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tv   Reliable Sources  CNN  October 24, 2010 11:00am-12:00pm EDT

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perhaps? probably not. the most interesting part, we did a little digging and it turns out the ayatollah had a twitter account since before the green revolution. while he may be the supreme leader, he is not the strereme tweeter. at last check, he had 800 followers. the correct answer is 62. by comparison, u.s. retirement age had been 65 and is now rising to 67. go to the website for more challenging questions and answers. thanks to all of you for being part of my program this week. i will see you next week. stay tuned for "reliable sources." it's a question that keeps popping up with controversial commentators -- how far is too far? npr fires juan williams for saying he gets nervous when he sees muslim passengers on a plane. but was the firing really about his connection to fox news, where some hosts are calling for an end to npr's federal
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subsidies? it dawned on me the other day, how did things g et so bad between the politicians and the press with some republican candidates denouncing journalists, threatening journalists, and this week having a journalist handcuffed? how is this changing the dynamic of the midterm campaign? and has this political season turned into a tragedy or a farce? we need a theater critic's i for that conversation. plus with jon stewart having landed barack obama as a daily show guest and staging his big washington rally six days from now, is he expanding his portfolio from sharp satirist to political player? this is "reliable sources." juan williams is one of the most prominent african-american commentators out there and one of the most controversial. he's paid for his opinions, but one of those opinions this week prompted national public radio to dump in. i have trouble seeing it as
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firing offense, but it's no secret that folks at npr didn't like williams' other role as a fox news contributor. so it may be more than a coincidence that juan made his remarks on "the o'reilly factor" where the host was seeking support for his comments on "the view" that muslims attacked us on 9/11. >> bill, i'm not a bigot. you know the books i've written about civil rights. but when i get on a plane, if i see people in muslim garb and they're identifying themselves first and foremost as muslims, get worried, i get nervous. hold a second. hold on. timothy mcveigh, the atlanta bomber, people protesting against home sexuality at military funerals, very on knock rs, you don't say first and foremost we have a problem with christians. >> npr chief executive vivian schillo defended the firing and made a stunning reference to juan's mental health. >> juan feels the way he feels. that is not for me to pass judgment on. that is really his feelings that
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he expressed on fox news are really between him and his, you know, psychiatrist or his publicist or take your pick. but it is not compatible with a news analyst -- with the role of a news analyst on npr's air. >> schiller later apologized if for psychiatrist slur. the story exploded hitting the abc, nbc, and "cbs evening news" cast. some fox hosts were quick to savage the federally supported radio network. >> miss schiller is a pinhead. in my opinion, miss schiller should resign immediately because she's simply not smart enough to run a media company. >> they can't even take an honest liberal like juan williams and tolerate him. they have to cast him out in a particularly i think vulgar and pitiful way. >> what does this dismissal tell us about juan williams, fox, npr, and political correctness? clarence page, columnist for the "chicago tribune." terence smith, media correspondent for pbs, and in
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dallas, columnist for "the new york daily news." clarence page, you are a friend of juan williams. >> yes. >> everybody in washington knows juan. i mean -- >> used to be a paid npr contributor. did nrp npational public radio a huge blunder in firing him? >> i think it was -- i have to say, howard, the same day juan was fired i was giving a speech in chicago on how the civil rights agenda has been subverted by a new kind of scandal. the gaffe, the goof, and the gotcha. here's a case where juan made a gaffe. he did not transmit exactly the idea he wanted to transmit. >> he clarified it. >> he clarified it later. i think this were this were goofed by overreacting and immediately firing him without going through the regular due process like a shirley sherrod case, and fox came along and said gotcha. npr, liberals, political correctness. >> anyone could have predicted that. npr says juan williams die vooi lated his standards for an
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objective analyst. isn't that code for saying he said something we didn't agree with? >> no, i don't think so. i think the statement that juan made was reprehensible. it was precisely the sort of stereotyping and profiling that juan would complain about if it was said about african-americans. >> let me just in. he one saying all muslims are terrorists. he wasn't saying we should profile muslims or discriminate against them. he said these were his feelings. don't you think probably a lot of people have those feelings on airplanes? >> of course they do. i realize that. you don't say it. it's as simple as that. it is an abusive thing to say. on the other hand, i think npr handled it about as badly as they could with a, you know, late-night firing over the telephone after a ten-year relationship. i think that was -- that was unfortunate to say the least. >> fumbling doesn't begin to describe it. let me play a brief clip of juan williams talking about the
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firing on o'reilly. >> they were looking for a reason to get rid of me. >> they were looking. right. >> because i appear on fox news. >> that's right. >> they don't want me coming back to you. >> do you agree that npr was looking for an excuse to dump juan williams because of his fox connection? >> i don't know. i mean, they have a number of relationships like that. mara liasson is another one. i don't know. what i think is that what juan said was neither reprehensible nor abusive. i think that npr is so keen on and aware of the political correctness surrounding these kinds of conversations now that they anticipated a firestorm surrounding one's comments that never happened. in fact, i don't know anyone who watched that moment live and thought, oh, boy, this is going to be -- you know, this is going to be a big story. npr made it a story i think preemptively, expecting it to be much more damaging than it was. and in doing so, npr really just killed npr.
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>> all right. let me ask clarence page, because you write about this morning. first of all, for people who don't know the background, former "washington post" writer and political analyst, he's ticked off african-americans sometimes. >> and his book "enough" put the bill cosby side in that great debate. >> what terry smith calls reprehensible, you write, "we all have prejudices. everybody profiles somebody or another. it matters how we put our prejudices aside." you didn't find the comments to be reprehensible. >> no. i would only disagree with terry to the point that there's a right way and a wrong way to say that. everybody profiles. >> we acknowledge people proposal. >> thank you. everybody proposals. >> but i wouldn't put that it way. >> right. what is said, it's not what you say, it's what other people hear? and that's what happened. >> did the media wrench this out
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of context? i tried to play the full clip, shouldn't do this to christians with timothy mcveigh. he seemed to be making actually the opposite argument. >> well, i think the fundamental problem here is he had one role on npr as an analyst and another role on fox as a commentator and even, you know, playing the fox game, a bit of a provocateur. so those two things are not compatible. and npr should have acknowledged that, and i would say that juan williams should have acknowledged it. i looked up the npr standards on their own website as for exactly this. and they say, "an npr journalist should not participate in showser, electronic forums or blogs that encourage punditry and speculation rather than fact-based analysis." >> the kind of thing you'd never see on cnn. >> s.e. cupp, sarah palin
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tweeting you got a taste of hypocrisy. they screwed now. conservatives are loving this. fox news gave juan williams a three-year, $2 million contract in the wake of the firing. makes fox news look open minded. >> right. i mean, fox news defends their own like it's nobody's business. if you've ever been around fox, i'm sure you know this, howie, you don't mess with fox's people. so you saw -- i mean, he's been on fox seven, eight times a day in the past week and even filled in for o'reilly, which i suspect was not scheduled to happen before this story developed. so i think fox is sort of clinging to juan, protecting juan, making a very big show of this. and it's interesting. i mean, we've seen a lot of these public centerings. you had david shuster at msnbc and rick sanchez at cnn. >> right. >> helen thomas. i can't remember the last time fox, you know, really sort of kicked out one of its own for saying something wrong. it's very interesting to watch
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fox sort of embrace these, you know, heated moments and defend them right or wrong, whether it's glenn beck or juan williams. >> well, some people they don't invite back, like me. i don't know why they haven't invited me back since barack obama was elected. >> used to be on o'reilly fairly regularly. >> regularly. nobody said anything. i just haven't been invited back. >> a little short on time. let me get to a larger issue with o'reilly and huckabee and others saying the subsidies for npr should be frozen or cut off. what do you think? >> we've seen this before. back in the '90s, newt gingrich wanted to cut it. the biggest backlash came from the same kind of small towns, rural america, alaska to nebraska, place where is they don't have a whole lot of cultural outlets. >> in 1994, when newt gingrich wanted to zero out the funding, federal funding for pbs, the individual contributions to pbs went way up.
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>> my question for you, terry smith, as a former pbs journalist, and i think the debate over federal subsidy should be decided separate from this juan williams incident, and there's a legitimate debate. should national public radio this week, terrible timing, accepted $2 million from george soros to hire 100 reporters -- doesn't that reinforce the stereotype that the right loves to throw around about npr that it's a left-leaning operation? >> no. or it shouldn't. because they can accept george soros' money and still maintain npr standards. their professional standards and perform as the journalists they are. they took, what, 200 million-plus dollars from joan crawford's estate. they didn't espouse her politics, whatever they may have been. >> let me briefly get s.e. cupp
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in on that on the george soros question. >> i mean, i don't know how they defend any sort of, you know, pretense of being unbiased and objective after juan williams. and with that in mind, i mean, i really is -- i it really is peculiar that they talk about an editorial standard. and you saw their director say, well, i'm not going to judge juan williams. of course you are. and they did. they are making judgments. ideological judgments. it's thought policing, and it's very, very alarming. >> i disagree. i think that the -- >> former personnel decision -- >> i think taking the soros money is a big mistake. when we come back, it's always been a contentious relationship, but when did politicians in the press become mortal enemies? and media and politics with frank rich. gn into revolutionary performance. one word makes the difference between defining the mission and accomplishing the mission.
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somewhere along the way, the media became the enemy. obviously, that doesn't apply to everyone in politics, but what we've seen on the republican side of this campaign goes well beyond the traditional efforts to neutralize or manipulate the press. we've talked in these last few weeks about how candidates such as sharron angle and meg whitman walked away from reporters, christine o'donnell has vowed to ignore national media, and paladino threatened to take out a new york reporter and tony huffinger covering senate candidate joe miller found himself in handcuffs. >> i followed him into the hallway, continued to ask the question. he answered one of the questions, and then when i was
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trying to ask the second, he just turned around and went the other direction. suddenly i was surrounded by these i guess security guards. they didn't identify themselves as that. as well as miller supporters. i was being chest bumped, et cetera. essentially, if there's any assault here it was on me. they illegally detained me. >> harry smith, what do you make of this hogs tistility toward m and turning the journalists into the opposition? >> look at who's doing it, the candidates you just cited. they're all republican, that's one thing, but they're all neophytes, all new at the game. i think they're all very awkward, not comfortable with the media. they've been told by their media advisers that if you do answer questions you're going to hurt yourself, you're going to get in trouble, and they have. so, you know, i mean, i think it's a defensive maneuver. >> s.e. cupp, some of these tea party candidates and nonestablished republicans with not that much experience in the game seem to view aggressive questioning or looking into somebody's past records as some kind of unfair assault.
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>> yeah. and, i mean, you know, it's -- it's complicated, because you want these newcomers to be vetted. i mean, thank god carl paladino looks great on paper, but i am very, very grateful we have gotten to know him better through press. >> i don't want to get to know him better than this. >> trust me, i'm with you. but, you know, so that is good. however, i think these candidates real ize that, you know, a lot of people in the media really dropped the ball in 2008. they remember that. they watched it happen. they watched people attack sarah palin, for example, and turned sound bites into stories. you're seeing that happen again. i mean, the media has jumped on sharron angle and christine o'donne o'donnell's comments about church and state, and they've turned that into a story, taking it out of context. so i think these people are very reluctant to get too friendly and too cozy with the media, because they don't trust them. and they feel like they can be
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better telegraphers of their messagers themselves. >> nobody's saying they should be friendly or cozy. the question is whether they should engage and try to get their side out. clarence page, has there been so much media piling on against sharron angle, christine o'donnell, everything from witchcraft, bill maher, it e creates a backlash, a sympathy for candidates under siege. >> that's what those candidates hope. they have somehow allowed themselves -- well, they're saying that the media are treating them unfairly by reporting them inaccurately. that's essentially what's happened here. terrible. you know, and the -- their campaign adviserers, all of whom machiavelli, know one does not get in the way of one's enemy while the enemy is destroying himself. right now there's an anti-incumbent mood out there among voters. you're a new face, don't say anything, just be the alternative because there's this idea among some, obviously
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sharron angle, rand paul, they think the more they talk the more trouble they get into. this is a tactic. >> let me go to an example for you, terry smith. maureen dowd wrote a column about republican mean girl. she went to las vegas for a debate between sharron angle and harry reid. and then in response we had the former alaska governor saying this about "the new york times" columnist. >> that's so funny because i don't think i've ever met that gal maureen dowd, o'dowd, whatever the heck her name is. i don't think i've ever met her and she probably hasn't met jan brewer or some of these other wonld everiful, pleasant, gracious, nice, hard working mama grizzlies who are wanting to turn this country around. >> dowd says she wasn't allowed on palin's plane during the campaign so, how do you criticize a journalist for not personally knowing a candidate who have no interest in talking to them? >> yeah, i mean, look, sarah palin is a gift. christine o'donnell is a gift. i mean, there's an entertainment value to all of this. but there's also a serious point. the public has a right to have
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candidates for statewide office seriously examined on what they think their background, what their positions are, and the media is one way to do that. so you think there might be a backlash for even a sympathy vote -- >> iffite's excessive. >> i would disagree, respectfully, of course, howie. i think that's wrong. i think the public in the end feels these folks are not being forthcoming, they're not leveling with them, and in the end i doubt they'll vote for them. >> do you think there's any great outrage among the public, terry, for candidates ducking the press? nobody likes the press these days anyway. >> indeed. but i don't think there's any great outrage. but they make a decision between now and election day, and i think it will be a negative decision for those candidates who seal themselves off. we didn't talk about meg whitman, but, i mean, you know, she's paid $140 million, most of it for advertising, and avoided any direct -- >> let me come back to s.e. cupp
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because you made a reference to christine o'donnell and the constitution so, in an effort to inject a little substance here, let me play the answer she gave that got a lot of attention during the debate in the senate race. >> where are the -- of church and state? >> back to roe v. wade. >> so, isn't it fair for the press to point out that a candidate who talks about the constitution seems pretty unfamiliar with the first amendment? >> no. i mean, first of all, what she was saying was that the words church and state are not in there. she's absolutely right. and what she's arguing is that -- >> come on. >> no. that's factual. it's not in there. and what she was saying was a counter response, was a counterresponse to this new liberal idea that the constitution protects freedom from religion, when really it protects free zom of religion. and the idea that worship should
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be private and sort of kept to yourself, that's what she was reacting to. but the liberal media jumped on that and said she has no idea what she's talking about, she dint know about the constitution. she's a right-wing extremist. this is wye whooi. and by the way, it's not just reporters. it's these debates. the way that the moderators, whether it's george stephanopoulos or wolf blitzer, are handling these questions are making even, you know, the most sort of unfamiliar and politically unengaged viewer very aware that there is a bias in the media. i mean, it's blatant. >> a response. >> i invite everybody to read the fist amendment and decide for yourself. obviously this is a pedantic argument about semantics, but more important is blaming the media is usually a tactic of losing campaigns, so i'm rather perplexed that the tea party folks, who obviously have an advantage according to the polls right now, are taking this tack. let's see if it works or not. >> we'll find out on election day. >> which is not too far away. s.e. cupp, clarence page, terry
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smith. coming up, frank rich on the wild midterm campaign. the media's new negativity toward obama and why he's a little less worried about the future of newspapers. plus, the serious side of funny has jon stewart preparing to invade the national mall for a rally. is it more about punch lines or politics? and why is president obama stopping by "the daily show"? and face-off in florida, marco rubio, kendrick meek, charlie crist, candy crowley brings you the florida senate debate. t adththod easy-to-swallow petes.
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if the 2010 qualm pain was a broadway show, it would have no shortage of colorful characters and sizzling subplots. the media lurks from one media event to the rest while anticipating a finale where barack obama is brought low by the surging stars of the gop and the tea party revolutionaries. frank rich once had the power to make to or break a play on broadway before becoming a liberal columnist for "the new york times." i spoke to him earlier. welcome. >> thanks for having me. >> from a theater critic's point of view, is the 2010 campaign entertaining? >> it's -- it's great. it's the circus and broadway and, what, worldwide wrestling all rolled into one. you couldn't make this stuff -- it's incredibly entertaining. i don't know if it's good for the country, but -- >> you wrote last week, i guess it was, calling christine
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o'donnell the brightest all-american media meteor since balloon boy and pure comic gold. it sounds to me like you're not taking her seriously. >> did it sound that way? i'm not taking her seriously. we've learned over the past few years you never know what not to take seriously because what seems to be a joke one day could be what the country is doing the next. but she's someone who doesn't have a lot to say. she spends most of her time telling us what she isn't. she isn't a witch rather than what she believes in instead of talking points and -- >> explaining away the bill maher videos. you also talk about home phobia and christine o'donnell talks about sexuality as a mental disorder. jim demint wants to fire gay teachers. carl paladino doesn't like gay parades. and ken buck, the senate candidate in colorado, comparing home sexuality to alcoholism. >> right. >> is it fair to paint with a broad brush? all republicans don't believe this. >> absolutely not. and by the way, it's interesting
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that the log cabin republicans, perhaps even to their surprise, successf successfulfully brought this suit that has led to don't ask, don't tell being thrown out by a court. there's been a history of republican moderates on this issue, so much so you would think it was sub siting on the other side. but suddenly we've seen this spate in the past couple week, all the examples you just mentioned that are just weird. i keep thinking we're putting this issue behind us. >> let me ask you about media double standards. in recent weeks we've had sharron angle telling harry reid to man up, sarah palin talks about cojones and impotent reporters among other choice descriptions of journalists. and i'm thinking -- and nobody really seems to care, and i'm thinking, well, if a male candidate talks about a little lady or something like that, the press would be all over them. >> you're so right. i don't know why. it's a very good point. i don't know why people haven't made more of it.
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first of all, it's become such a cliche. at least get a way for these candidates to phrase it. but it's kind of condescending. wasn't there a period, too, when christine o'donnell was saying that mike castle, when he was in the race, was unmanly? this weird thing going on. we should write about it. >> possibly so. barack obama once riding so high now getting kicked around i would say pretty well by the press. journalist are just soured on this guy? >> i don't think you can generalize. >> have you? >> no. i am -- >> are you as excited about him as you were in 2008? >> no. i was not as excited. i think in that sense i'm representative of a lot of people, not just journalists. i have very high expectations for him. i still think we'll see what happens. there have been some disappointments, disappointments in execution and weirdly in communicating. on the other hand, some real achievements, some of which he's completely failed to sell to anybody including his own party. >> has the press failed to give him credit for them in the sense
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that, you know, we all focus on the legislative battle, health care, financial regulation, then a day after it passes, you know, we're on to the mosque? >> well, you're right, but that's true of every presidency. and so if he can't break through -- you know, "the times" had an interesting story last week about how he actually gave 95% of the country a tax cut and no one seems to know about it. >> part of that stimulus bill. >> yes. but that he hasn't even made that case, you can't blame the press for that. >> how much of a factor has fox news been in this election? >> i think fox news is a huge factor, and not because it's not fair and balanced but the fact is that karl rove is a regular speaker on fox, and he is not just appearing in the way that, say, carville might appear on this network. he is a full-time operative raising huge amounts of money in the cycle. >> $30 million, $40 million. >> then you have several potential republican candidates, like four of them, i think, who
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are actually on the payroll of one network sometimes with exclusive deals. >> sarah palin, newt gingrich. mike huckabee. >> rick santorum, hypothetically, almost all except romney. so you actually have a network that really is promoting a political brand. >> you have people at a network promoting a political brand. or you're saying the entire fox news channel operation? >> well, these are -- these are signature personalities they cycle among the shows all the time. even on something like msnbc, which, let's face it, a network, but you don't have on staff actual presidential candidates appearing around the clock and -- >> but you do have some people who might have run for the senate -- chris matthews considered it, harold ford considered it. schulz was approached. >> right. but i think it's not quite the same as sarah palin and huck. >> you're kind of known, frank rich, as a liberal champion on the times op-ed page. do you ever worry about becoming predictable? >> sure. i think any opinion writer does. that's true in any job in opinion writing, whether you're
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covering politics or sports or the theater or anything else. and so, i mean, i try to hear the other side, i try -- i'm certainly critical of liberals, including barack obama, and try to find ways into things that are not the same old, same old, because you get bored, too, as a writer. >> you don't want to repeat yourself or be seen as the popular side even though you identify with one side. >> i do, but i've been very tough on them, and most of my mail is for being too tough on what's perceived as my own side. >> when you look at the media coverage in the last year, the mos income manhattan, the wacky florida preacher, balloon boy, tiger woods, brett favre, is it depressing that we spend so much time on these sorts of things? >> it is depressing. look, it's always part of american culture. there's always been tabloid journalism, you know, for a hundred years. the dion quintuplets in the '30s is equivalent to something like balloon boy. if it's in balance.
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what's shocking now is how, you know, we're arguably still in two wars and it's fallen out of the coverage. maybe not "the new york times" and major newspapers and to some extent the networks, but nobody in this country really knows or cares what's going on in afghanistan. everyone knew abba loon boy. >> is that partially our fault? certainly, as you say, still have the correspondence based in kabul, still risking their live, by the way, but it's not on the front page that often, not on the top of the network newscast. able, it's almost disappeared in many respects. how can that be? >> well, someone -- >> it's election time. >> it's election time. some has to do with the fact that the war involved in the home front is a small, selective group of people volunteer service in fair families. >> most families are not touched by afghanistan directly. >> exactly, even though they are and don't know it. it can't all be blamed on the news media. i think that the public has to be interested in its full civic
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menu. you know, we have a country where we get upset if there's e. coli in spinachened everybody has a heart attack, but people don't examine their own news diet and take responsibility for it. that's an obligation of citizenship in my view. >> certainly stories about afghanistan are available out there. >> if you want to find them. >> but we're not necessarily pushing that. i recently left "the washington post." >> right. >> my first week at the daily beast. the "new york times" is going to implement a pay wall where you have to pay to access some of the stories on the website. how worried are you about the future of newspapers? >> a little less worried than i might have been a year ago. i do think there are -- i don't know "the times," exactly how it's going to work, but i do think it's good that places like "the times," hardly alone, or first, look at the "financial times" and "the wall street journal," are experimenting with the idea that maybe you actually have to pay for this very expensive to produce news. >> because we've all been giving it away. >> all been giving it away. it's crazy. it doesn't matter to me whether -- or anyone i think
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whether it's on a page or an ipad or, you know, you're getting it through your dentures by radio waves. and so as they try to monetize it, we'll see what happens. but i do think there is -- >> it could cut into your readership. this happened before when there was a charge to read "the times" columnist. >> absolutely. and that was incredibly annoying. i'm not sure this system is going to do that. i think it's a different system that will allow people to dip in and dip out and pay accordingly. but i do think we have to remember that there is a digitalization issue for newspapers but also this huge economic meltdown. it was like two perfect storms happening at once. i think if the economy we recover, which we don't know, we may see a somewhat brighter knew chur for the news business. your job switch is emblematic of it. moving a different direction. >> and newspapers are having to do more with less. everybody has to have five jobs and keep blogging. >> right. >> i'm in favor of it but it's still a tough situation.
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you wrote last week about the aaron sorkin movie. are you a facebook guy? >> i'm not a facebook guy, but i'm a huge fan of that movie. i just think it's a wonderful movie. >> what about "social networking"? how have you resisted the trend? >> you know, i'm interested in it. i also feel like i don't have enough hours in the day. you know, i just -- i just don't have enough time to update facebook pages. >> or twitter. >> or twitter. maybe, you know, i'll be dragged into it. it's interesting. but everyone does it. i have two sons who are young of the cohort of the zuckerberg era, both writers. they're not on facebook or twitter either. maybe it's a family thing, a dna thing. >> sounds like you want to keep part of your life away from -- >> can you blame me? >> professional obligation. frank rich, thanks for joining us. >> great to see you. thanks. up next, the comedians cometh. jon stewart, stephen colbert heading to d.c. this saturday, presumably bringing thousands of fans with them. but they say it's not about politics.
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in these final days before the election, the most important media figure out there may well be a guy who tells jokes for a living. jon stewart will host president obama for a daily show interview this week. remember when that would have seemed controversial. six days from now stewart and stephen colbert stage a rally on the mall and appeal to moderates that may be sheer entertainment or something more. >> this is for the people that are too busy, that have jobs and lives and are tired of their reflection in the media as being a divided country and a country that's ideological and conflicted and fighting. this is for those people. those people are going to come to washington, d.c., on october 30th and say to the world -- >> joining us now from new york to talk about the serious side of jon stewart is "time" magazine television critic james
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ponawazak. any danger he'll erode his street cred as a satirist? >> i think there's always -- the danger for a comedian is not being funny, and i think the danger in it is it appears he's taking himself too seriously or becoming some sort of messiah figure or a par zan tes partisa people, go forth my mighty people, and pursue such and such policies. i also the see the reality, much of which we don't know exactly what it's going to look like, as kind of an extension of the show which for a long time has kind of walked that line. i mean, it's been a show that's tried to be really funny about, you know, fairly serious ideas. so in a sense i kind of see it as an extension of that project. >> precisely the point. it was originally framed as a joke. jon stewart was going to rally for sanity and stephen colbert was going to try to stoke fear for the country. but he seems to be trying to make a fairly serious point that much of the country not as
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polarized as the pundits in the polls would have us believe. that's not necessarily a thigh slapper of a message. >> you know, in speaking of nonthigh slappers of a message, you know, we all recall back in 2004 when jon stewart came on this network and went on "cross fire" and railed against it and other cable shows for sort of creating this theater of professional wrestling in lieu of political discussion. and i kind of see -- i think you can draw a line, a through line from that comment to this. i think it's sort of a part of what has long been the message of "the daily show" and "the colbert report" which in addition to all the comedy and crude jokes and stuff like that has also been about really almost a kind of old-fashioned high-mindedness toward journalism. >> but by what standards should we measure the success of this
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rally? certainly it's not going to draw known half a million people like glenn beck. if it's just funny and entertaining, in some sense will it have flopped? >> you know, i think that -- i don't know what the -- what the head count standard of success is, although i think if they're on top of their game stephen colbert has already prepared his wildly inflated crowd estimate for the next day. that's par of the theater. he's going to have to say that, like, 50 million people showed up. but, you know, i think the standard for success is that, you know, it's almost like conan's live tour. you know, the standard for success is can it translate the show on kind of an epic scale, which is to say make you laugh and make you think. >> right. well, certainly "the daily show" often functions, as you were alluding to, as a sharp-edged immediate kra criticism wrapped in the guise of laughter. speaking of the show, have we gotten to the point as a culture
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where president obama in one of his last interviews before the midterm elections is going to go on there on wednesday? and that's now become an important forum for a president of the united states. >> oh, sure. i mean, you know, there are few aspects of that, only one of which is, you know, the idea that "the daily show" has become a form of ideas. there's also this notion that the political media field has expanded. i mean, this seems a little less weird now that we've seen president obama go on -- >> "the view." >> "the tonight show" and "the view" and letterman and espn. you know, nick jr.? i'm not sure. but, you know, he's in a fragmented age, you've got to broaden your field of targets, and i think specifically on "the daily show" you're getting at a younger audience. >> right. >> somebody that democrats are concerned about not necessarily coming out to the polls the way they did in 2008. maybe a decent chunk of the base. maybe, you know, that skraunted liberal but disappointed in obama viewer he he wants to get
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out for the midterms. >> i'll look forward to what you write about it, james. >> sure. >> thanks for joining us. >> after the break, wikileaks has new documents about the iraq war and its founder takes exception to cnn's questions. we'll show you what happened. at noon eastern, the candidates square off in a special "state of the union" debate moderated by candy crowley. [ wind howling ] [ technician ] are you busy? management just sent over these new technical manuals.
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wikileaks did a second major dump of iraq war documents over the weekend, again with "the new york times," the guardian, and dernlg spiegel. 400,000 pages on such issues as civilian casual tycasualties. but when asked about ex-staffers from his personal style, he demanded to know her sources. that's ironic for the founder of wikileaks. she also asked whether criticism of him is overshadowing the work of wikileaks. here's what happened. >> what i want to ask, at one point, you said it was a dirty tricks tactic. [ inaudible ] -- so you don't want to address whether or not this is an attack on you -- >> it's completely disgusting. >> i'm asking whether or not -- >> i'm going to walk if you're
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going to contaminate [ inaudible ] us revealing the deaths of 104,000 people with attacks against my person. >> i'm not. what i'm asking you is if you feel this is an attack on wikileaks. >> all right. >> julian, i'm happy to go on to -- >> so julian assange thinks he should be able to discuss only the issues he wants to talk about, and if a reporter politely presses him about anything else, he takes his marbles and goes home. some of his own comrades are abandoning him for what they see as almost delusional grandeur. a perfect description of what we just saw. at the top of the hour, catch up with the florida senate debate, candy crowley moderating that one. and up next on this program, rachel maddow goes too far.
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time now for the media monitor. our weekly look at the hits and errors in the news business. here's what i didn't like. a newspaper owner is entitled to have political views, and at the "las vegas sun," brian greenspun's opinions are no secret. he says harry reid is the obvious choice over republican challenger, sharron angle. but is that having an impact on the "sun's" coverage.
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the publisher of the rival "los angeles review" journal thinks it is. when "sun" columnist john ralston was on this program two weeks ago wrote about a face-off between the candidates, the original headline said, "jon ralston is aghast, still, at reid's inability to control debate." but it was later toned down to say, "will angle win by revising history, slandering reid?" then it happened again. ralston's next day headline was "reid lost the debate to angle." but that was turned to, "thoughts on the reid/angle debate." by the way, could there possibly be any connection this week between the "new york post" endorsing andrew cuomo in the governor's race, and in the same edition, depicting his six debate rivals as clowns? i mean, some of them are clowns, incoming a self-proclaimed madame, but that sure smelled like an effort to help cuomo.
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the tribune company has been in turmoil, both over its bankruptcy and revelations about a frathouse atmosphere among senior male executives, which last week forced the removal of lee abrams. and this week with randy michaels resigned from the tribune. michaels is being replaced by a former committee. and rachael maddow is usually quite careful when she criticizes republicans, but here's what she said this week on msnbc. >> in 1994, in the first midterm election after the last democratic president was elected, we got a slate of candidates that included helen chenoweth of idaho and steve stockman of texas. they were so close to the militia movement that mr. stockman received advance notice that the oklahoma city obabombi was going to happen. >> that sounds like he knew that people were going to be killed


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