State of the Union with John King started off on Sunday morning at the magic map with John King comparing satellite images of the area in Iran where a secret nuclear facility has been constructed.
King's first interview (pre-recorded) was with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. King asked Gates about the nuclear facility in Iran, about military options concerning Iran, the impact this new facility has on Israel, and whether additional sanctions would make a difference.
The second segment with the Gates focused on potential increased troop levels in Afghanistan, the unresolved election in Afghanistan. Gates had some harsh criticism for the prior administration's handling of the war:
KING: General McChrystal, in an interview that will air on "60 Minutes" tonight, talks about the breadth and the geographic spread of the violence in Afghanistan. He says, "It's a little more than I would have gathered."
We've been at this nearly eight years. Why are we still surprised?
GATES: Well, I will tell you, I think that the strategy that the president put forward in late March is the first real strategy we have had for Afghanistan since the early 1980s. And that strategy was more about the Soviet Union than it was about Afghanistan.
KING: You served in the Bush administration. That's a pretty broad damnation of the Bush strategy.
GATES: Well, the reality is, we were fighting a holding action. We were very deeply engaged in Iraq. I increased -- I extended the 10th Mountain Division the first month I was on this job in January of '07. I extended -- I put another brigade into Afghanistan in the spring of 2007. And that's all we had to put in there. Every -- we were -- we were too stretched to do more. And I think we did not have the kind of comprehensive strategy that we have now.
KING: And if it comes to the point of sending more, this time, if the president agrees and General McChrystal gets -- maybe it's 20,000, 30,000, or 40,000, do we have the troops now? If you needed 40,000, could you find it?
GATES: Well, I think, if the president were to decide to approve additional combat forces, they really probably could not begin to flow until some time in January.
The interview wrapped up with questions about whether closing Gitmo will occur on time and what makes working for President Obama different.
Next on the program was a live interview with Senator Evan Bayh (D) and Senator Bob Corker (R). King began by asking Sen. Bayh about whether the US should go into the 6 party talks with Iran using "carrots" or "sticks". King asked whether the sanctions should be imposed now or in January; the Chinese are going to be key to making any additional sanctions work. King questioned how an intelligence report (available to the public) that was released during the Bush administration states that Iran wasn't pursuing their nuclear program and yet this new facility is clearly setup for use with a weapons program.
Next, the Senators were asked about troop levels in Afghanistan and health care reform.
In this week's American Dispatch, King visited Jefferson County, Mississippi to report on unemployment in this community that is 90% African American and has the highest unemployment rate in the state.
Kurtz's first panel included Ed Henry, Margaret Carlson, Jim Geraghty, and Lauren Ashburn. The panel discussed President Obama's relationship with the press. Henry spent a good portion of the discussion defending CNN in comparison to other cable news networks.
The second segment with the panel discussed Bob Woodward's article in the Washington Post about the plans in Afghanistan and an article the New York Times ran about the Obama asking NY's Governor Patterson not to run for re-election.
The program continued with Kurtz's pre-recorded interview with Joy Behar. Behar's new program, The Joy Behar Show, premieres at 9PM Tuesday night on CNN's sister network HLN.
Kurtz interviewed Christopher Andersen, the author of a new book about the Obamas entitled: Barack and Michelle: Portrait of an American Marriage. Andersen took issue with Kurtz's characterization of the book as "dirt digging". Kurtz took issue with Andersen "quoting" conversations that the Obama's had based on information from third parties.
The Sounds of Sunday hour started off with John King talking to James Carville and Mary Matalin in the DC studio. They discussed the war in Afghanistan and Iran's nuclear program. The second segment included the closing of Gitmo and President Clinton's comments about the GOP and the "vast right wing conspiracy".
The CNN Diner segment this week was from Jackson, Mississippi at the Coffee Roastery with Dr. David Cole, Nikdra Ford (owner of the Coffee Roastery), and Ted Duckworth. King asked them about Obama's performance so far, the economy and health care reform.
Barbara Starr, Gloria Borger, and Dana Bash joined King in the studio. King started the segment at the Magic Wall reviewing the satellite images of the Iranian nuclear site. The first part of the discussion centered around the policies surrounding the revelation that Iran has concealed this latest nuclear facility.
The second segment with the group included discussing the war in Afghanistan and President Clinton's change of opinion on gay marriage.
The Last Word went to Merrilee Carlson, a gold star mother and the President of Families United. Her son, Army Sergeant Michael Carlson died serving his country in Iraq. Her organization supports the troops.
One bonus clip tonight... while John King was in Portland, Maine earlier this month, he was interviewed on WCSH6's 207