talk about the media circus that has helped fuel the story.

We'll remember the daughter of a suffragette who brought the spirit of independence to every role she took in the movies and in her life, Katharine Hepburn, of course.

And, where else can you see in your living room tonight what you'll see on your doorstep tomorrow morning, our own media circus, the magic, oh the magic of morning papers, a NEWSNIGHT original because who else would try, all that and more coming up in the hour ahead.

We begin with Iraq on a day when the word quagmire figured highly. Our first look tonight deals with the draining of the swamp. American forces today carrying out a second day of raids in central Iraq, Operation Sidewinder the name of it, troops have been going door-to-door searching for suspected bad guys including Ba'ath Party loyalists, foreign guerrillas, criminals, anyone who might be responsible for the hit-and-run attacks that have taken so many lives lately.

Also today, troops arrested the mayor of the city of Najaf on corruption charges. It came less than three months after they installed him in that job. The mayor was unpopular from the start in part because of his ties to the old regime.

For us the problem with Iraq is seeing the larger picture. That is always the danger of daily journalism. You get so caught up in each day's event that you never see the big picture.

Our Senior Pentagon Correspondent went looking for the big picture today at the daily briefing, of all places. Here's CNN's Jamie McIntyre.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MCINTYRE (voice-over): While many military experts may believe that attacks against U.S. forces in Iraq fit the textbook definition of guerrilla war, Donald Rumsfeld does not.

(on camera): Appreciating, as I do, your appreciation of precision in language...

DONALD RUMSFELD, DEFENSE SECRETARY: You got the dictionary definition.

MCINTYRE (voice-over): I want the DOD definition of guerrilla war. RUMSFELD: I was afraid you would. I should have looked it up. I knew I should have looked it up. I could die that I didn't look it up.

MCINTYRE: The Pentagon's own definition (unintelligible): "Military and paramilitary operations conducted in enemy-held or hostile territory by an irregular predominantly indigenous forces." This seems to fit a lot of what's going on in Iraq.

RUMSFELD: It really doesn't.

MCINTYRE: The problem with conceding the U.S. may be locked in guerrilla warfare is that it raises the specter of Vietnam. In fact, a cartoon on that point hangs on Rumsfeld's wall.

RUMSFELD: There are so many cartoons where people, press people are saying is it Vietnam yet, hoping it is and wondering if it is, and it isn't. It's a different time. It's a different era. It's a different place.

MCINTYRE: And, any comparison to Vietnam brings up the "Q" word, quagmire.

RUMSFELD: What happened in Eastern Europe? Were they in a quagmire when the Berlin Wall fell down and they started struggling and working their way towards democracy?

MCINTYRE: The criticism would be that you're in a situation from which there's no good way to extricate yourself (unintelligible).

RUMSFELD: Then the word clearly would not be a good one.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MCINTYRE: The U.S. insists it does have an exit strategy and part of its plan is to aggressively target the enemies of the United States until it roots them out. At the same time, the U.S. is soliciting contributions from other countries to help relieve the burden on U.S. forces. But as of today, the U.S. has consulted with more than 50 countries, and only come up with pledges for about 8,000 troops and they're not scheduled to arrive until the end of the summer -- Aaron.

BROWN: First of all, nice work looking up the Pentagon's definition today, OK. We'll set quagmire aside and set Vietnam aside and focus on guerrilla war because -- by what measure did the secretary say what's happening in Iraq does not fit the description that you read to him today?

MCINTYRE: Well, he would argue that there are a lot of things going on. He named about five different dynamics including looting and street crime and other things going on that don't fit the classic definition of guerrilla warfare, and he would say that the -- what we're looking at is what we -- what military experts tell us is classic guerrilla warfare fits more of a definition of a terrorist attack. Well it may be a semantic debate but the fact is many in the military who are in this building now and many who have retired say that when they look at what's going on with these attacks on U.S. soldiers that it's the classic definition of guerrilla warfare.

BROWN: And the secretary's sensitivity to that is what?

MCINTYRE: Well, as I suggested in the piece I did tonight, I think that if you accept that it's guerrilla warfare that brings up images of Vietnam and Vietnam brings up images of a quagmire and that's not the image that they want to project.

I think that the Pentagon would argue that the big difference here is that there is a way to get out of this and the big difference between Vietnam is that the U.S. during Vietnam wasn't willing to commit everything it would take to prevail in that conflict and the Pentagon continues to say whatever it takes, however long it takes, however many troops the U.S. has to send, it's going to do that to make sure it has a successful conclusion however long that takes.

BROWN: Well, I hope we don't get to that point. Jamie, thank you our Senior Pentagon Correspondent Jamie McIntyre on an exchange with the defense secretary today.

Next, to another shaky neighborhood in this world, tonight the informal truce between Israel and a collection of Palestinian forces appears to be holding today despite signs that not every Palestinian fighter wants to give up the fight. Israel did take a hit today but did not strike back. Instead, Israeli troops began finally pulling out of parts of Gaza, reporting for us tonight again CNN's Mike Hanna.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HANNA (voice-over): The checkpoints along the main north-to- south highway are dismantled, and for the first time in months traffic begins to flow freely. Palestinians now able to travel from one part of Gaza to another, their movement regulated not by Israeli soldiers but by Palestinian police officers.

In the West Bank, though, more violence, a para-national working for an Israeli construction company shot and killed by Palestinian gunmen in defiance of a cease-fire pledge, a local branch of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade claiming responsibility and signaling that not all militants will listen to their leaders.

But despite this incident, Israeli and Palestinian security officials say they remain intent on creating new realities in the West Bank as they have in parts of Gaza.

The next area in which Israel has agreed to hand over security responsibility the West Bank city of Bethlehem, the Israeli roadblocks will remain around Bethlehem but the troops will withdraw from the city itself and the policing of Bethlehem will be put back into the hands of Palestinians.

Elements of the Palestinian police being retrained in recent weeks as attempts are made to rebuild a security apparatus that in nearly three years of conflict with the Israelis had been all but destroyed.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HANNA: Despite sporadic incidents of violence the first 24 hours of a truce have pleased the optimists and in coming hours the Israeli and Palestinian prime ministers will meet in a bid to maintain this momentum towards a greater calm. It's a calm that's a prerequisite for the successful implementation of that U.S.-backed road map -- Aaron.

BROWN: Mike, just day to day how much different is life for Palestinians today or tomorrow, I mean you need to give this a little time to manifest itself, than it has been?

HANNA: In particular areas a massive difference, Aaron. In Gaza, for people to be able to move along that major highway is a massive change in their day-to-day lives. For months they have been unable to go from one neighborhood to another because there is an Israeli checkpoint in the way.

For the first 24 hours, they have been able to achieve this greater freedom of movement which could lead to a greater degree of tolerance on the ground and could spread as other areas are included in this process with the gradual redeployment of the Israeli troops and the Palestinians taking over security control. It's changing people's lives at this point.

BROWN: Mike, thank you, a day at a time in the Middle East. Thank you, Mike Hanna in Jerusalem.

On to a crime story from Waco, Texas, and a question that has been plaguing Baylor University. How did a young man, well known to the community, who is 6'10", 230 pounds, vanish without a trace? His name is Patrick Dennehy. He plays basketball for the Baylor Bears and he hasn't been seen for weeks.

When he came to Baylor from New Mexico last year, he said this: "It's a fresh start, new coach, new team, new set of personalities." The uncomfortable fact now for Baylor is that the name of one of his teammates has surfaced in what some now fear may be murder.

Here's CNN's Ed Lavandera.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LAVANDERA (voice-over): For three days, Waco Police have said they have reason to believe some of Patrick Dennehy's teammates might be potential suspects in his disappearance.

A search warrant issued to Waco Police indicates that "an informant had been told that (the player) told his cousin that (the player) had an argument with Dennehy while out shooting guns in the McLennan County area and that Dennehy had pointed his gun at (the player) as if to shoot him and that (the player) had shot Dennehy in the head with a 9mm pistol."

Waco Police did not acknowledge the latest information at an afternoon press conference and cautioned people to not jump to conclusions.

ALBERTO MELIS, WACO CHIEF OF POLICE: We would caution everybody not to assume that a person or persons that we have spoken to is deemed a suspect.

LAVANDERA: The news of this is sure to stun the Baylor University community. When we spoke with one of Dennehy's professors before this news broke, John Cunningham told us how hard it's been to accept that Waco Police suspect a fellow player might be involved.

JOHN CUNNINGHAN, PROFESSOR: To think that a family member's missing and to think, even worse, that a family member may have something to do with that makes it particularly difficult to deal with. So, we're just looking for answers right now.

LAVANDERA: We've made several attempts to reach this player's family and the player himself but we haven't been successful so far. We want to be clear also that this document that was filed in a Waco courtroom today is not an indictment nor does it charge this player with any wrongdoing at this point but it does clearly explain why authorities came out on Friday and said that they had reason to believe that Patrick Dennehy was the victim of foul play and that they had reason to believe that some of his teammates might be "potential suspects" in this case -- Aaron.

BROWN: Well, it was the use of -- when I looked at the story last week, the plural teammates that peeked my curiosity, was there indication of tension between the young man and other teammates?

LAVANDERA: We haven't been able to get any indication like that so far. We even have indication that this player that we're talking about and Patrick Dennehy were good friends. We've spoken with several of his neighbors and other folks on campus here who say they were often seen around campus together.

BROWN: Ed, thank you very much, Ed Lavandera tonight. Get their names right, Aaron.

Ahead on NEWSNIGHT, crunch time for states trying to balance their budgets to say the least. We'll talk with the governors of California, Connecticut, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania as they struggle to cover huge budget shortfalls in most cases.

We'll talk with writer Maureen Orth tonight about the Laci Peterson phenomenon, how a local crime story became a national obsession.

Around the world, this is NEWSNIGHT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: We confess to a certain bit of mischief on the part of a staffer tonight. He impishly suggested that for all the successes President Bush is having on the rubber chicken circuit and all the money Democrat Howard Dean is raising on the Internet, they really ought to pool their talents and donate the money to state governments across the country.

Goodness knows it would be welcome. A soft economy has blown holes in state budgets and governors don't have the luxury of deficit spending for the most part the way the president does or the Congress does, so it is taxes and spending cuts all the way.

Forty-six states face budget deadlines of one sort or another tonight. In at least ten states, it looks like governors and legislators are late at the buzzer because they can't agree on what to raise or how much to cut. At stake, of course, are things closest to you, senior care, schools, public housing, hospital emergency rooms, not to mention the taxes you have to pay for all of that.

So, with that backdrop, we're especially grateful to have four very busy governors with us, the governor of California Gray Davis joins us. So, does John Rowland, the Governor of Connecticut, from Wisconsin tonight, Jim Doyle, and the governor of Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, good to see you all.

Governor Davis, we'll start with you, biggest state, biggest problem, $38 billion. What happens at midnight?

GOV. GRAY DAVIS (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, at midnight, the controller has already announced that he can't pay anymore money to nursing homes or community colleges. Of course all the elected officials and their staffs won't get paid if we don't have a budget. We'll continue to work hard tomorrow to see if we can get a budget. If we don't have it then, we'll continue to work hard on Tuesday.

We have a tough problem in California because we require a two- thirds vote to pass the legislature which means we need both Republicans and Democrats to agree.

When Governor Wilson had a problem ten years ago he split the problem in half and he had $7 billion worth of taxes and $7 billion worth of cuts, but now the Republicans don't want to have any kind of taxes whatsoever, so we're having a big fight out here but hopefully at lease one House will get a budget passed this week.

BROWN: We'll come back to California.

Governor Rowland, at midnight tonight what happens in Connecticut?

GOV. JOHN ROWLAND (R), CONNECTICUT: First, I feel a little bit better after listening to California.

BROWN: I bet you do.

ROWLAND: I really feel for Gray Davis and I know he's working very hard with his legislature. What happens in Connecticut at midnight, I'll be signing an executive order which will basically continue state services for the next seven days.

Like many other states, the Democrats control the House and the Senate, so we're constantly trying to compromise and come to agreement. We've been in budget negotiations for the last several weeks. The original session ended on June 4, so we're already in extra innings right now.

I actually had to have the state troopers issue subpoenas to the legislature today in order to get them to come back tomorrow to try to get back to the table and to continue to negotiate.

BROWN: Does...

ROWLAND: We have a budget --

BROWN: Sorry.

ROWLAND: We have a budget deficit of about $150 million at the end of tonight.

BROWN: Is there a simple way to describe the impasse, that is to say what they want and what you want and where you can't get together?

ROWLAND: Oh, yes, and I think it's the same in every state. There's only two issues, raising taxes or cutting spending. Republicans, for the most part, want to cut spending. Democrats, for the most part, want to increase taxes. So, in our case it's coming to a compromise.

We've -- I've already vetoed three budgets and we came to about 95 percent of the way. Things fell apart on Friday and no one really wants to kind of step up to the plate. I will add that most states across this country for the last five or six years had some pretty heady surpluses and we had it going pretty well there for a while.

BROWN: Yes.

ROWLAND: So, it's a whole political, cultural change now to get back to reducing the budgets.

BROWN: I want to try and get back to that point too.

Governor Rendell, your situation is, in fact, a little different because your dispute with the legislature, as I understand it, centers essentially around one issue, around education.

GOV. ED RENDELL (D), PENNSYLVANIA: Well, education and tax reform.

BROWN: Yes.

RENDELL: We passed a bare bone budget. John, this is one Democrat who made the cuts and agreed with the legislature. We passed a budget that pretty much bridged the gap of a $2 billion plus deficit, but I campaigned hard on the fact that we needed to reduce our property taxes, invest in education. We have just a terrible record on education. We haven't done much or improved in decades and I want to -- I vetoed -- I blue-lined out the education budget.

So, everything continues in the rest of the state. We don't have an education budget. Of course, we have until September to reach that. I want to cut property taxes, increase spending on education and raise our state income tax, which out of 41 states that have the state income tax is the lowest in the nation.

BROWN: And, Governor Doyle, you have a budget. You just don't like it very much.

GOV. JIM DOYLE (D), WISCONSIN: Well, I do have a budget and I do have the broadest veto power of any governor in the United States. I can veto out words. I can write down numbers. I can change decimal points. I can do almost anything except write new things into the budget, and it is on my desk and I'm working very hard, and we did this without raising taxes, a $3.2 billion deficit.

In fact, as a Democratic governor, I'm in the position of now cutting some additional spending that the Republicans put in, so we maybe have a little different situation here. But I'm pretty confident, given my broad veto power, that I will, in fact, be able to craft a budget that is acceptable to me.

BROWN: Let me try and get some quick answers to a number of different questions, just going around the circle here.

Governor Davis, do you think in the good years, in the early -- in the mid-'90s that your state, other states, overspent?

DAVIS: No. We were 47th in per capita spending in education when I took office and now we are 27th. Test scores have gone up four years in a row. If you say we shouldn't have -- we should have remained at 47th then maybe we can have an agreement over spending.

But if you look at per capita spending for the last 11 governorships, we rank third from the bottom. I think investment in education, tax relief, is the way we did it out here, it was a tax expenditure, and health care are worthwhile expenditures.

BROWN: Governor Rowland, you put this issue on the table a minute or so ago. Do you think in your state in your second term now, in other states in the country, that not enough care was paid to the rainy days that always do come?

ROWLAND: Well, for the first time during my second term we actually put money in the rainy day fund. Previous to that it was depleted. But to the point that you asked about whether we spent too much over those years, first of all everything is relative.

We probably increased spending by about 4.5 percent per year, but we make critical investments in open land preservation and public education. We're number one in education now across the board and also in our public universities.

So, if I were to even look back and say would we have done anything differently, I'd say no because of those critical investments. The key point for all of us as four governors and all the other 45 governors is that we're competing with each other to provide the best schools, the best quality of life, attractive places for businesses to come and to stay and for residents to be here and spend money and pay their taxes.

So, we're in competition with each other and I think all states for the most part were fairly prudent during the '90s, and I think right now we've got to deal with the cards we're dealt and that's an economic downturn, a recession, and we're going to have to cut spending, probably raise some taxes, and kind of, you know, play it out for the next year, year and a half.

BROWN: Governor Rendell, how much of the problem that your state faces, you got a couple of big cities in Pennsylvania, comes from increased security, enhanced security in the wake of 9/11?

RENDELL: Well, a little bit of the problem and the federal government is just starting to get that money into the pipeline. But my predecessor, Tom Ridge, did a pretty good job of modulating spending. The Republican legislature almost raised taxes by $1 billion last year before I got here, but our challenge is, and I want to correct Governor Rowland about one thing.

We don't just compete against each other anymore, Aaron, we compete against every country in the world and we are getting our brains beat in in Pennsylvania because our educational system isn't producing the type of knowledge workers we need, so it's a complex problem.

Right now we have to watch our spending and yet we need to increase investments in things like education and economic development to be competitive and it is not an easy task.

BROWN: And, Governor Davis, in the state of California are the schools going to be considerably worse than they were two years ago after this budget eventually gets passed?

DAVIS: No, I don't think so. The entire education community supports my budget on education. It's the best in the state. We still have...

BROWN: But you can't pass it.

DAVIS: Well, we haven't passed it yet but I predict one House will pass it by the week's end and hopefully over the next couple of weeks the other House will and I think it will pass an education budget very close to the one that I have on the table.

BROWN: Governor Doyle, how about the state of Wisconsin, you've got a terrific university there, good public school system, is education going to get worse in Wisconsin, honestly?

DOYLE: I don't believe so but it certainly is the thing that worries me most. I agree with the other governors here. This is really at the top of the priority list. We do have a great public school system, a great public university system, and I really see my job right now as trying to be a steward here and get us through these very difficult times, including cuts to the university and including some cuts for state aid to schools.

But, we're trying to do it in a very careful, balanced way that will keep the essential education mission in place. It is our -- it is what we sell in Wisconsin is a great educational system. I know the other governors feel very much the same way and it's at the heart of what I'm trying to do.

BROWN: And, Governor Rowland, I'll give you the last word here, just take a step back. Look at the big picture. Could anything have prevented this or is it just a confluence of things that happened, overheated economy of the mid-'90s, 9/11, a recession, and the rest?

ROWLAND: I don't think there's anything governors could have done. We're kind of creatures of what happens with the national economy. When the coffers are filling and people are paying interest and dividends taxes and income taxes, we get surpluses. We get to put money in rainy day funds. We get to make investments in education.

When times are tougher, we've got to pull back. I reduced our workforce by ten percent and you got to make some very difficult decisions to be competitive with other states and with other countries.

So, I think that there's probably nothing we could have done to avoid it. The national federal legislature, the Congress, they're responsible, along with the president for turning the economy around and I think they're doing a great job in that respect.

BROWN: Governor Rowland, that would -- perhaps your colleagues might not agree with all of that.

RENDELL: No.

BROWN: But we appreciate that anyway. We have one Republican on the panel and he got the last word tonight, nicely done. Governors thank you all for joining us tonight. Thank you very much.

Still ahead on the program tonight, obsession or compulsion, Maureen Orth on the Laci Peterson case in a moment. Talk about switching gears.

From New York, this is NEWSNIGHT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: Well, now, someone I have known all of my life once described the Robert Blake murder story as the cable news equivalent of heroin. Perhaps you've heard him say it, right here on this program. That was before Laci Peterson vanished. Now it's Robert who?

Such is the nature of these things, crack drives out heroin, the media circus moves on, and many would argue that the heartache of two central California families notwithstanding, the circus is the larger story here, Maureen Orth included. Her reporting on how the circus came to Modesto on the pages of the latest edition of "Vanity Fair" magazine, taking a look at Laci Peterson case, and Ms. Orth joins us tonight.

Nice to see you.

MAUREEN ORTH, "VANITY FAIR" MAGAZINE: Thank you.

BROWN: It is the -- in an odd way, it was the perfect storm for story. The characters were right. Oddly, I thought the place was right.

ORTH: Yes, you have two very attractive young people named Laci and Scott. They're not named Herbie or Mabel. And they are living in sunny California, and she's the party giver, and the focal point of her set, and he's handsome, and she was looking forward to having her first child, and how could this all happen?

BROWN: And so you have this -- and it's a horrible crime, it's not an especially uncommon crime, tragically, but a horrible one.

ORTH: No.

BROWN: And what is it that sort of captures, and this is true, the, particularly the cable fascination?

ORTH: Well, I think what we have -- what has become common now are these sort of nationalized pageants of grief and mourning and speculation. You almost have rituals. You have the memorial service that's live on cable.

And you have the -- practically the entire defense bar of the United States, particularly those with obese egos, speculating endlessly on every tiny little move that's going on, legally speaking, if there is nothing else that they can talk about. It doesn't prevent them from speculating.

And so it just fills up all this time, because it really is both a soap opera and whodunit, and it also allows not to have to talk about the budget going away -- the budget sort of crashing in...

BROWN: Yes.

ORTH: ... California, et cetera, and what's going on in Iraq.

BROWN: I agree with, I would say, 99 percent of that, and here's the question. So what? There's always stuff like this. There's go -- after this one ends, there's going to be another one. It has always been...

ORTH: We know it's a different...

BROWN: ... that way, so why is this so horrible?

ORTH: Well, I'll tell you something. What's happening is, is that standards of journalism are honestly eroding. Who is setting the pace here? The supermarket tabloids are really setting the pace in this story. They're paying all over Modesto. They're spreading money out all over the place, and they are leading the charge in terms of breaking most of the news on the story.

And then a lot of people on cable, just without even basically confirming what they've read in the tabloids, got right on the air. And I think that what's going on now is that you are seeing more and more speculation, less and less fact. You have people put on TV, put on camera, who have nothing really to offer to advance the story.

They're simply there to be asked, How do you feel that she was your...

BROWN: Yes.

ORTH: ... best friend?

BROWN: But in the -- Again, I don't disagree with any of that, except I would just add this, that in the universe that is the news media right now, and even in universe that is cable, there are plenty of entrees to choose from. I mean, you can take -- You know, we're very different than the program that runs opposite us on that other network.

Everybody's doing something else, and consumers can, in a sense, shop where they want to shop.

ORTH: Consumers can shop where they want to shop. But the interesting thing, for example, Mark Geragos, the defense lawyer for Scott Peterson, told me he felt that cable was very akin to the Internet, and that the kind of no-holds-barred, less than, I guess, stringent fact-finding that goes on on the Internet, spills over to cable, and then a lot of times network news and even print people go and look at cable and kind of get their direction.

So instead of the -- instead of sort of the story being rising to the top level, it's all going down to the tabloid level. And so I think you are really eroding standards of journalism.

BROWN: And is it that, in a sense, money, we have a half a minute, money is at the root of this, the desire by news networks to make money and the desire by tabloids to spread it around to make more?

ORTH: Well, you, you, you, you're able to see ratings now...

BROWN: Yes.

ORTH: ... every 15 minutes, and so I think that that has a lot to do with it. And I also think people just don't want to have to grapple with a lot of difficult issues. It's just sort of like candy. Although it's gruesome, and it just hooks a lot of people. It is crack.

BROWN: Yes, it is. Maureen, thank you very much. Maureen Orth... ORTH: Thank you.

BROWN: ... writing in "Vanity Fair" this month. And if you like media stores, pretty juicy one, I hear on the other network they're got another one going, the basketball player.

We'll just do this next. A few from around the world before we go to break.

The United Nations, no crime that, huh? Last day on the job for Hans Blix. His term as chief weapons inspector formally ended today. Always the diplomat, Dr. Blix today called his relationship with Secretary of State Powell and national security adviser Condoleezza Rice a civil one, despite their differences in the run-up to the war with Iraq.

A shipment of humanitarian supplies flew into Liberia's worn-torn capital today, but the larger question of American soldiers remains unanswered. Secretary of State Powell tonight said the administration is considering a range of options, where the civil war is concerned, but no decisions have been made.

U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan has asked the United States take part in a multinational force to stop tragic bloodshed.

In the British House of Commons, defeat today for Tony Blair and a victory for foxes, I think. Lawmakers voting today to call off the dogs, as it were, and ban fox-hunting entirely.

Prime Minister Blair had proposed a bill that limited fox hunting, but backbenchers couldn't agree on the language, so the government took it off the table, paving the way for the full Monty, which, despite described as the full Monty, doesn't apply to Scotland, which seems to have hunting laws of their own.

They should get a good tabloid crime story, if you ask me.

Still to come on NEWSNIGHT, two American icons, first, the impact of great actress Katharine Hepburn, and later, the first real American, Ben Franklin, as revealed in his new biography.

Take a break first. This is NEWSNIGHT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN FINANCIAL NEWS: I'm Susan Lisovicz with this MONEYLINE update. Stocks closed, little change. The Dow fell nearly 4, the Nasdaq lost 2, the S&P 500 flat. But the index gained 15 percent for the third quarter, its best in four and a half years.

Watch "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT" weeknights at 6:00 p.m. Eastern on CNN.

Now, back to NEWSNIGHT with Aaron Brown.

BROWN: And as NEWSNIGHT continues, we will look at Tuesday morning's paper and look back at Katharine Hepburn. A break first. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: Oh, my. A few stories from around the country tonight, beginning with tropical storm Bill. Bill hit the Southeast today, forcing evacuations, leaving at least 8,000 homes and businesses without power, south and central Alabama getting several inches of rain. Storm also swamped the streets of the French Quarter of New Orleans.

Air Force today said it's dropped the most serious charges against the National Guard pilot who mistakenly dropped a bomb on Canadian troops, killing four of them, in Afghanistan last year.

Major Harry Schmidt will face a court-martial for dereliction of duty. Conviction could mean six months in a military brig if he is convicted. He would have faced up to 64 years had the charge been involuntary manslaughter and aggravated assault.

And the design deadline for the World Trade Center memorial was this afternoon. A steady stream of last-minute entries arrived at a Manhattan dropoff location today. Initial judging happens in August. Final is named September. Winner chosen by the fourth -- by October. Fourteen thousand people have entered, representing all 50 states and 94 nations.

If you're looking to see a thoroughly modern woman this week on TV, someone bold and beautiful, whip-smart and fiercely independent, we have a suggestion for you, and it doesn't involve anyone named Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte, or Miranda. Rent "Adam's Rib," or "The Philadelphia Story," or "Desk Set," or "The African Queen."

Different plot lines, of course, but the same real-life force of nature shines through them all. Katharine Hepburn, the great no- nonsense actress who died yesterday, a thoroughly modern woman if ever there was one.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN (voice-over): She won her first Oscar 70 years ago, 1933.

VIVIAN SOBCHACK, UCLA FILM SCHOOL: When I think of Katharine Hepburn, I think of that glorious strong jaw of hers, her passionate, tumultuous putting herself into whatever she did.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KATHARINE HEPBURN, ACTRESS: I'm the greatest young actress in the world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SOBCHACK: It was extremely liberating to watch her, always.

JOHN DAYTON, FILM PRODUCER: She was an extraordinary woman with an incredible zest for life. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "LITTLE WOMEN")

HEPBURN: Roderigo, Roderigo, ahhhh!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CYNTHIA MCFADDEN, FAMILY SPOKESWOMAN: We love her, we'll miss her. She was one of us. She was never assuming. She just wanted to be Kate Hepburn, a neighbor.

BROWN: In her 62-year career, Katharine Hepburn won four Oscars...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SIDNEY POITIER, ACTOR: Katharine Hepburn in "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?"

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: ... and she didn't show up to collect a single one. She was nothing Hollywood while being every ounce a star, and she was ahead of her time, but perfectly placed in an era.

SOBCHACK: Women, I think, are particularly struck by Hepburn, because, in a sense, she never loses her femininity, and at the same time, she seems to be able to embrace life to the fullest.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "ON GOLDEN POND")

HEPBURN: Darling, I'm so glad you're home.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: Today's most popular female characters combine Hepburn's qualities to the core. She was independent and straightforward, but never strident or angry. She was intelligent and thoughtful, but could be silly and was often witty.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "BRINGING UP BABY")

HEPBURN: I'm afraid that George might prefer to have his best man sober.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: She was strong...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

HEPBURN: I don't want to be molded. I believe in acting with my brain.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BROWN: ... but could be vulnerable.

SOBCHACK: I don't know the roles for women are as, I guess, nuanced and witty and allow for the kinds of performances she was able to give. Women are either seen as comedians or very serious dramatic actresses or they're, you know, comic or erotic figures. But very rarely are they all brought together either in a screenplay or in a single presence.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: Katharine Hepburn, she lived a great, long life, and she will be missed.

Ahead on NEWSNIGHT, America's first great publisher, who, even 200 years after his death, got our next guest booked on the program. Got to love that.

Take a break first. This is NEWSNIGHT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: No accident, we assume that Walter Isaacson's book, "Benjamin Franklin: An American Life," comes out this week, it being the Fourth of July and all. But what better week to celebrate old Mr. Franklin, a true founding father of every important document that created the American democracy, and the originator of more than a few of the basic ideals that it is based on.

Mr. Isaacson is now the president of the Aspen Institute. He's a former boss and a good friend. And, as it turns out, the guy can write a bit as well.

And what a great character you have chosen to write about. Were you always fascinated by Mr. Franklin, or were you looking for a really interesting project?

WALTER ISAACSON, AUTHOR, "BENJAMIN FRANKLIN": No, I was always fascinated by Franklin. First of all, with the diplomacy. (UNINTELLIGIBLE), I did a book on Henry Kissinger, and I was looking for the roots of that mix of realism, a great balance-of-power guy, as Franklin was when he did France and Spain and the Netherlands, during the Revolution, with that idealistic streak that America is an exceptionalist nation.

So that's what first got me into it. And then, as you say, he was a media mogul, and I figured, Well, what the heck, you know?

BROWN: You write about him that he, perhaps of all of the founding fathers, had the best sense of what democracy meant.

ISAACSON: You know, he wasn't elitist. Most the founders were truly elitists, even Jefferson and stuff. This guy was a leather apron. He was a middle-class shopkeeper, a printer. He loved running a print shop. And he was the only one who had those sort of Main Street values, and everybody was kind of snobby about them, but Ben Franklin said, No, no, no, democracy's going to be based on middle- class values.

And that was a radical notion back then.

BROWN: Would he be a Democrat or a Republican?

ISAACSON: You know, he hated partisanship. He always believed that in the center was the way to find the true judgment. And he...

BROWN: He was a great compromiser, wasn't he?

ISAACSON: He was a great compromiser. You know, he once said that compromisers don't make great heroes, but they do make great democracies.

BROWN: Yes.

ISAACSON: And he said, I'm a tradesman. I knew when you made a joint of wood, you had to shave a little off of one side and shave a little off the other to make a perfect fit.

He would have been really upset with the deep partisan divides in this country.

BROWN: He -- (UNINTELLIGIBLE) -- One more sort of serious thing, we'll get more into his personality. He had a great sense of tolerance, particularly religious tolerance, which was critically important forming the democracy back then.

ISAACSON: Yes, I mean, you have to remember, Massachusetts, where he ran away from, was a theocracy, a Puritan theocracy. And one of the cool things this week, this July 4th week, we ought to remember, is, Jefferson drafts the Declaration of Independence, and Franklin's his editor.

So after he spent some time drafting it, he sends it to Franklin, two doors away on Market Street in Philadelphia, and said, Will Mr. Franklin be so kind in his wisdom to give me the benefit of his -- you know, people were much nicer to editors back then, you know, that's the way things were.

And Franklin looks at the line that Jefferson had written, which is, "We hold these truths to be sacred and undeniable," and he takes that printer's backslash that old printers did back then, and he crosses out, and then says, "We hold these truths to be self-evident."

And he said, We are not trying to create a theocracy. The reason we have these rights is based on reason and rationality, not based on religion. We have to be tolerant of all religions.

BROWN: Right.

A bunch of quick things. Did, what he -- at his death, did he look at his life and say, What a great life I've had, what a great part I've played in history? Did he (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

ISAACSON: Yes, yes. He -- you know, he was a bit happy about his life. He was not one of these tragic, anguished, depressed characters.

BROWN: He did have a sort of fake humility about him, didn't he?

ISAACSON: Yes, you know, he did his 12 Virtues when he was a young guy. He said, Here are the 12 virtues you need. He was so proud of them, he showed them around. And so a Quaker friend of his said, You are missing one. He said, What's that? He said, Humility.

He said, Oh, yes. And so he puts humility as his last virtue. And he says, I never quite acquired humility, but I could fake it very well. I the pretense of humility, and that's all I needed.

BROWN: And because this is cable, we have to ask this question, he was quite a ladies' man, too.

ISAACSON: Yes. He was. He -- you know, in Paris, he had two wonderful girlfriends. Used to play chess in the bathtub in Madame Brillon's (ph) bathroom. I think -- he complains a lot about not truly being satisfied, but then he was in his late 70s, so I don't quite know what he meant by that.

BROWN: Is this book what you were doing when you were supposed to be bossing me around?

ISAACSON: You are so easy, Aaron, I didn't have much work to do with your show.

BROWN: Nice to see you. Best of luck...

ISAACSON: Good to see you.

BROWN: ... with the book.

ISAACSON: Great (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

BROWN: Walter Isaacson. It's a terrific book.

We'll take a break. We'll take a look at tomorrow's news tonight. Morning papers in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: I haven't heard it for a couple days. It still amuses me. I'm sure it does you too.

Time to check -- It doesn't? Time to check morning papers from around the country and around the world. OK, cool it with the rooster here.

Here's what happened, OK? This is the truth. The guest lingered a little bit. I didn't quite have the full two and a half minutes to look at the papers. But here we go anyway, he said.

"The Cincinnati Enquirer," "New Group to Recruit for Downtown." Rebuilding downtown Cincinnati has gone on most of my lifetime, I think, 54 years, they're trying again. Mayor there, Charlie Luken (ph), who's a good guy, making that happen, or trying to.

And down at the bottom, I think this is a front-page story. "Attacks, Iraq Weapons Debate Erode Public Confidence in War, Poll," out yesterday, or today, actually, that would be. But it's in tomorrow's paper. You understand why I am confused. So it's just over the half the country now believing that the war is going well, or has gone well.

"Detroit Free Press," it's a truck story. Doesn't matter what it's about, it's there. "Hasek Belongs to the Wings." Hockey story is a big front-page story there. And not just in "The Detroit Free Press," mind you, it's big in "The Detroit News." Take that shot.

But here's the story I liked, over here, "Truck Drivers See Danger in Longer Shifts, but Industry Says New Rules Balance Safety and Productivity." So drivers can now drive 11 hours a day. Feel better knowing that, don't you? Yes.

"Chicago Sun-Times," the weather tomorrow in Chicago, the Windy City, will be "Kickin'." "Former Ryan," that's a governor, former governor Ryan, "Gets Six and a Half Years." I never understood what this scandal was about, but it was nasty.

How are we doing on time?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thirty-five.

BROWN: Oh, man, I'm not sure I can fill all that. Thirty-five seconds?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thirty.

BROWN: Thank you, that helps a little bit.

Palm Beef -- well, that didn't help, did it, Aaron? "Palm Beach Bishop Is Reportedly Favored to Lead Boston Catholics." Bishop O'Malley heading up to Boston, where Cardinal Law took the fall, and "Decision Is Made UM," University of Miami, "to Move to the ACC," a big soap opera in international and college sports.

See you tomorrow. This is NEWSNIGHT, isn't it? Good night.

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