tv MSNBC News Live MSNBC May 2, 2010 10:00am-11:00am EDT
city are saying about an explosive device packed into a car right in the heart of manhattan. times square. we've got this covered from all the angles to stay with us for the latest information on that. cleanup and containment. president obama travels to louisiana today for a firsthand look at all the efforts under way aiming to avert major ecological disaster in the gulf of mexico. and deadly storms. a severe weather system is being blamed for at least five deaths in tennessee, and forecasters say more rain is on the way there. let's get right to the new developments after the car bomb was found inside a smoking suv parked in the heart of new york's times square. now, nbc news has learned that investigators have now found vin numbers on that suv which will certainly aid the officials in their search for whomever is responsible. police evacuated a very large section of times square last night after the explosive device was found inside a nissan pathfinder. authorities managed to dismantle the device after using a robot to break through the car's
windows. meanwhile, homeland security secretary janet napolitano tells "meet the press" they have recovered evidence from the vehicle, including fingerprints. they don't have any suspects and officials are trooeting the incident as a potential terrorist attack. federal officials say an initial assessment is that the contents inside the suv were not, quote, a working device, but there is still some question about whether the car actually contained a functioning detonator. let's go live right now to the scene. nbc's michelle franzen is in new york's times square for us. michelle, good morning. officials in new york city, what are they saying about the incident? >> reporter: what they're saying is is this had the potential to possibly spark a big fireball here in times square last night, one of the busiest tourist destinations in the united states, packed last night. the weather was warm, and certainly said that this could have had the potential again, as you mentioned. they don't know if all those bomb-making materials, that they had enough of them to really
debt nate them and make them actually turn into a fireball. but that nissan was found running and fireworks inside when that t-shirt vendor alerted the police officer. and certainly, it was the quick response, according to new york's mayor michael bloomberg that helped make all the difference. >> the bomb squad was called, and they in their professional ways used a robot and used men dressed in bomb-proof suits and did the job you would expect them to do, the kind of job that they train for, keeping everybody safe, and thank god nothing happened to them, as well. >> reporter: and the mayor also encouraged people to go about their business, and that's exactly what they're doing in times square today, alex. take a look. times square is open again. most of the streets that were shut down for more than ten hours reopened with exception of that 45th street. and they are still looking for possible clues in that area. in addition, they're also going over a lot of the surveillance cameras in this area. the nypd has many surveillance
cameras in addition to that, also checking with hotels in the area. this area, of course, crossroads of the world, dotted with hotels, theaters, and restaurants. and at this hour, the nissan was left running, it was right before people would have been heading into the theaters. alex? >> could not have been a worse time to pull something like this. you know, michelle, for those of us who live in the news world, we're all about this story. we're getting all the details and monitoring all the developments. and yet you're tell megathat some people are going about their business in times square with not a clue as to what happened? >> reporter: yeah. not a clue. some people are still coming up to us, asking us what happened overnight? what's going on? why are you guys here? we heard something about a truck in times square or a possible bomb. and so we're letting them know exactly what happened, and they're also waking up to this and getting out. but a lot of other people that are aware say it doesn't matter to them, they're getting out. you see a lot of parents walking through here with their young
children, a lot of them getting ready for shows today. that will include "the lion king." that was the nearest theater -- the theater that was nearest this nissan suv. that show gets under way this afternoon. >> clearly people heeding the advice of mayor michael bloomberg who says back to business as usual. michelle franzen, thank you. president obama is monitoring all the new developments in the bomb scare from washington this morning. nbc's mike viqueira is at the white house for us. mike, a good sunday morning to you. >> reporter: good morning, alex. >> this is front and center, as well as the gulf spill. gee, anything else? the president, we hope, had a good night's sleep after the white house correspondents' dinner last night because a lot to deal with today. >> he certainly does. we can assume he was back safe and sound inside the white house but not before receiving briefings on the situation in new york city and presumably in the gulf of mexico, as well. a couple things to tell you about here, alex. janet napolitano is the homeland security secretary. she was on "meet the press" on nbc just about an hour ago. she says they are treating this
as an intended terrorist attack, that no suspects are yet -- there are yet no suspects, but forensic evidence is expected to be recovered because there was no explosion, no incendiary device set off, no fire that would have obliterated fingerprints. in fact, she indicates that the fingerprints could actually be recovered from that vehicle as well as citing the fact that there are many surveillance cameras in that area that could yield evidence via videotape. ken salazar, the interior secretary, also with janet th napolita napolitano, talking about a number of things with regard to that incident as well. but the president does leave within the course of the next hour or so to go down to louisiana, firsthand look at the damage there, the ongoing and unfolding catastrophe with the oil leak. he'll talk to state and local officials. a possibility that he will have a helicopter flyover to have a look at this. but last night, with regard to the times square incident, the president, of course, at the white house correspondents' dinner, returned and at about
midnight, we got this press statement. john working with the nypd and others will continue to keep the president up to date on the investigation. of course the president will be traveling today, not a problem. he has secure communications, as you might expect, wherever he goes. we can expect that he will get updates on the situation in times square. the implications of that, as well as the status of the investigation. but today he's largely expected to be focused on this -- focusing on his own unfolding drama, this ongoing drama and the danger to the environment and to the economy of the gulf region when he travels to louisiana in just a few minutes. alex? >> okay. perfect setup there, mike. thanks so much, because that is
our focus of our next story. see you next hour. >> reporter: okay. so, everyone, the widening crisis in the gulf of mexico where the massive oil spill is creeping closer to shore as we speak. president obama is heading south today to get a closer look at the damage being caused by the out-of-control well, which is leaking oil right now. nbc's anne thompson is in venice, louisiana weather the latest on this. anne weather a good morni anne, with a good morning to you, i can see weather remains a problem. look at the winds there. >> reporter: yeah. i know. it's really bad, alex. they're expecting winds and we're seeing winds today of 30 miles per hour. and that is once again going to hamper the efforts to control this oil spill. the big skimmer boats, 210-foot boats, sitting in the mississippi deliver morning, can't go autoout to the gulf because the seas are just too choppy. they cannot burn in these kinds of conditions, and the booms are just getting submerged by the big waves. so another day of frustration.
they're also talking about today, they're looking at two new options as to how to plug that leak, alex. they are talking about perhaps crimping the pipe and then sending a new blowout preventer down there. but the u.s. coast guard commandant, who is in charge of the response now, says the problem is they're facing the tyranny of death and the tyranny of distance, because you have to remember that leaking well is a mile below the surface of the sea. so that's the big problem there. the other thing that has caught everybody's attention down here this morning is a comment by u.s. secretary of the interior, ken salazar, who said the worst-case scenario could be that that well would leak 100,000 barrels a day. right now, the estimate is that it is leaking 5,000 barrels a day, but he said it could be up to 100,000 barrels. alex? >> yeah. hey, anne, very quickly, this wind, that's probably hampering
the efforts to use these chemical dispersanlts that are supposed to get to the oil under water. some under water too? >> reporter: they tried to put the dispersants -- you've seen the shots of the big planes coming in and flying low over the leak, and then they have this trail of dispersant that goes behind them. one of the things they tried this weekend is -- because they were having some success on the surface of the water, they thought, well, if the we shot those dispersants into the flow of the oil underneath, maybe it would break up the oil there. that hasn't been as successful. but they are still going to try to attack it from the air. >> okay. anne thompson thanks so much. windy as it is there in venice, louisiana. >> reporter: take care, alex. a programming note -- you take care as well. brian williams will be leading coverage from the gulf coast as president obama takes a first hand look at the oil spill there. still ahead this hour, a flooding crisis in tennessee so bad that the national guard is
15 past. welcome back to "msnbc sunday." let's get a quick check on some of the important stories making news for you today. president obama will travel to louisiana for a firsthand look at that growing oil slick in the gulf of mexico. the cleanup crews are reporting only limited success as the slick continues to balloon in size and move eastward right towards land. at least five deaths are being blame on a line of severe storms that moved through central tennessee, causing flashflooding and downing trees and power lines in its wake. meanwhile, in arkansas, at least one person is dead after tornadoes ripped across the state late friday night. and tens of thousands turned
out for rallies across this country this weekend demanding immediate government action on immigration reform. public outcry has been building since arizona adopted a tough new immigration law last week. we are now going to turn to the attempted terror attack in new york city. officials say that the device inside the nissan suv was not a functioning explosive. federal officials say an initial assessment indicates the bomb, which was made of gunpowder, gasoline, and propane tanks did not really amount to a working device. joining me now, nbc news terrorism analyst evan coleman. good morning. >> good morning. >> i hate even describing this that way because it's as if we're down playing the significance of this. >> yeah. >> the fact is had this thing gone off it would have been a disaster. >> yeah. and i think we also have to keep in mind that already we have a claim of responsibility this morning, a purported claim of responsibility from the pakistani taliban from kari hussein masood, apparently a representative of the leader of the pakistani taliban, hakeem
mullah masood, who's claimed credit for this attack in new york. we have to be careful because the pakistani taliban has also claimed credit for various different incidences that have occurred in the united states which are clearly not linked to terrorism, but it is interesting that already we are seeing terrorist organizations step up trying to get a piece of the pie in terms of publicity, anyway. >> i'm curious what you think about that. is that actual lay credible claim in your mind given the way this bomb, this explosive device, however it wants to be described right now, was really rudiment arily created? >> it was amateurish. it is important to understand this kind of explosive is not the kind of device built by someone who went through a terrorist training camp. that being said, just two years ago in barcelona, in spain, spanish authorities intercepted a group of people who seemed very amateurish in that they were trying to carry out some kind of bomb attack in barcelona. and sure enough, the pakistani taliban not only claimed credit
for that aborted operation that failed, but there's a good amount of evidence that they were involved in it. so it's possible that a group like the pakistani taliban, a group that doesn't have the kind of training and experience that al qaeda might might have mounted this. but regardless of who it was, this was not a very expertly carried out operation. this explosive device, the way it was carried out, everything was very amateurish. it was not done by someone with a lot of experience, obviously, in building these devices or deploying them, and that does tend to suggest, anyway, it's a homegrown extremist or somebody who even if they'd been mobilized by a terrorist group, they are homegrown themselves. >> yeah. okay. but you and i spent time back in 2007 talking tact glasgow, scotland, airport attack, which wasn't propane used as either a propellant or -- >> yeah. >> so you think about that, there could be copycats of that kind of incident. >> right. >> i mean, that was connected to an actual group, wasn't it? >> right. and it's interesting that that attack is very similar or that failed attack is very similar to
what happened here. individuals who pack propane canisters and gas canisters inside a vehicle, tried a detonator. again, no explosive. there was no actual explosive. it was a combustible device. the point is it failed and it failed for it looks like very similar reasons to why this failed. and in that case, you know, a lot of people said, look, these guys, they're amateurs, they don't know what they're doing. this was, you know, something that they came up with on their own. then in the meantime, just, you know, a few months down the line, al qaeda and iraq claim credit for that failed attack. now, we just had the killing of the top two leaders of al qaeda in iraq in the past few days. we've had a chorus of calls for vengeance. is it plausible that this is, you know, an abortive attempt at carrying out vengeance on behalf of al qaeda? it's possible. but, again, i think if you look at this, it doesn't look like a lot of time and a lot of planning went into this, at least not from someone who had a sophisticated understanding of explosives or bomb making or
even, you know, how to deploy this kind of a weapon. >> evan, i'm curious. i want your opinion on what is the lesser of two evils here? is it that it is an organized, failed, amateurish attempt to do something or that it could be just some lone wolf yahoo who gets an idea of which there could be, you know, a bunch of people like the in this country? >> yeah. and that is the problem. i mean, look what just happened in texas just a few weeks ago. you had an individual who got in a vehicle, packed it with gasoline canisters, and then crashed that vehicle into an irs building. it happened that the vehicle was an airplane, but if you think about it, that's not all that different from what happened here. that individual was a lone wolf motivated by, you know, passions against taxes, had nothing to do with al qaeda, nothing to do with organized terrorism, and yet it was a significant incident and, you know, there's nothing to say that this is not what this is right now. but, again, i would emphasize
that whether or not it's an organized group, whether it's a lone wolf, this is not somebody that looks like they have a high degree of training, but that doesn't mean that they don't have the intent to kill. and that's what we have to find out where this person is. i think you remember in 2007 after the failed tiger nightclub bombings, the guys who were behind that, the first thing they did was pile all their gear, all their remaining equipment into their car, drive straight up to glasgow airport and crash their vehicle through the front gates to have airport, set themselves on fire and attempt -- again, that's the concern is that, you know, if that was the scenario back then with a very similar device, then what are we looking at here? where are the people that put this here? what are they up to now? what are they going to try to do in the future, and how can we stop them from that? so there is a tremendous manhunt right now because, you know, the concern is that this person is still running around out there, may still have materials left and obviously has the intent to kill. >> yeah. well, at least investigators have a few things to go on.
they have fingerprints. they have a vin number from the vehicle that was used and perhaps even, once security officials from the surrounding buildings get into work and they can get some video, maybe they'll get an identity on who that person is. okay. evan coleman, thanks much. >> thanks very much. so, from that bomb threat in new york city to an oil spill in the gulf coast, it's a very busy sunday for president obama. just minutes away, we're going to speak live with the mayor of gulfport, mississippi, on the cleanup efforts there. without g? a man can only try... and try. i heard eating whole grain oats can help lower my cholesterol. it's gonna be tough...so tough. my wife and i want to lower our cholesterol, but finding healthy food that tastes good is torturous. your father is suffering. [ male announcer ] honey nut cheerios tastes great and can help lower cholesterol. bee happy. bee healthy. [ female announcer ] try new chocolate cheerios with a touch of delicious chocolate taste in every bite.
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let's get some more now on the growing threat to the gulf coast and beyond. president obama arrives in the region a bit later today to get a firsthand look at the damage being caused from the massive oil spill gushing from a ruptured well. joining me on the phone from one of the gulf coast states is the mayor of gulfport, mississippi, george schloegel.
good morning to you. your greatest fears, it's really how far the oil might spread and go into to the coastal area of where you are. can you tell me how it looks this morning? >> of course the winds are very high and it makes the abatement of the spread of oil very difficult in those kind of ag t atmospheric conditions, but we're hope it will subside somewhat and we'll be able to catch most of the oil before it reaches shore. >> you're being very hopeful right now, but how confident are you? i guess there's a difference between hoping that you'll be able to mitigate the damage and being confident. where do you stand on that? >> well, i'm confident that we have the resources of the u.s. government and the state government, particularly the u.s. coast guard that are doing all within their power to try to retain the oil. right now the distance looks of pollution, there's a sheen as opposed to lumpy oil and we're thinking that that can be
retained if we can just get a break in the weather. that will help us an awful lot. >> okay, sir, do you have any of those booms to corral the oil and keep it away from the coastline there on your shores? >> offshore. we're trying to make sure those are protected before it gets to the actual mainland. >> of course ecological disaster for those environmental areas. those, as i understand it, are used to help keep high winds and waves from really pummeling the actual shoreline. i mean, there's concern about damage to those barrier islands, as well, isn't there? >> well, the area between the islands and the shore is very shallow so the waves break much earlier. it's not a matter of stopping the waves. the islands are actually preserved for our wildlife inside the islands. >> okay.
>> gives us areas where the various sea foods habitate. and we hope that can be protected. >> i'll bet, because mr. mayor, you mentioned the sea foods, and we want to talk about the fishing industry there and how it has been hurt by this and what the potential is for literal disaster for those that live in your area and count on the waters for their livelihood. >> the picture is it will impact the nesting area, seafood and also the bird life and so forth hatching their young. and that needs to be protected at all costs. >> all right. from buffalo port, mississippi, the mayor there, george schloegel. thank you very much. we'll keep an eye on things there with you. best of luck. >> thank you. still to come this hour, investigators are combing through that car found packed with explosive materials in times square. what kind of evidence are they turning up? [ female announcer ] food myth number 22.
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let's pick up a little more now from new york. all the developing news there where police are still looking for whomever planned and carried out the attempted bombings in times square. homeland security secretary janet napolitano spoke about the evidence that authorities are focusing on. >> there's a lot of forensic information, the placement of the vehicle, where it was. there's a lot of cameras, a lot of other things in that area that we don't have in some other places. so the forensics are all being worked intensely and have been worked intensely overnight. >> joining me now, nbc's justice correspondent pete williams in washington. pete, good morning. >> alex, good morning to you. >> i guess they're going to try and get this surveillance footage from the area, all the different buildings that have security cameras and the security officials come in and try to get these videos to the police. but we're talking about times square here, pete. if they find a picture of a man,
how would they even begin to start tracking him or her, if it's a lady, down? >> well, i would say it's probably best not to be too optimistic about this. there have been other bombing attempts in times square. the man with the bicycle that was bicycling and dropping off small packages by the army recruiting center there. and they did come up with a picture, but it was not very satisfactory. you know, most of these surveillance cameras look at a very wide area and they're not extremely high-resolution, so when you try to zoom in on one little area, to try to see someone's face, that's pretty difficult. what may be helpful, though, is the movement of the car, to sort of see where the car came from, and then they can try to work back to other surveillance cameras or if they knew a turn right here, let's look at the cameras that are looking at in that area and so forth. they may be able to trace to some extent the movements of the car. obviously the hope would be to
get at least a description of what the person was wearing, what the person was doing. you know, some of these surveillance cameras take pictures intermittently so you dent get a full-motion thing. some of them are continuous footage. so, you know, that's obvious an important lead, something they're following up right now. but again, it may be a mistake to think that's going to give them the answer or give them a face that they could show to the public and say we need your help, who is this guy. >> yeah. >> i think it's important to remind people that normally in a bombing investigation what you have is forensic investigators combing the area, looking for little, tiny pieces which they then try to figure out what they are. here you have the whole thing intact. you have the car. i'm told this morning they found the vehicle identification number from it. that will help to trace it. they're finding latent fingerprints. that's a promising lead as well. they'll thoroughly comb the car for any other bits of fiber evidence, hair evidence, dna evidence, anything that they can find in that car.
so that is an extremely promising thing. they're interviewing the person who was the source of the license plate who's not thought to be in any way connected to the bombing. it was put on a junk truck. but, you know, that's a lead. so all those are leads. secondly, they'll look at the device itself, see whether there were any distinctive things about it, compare it to a database of explosives, try to trace the components of the bomb, although i think that's going to be really difficult. how many five-gallon gasoline cans to-do you suppose are in manhattan? there were two in this truck. how many propane barbecue-type tanks are there that people rent out? wouldn't be hard to go to three or four places to get the different tanks. didn't necessarily get them in one place. but are there suggestive things that they can analyze, and then, you know, if the thing was put together with tape, were there any fingerprints left on the tape. so all that stuff is what they're going to look at. awe now, alex, what i've been told this morning is that an initial assess m of this device
is not only was it crude, as the mayor said last night, but there's a real question this morning about whether it would have worked, whether even if the design had been a good one, whether it would have, in fact, set it off. >> yeah. well, point well taken. okay. justice correspondent pete williams. pete, thanks for that. >> you bet. >> i'll pick up where you left off now. for more on the investigation and the fallout of this attempted bombing, nbc news terror analyst michael sheehan, the former state department ambassador for terrorism at large as well. good morning. >> good morning. >> let's talk about a couple details here. i know this is treated as a potential terrorist attack. where do investigators go for this? if you have, for instance, the license plate, that really goes nowhere. that was taken off of a car that had been junked in a yard in connecticut. but the vin number, how much mipgt investigators be able to get more from that? because there's more to trace there. >> absolutely. i think that's going to be the key thing they'll follow up on.
once they know where this vehicle came from, they're going to be able to start tracking this down. obviously, if it was stolen that's going to make it a little more difficult, but at least they'll figure out where it was stolen from. if it's not a stolen vehicle, it will lead to the perpetrators, who apparently were trying to hide some of the vin numbers, but there are many vin numbers on a vehicle, and they have identified some of them and that's going to bring them back. that combined with partial prints, partial photos, that's the main lead they're going to be following. >> yeah. and the type of bomb that this was, what does your gut tell you, michael? do you think this is something as having been claimed by an al qaeda branchoff group from pakistan? is this likely the result of their handiwork or more a lone wolf? >> it could be. it could be. i'm a little suspicious of this taliban claim. we'll have to see if they have any knowledge of this that would indicate maybe they did have something to do with it and are just trying to piggyback on some isolated event. i think clearly these are people
that weren't very sophisticated but that doesn't mean they're not still out there trying to get better sophistication. so it's going to be taken very seriously. nypd investigators are not only going to be able to follow the leads to these forensic evidence from the scene but they'll also be looking at different cells that are operating around the region, see if there's any chatter among them, see if there's any unusual activity that might indicate that they know something about who is involved in this. >> michael sheehan, thank you very much for weighing in. we'll speak with you again later as we get more information. >> thank you, alex. for more on the investigation, including the head of the department of homeland security, go to msnbc.com. new this morning, president obama is scheduled to get a firsthand look at a growing oil spill in the gulf coast. the crews so far kind of having a rough time stopping the flow of the oil of the ruptured well because it's on the sea floor. the cleanup efforts are looking almost impossible at this point. nbc lester holt has been covering the story in venn nisz, louisiana, and has a closer look at what containment crews are up
against. >> reporter: those crews working out in the gulf trying to cap or contain that leak are fighting the elements on so many levels, including these high winds, which are continuing far second day, kicking up a very large swell out at sea. we got a sense of what it was like yesterday when we went out to try to find the leak for ourselves. it's discouraged everyone who makes a living on these waters. and sport fishing captain james peters has already seen it coming. >> it was just kind of a mocha froth, starting to pick up, and obviously got all over the boat. >> reporter: we asked peters to take us out to the gulf to see for ourselves how far the slick now extend. on a day so windy, shrimp boats remained at their docks. >> higher wind gusts can be expected. >> reporter: it wasn't long before we discovered first hand why the weather has made the job of securing the spill even harder. we're still a good 20 miles from in the gulf itself in the mississippi river, but we have've already encountered
four-foot swells so you can imagine what it's like in the gulf. to you an idea of how rough it is, we've spotted a number of deep-water response vessels, the kind of vessels involved in capping this oil well. instead of being out on-in the gulf, right now they're at anchor in the river. but there are plenty of locals eager to head into the troubled waters. >> fill it up. >> reporter: among them, fishermen,ivelihoods threatened and lining up for paid volunteer job with bp to assist in the cleanup. one says it's about self-preservation. >> my living's made right there, so you have to -- you have to put effort to help do something. >> reporter: others, however, left angry, calling bp's offer a raw deal. >> you're damn right i am. you're not? i mean, they destroyed our whole environment down here. >> reporter: your livelihood? >> period. >> reporter: sailing through these waterways, you still see the scars of hurricane katrina.
and now an already fragile coastline is threatened once again. >> the amount of land that we lost, that our coastline has just been, you know, frayed, and that's our protection. >> reporter: ultultimately, we not spot any of the oil itself, but in many parts along the louisiana coast, people are already beginning to smell it. and as long as the winds continue to drive toward the shore, it's not a matter of if but when that oil arrives along the coastline. back to you now. >> okay. lester holt in venice, louisiana. thanks. on the other side of the break, the president tries to bring the funny at the end of the week spent dealing with some pretty serious issues. smart...you're staying at this resort for free? how?
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immigrants' rights supporters bandsing together to show their frustration with arizona's tough new laws aimed directly at illegal immigrants. on "meet the press" this morning, secretary of state hillary clinton shared her skepticism of the new law with david gregory. >> it is written so broadly that if you were visiting in arizona and you had an accent and you were a citizen from my state of new york, you could be subjected to the kind of inquiry that this law permits. >> racial profiling? >> i don't think there's any doubt about that because clearly, as i understand the way the law is being explained, if you're a legal resident you still have to carry papers. well, how is a law enforcement official supposed to know? >> well, you can all watch david gregory's interview with secretary clinton in its entirety when "meet the press" reairs at 2:00 p.m. eastern right here on msnbc. who is your favorite celebrity you've seen tonight? >> okay, this is going to sound
cheesy but my daughter just called me and she said, mommy, how was it? i said, honey, i saw, first name came to mind, kim kardashian. my daughter will have a cow and a half. >> yours truly all cleaned up at the msnbc after party to the annual white house correspondents'dinner. some people joke it is on that day of the year that washington is cool when the politicians share the red carpet with "a" listers. the president poked fun at those in attendance and not. >> unfortunately, john mccain couldn't make it. recently, he claimed that he had never identified himself as a maverick. and we all know what happens in arizona when you don't have i.d. adios, amigos! >> adios amigos, that was great. the editor of "the washington post" style section, we're glad you're here. >> glad to be here, alex.
>> you're all decked out in a tuxedo, i had this great gown i'm thinking i want to come to work wearing this today. no can do. had to change back to news anchor, right? >> professional sacrifices. >> yes, yes. but the president, you know, still maintaining being very presidential but was funny last nigh. i mean, what did you make of all the expectations and if he lived up to them? >> i think he started the day in ann arbor saying there needed to be a new tone in politics and this tea party era, but at night he went for it. he sent some zingers into the crowd directed right to jay leno -- >> right. >> john boehner, some of his usual targets. >> he also had some pretty special jabs with these so-called birthers. can we take a listen? let's watch. >> it's been quite a year since i've spoken here last. lots of ups, lots of downs, except more my approval ratings, which have just gone down.
but that's politics. it doesn't bother me. besides, i happen to know that my approval ratings are still very high in the country of my birth. >> do you think he pretty much hit spot on? >> that's right. the main message is that it's sort of flattering for these correspondents, who work really hard, to have the president make fun of what they do, pay attention to what they do, and have the celebrities there, too. it's a special spotlight for people who take their job seriously. >> yeah. >> but at the same time, the president wanted to use the pulpit to send a few zingers to some political adversaries on a night when everyone knows all bets are off. >> they are off. it was hilarious some of the things he picked up on. of course you mentioned jay leno. usually when he makes fun of the president of the united states, he's in the security of a studio, you know, in burbank. he's miles away from the president. not this time. the president sitting right next to him. let's listen to part of what he said. >> i have the distinct honor of being the only person on this panel not subpoenaed by rod
blagojevich, so i think that's pretty impressive. the president has the most diverse staff in history. they represent every ward of chicago. and i think that is fantastic, mr. president. >> ned, how do you think jay leno did? >> he had a tough act to follow when you think about wanda sykes last year. it was the president's first white house correspondents' dinner, a little electricity about what the new administration would be like. jay leno is not having a magic moment in the media right now. i don't think he rose to the occasion in the same way, but it was still a moment of fun. >> what about the timing, too? had he not had to follow the president, who did, you know, a great job, he can be a hard act to follow, right? >> absolutely. i think everybody knows that, and the president had good material. he had his top advisers, david anxious elrod, tom fallvo writing pointed stuff with a political message in the middle of it. >> what i thought was one of the most special parts of the evening was the nonpartisan nature of things. i mean, you've got the jokes,
but if you're milling about in the crowd, it's almost like you're not identified as a democrat or republican. and that's kind of cool, considering it's washington. come on, the epicenter of partisanship these days. >> i think that's true. i think people around the country imagine this is a city of adversarial obsessives. >> right? >> but there is a sense that everybody necessary in the same game, they're interested in the same process and for that night they can all be together. in our "washington post" piece today, david axelrod actually describes it as a sort of one-night stand and roger aos called it a fling. it has that kind of intimacy. but the next day, we know monday will have the same rhetoric and we're going to see the same kind of conflicts. >> david axelrod did a great job. i wonder if he wrote the one about himself eating dunkin' donuts with the president. a pretty good sport if he did. >> he didn't seem to have a lot of regrets about it. david axelrod was at the "newsweek" party last night hanging out with republican
david dryer and ben scowcroft. it is a night, like you said, there's bradley cooper and colin powell. it's that kind of mix. it's a kind of night where there's a few truths said in jest and then you never know what people are going to say with a little vodka and red bull. >> the truth serum. ned martell, thanks for joining me from the style section of "the washington post." >> my pleasure. more on other stories coming up. first, another funny moment from the white house correspondents' dinner. >> the only person whose ratings fell more than mine last year is here tonight. great to see you, jay. i'm also glad that i'm speaking first because we've all seen what happens when somebody takes the time slot after leno's. national car rental?
as is oil spill crisis in the gulf of mexico continues to grow, homeland security secretary janet napolitano is defending the government's response to the disaster. >> we had d.o.d. resources there from day one. this was a situation that was treated as a possible catastrophic failure from day one. >> and despite the efforts of bp and the federal government, however, the oil slick is continuing to spread. some experts say it could threaten beaches as far as florida, indeed, up the east coast, as well. the impact on wildlife would be catastrophic. i'm joined on the phone from baton rouge by patrick banks, the oyster program manager nor the louisiana department of wildlife and fisheries. patrick, good morning to you. >> good morning to you, as well. thank you. >> well, i'm glad you're here. let's talk about what you're seeing already lapping up against the shores of your state. the environmental concerns of the situation right now. >> well, we certainly have concerns it's going to be a challenge for our state, our
coastal ecosystem. it's a resilient place, but a very important one to the nation, certainly considered the nation's wetlands, america's wetlands. and it drains about two-thirds of the entire united states. and so we certainly know that there's a challenge ahead of us, but we're working hard. >> yeah, i bet you are. i know with regard to the seafood industry there are reports that some fishermen had gone out and brought up yesterday shrimp that were just doused with the scent of diesel fuel. so let's talk about the oysters, a program that you oversee. what's the concern there? >> well, certainly the oysters, since they cannot move, we do have a special concern for those. however, i am somewhat optimistic the fact that the most toxic forms of all the water-soluble fractions, we've had quite a lot of seawater out there able to mix with this oil.
and hopefully by the time it gets to the inshore areas where the oyster beds are that water-soluble fraction, those more toxic fractions of the oil have been diluted and we'll see less of an impact. >> patrick, i'm curious, is there any way that the oysters can be brought up and then cleaned well enough to be put out there and eaten by consumers? or is there just no way? >> well, i'm not so sure that that's a possibility due to the filter-feeding activities of the animal. typically, any kind of substance that's in the water is going to be incorporated into the animal. and so just simply cleaning the shells off is not going to be something that would work in terms of making those animals palatable to the consumer. >> okay. patrick banks, the oyster program manager there in the louisiana department of wildlife and fisheries. best of luck. i know it's a tough time. thanks for joining us. >> thank you. our sunday coverage continues straight ahead here on msnbc. much more on the attempted car
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good morning, everyone, and welcome to "msnbc sunday." i'm alex witt live in washington, d.c., following last night's white house correspondents' diner. here's what we're watching for you right now. gathering evidence. police are analyzing explosive materials and screening hours worth of surveillance video. they're trying to get a lead on who left a clumsy car bomb right in the middle of manhattan. oil spill crisis. president obama heads to louisiana for a firsthand look at the efforts to contain and clean up that growing oil spill in the gulf of mexico. and deadly storms. the rain is still falling in tennessee. a severe weather system is being blamed for at least five deaths. let's get right to the developing story from new york city. homeland security secretary janet napolitano says that authorities are treating a car bomb found inside an suv parked in the busy times square district as a potential terrorist attack. she says it is too soon