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CNN RELIABLE SOURCES
Will Writers Strike Impact TV Viewership?; Oprah Apologizes
Aired November 11, 2007 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
HOWARD KURTZ, HOST (voice over): Silence. Jay Leno, David Letterman, Jimmy Kimmel, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert all forced into reruns by the Hollywood writers' strike. As the impact spreads to network sitcoms and dramas, will viewers get angry or simply drift away to YouTube and iPods?
Oprah's apology. How is the talk show queen handling allegations of abuse at the South Africa girls school she founded?
Lurching to the left? MSNBC tries and fails to sign Rosie O'Donnell. Is the network positioning itself as a liberal alternative to FOX News?
Plus, the difficulties of reporting from Pakistan during a government crackdown.
And the human side of Peter Jennings. His ABC colleagues recall a determined broadcaster and a tough taskmaster.
KURTZ: Television as we know it is not quite screeching to a halt but stumbling toward a slowdown. A strike by the Hollywood writers' union, now one week old, has not yet made the desperate networks yank "Desperate Housewives" or perform emergency surgery or "Grey's Anatomy." But these and other scripted dramas and sitcoms will run out of taped episodes in the coming weeks.
The late night comedy shows immediately switched to reruns because it turns out these stars need writers to be funny. Who knew? The question is, how much do you out there care?
Some of TV's top performers joined the picketing writers to lend moral support and, in the case of Jay Leno, bring some doughnuts.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAY LENO, TALK SHOW HOST: I'm a writer, I've always been a writer. See how unfunny I am now? They're not giving me anything. I'm a dead man.
JOHN OLIVER, SCREENWRITER: We were supposed to be on TV tonight and we won't be. And we won't be as long as the strike's on. EVA LONGORIA, ACTRESS: I care about people losing their homes, and I care about, you know, my hair and makeup artist who can't make their ends meet if they don't have a paycheck. So I hope that a resolution is soon to come.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Joining me now in New York, Ray Richmond, media and entertain columnist for "The Hollywood Reporter"; Jennifer Pozner, executive director of Women in Media and News; and in Seattle, Michael Medved, movie critic and host of "The Michael Medved Show" on the Salem Radio Network.
Ray Richmond, is it possible if this thing drags on that many people will get accustomed to watching YouTube and podcasts and other online forms of entertainment and simply not come back to television?
RAY RICHMOND, "THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER": I think people already are more or less used to watching things on YouTube and podcasts and such. I mean, it's already drifting in that direction.
What I think the studios maybe aren't -- are in a little bit of denial of is the fact that it's drifted that way with regard to young adults. I mean, teenagers, there are kids now that do not ever watch appointment/network television in the usual primetime slot.
They're already, you know, time-shifting. They're already downloading. You know, they're not getting cable or satellite subscriptions. It is already moving there, and so it's -- it's inevitable it's going to go there. It's just that this strike may push it quicker.
KURTZ: Right. But, of course, the content still has to come from somewhere.
Michael Medved, you're an inactive member of the Writers Guild. Unlike in 1988, when the last big Hollywood strike took place, TV no longer has a monopoly on entertainment.
MICHAEL MEDVED, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: No, that's exactly right. And it seems that the whole strike is suicidal for both sides, because there is such a shaky hold on the public's attention, so many competing media right now. And when you talk in the public, the callers to my radio show, I don't think there is a lot of frustration or anger on the part of viewers, because there are so many alternatives. And this clearly just weakens the whole institution of television.
It's also very disillusioning, as you were indicating before, Howie, that some of the funniest people in America who are famous for their adlibs and their quickness are so reliant on writers. I think it makes people like Jay Leno look bad.
KURTZ: I've sort of wondered myself why Leno and Letterman and Jon Stewart don't try -- and maybe they will eventually be forced to do this -- to put on a different kind of show without writers where you rely more on interviews and so forth.
But Jennifer Pozner, I hear network executives saying, well, we can withstand this strike because we'll just put on more reality shows, and they're cheaper to produce.
JENNIFER POZNER, WOMEN IN MEDIA AND NEWS: Well, that's a key. And there's -- in the coverage of this whole strike there has been a lot of confusion about reality TV and how it's created. Reality TV does actually use writers. That's the big myth behind the genre. They call it unscripted, but writers are used to help story editors and producers and advertisers place their products, polish dialogue, that sort of thing. The key though is that they use non-Writers Guild underpaid writers who actually tried to sue a number of the producers of shows like "The Bachelor" in -- about a year or so ago because they said they worked in what they called sweat shop/labor conditions.
So, you know, the fact that we'll get more reality TV shows is not because reality TV is unscripted, but because they're using exploitative labor practices and bad writers.
KURTZ: Got it.
POZNER: But the bigger thing though is back to what -- back to what Ray said, it's not that these TV shows are eventually going to go online. It's that they already are, and studios, when they put writers' content online, the writers don't get paid for that. So basically...
KURTZ: And that's exactly the point. Let me go back to Ray.
The writers union says, look, this is the future, we're already heading there. We want a small percentage of revenues so when our awards are used, our scripts are used for things that are shown for -- for programs that are shown on DVD or Web sites. We get a little piece of the action. It doesn't sound unreasonable.
RICHMOND: No. And you know what, Howard? I mean, the fact is, writers have historically gotten screwed.
They've always been sort of the poor stepchild of the creative process. And, you know, this plays that up.
I mean, when you look at the configuration financially of how a DVD pays out, let's say there is a $20 DVD right now. The producers are making over $9. It's like $4 for the production of it, a few dollars to other places. And the writers get 4 cents now.
Part of the strike, what they're pushing for, is to double it, oh, my god, to 8 cents. Gee, what greedy bastards these guys are. You know?
And you look at what they're pushing for with regard to Internet streaming and downloads, all they're pushing for is to actually get a piece, a tiny sliver. And yet they're being pushed aside as somehow, you know, the fat cat's trying to get fatter when, frankly, the precise opposite is true. MEDVED: It seems to me...
POZNER: It's the height of...
KURTZ: Go ahead, Michael.
MEDVED: Well, it seems to me that the problem is that they're in such a weak position, because everybody in America dreams of being a Hollywood writer. And, yes, there are people -- people also dream of being an actor or a performer, but people will pay money or will make appointment television to follow some particular actor or performer.
Nobody looks for, oh my goodness, I'm going to go see the new movie or I'm going to go see the new TV show by a certain writer. And the difficulty here is that it's very easy for producers to say, well, we are going to get beyond this and break the strike and top these people. And they're in an insecure position precisely because the industry itself is in such an insecure position, and there are so many other people who are so eager to fill these places.
KURTZ: Stagehands also went on strike yesterday, closing down all the major plays in New York. So it seems like there is a plague of this.
Jennifer Pozner, it kind of reminds me of baseball. There's plenty of money in TV, lots of profit being made. It seems like there should be enough money to work out a reasonable settlement.
Do you think that on some level the Hollywood studios want this strike?
POZNER: I think -- I think that they are looking to bust the union. I think that they know that Internet downloads, distribution to cell phones, iPods and even technologies that aren't in creation yet are the way that we, the majority of people, are going to be seeing television, you know, content, not on the actual tube.
The last time that the Writers Guild had an agreement, we didn't have DVDs. We didn't have the Internet. We didn't have any of the new technology and distribution systems.
So what the writers are looking for is basically any type of piece of that pie. They're looking for fair compensation. It's a basic labor issue.
And as we know, corporate media companies are trying to drive every last red cent out of the writers' content. There would be none of these TV shows that, Michael, you said people want to see. There would be no content without the writers, and the writers are trying to get anything.
It's the height of nickel and diming. Well, not even nickel and diming. They're not even asking for a dime.
POZNER: And they don't want to give them a nickel.
KURTZ: Maybe self-destructive for all sides.
Ray Richmond, I was a little surprised to see Jay Leno and Tina Fey and Julia Louis-Dreyfus out there with the picket lines. I mean, they're the stars. Presumably, their careers are being hurt by being knocked off the air. But is it important for them to show solidarity with the people who write their lines?
RICHMOND: Oh, absolutely. You know, I think to some degree it's P.R. for these people. I mean, I think people like Tina Fey absolutely do legitimately support the strike. But, you know, they know that...
MEDVED: She's a writer herself.
RICHMOND: Right. And -- precisely, that Tina Fey is a writer herself as well. You know, she knows that the Screen Actors Guild is going to have their contract up for renewal next June, just as the Directors Guild is.
You know, there has to be some solidarity. And quite frankly, the thing that I've been most surprised about, I think, is the solidarity that has been shown throughout television in support of the writers. The show writers, the people that have the multimillion- dollar contracts with the producers, are putting their butts on the line and risking breach of contract by going out there and showing support and vowing not to keep their shows in production during the strike. And they could very well be fired.
KURTZ: Right. Well, there are exceptions. One of them is Ellen DeGeneres, who is continuing her show. And the writers' union wrote a harshly-worded letter saying...
RICHMOND: Yes, they did.
KURTZ: ... in interviews, you know, boy, this is a woman who got all weepy about this dog and yet she's, in effect, not very concerned about the writers' plight by doing her show. But it's a tough position for the host of a show to be in.
Let me turn now to news this week involving MSNBC, which got into serious negotiations with Rosie O'Donnell to make her the host of a prime-time show. It fell apart at the last minute over money, as well as over whether O'Donnell would make more than a one-year commitment. MSNBC wanted two years.
Let me show you a little bit on this question that kind of sparked a debate about whether or not MSNBC is moving to the left. Let me show you a little bit of what you get in prime-time MSNBC, followed by Rosie O'Donnell on her blog, a video of her talking about the deal that fell apart.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DAN ABRAMS, MSNBC: President Bush claiming that many have forgotten the "lessons of 9/11." Translation: If you don't agree with any and every part of the administration's anti-terror policy, then you are one of them.
KEITH OLBERMANN, MSNBC: The presidency of George W. Bush has now devolved into a criminal conspiracy to cover the ass of George W. Bush.
ROSIE O'DONNELL, FMR. TALK SHOW HOST: I'm not quite sure that a pundit would have been the best thing for me. But who knows? I was willing to maybe try it, but just as well.
And, hey, Keith Olbermann -- the best new show on TV. If you're only going to watch one, watch that guy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Michael Medved, what does it say to you that MSNBC decided to try to go aggressively after Rosie O'Donnell and where it's positioning itself?
MEDVED: I think it shows that they're getting smart. I mean, they had tried in the past going to the extreme right. They had a show with Michael Savage. They had a show with Alan Keyes.
Look, this makes sense. It makes sense if you're going to have three major news networks. You have FOX news on the right, you have MSNBC on the left, and it leaves you guys at CNN to be in the middle, which is a good position for you.
I think it's terrific. As someone who is on right myself, I don't think that this pretense of fair and balanced is really good for the public.
What is good for the public is very clearly delineated points of view which gives people a free choice and the opportunity to go from one to the other and to know what you're getting. So I happen to think it's a positive development.
KURTZ: Well, it gives me some pause in terms of a news network positioning itself as being part of one ideology. I know these are prime-time shows, therefore they are opinion shows.
But Jennifer Pozner, you know, Chris Matthews, he was also hard on the Clintons during impeachment, but he has been tough on the Bush administration. So has Dan Abrams, so has Keith Olbermann.
Rosie would have fit right in.
POZNER: You know what? I have to say, having done commentary on FOX News a number of times and having done Joe Scarborough's show on MSNBC, I've always had a tougher time from Scarborough. He struck me as the single-most conservative host of any show I've ever done, and I've been on "O'Reilly" and I've been on "Hannity & Colmes."
KURTZ: But what's wrong with that. It's Scarborough's...
POZNER: No, no, no. It's...
KURTZ: Hold it. It's Scarborough's job to be opinionated.
POZNER: Right. Right. Right.
KURTZ: He's a former Republican congressman.
POZNER: Yes. But when I'm saying is it's disingenuous to say MSNBC is tilting left when the majority of the people who host shows on MSNBC are either centrists or conservative.
Olbermann is a liberal host, but he doesn't necessarily promote liberal candidates or promote liberal projects. The one single show that was hosted by an actual person who called himself a leftist and had liberal and progressive guests and such was Phil Donahue's show, and it was cancelled in the run-up to the Iraq war...
KURTZ: Right, exactly.
POZNER: ... because they said from a memo from the top down they didn't want to provide an antiwar face for MSNBC.
KURTZ: OK. I've got to cut in here.
POZNER: It's about money. It's not about ideology.
KURTZ: I've got to cut in here. I want to get to Ray Richmond.
Look, Rosie O'Donnell, very liberal, very controversial. She propounds these conspiracy theories about 9/11, but she also is highly entertaining.
RICHMOND: Yes. The whole idea of, oh, mercy, a news network showing a political ideology -- oh, let's head for the hills. It's sort of like everybody does at one time or another, all of the networks. And I don't even think MSNBC was that serious about hiring her, if you want to know the truth.
I think -- I think they wanted the publicity and marketing reverberations of that. And look at this, we are talking about her on CNN. So it worked.
KURTZ: How about that?
All right. We're short on time.
I want to play the -- what Oprah Winfrey had to say this week. She gave a very heartfelt apology after allegations of abuse and mistreatment surfaced at the South African girls school she founded with about $40 million.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OPRAH WINFREY, LEADERSHIP ACADEMY FOUNDER: When I first heard about it I spent about a half hour crying, moving from room to room in my house. I was so stunned, I couldn't even wrach brap my brain around it. It has shaken me to my core, but at the core of me is a spiritual foundation and a belief that all things happen for a reason, and that no matter the devastation, this, too, shall pass.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: All right. I need 20 seconds from each of you.
Michael Medved, how is Oprah Winfrey handling this matter?
MEDVED: She's handling it well. I mean, look, it ought to be acknowledged that this is one star who really has consistently tried to use some of her wealth and power to benefit very unfortunate people. The fact that some of that trust and some of that donation was abused I don't think it's right to blame on her.
KURTZ: Jennifer Pozner?
POZNER: Well, media coverage -- our show and others -- should be focusing on the trauma that these girls faced and the systems that weren't in place to keep them safe and the prevalence of sexual assault in the education system in South Africa, not on how painful this was for Oprah. I'm sure it was painful for her. I'm sure she's very sincere. But she should have done the due diligence to prevent this from happening, and we shouldn't be talking about it as a celebrity story, we should be talking about the actual issues of sexual assault.
KURTZ: Ray Richmond, I give her credit though for not hiding behind spokesmen or putting out official statements. She went to the microphone and she took some responsibility.
RICHMOND: Yes, I give Oprah credit for that, but I agree with Jennifer, that the focus should not be on, ooh, Oprah the celebrity, what's happening. It should more be on the social issue behind this, which would have never seen the light of day if it hadn't been Oprah. And I would have been less suspicion just of, you know, her own P.R. ends if she didn't have the same reaction to this that she had to Hermes closing their doors on her.
KURTZ: All right.
Ray Richmond, Jennifer Pozner, Michael Medved, thanks for a fascinating discussion.
Up next, country in crisis. As Pakistan makes mass arrests and shucks down independent media outlets, we'll go there to talk about the difficult and sometimes dangerous job of reporting that story.
KURTZ: From the moment the Musharraf regime declared a state of emergency last weekend and began arresting thousands of political opponents, Pakistan has been a difficult place for western correspondents to cover. The government shut down most independent media outlets, making it hard at times for television reporters to communicate with the outside world or to interview people who could be in danger of arrest.
Joining us now, Donatella Lorch, former foreign correspondent for "Newsweek," "The New York Times," and NBC News. And joining us by phone from Lahore, Pakistan, CNN State Department Correspondent Zain Verjee.
Zain, I want to play a little bit of tape from Friday on CNN when the riot police surrounded the home of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ZAIN VERJEE, CNN STATE DEPT. CORRESPONDENT: We're actually on a side street. On the streets there's been fighting (INAUDIBLE). There are barriers there, there are heavily-armed guards (INAUDIBLE). Reinforcements have just come in. So the situation is precarious, we're not quite sure what will happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Zain Verjee, what was it like to be there at that crazy time, particularly when Bhutto's van tried to escape her compound and was blocked by the police?
VERJEE: Well, it was a difficult situation in the sense, because you have to think really carefully before moving around. Journalists were often targets in that situation, as well as some of them were arrested. It's a precarious situation and anything can happen.
But with that particular incident, I have to say, just being around the house, it also felt a little bit like theater. You know? I mean, the protesters came there, they were taken away and arrested.
There were some instances where the same protesters that were taken away kept coming back and being arrested. It felt like it was a little bit of an act, and it may have been sort of set up that way. That's a lot of the conversation that journalists in Pakistan are having.
KURTZ: Very interesting.
VERJEE: That having been said, it is a volatile situation.
KURTZ: Very interesting.
Let me turn to Donatella Lorch.
VERJEE: U.S. reporters were afraid that there would be suicide bombings, and we have to be careful of our safety.
KURTZ: Clearly safety is paramount in a situation like this where so much is unpredictable.
You've reported from Pakistan, Donatella Lorch. It seems to me part of the problem is that part of this story is taking place away from cameras where lawyers are being arrested and you don't see it. It's not always the staged demonstrations.
DONATELLA LORCH, Well, the main part of the story is in fact the lawyers. They are the lead in these demonstrations against the government.
Now, the TV stations that have been shut down are Pakistani, and they are local language television stations, because Musharraf seems to be focusing on cutting down access to the hinterland in terms through the news. Then, in other words, through local language.
But the biggest problem is for western journalists, is reporting outside of the main cities. You can't go. There's a mini civil war in Swat district, north of Islamabad. Western journalists cannot go there.
Western journalists cannot go into the tribal territories. They risk death, kidnapping, similar fates as Daniel Pearl. So it's very, very difficult to gather news right now.
KURTZ: Although ABC's Martha Raddatz did go to the Swat Valley, which is largely controlled by the Taliban.
Zain Verjee, what is the most difficult aspect of the story to cover from your perspective? Are some people afraid to talk to you? Is it difficult to travel?
VERJEE: It's difficult to travel, yes, because you really are confined to the major cities. The most difficult aspect that I've encountered is, firstly, that there are so many rumors all the time and conspiracy theories that you have to be extraordinarily careful and triple-check things. And for me that's been particularly difficult because, you know, when we operate at the State Department, you have familiar sources, you have an infrastructure that you know where to go and where to rely on.
Here, one tends to be more reliant on local producers and fixers (ph), and information is less accessible. And when you get it you really do need to spend a lot more time triple-checking it.
As far as talking to people, to be perfectly honest, they're pretty angry with what General Musharraf has done and this state of emergency. So it's been fairly easy to talk to people in the major cities and to get their opinion, which is pretty cynical.
ZIMMERMAN: They've seen this sort of thing happen before and they don't really trust General Musharraf.
KURTZ: Donatella, Benazir Bhutto has kind of been painted by the media as the heroine. She's under house arrest, she's trying to get out, she's trying to talk to the people. But she's a former prime minister who doesn't exactly have an unblemished record.
LORCH: No, far from an unblemished record. She loves being in power. Her husband is known as "Mr. Ten Percent." And the family, she and her husband have been accused of at one point I think $5 billion worth of corruption charges, money that they have been alleged to have stolen from Pakistan.
She has been portrayed by the western media, with the exception of a few media outlets and "The New York Times" today, as this great heroine, and she is playing her cards. You never really know what moment of the day she's -- you know, she's on the lawyers' side, she's not on the lawyers' side.
Her former greatest ally, one of the head lawyers she's not even talking to these days. And she's also negotiating on the side with Musharraf.
So exactly where does she stand and is she trustworthy?
KURTZ: Zain Verjee, you interviewed President Musharraf yesterday. He seems to me to be all over the map.
He has first said he's going to lift the state of emergency in a month or so, now he is giving no date. He's talking about how he is in favor of an independent media, but yesterday his government expelled three British journalists for "The Dally Telegraph" because their paper had run an editorial denouncing his regime.
What are we to make of Musharraf and is it hard to pin him down?
VERJEE: Well, the sense from here really is that General Musharraf has overplayed his hand and he's sort of backed into a corner. Benazir Bhutto, who we spoke to yesterday, is one person that can in fact trigger mass support on the streets here in Pakistan.
The Pakistan people thought she had the infrastructure and the capability to mobilize the grassroots. She's being very, very clever.
She knows that she can use the threat of mass demonstrations as leverage against General Musharraf. And that's not certainly another problem that he wants to deal with. But she is playing a double game here.
On the one hand, she's threatening mass protests. On the other hand, she's leaving the door open to negotiate with him.
VERJEE: So it's a difficult situation that he's in.
VERJEE: And one thing that he's doing is, he has not declared when he's actually going to take off his uniform. And he's also said that he'll do that before he takes the oath to be president.
KURTZ: Yes. He said that many times and has yet to -- and has yet to carry it out.
Just briefly, Donatella, is Musharraf hoping, do you think, that international correspondents who are all there this week because it's a big story will lose interest in a few days, go back to other cities, go back to Iraq, and that he can continue without the glare of international media coverage?
LORCH: I think he is gambling on that. He's gambling on a lot of things right now, and he has in fact painted himself into a corner.
He's not going to give a date because that allows him a lot of leeway. It's very, very expensive for the journalists to stay on the ground there.
KURTZ: All right. Donatella Lorch, Zain Verjee in Pakistan, thank you very much for bringing us up to date this morning.
Coming up in the second half of RELIABLE SOURCES, Peter Jennings, an unvarnished look at the anchor's life and career in a new book which we'll discuss with two of his ABC News colleagues.
Plus, Rudy's roller-coaster ride. A look at this week's skeptical coverage of an endorsement and an indictment.
KURTZ: Rudy Giuliani clearly thought it was coup snaring the endorsement of a televangelist with a popular TV show. But news accounts of Pat Robertson's decision to back the former New York mayor were nothing if not skeptical, and some pundits were even harsher.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHARLES GIBSON, ABC NEWS: Strange bedfellows. Televangelist Pat Robertson backs Rudy Giuliani for president, despite Giuliani's support for gay causes and abortion rights.
BRIT HUME, FOX NEWS: He endorsed, of all people, Rudy Giuliani, pro-choice, pro all kinds of things that Pat Robertson ain't pro.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Eyebrows were raised within the religious right and within the GOP.
DAN ABRAMS, MSNBC: The candidate whose stump speeches are littered with references to 9/11 is being endorsed by a man who said this country had it coming to us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Joining us now to talk about Giuliani's coverage and a new book about a giant of television journalism, are two of ABC's top correspondents. In New York, Lynn Sherr, correspondent for "20/20." And here in Washington, ABC senior political correspondent, Jake Tapper.
Jake, here's my impression. Journalists don't think much of Pat Robertson, and that was reflected in the coverage.
JAKE TAPPER, ABC NEWS: Yes. And I think that also journalists haven't really known what to make of Rudy Giuliani in a sense.
I think a lot of pundits predicted that by now he would be out of the race. And the truth of the matter is, when you look at the polling numbers, Giuliani is polling even with Fred Thompson and John McCain among white Evangelical Protestants. It really confounds a lot of people.
KURTZ: Is that because so many journalists live in New York, lived through his two terms of mayor, and saw him as a kind of domineering, even bullying-like figure who was not going to play well in the rest of the country?
TAPPER: I think it's more to the fact that he has a history of liberal -- or more liberal positions on social issues than the other Republicans. And I think that's really confused people. But when you look at the Pat Robertson endorsement, I think you see the reason why he has gotten some support among evangelical conservatives, and that is, Islamic terrorism and the idea that he can beat Hillary Clinton.
KURTZ: On the other hand, Lynn Sherr, Pat Robertson has said some strange and inflammatory things over the years, such as calling for the assassination of Hugo Chavez.
LYNN SHERR, ABC NEWS: Yes, indeed. And I must tell you, I'm taken by the fact that this fits into the fact that this political year -- or this political two years -- very much reflects what's happening in the networks, which is the paradigm has shifted.
There used to be three networks, there used to be three events -- Iowa, New Hampshire and Florida, in the beginning. And then you went to California and there was a lot of tension.
And now it's gone so long, but it's going to happen so fast that I think everybody, Rudy Giuliani included, is looking for something that gives him the big hit and the big advantage for that first out- of-the-gate thing. All the states now elbowing each other out of the way to get to be first. It's a big challenge.
KURTZ: The other big Giuliani news this week, of course, came officially at least on Friday, when Bernard Kerik, former close friend, former New York City police commissioner appointed by Rudy Giuliani, the man who Giuliani recommended to President Bush to be homeland security director, was indicted on a number of charges.
And Jake, you interviewed Giuliani this week. I'm going to play a little bit of that for our viewers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDY GIULIANI (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The fact is that the results for the city of New York were excellent results.
TAPPER: Do you think that talking about what a good job he does at all diminishes the potential crimes he committed?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: You seemed to be saying in that comeback, I'm not buying this.
TAPPER: Well, it's an interesting response. And Giuliani's response is, look, Kerik did a good job. And later on in that interview he went on to compare Kerik to Richard Nixon, saying, you k now, Richard Nixon was a -- led a sullied presidential career and yet at the same time, did he have groundbreaking relations with China? He did.
It was very interesting. And sometimes when Giuliani's talking about the flawed records of individuals associated with him, especially Bernard Kerik, you get the feeling he is not just talking about Bernard Kerik, he's talking about himself and human nature.
He gets very philosophical. And I think there is something appealing to voters about that in the sense that if people are looking for authenticity, Rudy comes across -- whether or not it's real is up to the voters to decide, but he comes across as very authentic and candid.
KURTZ: Lynn Sherr, Giuliani obviously was portrayed as a kind of hero of 9/11 for his inspiring performance that day. But have the media taken a close enough look at his record at mayor, and will the Kerik indictment maybe prompt some of us in this business to shine a spotlight a bit more closely on that record?
SHERR: Well, I think you hit the nail on the head earlier, Howie, when you talked about so many of the reporters being from New York. In New York, the press has taken a very close look at Rudy Giuliani and at Bernie Kerik. And I think it's all been out there in the New York press for a long time.
We're the ones indeed that lived through it and that know all about this. And I think the outrage over Kerik's being named initially as a potential secretary for homeland security and all that went after that, that's been known here. And as you well know, it's in a presidential campaign that you really get tested, and these things will become and have become national already.
KURTZ: Real briefly, a lot has been made in the last couple of days about Hillary Clinton's campaign planting questions, at least in a couple of instances in the town meetings she's gone to. Is that a big story, medium story, or a small story?
TAPPER: You know, I thought it was kind of a small story. But my wife, who is not inclined to think ill of Hillary Clinton, as a lot of Democratic women are not, actually, it seemed to bother her. And that's -- that's purely personal and anecdotal, but that's the one thing about Hillary Clinton I've heard that bothered her. She thought it was a lot like George W. Bush's press conferences with planted questions.
KURTZ: Sometimes a one-person focus group can be re very revealing.
I want to turn now to the legacy of the man who anchored ABC's "World News" for more than two decades. There is a book out called "Peter Jennings: A Reporter's Life." And what I like about it is that his colleagues and friends remember him as a superb broadcaster but also as a flawed human being.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GIBSON: When Peter Jennings died two years ago, more than 80 of us who had the privilege of working with and learning from him sat down and recorded our memories about him. What we said was put together in a program broadcast just after his death.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Peter led a very glamorous life overseas. And he certainly gave the, you know, perception of tossing off his stories between skin dives.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Lynn Sherr, one of the things that come across in this book that Peter Jennings would edit every page of every correspondent's script. And I'm wondering if you and your colleague found that frustrating at times.
SHERR: Yes, indeed. And I must say, you know, Peter wasn't around to write his own memoir, so we wrote it for him.
This book is a compilation of those interviews that were done originally for the special, and they've been turned around and done chronologically by Peter's life. Peter's voice is also in here, quotes from interviews, scripts, letters he wrote.
And yes, it was frustrating to have Peter try to change your scripts. And guess what? He couldn't do it this time.
But I think we've done him proud. I think he would love the fact that this book, which is -- which I think of as kind of a conversation about him -- it's his colleagues, his friends, the people that knew him best, talking about him and remembering the good things, the bad things, the foibles, the silly things. He was an extraordinary presence, and I think it is important for the world to remember him this way.
KURTZ: Jake, you were not only new to ABC, but relatively new to television when you joined the network after getting your start on this program. How did Peter Jennings treat you as the new kid on the block?
TAPPER: At first, he was fairly dismissive, I think, which is fairly standard for Peter. But then I think I, as a lot of other young reporters before me, earned some respect. And it came to the point -- when he started paying attention to you and telling you everything that you were doing wrong, that was a rare opportunity.
And there is a great quote in the book -- and it really is a fantastic book -- where Barry Dunsmore (ph) says -- he's about to go live on air, and Peter is like brushing off imaginary lint or straightening his tie or doing something for him, and Barry Dunsmore (ph) thinks to himself, I don't know if Peter was doing that because he wanted to point out to me that I wasn't perfect, or he was trying to help make me perfect. And that's always the tension you felt with Peter. He was always there criticizing, but in a constructive way.
SHERR: And the fact is -- and Jake, I'm sure you would agree -- that it was not about Peter's ego. I mean, in this increasingly -- this media world that's increasingly solipsistic, Peter Jennings understood, I'm not the story, the story is the story.
TAPPER: Oh, yes, absolutely.
SHERR: And the audience is what counts. And he did to you what he did to himself.
What he did to all of us is what Peter did to himself much more, which was always asking the next question, always criticizing, did I do it right, am I OK?. He was the guy who said if someone gave him a coin he would always flip it over to see instinctively what was on the other side.
KURTZ: And yet, Lynn -- and you're a good person to ask this, because I found the revelation in this book that you briefly dated Peter. Was he also a man who had certain insecurities?
He never finished college, for example. Somebody -- I think it was you who called him vulnerable as a 2-year-old child. You once invited him to a party and his wife Casey wasn't around. Talk a little bit about that side of him.
SHERR: He was very vulnerable. And he had he all of those insecurities, although I must say, Tom Brokaw says in the book -- he was one of the guys interviewed -- he says, "Gee, we all had insecurities. I thought that was the job description for an anchor. You had to be insecure."
So people wouldn't be surprised I think to find that out. And yes, Peter, on his own, away from the job, was a very different guy.
You would sit in the back seat of a taxi with him. All you wanted to do was get to where you were going. And Peter would read the name of the driver on the card and start talking to him and start querying him.
And you could never get where you were going because he got in this long conversation. He was so curious.
The story I tell about that Thanksgiving dinner was, I invited Peter. He was between wives at the time. And he came and he spent the whole time talking to an elderly aunt of mine rather than anybody else at the table, which was just beautiful of him.
In addition to -- and then the one with Casey was, I invited him, Casey couldn't come to dinner, and he said, "Well, can I come? Casey's out of town."
And I said, "Of course." He said, "Oh, my goodness, finally somebody wants me and not her."
SHERR: And I have to tell you, this was not a joke. He really meant that.
KURTZ: Jake Tapper, I've got about half a minute. In addition to critiquing your copy, I understand Peter also made comments about personal appearance.
TAPPER: Well, it was always about broadcast. And especially you pointed out I was new to television, and he was always trying to make me a better broadcaster.
This is the only tie -- I wore it in his honor -- this is the only tie that I owned that he actually approved of. And he was always doing that with any male colleague, criticizing their clothing.
And in his inimitable fashion, he said to me, "That's an unusually elegant tie for you."
SHERR: And Howie...
KURTZ: We've got to go.
SHERR: Oh, OK. Fine.
KURTZ: Peter Jennings, we all miss him.
Thank you so much, Lynn Sherr and Jake Tapper.
When we come back, Ron Paul's $4 million day. Have the media missed the appeal of this very unorthodox presidential candidate?
KURTZ: In the grand sweep of media attention for presidential contenders, Hillary and Rudy are up here, Obama and Romney may be here, and Ron Paul, way down at the bottom. The Republican congressman from Texas has largely been portrayed as a fringe candidate, a bit of a whack job, and good for comic relief at the debates.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) RON PAUL (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Have you ever read about the reasons they attacked us? They attack us because we've been over there. We've been bombing Iraq for 10 years.
We dug a hole for ourselves an we dug a hole for our party! We're losing elections an we're going down next year if we don't change it, and it has all to do with foreign policy.
KURTZ (voice over): But this week, for the first time since, well, the first time, ever, Paul has gotten some positive media coverage. The reason? Money. More precisely, the fact that his campaign raised a phenomenal $4 million online in a single day, shattering the Republican record set by Mitt Romney.
Suddenly, like Aretha Franklin...
ARETHA FRANKLIN, SINGER (singing): What you want...
KURTZ: ... he was getting some respect.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The grassroots groundswell was brewing on the Internet for weeks, perhaps turning the long shot GOP candidate into a real contender.
KATIE COURIC, CBS NEWS: A lot of people may be watching this and hearing this and wondering, who is this guy?
TUCKER CARLSON, MSNBC: All of a sudden, the Ron Paul campaigns seems like the Ron Paul movement.
CHARLES GOYETTE, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Instead of a top-down movement, there is a bottom-up movement about Ron Paul, and it astonishes all the -- you know, the usual suspects in Washington.
KURTZ: And Paul started getting invitations to appear on talk shows.
KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: The big question is, how do you translate that money and lot of the buzz you've been getting into votes?
KURTZ: But little of the coverage has focused on Paul's views. He's an obstetrician who's delivered thousands of babies and some far- reaching opinions.
Paul is against the war in Iraq, yes, but also wants to pull out of the United Nations and get rid of free trade agreements. He's against abortion and also wants to abolish the Education Department, the Federal Reserve, the federal income tax, and Social Security taxes.
Oh, and how many candidates would tie their big fund-raising to Guy Fawkes Day, named for the man who tried to kill King James I by blowing up the British parliament in 1605?
(END VIDEOTAPE) KURTZ: At less than three percent in the national polls, Ron Paul isn't exactly a threat to win the GOP nomination, but what does it say about journalists that they were stunned that the man could strike gold on the Internet? It means we're so mesmerized by the top- tier candidates that we fail to notice one eccentric doctor who is touching a nerve out there.
We'll be right back.
KURTZ: I was blissfully unaware that the A&E network had a show called "Dog the Bounty Hunter." But the controversy over the host, Duane "Dog" Chapman, has practically turned him into a household name. "The National Enquirer" obtained a tape in which Chapman, upset that his son has a black girlfriend, repeatedly uses the N-word.
DUANE "DOG" CHAPMAN": I don't care if she's a Mexican, a whore, whatever. It's not because she's black. It's because we use the word (EXPLETIVE DELETED) sometimes here. I'm not going to take a chance ever in life losing everything I've worked for for 30 years because some (EXPLETIVE DELETED) heard us say (EXPLETIVE DELETED) and turned us into the Enquirer magazine. Our career is over.
KURTZ (voice over): Chapman apologized in several interviews, including one with Larry King.
CHAPMAN: I'm sorry to tell you personally first of all, I'm very sorry. I know you had also a lot of faith in me. I'm very sorry for using that word.
KURTZ: But listen to what he told FOX's Sean Hannity about using the N-word.
CHAPMAN: I thought that I was cool enough in the black world to be able to use that word as a brother to a brother. I'm not. I didn't really know until three or four days ago what that meant to black people.
KURTZ: Didn't know until three or four days ago the word is considered a horrible racial slur? Come on! Are we supposed to believe that? I'm sorry, but that dog won't hunt.
Well, that's it for this edition of RELIABLE SOURCES.
I'm Howard Kurtz.
Thanks for watching.
"LATE EDITION WITH WOLF BLITZER" begins right now.
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