State of the Union with John King started off with a prerecorded interview with Sen. Patrick Leahy (D) and Sen. Richard Shelby (R) about the pending vacancy on the Supreme Court. King had his pocket version of the US Constitution in hand as they talked about the type of person that the President should appoint. Sen. Shelby was asked about the results of the "banking stress test" that are to be released this week. King also asked Sen. Leahy about congressional questions about torture. Sen. Leahy made an interesting argument for a joint commission to tackle the torture issues:
But if we don't have such a commission, then we will have the Intelligence Committee and we will have the Judiciary Committee and we will have the Armed Service Committee and others each do pieces of it, but that in some ways is like, you know, the committee of blindfolded people who are trying to describe an elephant, each having just part of the elephant.
Sen. Shelby, who used to be a Democrat, was asked about Sen. Specter's defection to the Democrats.
King interviewed Mitt Romney and Rep. Eric Cantor about the future of the Republican party. I thought it was interesting that Romney talked about the Republicans acting like Democrats with their spending during the past administration and that Rep. Cantor took the view that there was plenty of blame to go around. I suppose that is the difference between currently holding an elected office and that of someone in between elected positions. They also discussed Sen. Specter's exit from the party, immigration, health care, same sex marriage, and lessons learned from the first 100 days of the Obama administration.
And for the first live segment of the morning, Susan Molinari (R) and Joe Lockhart (D) discussed the direction of the Republican party and Gov. Palin's impact on the party.
John King got see inside the war room for the Swine flu virus: the HHS Secretary's Operation Center. They are tracking the progress of the outbreak. The war room provides a central location for the representatives from various health agencies/ organizations to communicate and share information.
Howard Kurtz's Reliable Sources came in at 10 AM with Dana Milbank, Ryan Lizza and Amy Holmes to talk about Sen. Specter's conversion and the state of the Republican party. They also examined the coverage on Justice Souter's pending exit from the high court and the first 100 days.
The coverage of the swine flu outbreak was discussed by Dr. Tim Johnson, Elizabeth Cohen, and Mark Feldstein. Feldstein had an interesting outlook on the news coverage:
KURTZ: So, when I see all this wallowing, and I see on-screen headlines like "Outbreak of Fear," I wonder, is this overkill?
FELDSTEIN: Well, I think it is. And I don't think, with all due respect to Dr. Tim Johnson, that it's just the media transcribing like stenographers what officials say. The media have a vested interest, an economic vested interest, in promoting the fear. They don't want to get too carried away because they lose credibility, but...
KURTZ: An economic vested interest?
FELDSTEIN: An economic vested interest.
KURTZ: You're saying they are merchandising this tragedy?
FELDSTEIN: It's a commodity. When I was a correspondent at CNN, a top news executive here -- no longer here -- said, "Why do people watch us?" They watch out of fear, and we have to play to that. And if you look at cable news numbers, they're basically very steady until there's a crisis, and then it jumps.
Elizabeth Edwards' new book will include her reaction to her husband's affair. Kurtz spoke with Lisa Bloom.
As the program shifted back to John King, we got to see a Full Ginsberg as King talked to Dr. Richard Besser, Sec. Janet Napolitano, and Sec. Kathleen Sebelius. Since this was the fifth interview of the morning for the group, King took questions from Facebook and from callers. King asked a pocket book question to Sec. Sebelius:
KING: I want to get to our viewer questions in just a moment. But you bring up that point. If you're feeling sick, don't go to school, please don't go to work. Just take a few days.
SEBELIUS: Call your doctor first.
KING: Call you doctor. Call you doctor.
We were looking at the research, and looking into this. And eight out of 10 people in the food services industry who make $7.25 an hour or less, eight out of 10 do not get paid sick leave.
SEBELIUS: That's right.
KING: Is that a concern to you, that if I work and I don't want to name any names, I work at a fast food outlet, I work in a kitchen, and I'm feeling maybe a little flu-ish, but you know what, I've got to feed my family, I've got to pay my rent.
SEBELIUS: Well, the president, I think, made a great point in his address on Saturday. He made the point the day before to the cabinet who he assembled to deal with this, we really need a partnership with employers and we need employers to, not only take this responsibly and seriously, but not punish people for taking the right health protocol.
We don't want people to lose their jobs. We don't want people to feel that, you know, they're going to be penalized if they take some personal responsibility. So, this is an effort where we need to join together.
The diner segment this week had King in New Hampshire.
The discussion of the US Supreme Court vacancy was discussed by a panel that included Harvard Law Professor Charles Ogletree, Jeffrey Toobin, David Gergen, and Maria Echaveste.
One interesting quote from Prof. Ogletree:
Well, I'll tell you what he won't do. Barack Obama won't sleep at a Holiday Inn and have an epiphany and just say, I have got the right choice.
Bill Bennett spoke to King via phone about the life of Jack Kemp.
King talked with Fareed Zakaria about Pakistan and Afghanistan. King pointed out that the President has been seen with Zakaria's book in his hand.
The Last Word segment returned this week with Rep. Joe Sestak (D). Rep. Sestak last appeared on the program just a few weeks ago on March 15, 2009 when he also got the Last Word. Sen. Specter changed parties to avoid a Republican primary that he probably couldn't win, but the Senator may be facing a challenge in the Democratic primary from Rep. Sestak (if the Congressman decides to run).
Of course, there was a behind the scenes clip posted to CNN.com:
And this week's podcasts:
- State of the Union Video
- State of the Union Audio - not available at time of post
- Reliable Sources Video
One last clip... Jon Stewart evaluated the cable news networks coverage of the first 100 day and CNN's use of technology:
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