tv This Week With George Stephanopoulos ABC November 17, 2013 8:00am-9:01am PST
good morning. welcome to "this week." presidency in crisis. >> we fumbled the rollout. that's on me. >> president obama reeling over the disastrous start to his signature achievement. can obama care be fixed? can his presidency recover? or is this obama's political katrina? this morning, our special coverage, a presidency in crisis. including a key senator who may have her own eyes on the white house, new york's kirsten gillibrand. and -- 50 years later, remembering jfk. all that and the powerhouse roundtable, right here, this sunday morning.
hello, again. i'm martha raddatz. great to have you with us. if second terms are about building a legacy this was an incredibly tough week for president obama, who this morning is still facing withering attacks on his signature legislative achievement health care reform. and more troubling for the white house, democrats are joining in. we have full coverage of the president's very rough week, let's begin at the white house where jonathan karl has the very latest. good morning, jon. >> reporter: president obama has staked his legacy on the affordable care act, but now the flawed rollout threatens to undermine the foundation of his second term. the president came in front of the cameras and fell on his sword. >> we did fumble the ball on it. that's something that i deeply regret. >> reporter: six weeks after the bungled rollout of healthcare.gov, the white house
revealed that only 106,000 americans have signed up for obama care. a scant 26,000 of those through the federal exchange. and the president's repeated vow that americans could keep their health care if they liked it. with millions getting cancellation notices, president obama acknowledged a broken promise. >> there is no doubt that the way i put that forward, unequivocally ended up not being accurate. >> reporter: but his proposed fix has only caused more confusion, with some states rejecting the plan as unworkable. criticism of the white house has been relentless. from republicans -- >> this disastrous law was destined to fail from the start. >> reporter: and now even democrats -- >> some heads should roll. >> reporter: president obama's predicament has prompted
comparisons with where president bush was at this point in his presiden presidency in the aftermath of hurricane katrina. president bush never fully recovered. obama's top aides rejected the comparison, but critics say it comes down to a question of credibility and confidence. one that president obama openly acknowledged. >> there have been times where i thought that we were slapped around a little bit unjustly. this one is deserved. right? it's on us. >> reporter: republicans, of course, have voted over and over again to either repeal or change obama care. but this week we saw something different, martha, 39 democrats joined house republicans in a measure that would fundamentally change the law. they did that despite the fact that the president had issued a veto threat. >> thanks, jon, stay right there. we're going to broaden our conversation with a pair of political gurus, david plouffe, who advised president obama and now is contributor to abc news. welcome david. matthew dowd, top strategist on the george w. bush campaign and
our chief business correspondent rebecca jarvis joins us from new york. i want to go back to you first, jon, we heard a congressman say in your piece, that heads ought to roll. >> yes, what i'm hearing from the officials, there will be changes to the president's team coming out of this. they're not looking to fire anyone now. the president believes that would be counterproductive. you can imagine, martha, if there were a change at the top, if kathleen sebelius was fired, he would be left with a vacancy at top of hhs and a long drawn-out confirmation battle. >> matthew dowd, let's turn to you, it sounds for policy reasons and efficiency reasons, perhaps, they shouldn't have any heads rolling right now, but the optics of this are so bad. >> to rebuild trust is to bring new people in.
to me this presidency and actually the last presidency that i was involved in with the elections they have done a great job of delegation but they haven't a great job of the second half of a mba person which is accountability. to enforce accountability is to bring in new people when something like this happens. i think at some point, the president needs to demonstrate, i can delegate things but i can also hold accountable people. when things are messed up. >> david plouffe, is that what you would do? >> i think they're in triage as jonathan said. once the website gets fixed, what do i need to have confidence going forward to implement this law? not only in the comes months, but the coming years. that's the fundamental question. you have to have this under control going forward. this law is going to be with us, i think, forever.
but certainly over the next three years of his presidency, we'll have more people that need to be enrolled. you have to implement this in a smart and effective way. you have to regain people's trust. >> jonathan karl, if heads aren't rolling, what will they do now? >> the big thing right now is getting that website fixed. the president has clashed with insurance companies, but he brought the ceos in and they have the same goal right now, the exact same goal, which is getting as many people as they possibly can to enroll in these health exchanges, he does have an ally there with those ceos. >> rebecca jarvis, give us a reality check. what are americans thinking? >> the issue is here who is signing up. right now, the numbers are skewing much older than the insurers anticipated. we were expecting people of the age of 40 starting to signing up through these exchanges.
those who are younger are opting out, and that's a problem for the future years, because ultimately, in order for this to work, the insurers need a pool of people that's both young and healthy as well as the sick and the old. ultimately, if next year you don't see young people signing up the exchanges, then in 2015, that's when premiums start to go up because the insurers will say, we spent all of this money in 2014 to insure people and we now need to pass along those costs to others. >> david and matthew, what do you see as far as obama regaining the trust of the american people? >> well, to me, this is very problematic for his presidency at this point in time. if you take a look at history when presidents in their second term, drop this level in
credibility, trust and approval, they never come back from that. it's very hard. absence of major crisis. i think the president is in a difficult spot on all of his legislative initiatives going forward in the next three years. >> is it a political katrina? >> first of all there's a kwal tif difference. people dying in can new orleans and people not able to get health care. from a political standpoint i s e's eerily similar. >> i disagree. it's hard on these feeding frenzy in washington to have perspective. the website is working fine and people are enrolling for health care. hopefully, we won't have another washington dysfunction. it's not just health care. we pass a budget and move forward. the economy continues to strengthen. we could be in a much different place three, four months from now. no doubt that this is challenging time. i think you have to have some perspective here, the story could change.
once the website gets fixed, the political notion, by the way, that next year's election, 2016, the republican platform is going to be getting rid of health care. millions of people will be signed up. >> quickly to jon karl and rebecca jarvis for some final thoughts. jon, you first, whether he regain the trust of american people. >> i tell you this, white house officials firmly believe that the worst is behind them. but i've got to tell you, essentially what they have been telling me for several weeks, and of course, over the course of that time, things kept getting work. >> rebecca? from the standpoint of the american people the website has to work and if premiums go up in 2015 then there's even bigger problems. now, new york democratic senator kirsten gillibrand join us now. i'm going to ask you the same question, can president obama regain the trust of american people? >> of course, he can. martha, what is this about, everyday people needing access to affordable health care. they don't want their coverage drop due to a pre-existing conditions.
they want their kids covered up to 26. they want to have preventive care covered. once we get over this implementation issue. they can fix this. it's a fixable problem. once they fix it, people will see, i have an opportunity to cover my family. martha, i was in the emergency room with my son who had an asthma attack. i looked in the eyes of all of the mothers in the emergency room. these are mothers who don't have health care, this may be their only access. >> but whose trust has been shattered. >> that's just an implementation issue. once you get beyond it. >> you think we'll get beyond it by november 30th. >> we will. what they'll see is, emergency room is covered. >> i want to go back to this implementation. did you feel misled by president obama?
>> she should have been more specific. if you're offered by a terrible health care plan, that the minute you get sick, you go into bankruptcy. the whole point of the plan is to cover things that people need. how many women the minute they get pregnant might risk their coverage? how many women paid more of because their gender because they might get pregnant? >> but we're talking about leadership here and trust. what does this all say about president obama's leadership these past few weeks? he fell on his sword but he's missed that sword a couple of times. >> no one is more disappointed than the implementation issues than president obama. he has taken full responsibility for the mistakes and the lack of getting this system up and running when it was supposed to be up and running. but what this is about, martha, are those mothers in the emergency room.
who don't have access to affordable health care. i can't tell you how frightening it is when your kid can't breathe, it's a horrible moment. i looked at every mother. we have to fix health care in this country. so, when you talk about president's legacy, his legacy is going to be offering affordable health care to every family in this country. >> 39 democrats defected in the house, you heard jon karl mentioning in the house. 39 democrats. >> yes. >> what does that tell you? >> they're just responding to the worries of their constituents. because the implementation issues, there's a number of americans who got a notice from their insurance company, we're not covering you anymore. you know what that creates in a family? enormous amount of stress. when you don't know how you're going to pay for your medicine and the whole point of the bill is, so you can get those inoculations. get the medicines he or she
needs. >> got to work through it. >> they're worried. they're worried. i think it's not only normal but our job is to fix these problems, if they're trying to ally someone's concern, during this transiti transitional period, where implementation has been rocky, we're going to ally your concerns republicans and democrats are trying to figure out how to settle that worry. >> speaking of presidents, this is the front cover of "national journal." with that campaign logo that president obama had. >> yeah. >> what is your reaction to that? >> i think it's a nice picture. i like it. >> what does it say? any plans? >> no, no. i'm on the bandwagon for hillary clinton for 2016. >> you're not going to look beyond that? >> i have personally encouraged her. i think she will have the experience. she has the gravitas. what she has done as secretary
of state is incredible. >> senator, i want to turn to another issue that you have been very involved in and that is changing the way that the military investigates sexual assault, it's a debate that pitted you against members of your own party. the debate is heading to the senate floor. let's talk about that in just a moment. but first, here's abc's jeff zeleny. >> reporter: arianna clay, marine officer, iraq war veteran, and victim of sexual assault. >> when i reported assault, my command respond with retaliation. it was worst than the assault. because it was sanctioned from the same leaders that i would have once risked my life for. >> reporter: the shocking numbers of these cases has placed it at center stage. confronted by two democratic senators, both women. but with different proposals to reform the military justice system.
on one side, senator kirsten gillibrand, to take the cases outside the chain of command. >> too often, these brave men and women are in the fight of their life. it's not off on some foreign soil. it's right within their own ranks. >> reporter: on the other side senator claire mccaskill. adamant commanders stay involved. >> i believe these reforms will hold the chain of command more accountable and force them to be part of the solution. >> reporter: and the pentagon favors the mccaskill plan. it's an uphill battle for gillibrand, still short of the 60 votes she needs. for "this week," jeff zeleny, abc news, capitol hill. >> back now with senator gillibrand. you heard in jeff zeleny's report, you're shy of those 60 votes. >> i think we'll get them, martha, this is a growing debate all around this country because we want to make sure that the men and women who serve our military have a justice system
deserving of their sacrifices. they're literally giving their lives for our values and our country. they need justice and that's what we're trying to do. >> one of the things that you told your hometown paper, i think it was in today's paper, was that you would consider taking parts of the legislation out for other serious crimes, murder and theft, are you going to do that or are you going to stick to the original plan? >> no, we're going to stick to the original plan because it's a better bill. it's an interesting pros is. what we learned is, having the bright line of elevating of all serious crimes out of chain of command, makes both victims' rights are protected. for civil liberties reasons. you need fairness and justice. what we got 26,000 cases of sexual assault -- and rape last year alone. only 3,000 reported. >> you yourself said those
26,000, you don't know whether they're the difference between patting someone on the bottom or rape, so, if you have those kind of statistics, but you don't know what the data is, how can you make recommendations? >> we know the data. this is from the department of defense. this is their estimate. not my estimate. >> as you yourself. >> agreed. martha, what we do know, the 3,000 cases that were reported 70% were violent. violent rapes and sexual assaults. and even more disturbing of those 3,000 cases that were reported 62% of the victims were retaliated against. what we have is a system where it's broken, that, if you're rape you'll likely be retaliated against for that reporting of that rape. >> listen to what senator john mccain said this week. >> i'm the only member of the united states senate who was actually in command, okay? and i respect senator gillibrand's views and her
advocacy, but i do not believe that she has background or experience. >> do you have the background or experience? >> i do. i respect and admire senator mccain. our job as senators and members of congress is the vital constitutional responsibility to provide oversight over the department of defense. it's our job. this is my job. third, this is an epidemic that has grown to such proportions. there's zero tolerance for sexual assault in the military. last year alone, we had 3,000 reported case of sexual assault. let me finish. martha, this is so important. >> i want to go to this, because the president of the united states has put a lot of attention on this, does he support what you're trying to do, does he support your amendment? >> i'm so hopeful that he will. because this is an opportunity for him to show extraordinary leadership on this issue.
but there's a growing chorus of generals, of veterans, iraq veterans, afghanistan veterans, all support this case and there's a panel, a commission that actually advises on women, to support every aspect of this. of those ten votes, 9 out of 10 are all former military and four are generals. >> still a long line of generals who don't support it. >> those are in the chain of command generals. we have former generals who support this. three-star general. >> thanks very much for joining us, senator gillibrand. >> and -- up next -- the powerhouse roundtable. their take on president obama's rough week. plus jon karl with wisconsin governor scott walker, could he be the gop's newest breakout star?
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ask your doctor for paxil, second-term strength. it treats a whole range of symptoms. like benghazi, the nsa scandal, the irs scandal, the ap scandal. the petraeus scandal. that time jay-z and beyonce went to cuba and, of course, the obama care website problems. >> you got to love "saturday night live." the laughing roundtable joins us now. gwen ifill, congressman adam kinzinger, bret stephens and former vermont governor howard dean, welcome to all of you. and gwen, i'm going to start with you, the reporter at the table, you have been a reporter in this city for more than years than you probably want to talk about, but covered a number of presidents, as far as weeks go, this seems a pretty bad one for president obama. >> it was a very --
thank you for a laugh to start it off. they're not laughing a lot at the white house this week, it's been -- to have the president come out as he did, and speak basically for an hour, yeah, i was wrong and yeah, i was fumbled, was not only a bad concession for him and it was so unobamalike, their certainty, their defense in all of this, we know what's best for you but we don't know how to do it. and this is complicated. so, it was a bad, bad week. they're hoping, as you heard jon karl say, they've hit bottom and there's only one place to go and that is up. >> okay, howard dean, i want to turn you and say happy 65th birthday. >> oh, please. ouch. >> you don't have to worry about healthcare.gov, you qualify for medicare. sorry on to point out that. >> you know how long it took me to sign up for medicare on the
web? ten minutes. >> they got that one down. look, we saw this week, red-state democrats running for cover. speaking out against the president. >> there are two aspects of this, we can either focus on this one, the usual washington panic, craziness, isolated from everything else that's going on in the country, or the real problem, which is they got to fix the website and they've got to fix the website. i'm not convinced. it takes twice as long and often you have to do it twice. they have to start getting people enrolled. i think they can. they may have to do it manually. >> what does this do for going forward for president obama, the rest of his term, and trying to get anything else through? >> if democrats keep thinking like that, it's going to be the greatest political gift for republicans in maybe decades. this is -- obama care is a political
self-punching machine for the president. you have a november 30th deadline. there's a march 15th deadline for the end of enrollment period, where two-thirds of americans who are trying to sign up are going to discover that they don't qualify for subsidies. then in june, we get the presumably the beginning of the employer mandate. millions of americans are going to discover they're being shunted into part-time work or work under 30 hours precisely because of obama care, this is the kind of gift that will keep on giving for republicans at least for the next election cycle. >> i'm glad the governor called for public option. this shows, in my mind, this was the democrat's plan where from the very beginning, this thing is failing. this is failing much faster than they expected. the website is going to get
fixed. i was in illinois talking to my friend of mine who said, i just got notice, my monthly cost is going to be the same, but my deductible is going to 6,000. he's going to use his deductible. this is happening all over the country and it's a systemic issue that goes beyond the website. >> and i want to stay with you for a minute here. the tables have turned pretty quickly, less than a week ago, everyone was talking about the divide in the republican party, how does that affect you personally and what do you think of that now? has this helped? >> i'm not celebrating this because this hurts real americans. from a political perspective, we came out of a government shutdown, undoubtedly the republicans took the brunt of the hit. that's just from politics. we're not out there celebrating this and saying yeah. like my buddy whose costs are going up, this is happens to millions of americans.
but, in terms of republicans, we're very united on this and we have been saying for the beginning, this plan doesn't work and it's beyond the website. when the website gets fixed, i think americans will be shocked to see there's still a problem. >> gwen, now the divided democrats. >> republicans were hopelessly divided and democrats were hopefully united. that was driving the world in wake of the government shutdown. a month later, we now have the divided democrats. what we see around this table is an example why life is so hard at 1600 pennsylvania avenue. democrats, the president doesn't want single-payer. everybody knows that. >> he made a mistake. >> you're in a single-payer. if you weren't in congress, you would be in a single-payer. it's very successful. i'm a single payer today. because i'm on medicare. >> on the record medicare is a single-payer. >> what the goal of democrats in the long run -- >> we want health care for everyone. >> the white house has a
goldilocks defense. not too liberal or too conservative, we felt that we had it just right. it turns out to be right. the president essentially said that in the briefing room the other day, he can't make anyone happy right now. >> which brings you back to the issue of trust. >> there's also an issue of competence, martha, we have had a year of fumbles by the administration -- over syria, with the irs issues, the question of the nsa, what happened to ed snowden, wiretapping the chancellor of germany. i think there's an issue of trust but there's a sense that this is a president is fundamentally disconnected from the government he's running. until he shows that he's in charge overpromising and underdelivering, it will continue to grow.
>> look at 2014 then, what happens there, is this gone? has everybody forgotten this? >> no, i think what happened -- i think, what gwen opened up with -- david plouffe opened up with, if you get this thing fixed by march, they'll like it. i think it will work and it did work when mitt romney did it in massachusetts. 98.5%. >> they won't forget it completely it doesn't seem. >> any more than they forget the government shutdown. >> how do you justify my constituents who are calling me, a lady betsy in rockford, illinois, said her policy is being canceled and her costs are skyrocketing. how are you going to fix that these people were promised more affordable insurance, insurance for everybody. >> betsy should get a tax subsidy and her actual premium will be lower. i want to turn quickly to iran, this week may be a very big week with negotiations with
iran, with secretary kerry, the white house seems cautiously optimistic about this. the state department seems cautiously optimistic they can get a deal with iran. we've heard this before and nothing happened. is it going to happen, bret, you think? >> well, it's very hard to say. everyone thought that the last deal was going to happen and it failed on french objections. who would have thought that the french are actually quite serious about this. >> even though secretary kerry said they all agreed. you're not sure that's the case. >> i think that's the case. it would have allowed iran to continue build a plutonium reactor. which is the second route for them to a bomb. >> should a deal be made? >> no, a deal should only be made if iran begins to dismantle not simply suspend or slow, but to actually dismantle their nuclear programs.
you're at mile 23 of your marathon, you have been sprinting toward a nuclear weapon, but jog for a few months. >> it's a comprehensive plan. they say it takes about six months. why not halt what you can? while you're trying to negotiate -- >> because you have more leverage. right now, we're at a moment where we have high leverage because the sanctions are in place and the freeze on their capital reserves really hurt them. so we're going to be saying to them, we'll start relieving ourselves of our leverage piece by piece. look, the iranians are expert negotiators. we should not imagine for one second that the state department is going to beat iran in a nuclear negotiation. >> but here's the larger problem for the president, the same problem we had with health care, which is the people who are abandoning him on this and critical on this, not only republicans and democrats, who are getting phone calls from benjamin netanyahu saying this is not acceptable. he'll get a lot more this week.
credibility problem. it's leverage. but it's also the fact that people sitting around that table in geneva, they're also watching what we're doing here in this country and testing the president if he's weak enough for them to get what they need. >> more sanctions? >> i think we need to. i think we're at a point of epic leverage. iranians are hurting now. they come and say, we're hurting, we want to talk, we basically want a $20 billion cash infusion into our economy. i think we should talk to the iranians -- if we got to the table and say we want you to relieve some of the sanctions, obviously, you're not feeling the hurt and come back when you're desperate. >> quickly, governor, isn't this all about wanting to negotiate with the iranians in the end? >> well, let's just point out, since somebody has accused the president of incompetence, it was this president's sanctions that worked that finally slowed this program down. i'm a hard-liner on iran. i don't trust them.
i'm trying to get 3,000 people who are unarmed out of iraq. who are iranian dissidents. i don't trust the iranians at all. my view is, if we can get a deal, that would be great. it would have to be verifiable and it should include dismantling of some of their facilities. >> thank you all for joining us. now wisconsin scott walker, gop, tea party favorite, he made his name taking on unions and now is possible a 2016 contender. on karl is back with the inside story of the man who was once the most divisive politician in america. >> reporter: it was three years ago that the occupied movement was born right here in madison, wisconsin. the focus of the anger, republican governor scott walker
for making a frontal assault against public employee unions, that would strip away most of their collective bargaining rights. >> some have asked why we have to strip collective bargaining rights to balance the budget? the answer is simple the system is broken. >> reporter: for a time, walker seemed to be the most hated man in wisconsin. now, he's running for re-election and considered by many republicans to be a top contender for the 2016 presidential nominee. in a new book, he tells the story of the confrontation that brought 100,000 protesters outside his house in the capitol building for weeks on end. he was compared to hitler and osama bin laden. "time" magazine declared him dead man walker. he and his family received death threats. >> there were signs out there that have my picture that have a stop sign on it. >> this tunnel connects from across the street.
>> reporter: the governor gave us a first-ever look at the secret tunnel he used to get in and out of his office during the occupation. one scene that makes the federal government shutdown tame in comparison -- when republicans rammed walker's bill through the assembly all hell broke loose. this was intense. >> you had not only protesters up there, but you had members screaming at members on the other side. >> reporter: he acknowledged making mistakes along the way. but he's more critical of the way republicans in washington handle the government shutdown. governor walker, for a while, you were the most divisive man in america. what did you learn from that? >> i came in wanting to fix things having a deficit. i was so eager to fix that, i didn't spend time talking about it with the people of this state. >> reporter: when you were elected in 2010, you were some
what of a tea party hero, what do you make of the tea party movement now? tarnished in many ways. blamed for the government shutdown. >> i don't think it's a movement that's myolithic. the way you make the compelling case to american people, the way we can make things better is by shutting things down. >> reporter: as you know, the most unpopular are the republicans in congress. where has the republican party just gone bad? >> republicans at the state level are showing we're much more optimistic and we're speaking in terms that much more relevant. that's a real problem. >> reporter: when walker talks about the type of candidate that the republicans should nominate in 2016. it sounds more than little that he's talking about himself.
describe for me the ideal republican presidential candidate in 2016. >> i think it's got to be an outsider, i think both the presidential and vice presidential nominees should be a former or current governor. someone who has done successful things in their states. ready to move forward. >> it rules out marco rubio and rand paul. >> all good guys. but it has to be someone companiesally removed from congress. >> reporter: your requirements also rule out paul ryan. would you commit to the voters of wisconsin that you'll serve out a full second term? >> in my case, i have never made that commitment. because to me it's not about the time you serve in office, i feel right now my calling is to be the governor of the state of wisconsin. >> reporter: when you don't commit to serve a full second term. the door is open. you're certainly not ruling out. >> i don't rule anything out.
>> reporter: first thing first, he faces a re-election battle in wisconsin next year. for "this week," jonathan karl, abc news, madison, wisconsin. >> our thanks to jon and thanks to our roundtable. coming up -- the memory that never fades, 50 years after dallas, byron pitts on the story and ken burns joins us live, next. pitts on the story and ken burns joins us live, next. ♪ [ engine revs ] ♪ ♪ [ male announcer ] the mercedes-benz winter event is back, with the perfect vehicle that's just right for you, no matter which list you're on. [ santa ] ho, ho, ho, ho! [ male announcer ] get the all-new 2014 cla250 starting at just $29,900.
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might have been linger for all of us. ken burns joins us next, but first, here's abc's chief national correspondent byron pitts. >> reporter: he had it all. good looks. great wealth. immeasurable power. and that gift -- >> ask what not what your country can do for you ask what you can do for your country. sflr not just to deliver words we can hear but a vision we could see. >> we choose to go to the moon and do the other things, not because they are easy but because they are hard. >> reporter: in a nation long opposed to kings and queens, the kennedys were american royalty. >> there's mrs. kennedy. and the crowd yells. >> reporter: and then, came dallas. >> i can see his sun tan all of the way from here. >> reporter: less than an hour after touching down at love field, president john f.
kennedy was dead. former cbs news correspondent dan rather was there. >> everybody knew, if there was going to be trouble anywhere, it would be in dallas. >> reporter: why? >> because of the history. >> reporter: dallas 1963, nowhere in texas did the jagged edge of segregation country cut deeper, anti-kennedy criticism. this flyer greeted the president when he arrived. >> it's very important to understand, well, if there's going to be trouble in dallas, no one was thinking of assassination. >> president and first lady. >> reporter: amidst the cheering, a sigh of relief, the president's motorcade approaching the last block. >> we standing out in the street. >> reporter: tina was 13, filming this footage from the texas schoolbook depository. two seconds later, history changed. >> i heard three gunshots. >> fresh out here was an incredible scene. people were screaming. some people were crying.
>> you'll excuse me if i'm out of breath. a bulletin, president kennedy has been shot in dallas. >> reporter: dr. ronald jones was having lunch when the hospital operator paged him. >> she said, dr. jones, the president has been shot and they're bringing him to the emergency room. >> reporter: what was your reaction? >> a flush comes over you. >> the first unconfirmed report says that the president was hit in the head. >> reporter: any sign of life at all? >> no sign of life at all. in my opinion he was -- he had a fixed stare, his eyes were open, i never saw him move or breathe. >> president kennedy died at 1:00 p.m. central standard time. some 38 minutes ago. >> reporter: within hours the new president is sworn in, the accused assassin in jail. >> i emphatically deny these charges. >> reporter: while questions linger today about lee harvey oswald's role,
one thing is certain, he was the first man murdered on live tv. in these gut-wrenching heartbreaking moments television news had come of age. the indescribable, the indelible. >> this country, the important thing we stand united and in the wake of the kennedy assassination, one of the most impressive things about the american people and about our country was that, we pulled together and stood united. >> it seems, dan, it moved you then it moves you still. >> of course and i have no apologies for that. >> we're very focused on the family because that's the only thing they got us through. it certainly got my dad through. >> reporter: former rhode island congressman patrick kennedy, ted kennedy's son, 50 years later, he reminds us that the nation lost plenty, a family lost more. >> my father frankly was not
just my father he was the four for john and caroline and all of my robert kennedy's cousins too. >> reporter: a civil rights activist said that president kennedy wasn't the perfect president but was perfect for his time. >> he was a reluctant civil rights warrior. >> reporter: you said reluctant but a warrior still yes? >> let's just say he grew into it. >> reporter: setting the stage for the civil rights bill, the peace corps, the space program, john fitzgerald kennedy did not live long but in 46 years he did much. >> he spoke truth. >> when a man is enslaved all are not free. >> it was a universal truth that transcended his time. >> we cannot be satisfied to rest here. we have made a beginning. but we have only begun. >> reporter: for "this week," byron pitts, abc news, dallas.
>> our thanks to byron. and now, let's welcome award-winning documentary filmmaker ken burns. ken, thanks for being here this morning. what is indelible about jfk's legacy? >> it is, like pearl harbor and 9/11, these legacies of loss first of all, of cut short. but what we remember in a positive way is the hope and the ambition and the sense of possibilities, something that in this day, in sort of frozen government, that seems really impossible. i think what we take from him is the sense of possibility. the fact that it was cut short it aged that possibility now. we think only if he lived. but the legacy is unclear in that regard. with regard with civil rights. it took a new dealer like lbj to push the things through. we're not sure kennedy would have with vietnam. all of his advisers traveled over to lbj and we got deeper and deeper involved. when kennedy's administration
started, there were 900 advisers, there were 16,000 when he was killed. he both agonized over that and we have that record and he was also standing firm in the face of other things. >> but this legacy of kennedy's time will certainly outlive us. >> it's not camelot. it's this moment that comes. we see it as a dream. it's fleeting and it just stays there for a couple of seconds. and we wish we could extend it and we don't know what the future would have been without him. he represents the best in us because it was cut short and i think that's where the legacy, even with the conspiracy theories that continue to abide, it has to do with our seeing him so high and needing to elevate the person so high. it couldn't be one lowly person
but it had to be a vast conspiracy and that's a testament to the great man. >> i want to quickly talk -- turn to another president and the gettysburg address and a project you're involved in called "the address." >> i'm making a documentary about kids who have learning difficulties in a boarding school in vermont, it's the place of last resort, each year they're asked to memorize and recite the gettysburg address. they have been doing it for 35 years at this school. they do it. as i was editing, i said, why can't we do it? they're so inspirational. i issued a challenge. all of the living presidents, people in the media, lot of people in america, we're challenging people on our website learn the address is filling up with ordinary citizens, adding their thing. these are two minutes of the greatest speech in american history. he's doubling down on the declaration.
all men are created equal. lincoln said we mean it and here are our marching orders. >> that's a wonderful project. ken burns, thanks for joining us. >> stay with abc news all week long as we remember the life and legacy of president kennedy. when we come back -- we built one of the largest private armys in the world and then came under fire for his tactics. did your people ever kill innocent civilians? >> it's entirely possible. >> the founder of blackwater takes on his critics next. founder of blackwater takes on his critics next.
its aggressive tactics. we visited prince on his virginia farm for his side of the story. >> some people will always hate the name blackwater. they might not like me. i'm perfectly comfortable with that. >> reporter: three years after he sold blackwater his controversial founder is finally opening up about the rapid rise and fall of his company. >> it was really hard seeing it dismembered by the bureaucracy. >> reporter: in this new book, titled "civilian warriors." the former navy s.e.a.l. who grew up in a conservative michigan family, blames his company's demise on quote, cold and timid souls. >> went after troops in an unpopular vietnam war. blackwater -- >> did your people ever kill innocent civilians? >> it's entirely possible. >> reporter: it was in september 2007 that blackwater contractors
were accused of firing into a crowd of iraqi citizens. at least 11 were killed, including a 9-year-old boy. a handful of blackwater contractors faced manslaughter charges, they deny any wrongdoing. but it was the incident that eventually led to blackwater's expulsion from iraq. there's no denying that its aggressive tactics in iraq gave the company's critics plenty of reasons to attack. you came under a lot of criticism about inflaming anti-america sentiment. just because of the way you operated there. >> that's partially true, because of the rules dictated by the state department. you will drive a vehicle between point a and point b with lights and sirens on it's pretty easy for the enemy. >> how about fighting back and this isn't the way we should be doing this? >> sure.
>> reporter: it's the state department's fault for any anti-american sentiment -- >> we're at the end of that tale. getting whipped. >> do you take any of that blame? >> my greatest regret was working for the state department. the company was doing exactly what it was asked to do. every member of congress that visited iraq came home alive under our guys' care. >> much more of my interview with erik prince tomorrow on "nightline." and his prince "civilian wars" comes out tomorrow. now we honor our fellow americans who serve and sacrifice. this week, the pentagon released the name of one soldier killed in afghanistan. that's all for us today. thanks for sharing part of your sunday with us. check out "world news" with david muir tonight. and have a great day today.
>> in the news this sunday, san francisco police investigate a shooting that's left one woman dead. what a witness says he heard moments before the gunfire. and more wrangling between bart and their unions in their bitter contract dispute. how the unions are taking a stand against bart management calls a mistake. >> good morning from our emeryville camera. we are look at sunshine but patches of foglingner the north bay. low 50s over the bay. we will see a sunny day before the