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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Highlights State of the Union for May 17, 2009

John King's first guest this week on State of the Union with John King was the White House Budget Director, Peter Orszag, to discuss the economy. King used the magic wall to examine the latest economic indicators. They also discussed how the administration expects to be able to pay for their health care reform plan, when the administration plans to address the inevitable budget deficit resulting from Social Security, where the stimulus money going to, and address concerns that the administration's stimulus packages are not working. King also questioned Orszag about a conclusion he made in his senior thesis at Princeton regarding the Federal Reserve and Congress. Ryan Lizza brought this to light in a recent article, Money Talks, in The New Yorker.

Rep. John Boehner (R) responded to Orszag's claim that the administration's health care reform plan is "deficit neutral". King also questioned him about the Republican's response to the administration's policies on the war, the CIA photos, Speaker Pelosi's comments regarding torture, where the Republican party goes from here, and his response to the comments the President made about him at the White House Correspondents Association Dinner last week: "I'd rather be heckled than ignored."

Hilary Rosen and Alex Castellanos were next in the Washington studio to talk about Speaker Pelosi and the President's policies regarding detainees.

John King visited Selma, Alabama this week and spoke with Mayor George Evans about the jobless rate. He also talked with Beatrice Jackson, who has been unemployed for six months, and Jimmie Coleman, III, the manager of the Calhoun Food Store.

Howard Kurtz was in Los Angeles this morning for Reliable Sources. Stephanie Miller (in LA), Michael Medved, and Roger Simon discussed Cheney's media tour as the Republican's unofficial spokesperson, the coverage on Obama's decision to not release detainee photos, and more coverage of Miss California.

Next was a discussion about the mix of DC, politics, politicians, Hollywood celebrities, and the media. Kurtz spoke with Barry Levinson:

KURTZ: Are Katie Couric, Brian Williams, Wolf Blitzer, are they celebrities?

LEVINSON: At the same time they're news people.

KURTZ: Are they entertainers?

LEVINSON: We blur them together. Well, they are entertainers as well because they are on the television.

They have to entertain at the same time they have to inform. That's the -- once you step over from it being a public service, which is the way it all began, to now, news has to get ratings. So having a very good news show isn't enough in itself. It has to attract the ratings, that's the obligation of it all.

KURTZ: Didn't news always have to get ratings? The sainted Edward R. Murrow, he interviewed Marilyn Monroe on a program called "Person to Person."

LEVINSON: Yes, but that wasn't a news show.

KURTZ: Right.

LEVINSON: Right? I mean, that was his other kind of show that he did.

But in the very beginning we would just provide information, going way back. Once you go down that road -- and I'm not saying it is -- there is the upside, downside to all of it. You can't just paint it as a negative brush, but the ratings become just as important to a news show as it does to any variety show, or a sitcom or a drama.

KURTZ: You've got to get people inside the tent.

LEVINSON: Yes, get them in.

KURTZ: Once they're there, you might be able to give them a nutritious meal, you might give them empty calories.

What do you think of the political news show on cable -- O'Reilly, Olbermann, Lou Dobbs, Anderson Cooper?

LEVINSON: Well, look, some are better than others. And some of them are very good. Others of them become frivolous. There is a mixed bag out there.

KURTZ: Do you worry at all, that this news business, at least the electronic version, is becoming more of a circus, more of a -- there is more pressure to serve up the cotton candy?

LEVINSON: Yes, that I do believe is a problem. And some of the really big issues that we have, because there isn't a visual component to it, go unnoticed.

Source: CNN Transcript, Reliable Sources, May 17, 2009.

Kurtz talked with Mariel Hemingway about her twitter fame and her new book.

Next, Kurtz interviewed Variety's Peter Bart in the LA studio about the changes occurring in Hollywood and the media.

If you missed Reliable Sources, CNN has posted the podcast on their website:

John King was back at 11AM with James Carville and Bill Bennett in the studio with a heated discussion about Speaker Pelosi's comments, President Obama's commencement speech at Notre Dame, rebuilding the Republican party, the President's appointment of Utah's Governor Huntsman to Ambassador to China, RNC Chairman Steele's comments about party unity, and the administration's new drug czar (Carville & Bennett came really close to agreeing on this issue).

The diner segment this week came from Selma, Alabama where King spoke with residents about unemployment and race relations.

The reporter panel included Dana Bash, Ed Henry, and Joe Johns. The topics included Speaker Pelosi, the Supreme Court vacancy, and health care policy.

King interviewed another resident of Selma, Alabama, Zannie Murphy, who has preserved a piece of history through the headlines of a local paper; they discussed Bloody Sunday.

The Last Word went to Emily Toates who is graduating from Notre Dame and is boycotting President Obama's speech.

A few additional notes about this morning's program... during both interviews with those currently holding office (Orszag & Boehner), King reached into the CNN archives to pull clips from their previous appearances (Orszag on State of the Union and Boehner on Late Edition) to question them about previous comments and how their views may or may not differ today. And John King was doing his part to help save the newspaper industry, he asked viewers to go to the CNN State of the Union Facebook page and post the headline from the local newspaper. King read some of those headlines on air later on in the program.

Also, King's weekly staff briefing has been posted to

An added bonus this week, King recaps the program (in under two minutes) in this Sounds of Sunday video clip:

When CNN arrives in the area for some of these "outside the beltway" interviews, it causes a bit of a stir in the community. Here's an excerpt from one article that appeared in the Selma Times-Journal on May 13th:

CNN comes to Selma

The sound of an elevator and clanking metal caused some heads to turn during Tuesday night’s city meeting at Selma City Hall. A cameraman walked through the back door. Mayor George Evans paused in his report, nodded and grinned.

“That’s just CNN,” he said. “They’re here to interview me.”

More heads turned.

John King, anchor of State of the Union for CNN, strode into the room.

“There’s John King,” the mayor said. “He’s going to interview me.”

King grinned, ducked his head and waved off the attention.

Several minutes later, Evans left the room, following King. They interviewed as the two men walked down Broad Street.

Later, most city council members and others joined King and his crew at Grumbles for a late dinner.

... click here to read the rest of the article...

A follow up article appeared on May 15th: Moving in a positive direction

Here are your links to this week's podcasts:

A few quick non-State of the Union items for you:

This press release caught my eye earlier today: Twitter Boosts CNN Reporter's Fight to Save Her Brother's Life

Thanks in large part to Twitter, a one-woman fight to get her severely ill brother a much-needed heart transplant has turned into a major grassroots campaign throughout the social media community, applying pressure on government authorities to prevent a tragedy resulting from a flawed domestic healthcare system.

Veronica De La Cruz, a former CNN anchor and reporter based in New York City, has experienced first-hand the influence and freedom of speech which such a position offers. Yet, she found herself to be as exposed to the flaws of the healthcare system as anyone else when her brother's condition became life-threatening.

Her brother, Eric De La Cruz, 27, is dying in Nevada. He is suffering from severe dilated cardiomyopathy and needs a heart transplant immediately. His heart, weakened and enlarged, is now incapable of pumping blood efficiently. The decreased organ function also severely limits his kidney function and his creatinine levels are high, all which result in fluid retention. The diuretic-type medications which he is currently taking are no longer working. Making matters worse, he cannot get health insurance because of a pre-existing condition.

You can read the rest of the press release at PRWeb.

I discovered that Tom Foreman is back to writing articles for the Philadelphia Metro... here is the latest article:

“Vice presidents ... are paid to be cheerful, Dick Cheney not withstanding.”

You don’t jump on the scales an hour after you push aside the doughnuts, and the Obama White House might be better off if it were not already trying to roll out reports on how well the stimulus plan is working.

That is the consensus among some political and economic analysts, who suggest the vice president’s progress report on the program, while laudable, is a tad premature.

The full article can be found on the Philadelphia Metro's website.

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