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Sunday, April 5, 2009

Highlights - State Of The Union - April 5, 2009

Programming note:

On Tuesday, April 7, 2009, CNN Lead Political Anchor Wolf Blitzer and Senior Political Analyst Gloria Borger will site down for an EXCLUSIVE interview with Vice President Joe Biden. The conversation will touch on a wide variety of topics including the economic crisis, the federal budget and national security.

The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer on Tuesday, April 7th at 6 PM ET.

CNN wants your questions for the vice president. You can submit your questions via iReport at

State of the Union with John King started with news of North Korea's missle launch late Saturday night (ET). John King spoke with Ed Henry who is in Prague, Czech Republic following the President. King also spoke with Kyung Lah in Tokyo.

King spoke with Ed Henry a second time later on in the broadcast. During the primary campaign, there was the infamous commercial about the “3 AM phone call”... well, the President received that phone call a little bit later than that – 4:30AM local time – when he was notified about the North Korean missile launch.

Just a side note on Ed Henry... CNN has posted the latest “44” podcast with Ed Henry. I thought it was odd when I went to retrieve the podcast that there were two versions of it. Turns out the first version that was posted had an extra four minutes that included a pre-program staging conversion between Ed Henry (who was reporting from Strasbourg, France) and Dick Uliano of CNN Radio. The actual podcast includes calls from listeners, discussions with Dick Uliano, Mark Preston, and Dana Bash. Ed also does his Richard Quest impression towards the end of the podcast.

Here are the links to both versions: the full version or the edited version.

John King continued the discussion about North Korea with Lt. Gen. Henry Obering at the magic wall where they talked about the type of missile that was launched, the expected range, and what could have caused the failed attempt.

Next, was a discussion with Wendy Sherman, Former Special Adviser to President Clinton about the missile launch, the impact of the launch of the UN sanctions and the six party talks. She also talked about what it was like to meet Kim Jong-il.

Reaction to N. Korea launch

King spoke with Senior White House advisor, David Axelrod, who is in Prague with the President, about nuclear proliferation and the progress with the G20 and NATO. They also discussed the town hall meeting where the President took questions from the Europeans. And, of course, King asked Axelrod about the comments that the former Vice President made on a previous State of the Union program.

Obama advisor talks North Korea

The next guests on the program were Sen. Bob Corker (R) from Tennessee and Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D) from Michigan. The discussion started with North Korea, the economic impact of the G20 summit, NATO sending more troops to Afghanistan, and led into a heated discussion about the US auto industry.

Bankruptcy for auto companies?

Christiane Amanpour reported on the North Korean missile launch.

At 10AM, John King spoke with Sohn Jie-Ae who was reporting from Seoul, South Korea. (This appeared to be taped from earlier when he also spoke with Kyung Lah.) He also spoke with former CNN correspondent, Mike Chinoy, who was in Hong Kong.

Where was Howard Kurtz with Reliable Sources? Kurtz had about 7 minutes of his portion of the program stolen as a result of the reports on North Korea.

Once Kurtz was able to get on air, he jumped right in with a discussion about the media's coverage of the First Lady on the President's first over seas trip and the lack of coverage over Gov. Sebelius tax problems. The panel included Matt Frei, Danielle Crittenden, and Keli Goff.

Kurtz also criticized FOX's coverage of Obama's speech in France. Here's an excerpt from the CNN Transcript:

There's one more thing I want to get to, one more piece of tape, because Obama, in his speech in France, criticized the U.S. And in the next sentence, he criticized Europe.

Fox's Sean Hannity played a bite from that speech. Let's take a look at that.


OBAMA: There have been times where America's shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive.



HANNITY: And the liberal tradition of blame America first, well, that's still alive.


KURTZ: But in the very next sentence, the president of the United States said, "But in Europe, there is also an anti-Americanism that can be casual but can also be insidious."

And Sean Hannity's entitled to any opinion he wants. If he wants to criticize Obama for talking about American arrogance, that is fine. But he didn't play the second part of the sound bite, and I thought that was not quite fair.

The next topic was a person that some people love, others hate, and still others just think is looney...former CNN/ HLN host, Glenn Beck. Beck has received some criticism and a lot of media attention since he joined FOX News. Stephanie Miller and Steve Malzberg joined Kurtz for the discussion. They also discussed the state of talk radio.

Carol Marin and Jim Warren joined Kurtz for a discussion about the two Chicago newspapers that are bankrupt. Kurtz was quite animated while introducing this topic – not surprising since he also writes for a newspaper (The Washington Post). Couldn't help but notice the nice stage craft behind Warren... a monitor with Reliable Sources on it.

If you missed any portion of Reliable Sources, CNN has posted this video clip:

Right on time at 11AM, the program was turned back over to John King. After reviewing some of the stories that had appeared earlier on State of the Union as well as other Sunday morning talk shows, King interviewed Jack Welsh, former CEO of GE. They discussed the Dow and unemployment figures, the government's involvement in the auto industry, Obama's European trip, and Obama's performance so far. Here is an excerpt from the interview:

KING: Let me ask you a question. From the perspective of a guy who has been the CEO, imagine that you are the CEO of Ford at this moment. Ford decided we're going to try to get through this without taking any government bailout money. But now you have the president of the United States essentially saying publicly, look, we'll back up a GM warranty, don't worry if GM goes into bankruptcy. Buy a GM car. The government will back up the warranty. He's pushing the unions. You say you're skeptical, but he's pushing unions to go back to the table. If this happens and they go into a controlled bankruptcy with the federal government support, has the government of the United States created an environment that is disadvantageous to Ford?

WELCH: Well, I think Ford is going to be able to offer the same benefits. Ford was not able to knock out their competitor, that's all that's saying. And they're going to have the same competitive playing field they've had all along. So I don't think it's a surprise to Ford. They happen to be in better shape at this moment. But I think it is what they expected.

KING: Is it America?

WELCH: Well, America's in a very different spot now. Capitalism has gone off the rails and government has had to step in. And once you allow that, because you have to, you're not allowing it, you're begging for it once you get that help, you get all that comes with it, John.

KING: You get all that comes with. …

KING: And, Jack, I want to circle back with one more question. If we have a conversation in three to five years, will there be a viable General Motors and Chrysler that are competitive in the world market?

WELCH: John, I don't know the answer to that. I think that with the help we're giving him, I've seen this new fellow, Mr. Henderson, on television a couple of times, I don't know him, he seems determined to take action. Look, I don't know the answer but I would bet on it.

I bet America is going to come back in the automotive business if everybody makes concessions they have to make, everybody.

Almost half way through the 11AM hour, we see the first (and only) analyst panel with David Gergen, Ed Rollins, and Gloria Borger. Topics included North Korea and Obama's over seas trip.

King traveled to Detroit to talk to the new GM chief, Fritz Henderson. Henderson brushed over the “fairness” issue when asked about the comparison between AIG contracts and union contracts:

KING: What about fairness argument? When you talk to the workers, it comes up quite a bit and again, most of these are people who supported this president and supported the Democrats who run Congress. But what they see is this double standard. They say they are told that they have to go back to the table and renegotiate their contracts and then they hear from the same administration, well we can't go after bonuses of the AIG guys because that's contractually negotiated money. Is there a double standard when it comes to your people?

HENDERSON: Our people really have done a fantastic job. We're going to focus on General Motors. We have our hands full at General Motors. I don't work for AIG. I don't work for a bank. I think that the way the administration's handled General Motors has been in a very professional way. You know, human nature being what it is of course there's got to be some part of that. But I think our people really understand, what it will take to make General Motors competitive? How do we actually move to the next century and not necessarily dwell on how we compare with some other industry.

And King asks Henderson the same question that he asked Welsh:

KING: In business school and in your early days at GM, could you ever imagine it coming to this? This is Detroit. It's Motor City. It's home of the big three. I'm not sure people equate the big three in the way they used to before. But this was capitalism at its finest, companies going out there making new cars, hiring people. And now you're dependent on the government. Did you ever see this happening?

HENDERSON: No, I didn't.

KING: Is it American? It's sort out of our way of doing things, isn't it?

HENDERSON: It is out of our way of doing things. But I think, you know, what is also American is when you need a hand, when you need help, that is American.

KING: And so to those out there, whether they're every day Americans or members of the United States Senate who say, you know what, this government is not supposed to be doing this, up or down in the marketplace, tough love, go to bankruptcy court if you have to but this is not the government's job, you would say what?

HENDERSON: I would say that we can and will play a role in the future of the auto industry. Clearly, the weaknesses and the fragilities of our business were exposed in the current economic environment. It's our job to take care of customers and then take care of the taxpayer, pay it back and justify the -- you know, what has been done to try to help us.

G.M. CEO on Pres. Obama

G.M. CEO on who he voted for

GM CEO: We need to go further

King also traveled to Tennessee this week. Here is a behind the scenes clip that CNN posted to Facebook and to

King spoke with a newly retired GM worker and UAW president about the resignation of Rick Wagoner and about the future of General Motors.

The first half of the 12 PM ET hour was a recap of the 9AM hour ET. The second half of the hour started with the Last Word which was originally scheduled to go to David Axelrod. Who ended up getting the last word instead? Senator Jack Reed (D) of Rhode Island. The discussion started with North Korea, General Motors and Timothy Geithner's remarks about possibly forcing out current heads of large banks.

U.S. reaction to North Korea

A special session of the UN Security Council was meeting to discuss North Korea's missile launch and King spoke with Senior UN Correspondent, Richard Roth.

The Diner segment this week was from Franklin, Tennesse at Merridee's Bread Basket. Those at the table this week were all Republicans and were hesitant to speak well of the President.

Links to this week's podcasts:

One final item tonight, Channel Guide recently interviewed John King. Here are a few excerpts from the interview:

“Some people watch those shows because they’re provocative,” King explains. “I watch some of them, because I learn. It’s like intelligence gathering. Some people go to those shows because they can be fun. Sometimes they’re shout festivals, but sometimes it’s provocative, challenging conversation. My idea is, ‘Let’s have a show with provocative conversation with all views — not just one view.’ My goal is to try to have that conversation, but involve everybody. Let the people watching make the decision.”

Do they ever. Bloggers examine King’s every guest, every comment, every question for telltale hints of political leaning — usually hammering their perceived context into something that pairs up with foregone conclusions. ”Some days I am apparently Satan to the left and on some days I am Satan to the right,” says King “If that happens just about equally, then I assume I am trying to do my best and I am somewhere in the middle where I belong.”

While King believes there is danger in viewers only choosing news programming that embraces a particular ideology, he begrudges no one their program or programming choices — choosing to merely let the lessons learned guide his own professional habits.

“It reinforces my determination to be as objective as possible” King says. “I’m not perfect. I don’t pretend to be perfect. But I try, in everything I do, to be respectful of all opinions and to solicit all opinions. To ask questions to try and cover the broad range of the spectrum. I do this myself and I try to impress upon the staff of the show how important it is to make sure we’re entertaining different voices.”

And not entertaining for the sake of entertainment alone.

“My training is as an AP Wire guy before I came into television,” Kings says. “So I speak for myself in this regard when I say that I am a little bit more of a dinosaur in that I say ‘Well, why would I do this?’ and ‘What is the news value of that?’

“I don’t want to be viewed as an entertainer. I want to be viewed as somebody who is a source of information for people. There are a lot of people on television now. You have all these talk shows now. And when you turn on the television — from 5 o’clock in the morning through late-night television — there are people on TV talking. So we need to be very careful to delineate — as we do on [State of The Union] — this is a conversation with a Senator, a politician, a newsmaker, an administration official. This is a conversation with one of our reporters; they are giving you objective information from their news gathering. This person is an analyst, they have an opinion and you should understand their opinion when they speak. They are not speaking as an objective person — they are speaking as a person with an opinion.

“The lines need to be carefully drawn, so that when there is a big news day — whether it’s an upbeat, positive news day, or God forbid, a tsunami or a 9/11 — when the people see you in that box, they trust you. And they trust that you are telling them facts and relevant information to the best of your ability — that you’re not trying to perform.”

Also included in the interview were King's views on Rush Limbaugh.

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