Today was the first broadcast of State of the Union with John King from the studio in Washington, D.C. Live TV can be challenging at times and I think they may have a few bugs to work out with the format. There were a variety of technical issues from music drowning out what was being said, lighting / shadowing issues, and video clip roulette (clips played but it may not have been the one that John King or Howard Kurtz expected). They may also need to rethink some of their staging from getting from the segment intro to both host and guest seated at the proper table- everyone made it to their chairs before the music ended, but they were cutting it close.
The studio has changed quite a bit from the layout that was used for Late Edition with a variety of screens visible on three sides. The magic wall (or at least a version of it) has come to Washington, D.C! This clip will give you a glimpse at the whole studio:
The program opened with an interview with David Plouffe, Obama's campaign manager. King questioned Plouffe on how he planned to use the network of people that was organized during the grassroots campaign in getting policy through congress. They also discussed the line between the administration and Plouffe who is not officially part of the new administration.
The second interview was with the Republican Senator from South Carolina Lindsey Graham. When asked about the President's executive order restricting lobbyist activities, the senator didn’t take the bait to criticize the administration. Not what I expected. Not very partisan. The interview covered the stimulus plan and closing Guantanamo. King also asked Graham about his travels with both the Vice President and Senator McCain. (Trying to get him to say which was better to travel with.)
The next segment was King's taped interview with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. They discussed the inauguration, what advise would he give the new President, the economy, and immigration.
Interviewing the mayor wasn't the only reason why King was in New York City. Here's an excerpt from Mike Allen's Playbook post on Politico.com.
DESSERT — POOL REPORT — STU SCHWARTZ’S RETIREMENT PARTY AFTER 41 YEARS AT ABC NEWS — NOON YESTERDAY AT THE TIMES SQUARE STUDIOS: “The network set up a red carpet in the ‘Good Morning America’ Times Square studio, with Stu and his wife Francie walking in to music, flashing cameras and a videographer capturing the moment. Among the crowd of well-wishers were icons of ABC News: Charlie Gibson, Diane Sawyer, Robin Roberts, Ann Compton, former ‘GMA’ anchors David Hartman and Steve Bell, as well as veteran producers like Av Westin and Bill Lord. Party-goers were treated to an over-the-top, spectacular 18-minute video produced by ABC’s Cara Lemieux. It started with ‘CNN breaking news’ about Stu’s retirement, then John King at the magic wall, tracking Stu’s illustrious career. Some 72 current and former members of the ABC family sent in messages to Stu — stories about their days starting ‘GMA’ and ‘Nightline,’ covering the Iran hostage crisis and beyond. Notables like George Stephanopoulos, Katie Couric, Sam Donaldson, Ted Koppel, Cokie Roberts, Ann Compton and Rick Kaplan all told of their experiences working with — and learning from — Stu. There were also loving messages from his most treasured productions — son David Schwartz and daughter [drum roll] Dana Bash.”
Donna Brazile and Bill Bennett discussed the first week of Obama's Presidency. I have to admit that I've been impressed with Bennett throughout much of the campaign season and the transition. I don't always agree with his views but he manages to get his points across with class. Below is a brief clip of the end of their discussion where Brazile and Bennett were asked to rate how they thought the week went.
That brings us to Reliable Sources with Howard Kurtz for the 10 AM hour. The hour came to a close with a discussion between Kurtz and King about President Obama (Newmaker In Chief) visiting the press room.
The 11AM hour opened with James Carville and Ed Rollins. During the discussion, Ed Rollins surprised me when he stated that its possible that President Obama could prove to be a better communicator than President Reagan who was the last President to come in to office with such a high approval rating. Republican strategist do not normally favorably compare a democrat to President Reagan. (That's the sort of change that I was not expecting.)
For this week's diner segment, King had breakfast in Colchester, Vermont at Libby's Blue Line Diner. He talked with three people about their impressions of the President so far.
Barbara Starr, Dana Bash, Ed Henry, and Jessica Yellin joined King for a panel discussion.
King interviewed David Henderson who is a trader on the New York Stock Exchange.
Senator Kent Conrad, the chair of the Budget Comittee, discussed the bailout/ stimulus package.
The conversation turned to Guantanamo again with Douglas Feith and Charlie Swift.
The last word this week went to Rep. Mike Pence, Republican congressman from Indiana who provided a fiscal conservative view on the stimulus package and how the Republican party is going to be able to work with a Democratic party majority.
The last segment was the premiere of Will.I.Am's film, A New Day. The film shows his perspective on the inauguration of President Obama.
How did CNN come to premiere this new film? Here's an excerpt from an article that was posted on CNN.com:
CNN asked the 33-year-old front man for the Black-Eyed Peas to premiere the film he calls "New Day" for January 25. That gave him less than a week. Watch Will.i.am's "New Day."
What he's creating is a mix of video footage he and his crew shot over three days in D.C., set to music. He hopes "New Day" will be a visual backdrop of his reflections at the inauguration and his thoughts on where we need to go next as a country.
Oh, and did we mention he's in the middle of shooting scenes for his feature film debut in "X-Men Origins: Wolverine"? Will he be ready with his CNN film on time? No problem, he says. He's been ready for this moment for a long time.
CNN's Rachel Wells sat down with the multitalented man.
CNN: You've clearly been motivated by Obama, both his run for the presidency and now his actual presidency. How did you feel over the entire inauguration about Obama?
Will.i.am: The entire inauguration I felt like I was caught in a dream. You know, I was excited, emotional, concerned about the safety --there were a lot of people there, so ...
CNN: When CNN came to you and said, "We want to have an impressionistic sort of a film about your experience at the inauguration," what were your first thoughts?
Will.i.am: Oh, my first thoughts were, damn, CNN, it's like, it's my little second home or something. I would love to do something. I was enthused. A lot of my people, they were saying, "There's not enough time. Why are you putting more things on your plate? You've gotta go to Canada to film 'X-Men.' " My response was, "You know how many minutes there are in a day?" Not every single minute is occupied. We can squeeze things or use our imagination or figure out what we can do to continue to inspire. I mean, this is important. Just because the inauguration is over and Obama is president doesn't mean we stop inspiring. I mean, we did it.
CNN: Have you done other things on deadline like this before?
CNN: Tell me about that.
Will.i.am: "Yes We Can" was on deadline. "It's A New Day" was on deadline. The song I wrote for Oprah, "America's Song," was a real tight deadline. So, you know, I'm good at executing when there is a little bit of time.
CNN: You've had some experiences with CNN before. Do you want to list the top three or even one?
Will.i.am: Well the top one was the hologram [on Election Day]. And that thing there was not planned. I just so happened to be walking in at the right place at the right time to meet that deadline and got hologrammed up. The second one was performing "It's a New Day" on "Larry King" the night of the inauguration. That was pretty special.
CNN: If you could describe what your best hope for this short film, how might you put that into words?
Will.i.am: What I would like this short film to be is another seed of inspiration to remind people of the task we have ahead of us. I'm glad CNN is realizing their responsibility and still coming up with content to inspire the youth, adults, male, female, black, white, rich and poor these next four years that we have ahead of us. Coverage, content, it's all important. So, if this is the first one after the inauguration and the beginning of the Obama presidency that we do together, I hope it's inspiring. I hope it's insightful. I hope it gives people all the tools they need to realize how important they are individually and how important we are collectively to come out of this.
CNN: If you could compose a question to President Obama and use the words both "hope" and "change," what would you say?
Will.i.am: It wouldn't be a question. I don't have a question for Obama. I have a sentence, a message, no questions. We have hoped, and because we hoped, things have changed. And now, let's continue to do. Let's continue to inspire the youth. Let's continue to push forward, educate the youth. Let's continue to solve these problems. You have the whole nation behind you. And because of that, the whole world. There are no excuses and no obstacle that we can't hurdle over. God bless you and us. And let's do it.
King uses front pages from Sunday morning newspapers as discussion points throughout the program. He has printed versions and the screen behind him has an ever changing display of newspapers. It is interesting seeing the different headlines, but at times I found myself trying to decider what was on the newspaper and which paper it was rather than listening to what was being discussed.
King packed a lot of good discussions and content into four hours with only minimal repeats during the last hour. (CNNi broadcasts the 12PM ET hour of the program.) If you missed the program, an abreviated taped version airs at 8PM ET on Sunday.