It is Memorial Day weekend here in the United States and despite the holiday, John King was in the Washington, D.C. studio on Sunday morning for a partially live State of the Union. The first guests were Senator Barbara Boxer (D) and Senator Richard Shelby (R). They discussed the issues around the closing of Gitmo (what do you do with the detainees?), indefinite detentions of prisoners, torture, and the pending Supreme Court vacancy (what demographic should the appointee fill and also how fast should the Senate schedule the confirmation hearings).
Next, was a pre-recorded interview with former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge (R). King asked Ridge about Former VP Cheney’s comments regarding President Obama making the country less safe. Ridge took an interesting position concerning the ongoing debate between the two: they’re debating the wrong things concerning the nation’s security. Ridge was very careful with his words when discussing specifics about the security and torture debate. They also discussed Colin Powell's views of the GOP, Rush Limbaugh 9although Ridge hesitated to directly criticize him, Pennsylvania politics, and King attempted (and failed) to get the former Governor to divulge his plans for 2010 and 2012.
Back to a live discussion with Ed Rollins (R) and Bob Shrum (D) about President Obama's comments on having to clean up the previous administration's "mess", the President's performance, and the President's commencement speech at the Naval Academy (where Sen. McCain's son was graduating).
Keeping in mind that this weekend is a time to honor those who have served in the military, John King showed a report he did a few years ago when he visited Arlington National Cemetery and talked with US Army Captain Mike Bandzwolek about the honor guard.
At 10AM, the program went to a prerecorded Reliable Sources with Howard Kurtz. This week's program included coverage of the "showdown" between President Obama and Former VP Cheney with Karen Tumulty, Clarence Page, and Chris Stirewalt. Karen Tumulty pointed out that this was actually two speeches and not a debate: the debate was created by the media (surprise, surprise). Kurtz questioned whether the press should be more critical of the Obama administration as they continue to support certain Bush policies. They also discussed Rush Libaugh's resignation from his position as the head of the GOP, and Time Magazine's recent Michelle Obama's cover story and the media's "fawning" over the first family.
Kurtz took on the issue of cable news ratings and the polarization of the coverage with David Zurawik, Lauren Ashburn, and Matt Frei. I'll have more about this segment in my Tuesday night ratings post.
Next was Kurtz' interview with HBO's Bill Maher. They talked about Maher getting booed on his own program when he makes jokes about the President, swine flu, Miss California, FOX News, and the challenge of getting conservative guests to appear on his program.
Kurtz started to ask Maher about comments made on FOX and received this response:
Another Fox host, Greg Gutfeld said, "One of the great things about Obama..."
KURTZ: Greg Gutfeld. He's on...
MAHER: Greg Gutfeld?
KURTZ: He's on late at night.
MAHER: Is that a real name? Is this a trick question?
KURTZ: No, no, no. I wouldn't do that.
MAHER: Come on. You're making up a Fox newscaster. It's OK. I'll go along with it.
KURTZ: "One of the great things about Obama is how it terminated the relevance of Bill Maher. His schtick is now just a smirk in a suit."
Are you getting under their skin?
MAHER: I guess so. Hey, when you piss off Greg Gutfeld, I think you're doing something right.
Who is Greg Gutfeld? I know more about Jon and Kate than this guy.
Richard Quest discussed the recent Parliamentary scandals that have been covered by London papers and about the material that the Daily Telegraph was able to get a hold of to expose the scandal.
That wraps of Reliable Sources for this week and brings us back to John King live in the studio to talk with James Carville and Mary Matalin. King first asked them about Gov. Ridge's comments from earlier in the program, the President's plans for Gitmo, the Supreme Court vacancy, Colin Powell's comments about the GOP, and life inside the White House.
The CNN Diner segment this week was from Los Angeles with three Iraq veterans. Prior to the segment airing, King reviewed the number of US Troop casualties in Iraq (4301) and Afghanistan (686). One of the gentlemen made this very true comment during the discussion:
A lot of people use all these holidays, Veterans Day, Memorial Day and whatnot as a day of relaxation. But let's not forget we have our sons and daughters in harm's way. And those -- some of those have not come home. Better yet, they came home in a casket draped in a flag. That flag will always fly at my house, Veterans Day, Memorial Day weekend, and that's to honor those who have served this country. It's not a day of celebration. It's to honor those who have served our country.
And breaking news interrupted the program (this is starting to become a Sunday morning habit)- the space shuttle Atlantis landing at Edwards Air Force base. King spoke with John Zarrella and watched the 53rd shuttle make a safe landing.
The (shortened) political panel this week consisted of Joe Johns, Gloria Borger, and Dana Bash. The topics included: the closing of Gitmo, Speaker Pelosi and Former Speaker Gingrich, and the direction the Republican party needs to head in order to survive and who will lead it.
The first half of the last hour of State of the Union was a repeat of the first part of the 9AM hour. Then King debuted a new Google Earth layer that displays the home towns of the troops that have died in Iraq and Afghanistan (5,679 total including coalition troops). The program links the deceased soldiers to the incident that took their lives as well as provides information on the soldiers.
The last word went to Senator Byron L. Dorgan (D). The Senator's book discusses the woes of the economy and got an endorsement from King at the end of the interview.
The program appropriately ended with the report on Arlington National Cemetary's honor guard.
John King's staff briefing from this week was posted to CNN.com:
In case you missed State of the Union or Reliable Sources, you can always download the podcast version from CNN.com: