tv Washington This Week CSPAN April 21, 2013 6:30pm-8:01pm EDT
be posed about enforcement in that and the president will have to answer those at some point. i think it's safe to say that once the bill go into effect, the legalization, whether it's de facto or full strength of the law, will happen almost immediately and then from there, the citizenship will be probably a decade or more down the road. >> and the president's role in all this? what do you hear from the congressman? >> the congressman has been probably the best -- the biggest democratic critic of the president on immigration, particularly in the congress. people a few immigration who said obama helped them. but he got himself arrested protesting the deportation policy in 2010. from what i understand it's been difficult for the president to figure out what his role is because he really is supposed to be doing the cheerleader role for the house and senate rather than actually being presidential in the sense of --
>> or negotiating. >> or negotiating. >> keep in mind when this was last being, the same concept was last being discussed in the bush administration, there were members of both the department of homeland security and the commerce department up on the hill every day when they were doing this i'm not seing that now. >> thank you very much for your time, appreciate it. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2013] "usa a discussion with today" founder al neuharth, then nbc's senior political editor mark murray. al neuharth died last week at the age of 89. he founded "usa today" and the freedom forum. he was born in 1924 in south dakota. he served in the infantry in
world war for. next a discussion with mr. neuharth from the 25th anniversary of "usa today" in 2007. he's joined by judy woodruff, helen thomas and ken paulsen. from american university, this is just over an hour. >> thank you very much. it is an honor to be here. you probably can't hear this but al is whispering to me that that is much too long an introduction for the editor of "usa today." it should be three snns and out. >> that's not all i said. >> you asked if i wrote it, that's right. that's a new record. seven seconds before he interrupted me. we're going to have a fun night. it's just an honor to be here. and i'll be very brief because he will cut me off at the knees,
no question about it. but i was fortunate enough to be on the first staff of "usa today" back in 1992 and though we were all optimistic and hopeful, i'm not sure any of us took for granted a 25thth anniversary celebration and to come back as editor of the paper in 2004 was an honor. we have some remarkable guests, i believe we'll have at least one more before the evening is out. they share some common traits. in the first place, these are among the icons of american journalism and it's an honor to join them here on the stage. secondly, they're old friends. though i'm going to pretend to moderate this, this could get out of control at any second. in fact, i hope it does. the other common condition de-nominator, they are all winners of the al neuharth award for the media, we may have a chance to talk about that, but where you win other awards
washington, d.c. and go up to capitol hill to a big banquet they basically kidnap you and take you to south dakota for a couple of days. [applause] kidding. those of you watching at home, that was applause for judy woodruff, not south dakota. although we like that state very much as well. now that we're all here, let me introduce this extraordinary group of folks. to my left, john seigenthaler, editor of "the tennessean," right-hand man to bobby kennedy in the justice department, defender of the freedom riders and was injured severely by the k.k.k. in his pursuit of justice and went on to be founding editorial director of "usa today" and founded the first amendment center. please welcome john seigenthaler. [applause] next is a woman you all the,
she's a hearst newspaper columnist, she spent 57 years as correspondent for united press international. and as white house bureau chief. she has covered every president since john f. kennedy and expressed her share of opinions about, especially the last one. in a provocative recent book. but you know what, the best way to describe helen thomas is, she's one of america's greatest journalists. please welcome >> i will skip the man to my right for a moment but not for long. for woodruff has followed many years. i will tell you she also is a great supporter of the first amendment.
the final guess, there's so many things you could say about him. in addition to working for him, i was his chief of staff. former chairman of the company. he is a founder for the freedom forum. he was a best-selling author. the book was called "confessions publishing."th in [applause] [laughter] of usa today.nder please welcome mr. al neuharth.
[applause] those of you who saw the fence onto of the joining us here tonight sell to other names on the list. something happened on the way to tonight's event. bach felt badly about not being able to join us and wrote a note to all of you. don't think that would keep me coming with a presidential speech. what happens? the hour.ent had all his cousin tetanus the event. he certainly would have scheduled his speech at a different time. since them was that speech had already been
announced he did not want to disappoint all the network anchors and deprive them of his prime time moment. his great interest in the welfare of the press. -- i just made all of this up. the sadness a nice i thought i would pass it on. thought i sad is i would pass it on. there'll never be another quite like him which is probably a good thing. i do not think we can handle more than one. but usa today would succeed but it is one of the few successes in the newspaper world. guy ino much more than a a newspaper.
his work with native americans, the decision to adopt children who have no parents, his work to encourage young people, all of these things would make an an example for all of us to follow. he is just the best. [applause] , she would known have been my speech writer rather than you back then. [laughter] i am sure that he will arrive any minute now. probably just delayed in traffic. we're going to have some fun. everyone should jump in whenever miss them. in 1981, ted turner gave a
speech in which she said newspapers were about to disappear. said i'mnvironment, al glad to start a new national newspaper. what did you know that ted turner did not know? >> ted turner did not believe that. aegis said it to get some attention -- he just said it to get some attention. he said at the national convention. we talked about it after. i said you are not serious. he said do not believe in all that bs of mine. that was ted turner. that he to recognize also recognize something of a vacuum that existed when he started cnn. both have done very well. as ald not describe the
traditional journalists. what is your immediate reaction when he first saw usa today? >> i am always happy. the idea of having a national newspaper was new and astounding to me. you ask me to project what i think will be in the next 25 years. vision.o i believe the world will be terrible without a newspaper. newspapers in golf you. it is much better than on minor anything else. you find yourself rooting so much more than you would not have an intention to. i love newspapers. >> god bless you. a cup ofial with coffee. television in print form. did you have any reaction?
>> on behalf of my colleague, he is not here because of the president's speech. he wanted me to tell you how sorry he is. is a huge al admirer. when usa today came out, let me start off. journalism is a high about profession. we like to do things we have always done them. we were used to a certain set of national newspapers that we read clerical when his upstart came along -- that we read. when is the second along with a different set of conditions, there were a number of us that you do we think they are? it took a while for usa today to be taken seriously. everybody knew about the reputation. but a lot of journalists looked at it and said to do they think
they are? do they think they will start a newspaper that will convince the news the way they do at? can they be successful? you are right to make the comparison with ted turner. same time hehe had seen this opening and television news. in are exactly the kind of visionaries without which our business would not be where it is today. who want to turn to john during the 70's who was an outspoken critic of change journalism. one day use change your tune.
you have five members. i had been unanimously elected. [laughter] primarily to criticize newspapers, which i did. he won the debate. i have friends in the audience who voted for me to become friends in that organization. he won the debate fair and square. then 1/3 of july -- one third of published this. he called me to tell me they
were selling the banner. he said tomorrow is independence day. i want you to know you'll be sold into chains. i was. i enjoyed it. an opportunity to be chairman of the company, to be a local editor of a local paper. great years. some of those involved a commitment. >> can i tell one story? >> he did not change because he found that you were going to be carhere any cannot. [applause] the pressroom. and not know whether it was the
partner administration. ted turner came through. he just started on cnn. put him in the chest and said we will bury you. bury all was going to the big networks. they gave them a lot of competition. which probably acknowledge the birth of usa today. the odds were against you. you have a vision that would cost a lot of money. why were you convinced the national newspaper woodward? >>, do you have? wii a lot newspapers. we did a lot of research. i did a lot of readers.
most newconvinced that speakers around the country including those east of the asson or not quite as good the editors and reporters thought they were. in the television age, the generation particularly was getting bored with the newspapers. problem withame them as we do with the internet generation l. we begin to think of this as we flatd at the pretty neighbors circulation. we have to somehow grab the generation. different and lively national newspaper. we thought it might do that. this would have been in
publication. for you filled with confidence? did you feel you nailed it? >> you were standing right next to me in the press room. namee not wearing your that like the rest of the people were. >> not that you hold a grudge anything. >> not at all. i remember asking you when i handed to a glass of champagne whether you thought it would sell or not. >> there's only one right answer. i am sure it will. it did. that du jour confidence encouraged us to reject it was your confidence and encourage us to go on the -- it was your confidence that encouraged us to go on. >> the paper had a rocky road in
the beginning. it this book is to be believed, you love something like $400 million in the first year. how did you have the confidence to preserve their? >> we do not lose anything. we invested. >> what did you invest in? but it was substantial. it became a little bit bigger than that. theyg that same time bought newspapers in cities like detroit and louisville and in morning and pay more
after-tax dollars for each of those. it shows just a matter of perspective. anyway each if you were pioneers and supporters of the media. helen was there when no one else was. came and made a commitment. they gave women opportunities. there were rules about needed to have women and minorities above the fold. it was not just hiring. it was about making sure there were reflected in the paper. do you have thought about the role in that and win an? >> i think that he deserves credit.
other done more than any individual in journalism to bring women along. i mean that seriously. when you look back at the progress women have made it, no matter whom you talk to, what he did in the early days, even well he made a today, point. i knew a number of women who worked under you. your known as somebody who was a champion of bringing women in. earlyman was one of the editors at usa today. on any rooftop and shot that he deserves the credit for the advances. to putgoing to interrupt
that into perspective. that makes me sound like a nice guy and that is not a correct decision. that no convinced newspaper could reach a diverse audience. that was their objective unless the nation was defer. middle-aged white males like myself cannot make decisions that were going to attract women or minorities to their pages. it was not because i wanted to do -- a nice guy, i thought it was the smart thing to do. >> there are very few others doing what you were doing. to you have some thoughts? >> i think journalism is not a women's field.
all the news rooms are mainly women. you never have a broadcast station it out many women. it was world war ii when i started out. they were drafting every man that had a pulse. is when we got our break. they started to hire women. were very kinds hiring us. they have no sense of where this country was going. they fired eight women on the basis that these young men at making $24 a week would want to come back. they work kernels. they were captains. they sure as and not want to
come back to those lowly wages. we had to start over again. . would like to say something newspapers family were the best in the sense that people made their money -- [laughter] inple made their money business or real estate or what ever. , some kind of contribution to society. they were not under the role of wall street's. our world has really changed. this is a tragedy. we have one newspaper towns. some of the big cities have at
least three newspapers. we really have changed. women have come into their own. newspapers are losing a lot of grounds. >> use the get any tiny ones. to usa today at the request to invent a new kind of editorial-page. he did eight semi gracious salute to usa today talking about the success. he thought the editorial page was wish you washy. a here is everyday is the opinion of usa today. we give that to someone who has an opposite opinion and make sure there voice is heard.
you invented this concept. can talk about the page you produced and y? i remember the invitation to join usa today came during a convention in san francisco late one night. there have been a dinner. in late as usual. after most people have left the as need to think of becoming an editorial director. sa today fails and
everyone thinks it is going to and does not come close to knowing the debt of criticism from journalists from the very first day. said that usa today dies, i want to deal with the board and i will be out of a job you will still be an editor and publisher international. in the back of my mind, i was not sure it can last more than a year. >> y? >> newspapers were dying all over the country.
the criticism was unfair. it was premature. it suggested that usa today was going to die but that if it survived it was going to destroy traditional journalism. there was no logic or reason to it. i knew it was going to be the first national newspaper. i wanted to be part of it. i've been very critical of the prototypes. prototypes, these what can i get out of this newspaper that cannot get at it and see our national. the thing that come up with was a weather map without lillard beside it. i said i except.
debate is as good as any debate we have ever had anywhere. powerful piece is a compelling piece. >> why did it make sense to give the other guy is saying to have voices across the u.s.? opposites having an opinion are having a balance on the page? >> there is no other place she could find a debate. there was a strong point of view. i think other editors said it is
to again to give somebody else a chance to answer. at that usa today won the debate. at that we lost the debate to someone who was arguing the other side. it was different. was 10torial board people. >> the short answer to the question. >> you don't get short answers out of me. we decided that the editorial page should debate not dictate. that simple. >> one of -- al alluded to the fact that there was a short period where i wrote speeches for him and one line i included was that u.s.a. would report the good the bad the glad and the sad. you work for two and speak in rhymes for another three.
but what that led up to, what that led up to was typically his description of something he cahe jlled trnalism of hope and this was intensely controversial in the trade at the time. could you talk about what the jurenism of hope was and what you had in mind? >> you just said it that i thought the newspapers should report the good and the bad and the glad and the sad, and that generally there was as much hopeful news as bad news. also at the time felt and felt more strongly afterwards this has change add little now that there were too many cynics working on newspapers. and there's a great difference between skeptics and cynics and we encouraged our people to be very skeptical which all journ ists should be but told them there was no room for cynicism and i think that's the major differs. >> judy, you've worked for a number of people, been in the
public eye for a long time. it seems like there's a polarization that goes on now. i think the most startling thing that goes on sort of the intensity of e-mails and letters and you come in any day and there be a thousand post cards one stack calling too liberal one stack calling you too conservative. your work sort of takes the high ground. i suspect people react to you somewhat differently but u.s.a. tried to carve out this turf that said we're right down the middle. how hard is that? >> it's tough and increasingly tough in this hyper partisan atmosphere that we live in today. by the way, when you talk about giving both views, that has been the mantra for what was then the news hour and now is the news hour with jim lair all the way. when you listen to the program you're going to get both sides. so we completely identify with the approach of u.s.a. today.
but we live today i think all of us recognize in a much more partisan bitter maybe too strong a word but i think it fits in many ways. and some people say well it goes back to the election of 2000 and it's the war in iraq but i think it's more than that. i've seen it -- i was at cnn for 12 years, and you see it as you say in the e-mails you get from people. some people just are never are just not going to be happy. the thing that's reassuring to me though is that you get 150 e-mails from people saying you were tilting too far one way and you tilted too far the other way. and you want to be down the middle and you're going to get that kind of reaction. my question is though does it -- you know, we need to have a healthy debate about these issues but do you want people to be at each other's throats? and i think that's some of what's going on right now. and i think that's something we ought to continue to talk
about. >> is it different than when you came into the business? >> i worked for upi for so many years and it was just the facts, ma'am. if your mother said she loved ou, you had to check it out. now i write a column and the editor looked at it and he said, -- i really was writing wire copies. where's the edge? the what? your opinion. my what? so now i wake up in the morning and i say who do i hate today? that's how -- and that's how you write a column. actually, we're so polarized i think there's very little object tivity left. i know what all the newspapers think in terms of this war, this horrible war and so forth. i think it's amazing object
tivity is almost gone. and that's because television really gets the first crack the news. re aso more interpretation in the news stories. just one other sideline maybe it's apropoe of nothing again. but for years and years when i would ask a president a tough question i would get these calls, who in the hell are you? who elected you? how dare you ask these questions. they're so tough and so mean. when the war started and during the run-up to the war, i would get these calls, where is everybody? deep orters went into a silence. they lost their one weapon which was skepticism. they finally have come out of their coma. and they did with katrina. where their editors i think unleashed them. and that was true of tv, too.
i think the reporters have let the country down. >> thank you. >> and john, i want to -- a couple things i want to do here. i want to put the capper on u.s.a. today's legacy and talk a little bit about the media today and then invite those in the audience who have a question to join us at the microphones over here and we'll go to questions in about ten minutes. you talked about the tough early years of u.s.a. today. people call -- some interresting things happened along the way. the reporting got beefed up, added foreign bureaus and investigative reporting, the paper grew in prestige and sold a lot more copies of the paper now it's the number one circulation newspaper in the country and the website is the number two audience reach of all newspaper websites. and something happened along the beltway. and that incidently began to turn a substantial profit. john, what do you think happened between 82 and today to change public perception and the destiny of u.s.a. today?
>> well, i think that the early perceptions were wrong. u.s.a. tade was loadd with talented people from the very first day, talented journalists, professional journalists. they came from all over this country. al called it the nation's newspaper from the day -- from that first day when we only circulated in baltimore and washington. but it became the nation's newspaper i think as part of his vision he knew it would. i will tell you i didn't know it would. i doubt that half of those professional journalists who had come there to work because they wanted to be part of it had much confidence that it would survive five years. and part of that was that we were listening to our colleagues tell us that it couldn't survive. but i just think the
professionalism of the staff, the commitment to to vide the sort of newspaper that al just described, one that did provide a skeptical look at society from all the institutions and not cynical look, and i think that as it evolved it ma turd. it got better. with time. the sports section was the best from the first day, still is. the rest of it got better as it went along. al's the expert on this but my sense of it is that that professional staff was underestimated and the mission didn't really change but it expanded and the quality and the credibility of the paper grew with it. >> one of the common denominators i mentioned at the
outset wasatone was a winner of the excellence in journalism award and i know you've been honored many times. and in fact, al has mentioned how both of you brought the house down in south dakota. but this was a different experience. it's day long. i think you end up there are lots of ceremonies but you end up in a bar with students. can you talk about that experience? >> well, it was one of my few visits to al's home state and what i remember is a place where people were so proud of what they were doing. and i've never seen and i've been to a lot of colleges and universities around the country talking to journalism students. i have never seen a group as excited about what they were doing and as hopeful about what the contribution they were going to make. and the idea that al -- and i'm not just saying this because you're sitting next to me but you go back. you probably go back a lot more
than that. but it goes back regularly there's a physical presence in that place means everything to those people and i know this man cares about the next generation and the next one coming along and you see that in the ice of these young people. >> and -- >> let me suggest to you why ken keeps harping on that award. he's mentioned now that they've all got it. segen that willer and his son got it. next month we give it out every october and the reason ken wants to be on this is that next month that annual award will be given to ken paulson nd john quinn. now, to be clear that of course is contingent on how well i moderate this evening. it's touch and go right now. >> thank you, al.
i will tell you the number one the first person to get it though was walter kronkite and the second was he willen homas. any bitterness about walter edging you out by the first one? >> a plug for u.s.a. today. every time i open a hotel room door and that paper is there, i am so happy because local news -- newspaper now are reduced almost so much to local news. if you come from washington or the east, what's going on in the world and the u.s.a. today is the joy? >> i've had to laugh and i thank you for that when ben bradley was interviewed for the followup to making him a paper we should ask al about his early relationship with ben bradley but let's just say that well it's interesting.
tell the story about you and ben and your close personal bonding. >> he was a -- ben was legendary then and he was one of the great editors in the country. and he didn't think too highly of u.s.a. today. and he was asked shortly after we started whether he thought u.s.a. today was a great newspaper. and bradley said in print if it is, i'm in the wrong business. and that was demoralizing to some of our staff members. until i got him together in a news meeting and said you ought to be delighted at that. bradley has finally admitted e's in the wrong business. so when david colten who wrote the afterwards in the paper contacted ben bradley for that he said i was too hard on u.s.a. today. i was just so angry at new hart. and he said -- this was brought
to mind. he said it's not the "washington post" and it's not the "new york times." but if i'm somewhere where they're not available i'm really glad to see it. so that's the highest praise we're ever going to get from ben bradley. >> i want to ask al, we're at another point in american journalism history where there's some significant challenges to newspapers frankly all media where we once knew who our competitors were. now it's really anyone with access to the internet and creative idea. we're not only competitors in news and information. we're competitors for people's time and attention. and i think it's particularly fruitful time for new innovations, for new concepts. and yet i think if you went to the board, if you went to wall street today and said i have a new product that is not going to make a penny for, i don't know, 7, 8 years and we're going to invest, invest $450 million for the first three or four years, i don't think you get a warm reception. can you do that kind of
entrepreneur ral project today or does the economic climate mean you can't? >> of course you can. rupert murdock just did it. e he just invested $5 billion in print and internet and broadcast. yes, you can if you have got the guts to do it. so before we go to the audience with questions, i'm curious each of our panelists, what do you see coming down the pike? what's the media climate? what will succeed in the new information society? judy? >> it's all about on line. and i'm not one of those whose forecasting the death of newspapers. i think they're at least -- as long as i'm around and even my children will occasionally pick up a newspaper, i don't think newspapers are going to go away but on line is the real competition. it's a competition facing television. what we all are trying to do -- and i'm not saying anything anybody here hasn't thought about. we've got to figure out a way to embrace on line and make it part of what we do.
and frankly make a living doing it. even in public television we're busy trying to figure out how do we reach the younger generation who are getting their news in different ways? they are not going automatically to news sites. they're going to other sites and then they may be directed to something that's about the news. they know what's going on in the world. they find out what's going on but they're finding it out in their own way. and we who care about journalism and care about reporting have got to be on our toes thinking how do we reach them, what do we do? i think it's going to involve online. i think newspapers will be around and television and radio. but online is with us to stay. >> helen? >> i don't like to think of newspapers tazz horse and bugies days and i hope there will always be a newspaper. i can't imagine not having a newspaper in my hand.
but i don't have that vision thing. and i don't know anything about high tech but i know julie is right, is everything is going to be on line. >> if any of you have questions if you could begin to move to the microphone. >> i don't have any idea, ken and i don't know anybody who can really predict the future of the american newspaper. i know that the need for professional journalists is not going to change. it was a great experience for me to have been a part of it. i'm glad my son is a journalist. i hope my grandson who is ten has the same opportunity. nd i think if conversion and -- i think if concept of moving print on line works as well as it can jack will have that opportunity. >> although every panelist here
has kind of predicted the decline of newspapers, u.s.a. today is selling more copies today than we did six months ago. we are growing in prirnt. newspapers will be alive and well. you know, helen asks why. i like to think people respond positively. one thing happening across the country is local newspapers that was losing circulation lation say we need to offer more news and less international coverage. so u.s.a. is there with a national report. when someone describes u.s.a. today i get a post card that says i sent a post card that says thank you so much. and if you have any thoughts, tell us why you interscribed and more often than not saying my local newspaper doesn't contain international news any more. we actually think there's room for growth.
we were asked over and over what's happening 25 years from now. i am confident that 25 years from now u.s.a. today will be a newspaper. those blue and white boxes will be there in so many form. in addition you will be able to download any electronic device you might have, it will show up on your bedroom wall, on your dinner place matt. u.s.a. today, the news and information produced day in and day out will be available in every imaginable platform. that's why we're so excited about it. there's so much gloom and doom. this is the richest time for disseminating news and information. an article that appeared in 1982 -- especially in 1982, might have reached a million people. today that same article not only reaches a much audience in print but reaches 10 million people in time in print on line and archived on line. and not only, it's not just in south dakota or south carolina or maine or minnesota. it's in hong kong and singapore
and everywhere in the world. so it's a very rich time and frankly i'll very bullish about newspapers. end of public service announcement. you're first. >> thank you. >> give us your name please. >> kate. i work for u.s.a. today in the education department. you have an amazing panelist in here today. tell us your most important interview that you've conducted in your career. we would love to hear that story. >> what is your most important interview, your favorite interview of all times? >> i don't know if this is the most important but the most interesting and the most fun. after u.s.a. today was in pretty good shape, we were quite sure would make it we started an international edition and i went out on a lark. ou were with me on some of it.
and we visited 32 countries on six continents and interviewed headso state and the most interesting one was castro. bad, mean, no good s.o.b. but just smart as hell. and that interview started at 10:00 at night and he was perfectly briefed and we sat down in his office and he started the interview. he asked the first question, not us. he said mr. new hart, you started this new newspaper called u.s.a. today. i understand it lost a lot of money. how did you pay the bills? and i said well, mr. president, we have a big company called gwinnett. it has a lot of other newspapers very profitable so in the beginning they helped subsidize. and he said ah hah. your company and my country are oth socialistic.
i didn't know whether to laugh or cry or argue but i wanted to continue to i laughed and the interview went on until 4:00 in the morning. so that was interesting. >> one of castro's apparent strategies in dealing with the media is he calls you at 11:30 at night and come over at midnight and we'll talk. but you're exhausted. but dave was on the trip and was the fourth editor told us the a story the other day but castro determined to wear us down and kept looking for signs of weakness. at one point he looked at dave and smiled and said the italian is sleeping. score one for fidel. judy. >> there's so many. everybody up here has interviewed presidents and kings and prime ministers. one of my favorite interviews was president reagan who -- and i have to say sam donaldson
helen mentioned jan is here her husband sam was covering the white house at the same time i was early on in the reagan administration. sam was there for abc, i was there for nbc. and leslie stall for cbs. and we had been trying to get an interview with reagan for weeks and finally at e last minute it's always the wayhey do i the last minute they say you can go in and see the president. they gave us about 20 minutes. so we quickly came up with the toughest questions. we were escorted into this lovely library into the residential side of the white house. and we sit down and president reagan just proceeds to tell stories about his movie career. and we're sitting there, we're -- we've got our notes. and by the end of the 15 or 20 minutes or whatever, the president was still telling stories about hollywood, sam leslie and i were just taking notes on the movies. and we had about a minute left. we had a minute left. we asked him something or
other. but it was a good lesson early on in how charming ronald reagan could be. >> it didn't happen to helen though. >> helen, you've got lifetime of interviews. what was your favorite of all times? >> of all times. it's really, really tufment i would rather talk about different presidents. >> go for it. >> kennedy has the most warmth and wit. i remember a celebration of st. patrick's day and jackie was ut of town so rose kennedy presided, was the hostess wore a gorgeous gown very sparkly green and so forth. kennedy came over to the pool of reporters at the state dinner and i said, it's a great day for the irish, mr. president. and he said what are you doing here? and i remember on air force one
we asked kennedy, what will happen if the airport -- if the plane crashes? he said i know one thing. your name will be just a footnote. those are the kind of stories. >> john, what's your favorite interview? it was after i was practicing journalism i was invited to the kennedy library to interview the first president bush on a book he had written. really, it's a collection of his letters. and we were supposed to be through in an hour and after about 45 minutes the producer came and asked if he could pass me a note and i passed it to him and he nodded and it went
on literally for another hour. twice during the interview as he read letters he had written, one to the parents of an airman who had died when his plane crashed in world war ii, as he ead that he we wan. a second time as he read a letter that he had written to the wife of a soldier who died in the gulf war, his voice broke. and the third time when he was reading -- began to read a letter he had written to his the president, it was a letter that really said in effect i've had my day and now it's your day. and he began to read it and he said i can't read this. would you read it for me?
and i did. i when it was over, he knew was a member of the kennedy government in exile and that i had not been a supporter of president bush. but he embraced me. and i thought the interview -- and i knew it had been a success. >> we have a question over here. >> good evening, i'm a graduate print journalism student here at american. i'm interested to get your thoughts on one of ms. thomas' comments that she made earlier that the press has let the american public down in not more vigorously opposing the cusht war in iraq. do you believe that if the press did take a more vigorous stance in opposing the war that they would have crossed the line ethically and become an actor in the story and not just an observer? >> this could be for anybody. >> judy would you like to take that one on? >> i don't think the press
should have expressed an opinion. and i don't think that's what helen is saying. but i'll let helen speak for herself. what i believe is that the press was to some extent cowed across the board in terms of presenting alternative points of view. and in going out and making an effort to interview people and to present the point of view of those who had doubt about the war in iraq, i don't think there was enough of that i think the country still was suff fused with -- i don't know whether you want to call it with a sense of hyper patriotism coming off of 9/11. and i think the bush administration successfully parlayed that into as it made its arguments for going to war in iraq. and i think the press was not aggressive enough across the board. not that i think the press should have expressed its own opinions but i think that we had an obligation to present both sides of -- both points of
view and i don't think that was done sufficiently. >> as some of you know, al writes a weekly column for u.s.a. today. i'm sure as all of you know. >> it's required reading. >> and he is pointed in his opinions and we took -- we did a little study recently of who you had attacked more often, president bush and joe tory and it was very, very close. >> and in fairness he also is the wunch who called bill president pin oak yo. hoe is an equal opportunity columnist. >> i've seen this. somebody cited you as being one of the first voices against the war in saying there was a mistake. so what kind of grade would you give america's free press in reporting and the leadup to it snr >> it's a terrible job. i wrote a column in october of 2002. when this issue is being debated.
and i said something like this. congress is debating and is very likely to go along with giving president bush a blank check to invade iraq. october 2002. and i said that's a mistake. i think the next sentence was, sure. saddam is a bad guy. and there are rumors of weapons of mass destruction. but no proof. only rumors. and i said war is hell and we shouldn't go into it based on rumors. and you got a lot of cancellations that week because my mail and the responses ran about 85% against me and about 15 mrts in --% in favor of me. now when i occasionally say something critical of bush the last president's day i said he's no question that he will be the worst president in --
rated as the worst president in history by historians. the mail runs about 75% favorable for me and 25% against. >> saying that bush was the worst? i don't want to short cut you on this because you wrote an entire book on this. probably available on amazon.com? >> we've got time for two quick questions right over here. >> i would just like to know how do any of you or all of you think that u.s.a. today has improved most during the past 25 years? thank you. >> how has u.s.a. today g proved the most? you probably have the best perspective, al. is the paper better? >> the paper is much better than it was then because it has
broadened its coverage. i don't want to say deepnd because that might make you mistaken it has long-winded for in-depth and i don't think it's long winded but i think it's more in-depth than it was then. it has retained its breezy, colorful attractive outlook. i think it is more mature, no offense to you. i think it is even more ma tour and balanced on its editorial page than it was 25 years ago. and the circulation and business side operation is vastly better. craig, the publisher is here, he's the best publisher in the country. larry the circulation director is here. and he's the main reason that when -- sure i'll tell him. when the abc circulation comes out again on september 30th,
abc has circulation every six months. last time it came out was in march. and u.s.a. today was number one considerably ahead of the "wall street journal" and it showed a gain. and when those circulation figures come out september 30th it will again show an increase. there aren't many others like it. >> one other major -- snfment applause] when other newspapers are on the decline, sadly, -- >> we have time for one more question. po fessor hartman has written a couple books about u.s.a. today. we have time for quick question. >> thank you. al we all know that you are absolutely committed to the success of u.s.a. today and that you are going to see it through. but i wonder if there was a time either while you were still with a company or even after you left the company that you absolutely felt that it was
going to be here 25 years later. something that happened, something that you saw, something that you witnessed where you felt, yes, absolutely this will be a big success. >> we, not just i but we on the inside including members of the board of directors and key executives became convinced million we hit 1 circulation it was over. that happened in six months the april after we started. now most outsiders were still peeing on us and saying it isn't going to last but we had the insight information that made us recognize that at that point madison avenue would recognize us and then wall street would slowly begin to recognize it. and we thought the game was over after six months. >> thank you. it's about time we wrap up. we have a presidential address in about half an hour and i want to give each of you a chance to get home and turn on
the tv and turn on our good friends. who i must say have been great friends. and we all understand why t dn join us tonight. but i will tell you the other thing i've learned in the last 25 years with u.s.a. today off and on is that the last word needs to go to the man who made all this possible. l. >> i would just like to conclude by thanking all of you for being here and especially president kirwin for giving us this hall and i hope you'll invite us all back 25 years from now. >> thank you. and good knight. -- good night.
daily. part of the debate is on immigration, how have the events impacted? >> i think people trying to find out this event and legislation that really won't be passed in full even if it is until july, august or september. a little too early to tell. but one thing we do know is that supporters of this are concerned a little bit. we saw senators john mccain of arizona, lindsey graham of south carolina put out a statement on friday afternoon saying that this should not impact it at all. in fact, if you are going to support comprehensive immigration reform it would be to make sure that people couple out of the shadows.
and they were really defensive at trying to come out for this type of thing. it is important to note in this debate, though, that these two brothers came to the united states via asylum when they were ages 9 to 15 or 16. i'm not sure that's apcabble to the big contours of the reform bill that's trying to give a pathway to citizenship to people. not people who had come in legally through asigh lull. >> as investigators try to figure out between the brothers and russia, the f.b.i. is under some criticism because apparently they had looked into the older brothers trip to russia. pete has been reporting this over the last 4 hours. there for six months. they don't know who he had contact with and also the f.b.i. saying he wasn't a threat. >> well, that is one of the big mysteries, there's going to be a tremendous amount of reporting over the next several days about what the f.b.i.
and att in some not know. types of instances like this when it comes to acts of terrorism, political acts of terrorism, that the political component, what did the federal government know? what did it not know? and this is going to be one of the things that developed over time and remains to be seen just to that extent. >> the senate judiciary committee holding the first hearing on friday. you can watch it on the c-span networks and senator grassley trying to tie in the events of boston with this debate here in washington. >> given the events of this week it's important for us to understand the gaps and loopholes in our immigration system. while we don't yet know the immigration status of people who have terrorized the communities in massachusetts, when we find out it will help shed light on the weaknesses of our system. how can individuals evade authority and plan such attacks on our soil? how can we beef up security checks on people who wish to
enter the united states? how do we ensure that people who wish to do us harm are not eligible for benefits under the immigration laws including this new bill before us? >> we should point out that was before joe was captured. he remains heavily sedated int baited. so he's not talking at the moment. he's also under heavy guard protection. but one of the issues is whether or not he will be given his miranda rights. is he a u.s. citizen? and under the constitution considered innocent until proven guilty? is he an enemy combatant? >> that's one of the political arguments happening in this town right now. you end up having people from the aclu, other supporters of civil liberties in saying that people like timothy mcvay who was a domestic terrorist was read miranda rights and the same thing should happen to the brothers. on the other hand you do have the same two senators i just talked about on immigration legislation, john mccain and lindsey graham who said this
person is a terrorist should not have miranda rights. it seems the obama administration is going to be straddling the middle ground as they did a couple years ago in that you wait some time before giving them their miranda rights to make sure there's no types of threats to the public safety before reading those rights. and that seems to be the course the obama administration will be taking. >> your network is the subject of two articles i want to bring to our audience's attention nourl national journal and the headlines pete williams reporting and why he was getting the boston story right. goes into his philosophy of whale and won't say when news has been breaking over the last week or so. >> you and i know a lot of journalists in this town and i will have to say that pete williams is the best that i have ever come across so measured, so fair and so amazing that he was able to be show cased the way that he was making our network proud, our profession very proud. this was a complicated story.
a lot of journalists were getting facts wrong as it was developing in real time but pete was a constant force was right 100% of the way and as he did his work here, i think it's a model to all of us who are currently in this profession, people who are aspiring journalists to see the professionalism that he displayed. >> the essence is not jumping ahead of the story on monday new york post and other organizations saying that dozens of people were killed. fortunately that was not the case. three were killed but there seemed to be an early rush also the online slutesdz trying to figure out who these people were and pin pointing the wrong individuals before the f.b.i. released those two photographs. >> in fairness to our profession a lot of times when you do have a very complicated story developing things are wrong. stuff is imperfect. but it's always important to realize and people get carried away in the heat of the moment is that we have to be incredibly careful of what we're saying on tv or on print that that really matters.
but the other thing you mentioned how people were trying to be on line slutesdzes that seemed to trigger the f.b.i. and authorities to release the photos as some of my understanding the events to be able to make sure that people who weren't being accused wrongly by some internet folks that story was rectified right away. >> the story i know you've read the cover story of the "new york times" sunday magazine focusing on nbc's today show specifically an curry's departure and it's called best tv drama with a picture of ann curry and mat laur, who can save the today show? >> all that i will say on that is that i couldn't be bigger fans of our current anchors. savannah is somebody i know very well in her time in the washington bureau and there is always a lot of drama that goes on any type of kind of morning show. people sometimes feel that they know when it comes to the today show for example that's kind of
a family and some of the reporting is that somehow the family is being frade. all my understanding of everything that's going on right now that matt and savannah couldn't be better colleagues. the staff that i work with couldn't be better. but the "new york times" magazine it's an int resting read. >> let me follow up because matt made the comment that when she was on the today show katie couric had a colonoscopy and he had his own by the "new york times." >> one of the point the article makes is a very fair one sometimes when you have these transitions it can be a little messy from time to time. i will say my time at nbc from the transitions we've had hether it was takeover for tom broke awe. earlier when merdic took over it was very smooth. but sometimes it can be a little rocky when you move from one person to another. >> let me get to one question. and remind our audience that
ur phone lines are open. the debate over guns. a lot of attention this week last week at this time. we'll share with you in a moment what the president said wednesday after the gun debate ended with the u.s. senate ended quicker than people expected. >> that's the key point in this. even the president of the united states admitted these measures deserve a vote. he didn't say they should pass. i think the white house was very realistic in knowing that the politics hadn't completely changed when it comes to guns. but they were surprised a little bit how quickly the debate ended. maybe you could get a background check measure passed with the senate. the house is always going to be the toughest part but there are a combination of several factors that made it so difficult even in the united states senate. one was the power of the national rifle association which we saw. the other was the red versus blue state divide. the democrats who voted against
the measure were from red states that president obama did not carry in 2008 or 2012. another factor was that many of these democrats who voted against the background check measure are up for reelection in 2014. then finally steve, what is interesting and what should be noted is the house of representatives is unlikely to move on this measure at all. so if you were a mark beg yitch or mark prior and you were thinking maybe i want to really take a tough vote this might be difficult, if you knew you were going to take a tough vote and the house of representatives wasn't going to act, that probably sealed the fate of this legislation at least for the time being. >> this is an essay this morning former chief of staff to president obama. it's in the "new york times." the senate said no to us and now it's our turn. e begins
>> you can look at the the senate vote and say politics of newtown the shootings didn't change politics but one place it did is inside the democratic party. and while some red state senators voted against the measure democratic party by and large supported it and you're seeing someone like bill daley take issue and say we're going to deny us financing to candidates who voted against this as a way to levy a punishment. but one potential downside of that is that if you say heidi of north dakota shouldn't get money from democratic donors, does that mean that rick the republican that she ran against should end up winning that contest and so that is something, that is a dilemma that democrats have to have on this one particular vote is do i want someone who is with me
100% of the time if bill is trying to argue here or is it ok if this person is with me 80% of the time and it's good we have that north dakota a democrat instead of a republican? >> he said in his piece that heidi betrayed us. he goes on to say that when i think about the democrats i will focus on supporting in 2014 they include mary land rue of louisiana and kay haguen. >> and people can decide who they want to give money to and i do think there's going to be a lot of pressure and this is going to be the only pressure point democrats are saying we're not going to give you money. the dilemma though that bill dalies or other people who can donate 2500 or more to political candidates is going to say is can you end up funding a democrat in north dakota or montana who would end up making that type of vote in a gun measure? and right now it doesn't seem there are democrats who can win statewide who are seen as people who want to have more gun control in those states. >> we're talking with mark murray at nbc news.
fred barnes this morning the weekly standard has this look ahead at the 2014 campaign titled 2014 or bust. e points out >> there's always another election psych that will goes ofpblet that is one of the theories that no matter what ends up happening mid term election is all difficult that voters seem to take their frustrations out any kind of thing that's going on in the incumbent party. but there's another theory that the modern two-term presidents that we've had have only had one bad mid term cycle. george bush in 2002, his parry
fared actually very well in that mid term cycle. they took their pain in 2006. bill clnten had his very bad mid term cycle in 1994 but then in 1998 right after impeachment went unscathed. there are docthought tewe took beating, 2014 won't be add bad. one little bad news for the democrats is that in 2014 you look at the map particularly in senate races and all democrats are going to be playing defense. so their goal is simply to make sure the republicans don't net six senate seats to be able to take control of the senate. i think that's going to be the game that we're going to be looking for. >> we're going to be talking about another race in early may that special election in south carolina. but let's go to erik joining us from georgia. independent line. good morning. caller: good morning. i would like to direct this conversation into something else that's been going on. rand paul about this situation. the situation that we've seen
was not a situation where someone sitting in a -- [inaudible] a drone missile comes through. the situation we've seen was the exact situation where drones need to be used on american soil. here it is we had an enemy combatant american stssn all these things rand paul was argue. he was a terrorist, a drone should have been used to surveil this man. it didn't have to be used to kill him but a drone simply is a flying camera. surveillance camera is what caught this person. this could have took some of the drama out of the situation and found this guy, a simple drone with the infra red thermal heat could have caught this guy and he can be killed. he would have been killed. rand paul was simply grandstanding and i would like you to comment on this situation. thank you. host: we should point out that the filibuster that senator paul had on the senate floor getting a lot of attention it
was one of the most viewed events on our website on this network's history. guest: he's had several events and has made a name for himself. the speculation about 2016 is way too early. but if he is thinking about making a run for the presidency that type of filibuster he had, talk about immigration reform et cetera is certainly a way to be able to make a splash. as to the caller's question about drones, politically even if a drone was directed at a known terrorist, a suspected terrorist, using it on american soil would be a big political problem o in this country. so far we've seen the drone programs overseas, people who are targeted terrorists. and that would be a tricky situation. i will say overall i think the federal authority, the local boston authorities in such a delicate dangerous situation are being applaud ford the work
that they were able to do in a relatively short period of time. ost: from michael. guest: well, all presidents who are in their second term at one point or another do enter that lame duck stage. we're far away from that moment. comprehensive immigration reform, if democrats a abl to accomplish it, if some republicans in the senate want it to happen will be a big legacy for all involved and will be something that president bush was unable to accomplish. it was something that president obama wasn't able to accomplish in his first term. i think the political world capitol hill right now sees that as the last opportunity for a really big piece of legislation, a legacy piece of legislation to occur. but steve i don't think we're going to have any resolution until we're talking about july august september. this is going to be in some ways like the health care
legislation all over again we're going to see many twists and turns but the reason why the gun measure ended up failing and why immigration seems to have a chance is that immigration both parties have a interest to get it done. many republicans leaders see this as something they need to do as well to make sure that the 2012 elections where they lost latino business a huge margin doesn't happen again come 2016 or 2020. >> and the debate over the budget continues all summer as well. >> and that's right. talking about july august september that's probably also the timeframe that you would end up getting any type of agreement. and everybody talks about getting a grand bargain. fool me once. you know that situation right now. if you are someone hoping that there is going to be a grand bargain, don't get your hopes up. however look to the appropriations process in congress. that's a way in which you can end up getting some type of
fixes into the so-called sequester those automatic budget cuts. don't be surprised if there's some fixes there some compromises one way or another. but certainly now that guns are off the table immigration and the budget are the two big stories. >> thanks for waiting. republican line. welcome to the program. caller: thank you. my question is they're talking about and they've been showing what happened in massachusetts. that's not the first time. and they're talking about gun legislation. i would like to know the one young man that survived. what kind of court is he going to be tried in? is he considered a terrorist? does he get tried in a regular courted or a different kind of court?
what is the outcome going to be and who makes that decision? host: thanks for the call. this is the story this morning. front page of the boston sunday globe edging towards normal with healing still to do. but f.b.i. was warned two years ago about the alleged bomber's radical shift and now the question for the younger brother the 19-year-old about what rights he will have. and we should point out he remains heavily sed dated and at the moment is not talking to anyone because he has been int baited and under a number of drugs because he remains in serious condition. host: the question is a guest: the question is off my terrain. he will be charged in this country. he will be charged under a federal court and under federal charges. there is some debate and there are people who in the republican party say this person shouldn't have to go through the same type of court process as somebody, you know, this is an opportunity to try
this person, have them in kind of a military tribunal et cetera. but people, it seems the administration as well as civil liberties are urging this person is a united states citizen should be afforded all the same type of protections any u.s. citizens who commits a crime. ost: this is the headline. he did et yesterday in person. we were told by espn yesterday he did it on his ofpblete he wasn't asked by the red sox. he just decided to do it himself. guest: these types of events which we saw which are so brutal and terrible to the people who ended up losing their lives on monday, the police officer, it also does show you how this country can come together in times of tragedy bringing people together. neil think that the kneel
diamond song caps off. there is solidarity and it does represent the best of this country. host: on the next "washington and the the author elimination of more than 40 billion in tax breaks to oil and gas companies in the president's 2014 budget request. we talk with anthony cast lo of bloomberg government. "washington journal" life at 7:00 a.m. eastern on c-span. >> the museum is meant to help a visitor relive the first eight years of the 21st century. the museum explains the decision making process that i
went through as president. and we hope the museum inspires people to serve. want to soy their community or serve their country. in some way. we didn't really want to be a school. we wanted to be a do tank. and so i don't know if there's a lesson there. i do know that laura and i decided to go in a different direction with apart from the museum wft component of where programs from which programs would emerge. >> watch the dedication ceremony of the presidential library and museum from dallas. live thursday morning on c-span 3. c-span radio and c-span.org and tune in earlier at 6:20 a.m. eastern for a conversation with the former first couple. >> next, q&a with the "washington post".
followed by the funeral service for former british prime minister and later a look at american responses to terrorism and violent crimes. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2013] >> defense department's newest and most expensive weapon system. >> you did a front-page piece on a sunday about the f-35. what is it? >> it