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CBS Airs Concealed Illegal Alien Pleading to Stay in U.S. --9/22/2006


1. CBS Airs Concealed Illegal Alien Pleading to Stay in U.S.
On Thursday night, for the second time in about two weeks, the CBS Evening News turned over its "freeSpeech" segment to a sympathetic person pleading for the rights of illegal aliens, this time a successful illegal who's done well. (So far, CBS has not run a commentary from anyone advocating a crackdown on illegal aliens.) Identifying him as an "illegal immigrant," CBS concealed the identity of "Carlos" by using a fake name and putting him in shadow. He explained: "I cannot show you my face tonight because if I were identified I could be deported. After hearing my story, I hope that you will question whether this is what I deserve." The college-age "Carlos," whose family came in on a tourist visa when he was eleven and overstayed their visas, asserted: "Almost from the beginning my parents paid taxes, and two years after we arrived here, they applied for legal residency. Believe it or not, our application is still pending. That means my parents and sister and I can still be deported even though we did everything we were supposed to do to try to become legal." Except follow the rules for their visa.

2. Nets, Especially CBS, Trumpet Branson's Efforts on Global Warming
ABC, CBS and NBC all ran stories Thursday night tied to Virgin Group Chairman Richard Branson's pledge at the Clinton Global Initiative, held in Manhattan, to invest $3 billion to fight global warming by developing cleaner fuels. On ABC's World News with Charles Gibson, Kate Snow giddily concluded: "Branson says Al Gore gave him the idea for this initiative, but his real motivation was quite simple: To keep the world beautiful for his children." CBS's Katie Couric, however, spent the most time championing Branson's cause. She announced: "British mogul Richard Branson is vowing to fight global warming and he's putting his money where his mouth is. He has joined a growing list of billionaires who are donating to philanthropic causes, making a huge pledge today to former President Bill Clinton's Global Initiative. He is promising $3 billion over the next ten years." Viewers then saw an interview with Branson, who proclaimed: "I don't want to be the generation that destroys this world for our children and our grandchildren."

3. ABC Finds Human Side of Hugo: Coffee Addict, Softy for Sinatra?
On ABC's Good Morning America on Thursday, Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez's wild remarks at the UN about Bush being "the devil" were greeted as an opportunity to humanize Chavez. Reporter Kate Snow reported while he was "applauded for his tirade," he is a "cult hero" who "rarely sleeps, chugs 20 cups of coffee a day, and has a soft spot for Frank Sinatra." While co-host Diane Sawyer expressed concern for how "dangerous" Chavez was, her guest, Washington Post reporter Robin Wright, mostly described him non-ideologically as the "a new kind of leadership" and a "different face for Latin America." As they discussed Chavez and Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Sawyer wondered: "Should we be weaning ourselves from that oil?"

4. Vieira Swoons Over Bill Clinton the 'Genie,' Treats as Wise Sage
In an interview on Thursday's Today with Bill Clinton, the show's new co-host, Meredith Vieira, treated the former President as a wise sage that could solve everything that's wrong with George W. Bush and his policies. On Hugo Chavez's remarks calling Bush "the devil," Vieira gave some credence to the Venezuelan President's claims, as she asked Clinton: "Do we need to change the way that we act?," and "is the developing world frustrated with the way that we treat them?" At one point, Vieira gushed: "Everybody's calling you 'the Genie,' and they want you to grant some wishes. If you had a genie what wish would you want granted?" When Clinton said he didn't have any "intelligence" on the location of Osama bin Laden, Vieira oozed: "You have lots of intelligence."

5. Turner Takes Credit for Ending Cold War, Spouts Other Silliness
Two days after CNN founder Ted Turner told journalists at the Reuters office in Manhattan that the war in Iraq was one of the "dumbest" decisions in history, that only women should be allowed to run for office -- though he simultaneously touted the male Al Gore, a "great leader," for President -- and argued Iran should be able to have nuclear weapons since "we have 28,000. Why can't they have ten?", he appeared Thursday night on CBS's Late Show with David Letterman where he spouted fresh silliness. Recalling for Letterman his activities in the 1980s, Turner implied that he ended the Cold War: "I was trying to bring the Cold War, help bring it to and end with the Goodwill Games and a bunch of our initiatives that we worked on with the Russians and it worked." Turner described Cuba as "a wonderful place" and fretted: "I think it's crazy that we don't have relations with Cuba when we made normalized relations with Vietnam after the Vietnam war." He argued: "If we wanted democracy to function and capitalism in Cuba, what we need to do is send a whole lot of tourists down there to get everybody materialistic like we are up here. And then we would have already, I'm sure, I believe, that communism would have been gone from there if we'd have just been friends with them."

6. Rosie O'Donnell and Joy Behar Blame Bush for Chavez' Bush-Bashing
Reaction against Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez' remarks to the United Nations, in which he referred to President George W. Bush as "the devil," has been strong. Liberal Democrat Charlie Rangel forcefully argued that the attack on the President was an attack on all Americans, while House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi denounced Chavez as "an everyday thug." But Rosie O'Donnell and Joy Behar of ABC's The View were not able to do the same. Rather than criticize Chavez for his outrageous comments, Behar and O'Donnell on Thursday blamed President Bush. Behar charged: "Well, don't you think Bush threw in the gauntlet when he called people the 'axis of evil'?" Twisting her hands beside her face, Behar ridiculed Bush: "Once you start name calling, then it's like nah-nah-nah-nah-nah-nah." O'Donnell chimed in: "Well, he, he would, he, President Bush is very fond of calling people who have different opinions than he 'evildoers.'"


CBS Airs Concealed Illegal Alien Pleading
to Stay in U.S.

On Thursday night, for the second time in about two weeks, the CBS Evening News turned over its "freeSpeech" segment to a sympathetic person pleading for the rights of illegal aliens, this time a successful illegal who's done well. (So far, CBS has not run a commentary from anyone advocating a crackdown on illegal aliens.) Identifying him as an "illegal immigrant," CBS concealed the identity of "Carlos" by using a fake name and putting him in shadow. He explained: "I cannot show you my face tonight because if I were identified I could be deported. After hearing my story, I hope that you will question whether this is what I deserve." The college-age "Carlos," whose family came in on a tourist visa when he was eleven and overstayed their visas, asserted: "Almost from the beginning my parents paid taxes, and two years after we arrived here, they applied for legal residency. Believe it or not, our application is still pending. That means my parents and sister and I can still be deported even though we did everything we were supposed to do to try to become legal." Except follow the rules for their visa.

"Carlos" concluded: "I ended up graduating fifth in my high school class and have since graduated college and I hope to become a lawyer. But because I am undocumented, I could never get a license to practice law and that puts me in a state of limbo. I've grown up here and I feel American -- I just lack the piece of paper that validates it."

[This item was posted Thursday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Back on September 6, Katie Couric's second night, as recounted in a CyberAlert item, CBS employed the "freeSpeech" feature to help plug a protest in favor of amnesty for illegal immigrants. CBS put a soft and sympathetic edge on the topic by showcasing a Los Angeles Times reporter, Sonia Nazario, concerned about mothers in the U.S. separated from their kids south of the border. Couric set up Nazario by pointing out how there would be "a demonstration in favor of amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants." The "freeSpeech" segment, Couric explained, would focus "on mothers who come here illegally, and the children they leave behind." Nazario began: "If we are going to start to solve our immigration problem and stay true to our family values, we need to understand the plight of hundreds of thousands of mothers now in the U.S. and the children they felt forced to leave behind in Central America. It's a humanitarian crisis." For more, check the September 7 CyberAlert: www.mediaresearch.org

Katie Couric set up the "freeSpeech" segment on the September 21 CBS Evening News:
"Last week, the House voted to build a 700-mile fence along the Mexican border, and today it approved tough prison sentences for illegal immigrants caught tunneling under it. But Congress has no plans to do anything about the millions of illegal immigrants already here. In tonight's 'freeSpeech,' you'll hear from one of them. At his request, we're concealing his identity. 'Carlos,' as we call him, has been in the U.S. More than a decade and recently graduated from college."

"Carlos," in shadow:
"I cannot show you my face tonight because if I were identified I could be deported. After hearing my story, I hope that you will question whether this is what I deserve. My parents and I came here from Guatemala on a six month tourist visa. I was eleven years old. Before we left, our family business went bankrupt. We had lost our home there, and my parents could not afford to pay for school. So with the money we got from selling all our furniture, my parents bought airplane tickets and we came to the U.S. because it was our last hope.
"Within a year of my arrival, I was already in regular English classes and on the Honor Roll. My dad got a job in construction, my mom cleaned houses. Three nights a week, my parents, my nine year old sister and I used to pick up the garbage at a factory. On weekends, we collected bottles to recycle. Almost from the beginning, my parents paid taxes, and two years after we arrived here, they applied for legal residency. Believe it or not, our application is still pending. That means my parents and sister and I can still be deported even though we did everything we were supposed to do to try to become legal.
"I ended up graduating fifth in my high school class and have since graduated college and I hope to become a lawyer. But because I am undocumented, I could never get a license to practice law and that puts me in a state of limbo. I've grown up here and I feel American -- I just lack the piece of paper that validates it."

At the bottom of the CBSNews.com page with the text of "Carlos," CBS News posted this plug, with "English" in lower case:

"'Carlos' is a young man who arrived in the United States without speaking english over 10 years ago, and recently graduated college. He aspires to become a lawyer.

"His future and the future of thousands of other students who have grown up in the U.S. depends on the Development Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act (DREAM Act) now pending in Congress. For more information visit the website, www.dontjustdreamact.com."

See: www.cbsnews.com

For video of "Carlos," check CBSNews.com's "freeSpeech" page: www.cbsnews.com

Nets, Especially CBS, Trumpet Branson's
Efforts on Global Warming

ABC, CBS and NBC all ran stories Thursday night tied to Virgin Group Chairman Richard Branson's pledge at the Clinton Global Initiative, held in Manhattan, to invest $3 billion to fight global warming by developing cleaner fuels. Doubts about global warming being driven by fossil fuels, naturally, were ignored. On ABC's World News with Charles Gibson, Kate Snow giddily concluded: "Branson says Al Gore gave him the idea for this initiative, but his real motivation was quite simple: To keep the world beautiful for his children."

CBS's Katie Couric, however, spent the most time championing Branson's cause. She announced: "British mogul Richard Branson is vowing to fight global warming and he's putting his money where his mouth is. He has joined a growing list of billionaires who are donating to philanthropic causes, making a huge pledge today to former President Bill Clinton's Global Initiative. He is promising $3 billion over the next ten years." Viewers then saw an interview with Branson, who proclaimed: "I don't want to be the generation that destroys this world for our children and our grandchildren." Couric noted how Branson made his "fortune through the airline industry," presuming it "does contribute, quite frankly, to global warming. Do you find it at all ironic that, that this is your main cause?" She cued him up: "When did you have an awakening about this issue? Do you remember a point in time where you had some kind of epiphany and said, 'I really need to get involved in this cause'?"

[This item was posted Thursday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

The ABC and NBC stories pivoted off Branson to look at the Clinton Global Initiative and private support to address major world problems.

From the September 21 CBS Evening News:

Katie Couric: "British mogul Richard Branson is vowing to fight global warming and he's putting his money where his mouth is. He has joined a growing list of billionaires who are donating to philanthropic causes, making a huge pledge today to former President Bill Clinton's Global Initiative. He is promising $3 billion over the next ten years. That includes all of the profits from his Virgin Airline and rail interests. He says the money will be used to find new energy alternatives to oil and coal. I spoke with Richard Branson today about his pledge"

Couric to Branson, on the CBS News set: "So, sir Richard, $3 billion. That's a big chunk of change. Why did you decide to give that money to the efforts made against global warming?"
Branson: "I don't want to be the generation that destroys this world for our children and our grandchildren. And I think if we carry on as we are, we will destroy it. And I'm also in the airline business, so I need to address it more than other people."
Couric: "There's some irony to that, isn't there? Here you've made your fortune through the airline industry, which does contribute, quite frankly, to global warming. Do you find it at all ironic that, that this is your main cause?"
Branson: "The only way people can get to London, for instance, is to go on Virgin Atlantic or another airline. And so it's not -- you're not going to stop that happening. So what we've got to do is come up with fuels that Virgin Atlantic can burn that are clean fuels, and that's where our money is going to go, in trying to develop new fuels that can fuel cars and planes and make sure that the world is a safer place."
Couric: "When did you have an awakening about this issue? Do you remember a point in time where you had some kind of epiphany and said, 'I really need to get involved in this cause'?"
Branson: "Well, up until about five years ago, I was a slight skeptic about global warming, and then I started reading and meeting a lot of scientists, and I thought, you know, you know we've got a transportation company. Let's plow the money we make from those into this issue."
Couric: "Richard Branson, Sir Richard Branson, thank you so much."

ABC Finds Human Side of Hugo: Coffee
Addict, Softy for Sinatra?

On ABC's Good Morning America on Thursday, Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez's wild remarks at the UN about Bush being "the devil" were greeted as an opportunity to humanize Chavez. Reporter Kate Snow reported while he was "applauded for his tirade," he is a "cult hero" who "rarely sleeps, chugs 20 cups of coffee a day, and has a soft spot for Frank Sinatra." While co-host Diane Sawyer expressed concern for how "dangerous" Chavez was, her guest, Washington Post reporter Robin Wright, mostly described him non-ideologically as the "a new kind of leadership" and a "different face for Latin America." As they discussed Chavez and Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Sawyer wondered: "Should we be weaning ourselves from that oil?"

[This item, by Tim Graham, was posted Thursday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

In the 7am half-hour, Diane Sawyer began: "Well, now those fireworks at the United Nations. The presidents of Iran and Venezuela joining forces to taunt President Bush. Yesterday, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, at the podium, created quite the theater, as GMA's weekend co-anchor Kate Snow tells us now. Kate, good morning."

Kate Snow: "Good morning to you, Diane, and it's no secret there's a lot of anti-American sentiment in the world right now. President Bush has quite a few enemies, but the leader of Venezuela is taking Bush-bashing to a whole new level. One day after President Bush addressed the United Nations from the same podium, Hugo Chavez was applauded for his tirade. 'The devil came here yesterday,' Chavez said. 'Right here. Right here. And it still smells of sulfur today, this table that I'm now standing in front of.' The U.S. Ambassador to the UN couldn't help but react."
John Bolton, U.S. Ambassador to the UN: "He can exercise freedom of speech on that podium and, as I say, he could exercise it in Central Park, too, but give the same freedom to the people of Venezuela."
Snow: "But in Latin America, Chavez has become a cult hero. Known for his hot-headed speeches, he reportedly rarely sleeps, chugs 20 cups of coffee a day and has a soft spot for Frank Sinatra. He's even attracted a following in this country. Harry Belafonte has visited Caracas. So has anti-Bush activist Cindy Sheehan. Another friend? The president of Iran, who took on the Bush administration in his own speech at the U.N. just one day earlier. 'Some seek to rule the world relying on weapons and threats,' Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said, 'while others live in perpetual insecurity and danger.' They have formed a sort of Bush-bashing brotherhood. Chavez was in Iran this summer, Ahmadinejad in Venezuela last week and both have been guests of Fidel Castro."

To aging ears, that sounds a little like the way incoming Soviet dictators were described and humanized to America in the 1980s, like how Yuri Andropov just loved jazz. The pictures of Belafonte and Sheehan were certainly revealing for conservatives, but the lack of any labeling of anyone in these pictures (or their more colorful Bush-hating remarks) could make the non-political viewer think Chavez just likes calypso musicians and feels bad for mothers of departed soldiers. Then Snow added more (labeled) conservatives to Bolton to balance it out a little:
Rush Limbaugh: "I mean, I'm sorry. I'm outraged by it, but I can't help but laugh."
Snow: "On talk radio, conservatives like Rush Limbaugh slammed the Chavez speech. Some say it will backfire."
Pat Buchanan, conservative commentator: "Some lunatic leftist dictator making those kinds of statements before an unpopular body with the American people like the United Nations. I think the White House has got to be rejoicing."

Snow concluded with more heart-warming details about Chavez's philanthropy for the American poor:
"Now, last winter, you may remember, Chavez's government provided home heating oil at low cost for low-income Americans. He's now pledging to double that program this year. But author Julia Sweig says this whole PR offensive, Diane, really isn't about winning over Americans. It's more about bolstering Chavez's support back home in Venezuela."

Snow did not explain that Julia Sweig is a liberal fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations who recently cooed in the Washington Post over former New York Times reporter Stephen Kinzer's screed about American imperialism: "he ranks among the best in popular foreign policy storytelling, especially for those on the left." His kind of storytelling includes comparing American interventions to beating a child: "You cannot violently overthrow a foreign regime and then expect that that won't have any long-term effect. It's like beating your child every day. You cannot expect that that child is going to grow up normal." Kinzer included Hawaii on his list of disastrous American foreign interventions.

From there, Diane Sawyer interviewed Robin Wright of the Washington Post. (She's the feminist who once declared a few weeks after Anita Hill's testimony that Iran was more progressive on female legislators than the USA: www.mrc.org )

Sawyer began with some trepidation toward Chavez, but Wright described the Bush-bashers in the most clinical, non-ideological, diplomatic terms:
"Joining us now is Robin Wright, diplomatic correspondent for The Washington Post. Knows all about these world leaders and last night, by the way, had dinner with the president of Iran, a special small dinner and we'll hear more about that in a second. But, Robin, there he was at the podium saying those things and the, and the White House, the UN Ambassador said this is comic strip behavior and yet they applauded. How seriously do we have to take it? How dangerous is he?"
Robin Wright, Washington Post diplomatic correspondent: "Well, I think we have to take it very seriously. We're beginning to see the emergence of leadership in both Venezuela and Iran, both oil-producing countries, they can laugh all the way to the bank, when it comes to U.S. diplomacy, who are really creating a new kind of leadership, not just for their own countries and their own regions, but really for the, the non-aligned movement, the 118 countries that feel they're not represented enough at the United Nations."
Sawyer: "But a lot of people felt blind-sided by this, in a way, because they say we understand that the Arabs and we may seem like adversaries in some situation, but Venezuela? What did, what did we do to Venezuela?"

Wright then played the typical part of the journalist who needs to explain to Americans all the grievances against them, and then said nothing about the actual state of democracy in Venezuela:
"Well, I mean, this is a, this has been a brewing confrontation now for a couple of years. And this is, you know, Venezuela feels -- this was the oldest democracy in Latin America, that has become kind of a different kind of face for Latin America. And many countries feel that there -- it's time to stand up to the United States, that the United States has become too powerful and, and too aggressive. And he was expressing not just the feelings of people in Venezuela, I think, but, but several in, in developing countries."
Sawyer: "It sort of brings you to the question of oil again. We get 10 to 15 percent of our oil from Venezuela, sometimes as much as Saudi Arabia or right up there with Saudi Arabia. Is this good American diplomacy? Should we be weaning ourselves from that oil?"
Wright: "Oh, well, I think one of the great answers to the issue of terrorism and, and our dependence on the Gulf is the whole issue of oil. Absolutely. Energy has made us dependent on some of, of the world's bad boys."
Sawyer: "I want to hear about your dinner last night. Dinner with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. I mean, it's, it's already a startling sentence there. He has said that Chavez is his trenchmate, his warrior in all of this. What did you learn about this other one of the world's great adversaries last night?"
Wright: "Well, it was a polite dinner but it was often very bizarre. There were moments when he would, with someone who, who was familiar and, and survived the Holocaust, and trying to, to deny that it happened, saying that we needed more studies to confirm, we needed evidence, what was wrong with impartial studies of what happened. He was very firm and hard-line on Iran's nuclear program. There was no compromising at all. This was an outreach, but there was certainly no, no attempt to try to bring Americans on board."
Sawyer: "Do you think that he and Chavez think they have the U.S. cornered, in some sense?"
Wright: "I think they feel that the United States is weakened, that it's overextended itself, that its policies have not succeeded, whether it's in Iraq, Afghanistan, winning the hearts and the minds of a lot of countries outside of our European allies."
Sawyer: "And do you think that they will now begin action? What should we fear from them?"
Wright: "I'm not sure that action. I think that there is -- one of the reasons you see so, so many angry words is because they don't have a whole lot of, of options right now. But I don't think that either one of them intends to back down and I think they're going to be big players, big adversaries for us in the years to come."

Vieira Swoons Over Bill Clinton the 'Genie,'
Treats as Wise Sage

In an interview on Thursday's Today with Bill Clinton, the show's new co-host, Meredith Vieira, treated the former President as a wise sage that could solve everything that's wrong with George W. Bush and his policies. On Hugo Chavez's remarks calling Bush "the devil," Vieira gave some credence to the Venezuelan President's claims, as she asked Clinton: "Do we need to change the way that we act?," and "is the developing world frustrated with the way that we treat them?" At one point, Vieira gushed: "Everybody's calling you 'the Genie,' and they want you to grant some wishes. If you had a genie what wish would you want granted?" When Clinton said he didn't have any "intelligence" on the location of Osama bin Laden, Vieira oozed: "You have lots of intelligence."

[This item is adopted from the Thursday afternoon posting by Geoffrey Dickens on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Vieira also asked Clinton for advice on Iran: "Let me ask you, then, about President Bush refusing to meet with the Iranian President Ahmadinejad, the other day. He said he would not do that, they wouldn't be in the same room together. If you were President today would you have met with the President of Iran?"

Even when Vieira attempted to ask a skeptical question she couldn't help sucking up to Clinton: "You know when you were President you were very popular and, and very concerned with diplomacy. Meeting with world leaders and trying to solve problems. And yet the threat of al Qaeda continued to grow up and lead into 9/11. So some of your critics would say, what did all the goodwill accomplish in the end?"
Clinton: "Well it just wasn't goodwill, we tried to kill Bin Laden and I signed an authorization to that effect. We nearly got him once and bombed one of his training camps."
Vieira: "Where do you think he is? Everybody's wondering the heck he is, where do you think he is?"
Clinton: "I think he's probably in, I have no intelligence, okay? I think he's probably-"
Vieira: "You have lots of intelligence."
Clinton: "No I mean government intelligence."
Vieira: "I know, I'm kidding."

After that exchange Vieira, once again, turned to Clinton's advice on another trouble spot for Bush, Iraq: "And now we are bogged down in Iraq. You have said, 'I never thought Saddam presented any kind of terrorist threat but once you break these eggs you gotta kinda make an omelet.' So how do we make an omelet, what should we be doing there now?"

Of course Vieira couldn't resist asking about Hillary's presidential ambitions and even brought up questions about their marriage but then just let Clinton rant on against Republicans: "What about the scrutiny that she would be put under and you as well. The New York Times recently ran a front page article about your marriage. Do you think that was fair and is it fair game should she run?"

And just before the long interview with Clinton, Vieira and Matt Lauer praised him and his Global Initiative in the following teaser at top of the show:
Meredith Vieira: "What do you do after you left the most powerful job on Earth? Well former President Bill Clinton isn't kicking up his heels during his retirement. He's been working tirelessly to help people around the world and he's been doing it with the help of some unlikely allies, the Bush family. Coming up we'll talk to him about his Global Initiative as well as the war in Iraq, the looming showdown with Iran and whether he could be living in the White House again some day."
Lauer: "And we both spent a little time over at the Global Initiative-"
Vieira: "Sure did."
Lauer: "-in the last day or so."
Vieira: "Very impressive."
Lauer: "It's a terrific thing he does, no question about it."

The following is a complete transcript of the entire Clinton interview aired on the September 21 Today:

Meredith Vieira: "On Close Up this morning former President Bill Clinton. He is hardly taking it easy in retirement. This week Mr. Clinton is in New York hosting the second annual Clinton Global Initiative, an exclusive three day event that unites some of the world's most influential leaders and challenges them to find solutions to the world's most pressing problems. I caught up with the nation's 42nd president during the first day of the conference. As this year's Clinton Global Initiative convened President Clinton greeted his special guest, First Lady Laura Bush, who in her opening address pledged money for clean water in Africa."
Laura Bush: "We invite other partners to join this alliance to install 4000 pumps in schools and communities and provide clean drinking water to as many as 10 million sub-Saharan Africans."
Vieira: "This year's focus is global health, climate change, poverty and ending religious conflict, problems President Clinton believes this extraordinary gathering of statesmen, business leaders and non-profits can help solve. You've called it a catalyst for change, I believe."
Bill Clinton: "Yeah."
Vieira: "What do you mean by that?"
Bill Clinton: "I think that, clearly, private citizens working through these non-governmental groups have more power to do public good. To affect the future in a positive way than ever before."
Vieira: "Everyone who attends the conference must make a concrete pledge or else."
Clinton: "I thought I'm gonna have a meeting and tell them they can't come to my meeting unless they promise to commit time and money and if they come and promise and don't do it I won't let them come back next year. I thought this is, you know I might have an empty hotel to party in. It's not gonna happen. But we had big crowd last year, bigger demand this year."
Vieira: "Do you ever look out in that room and say, 'Gee I brought together sort of an odd bunch, a bunch of strange bedfellows almost?'"
Clinton: "Oh yeah."
Vieira: "Yeah."
Clinton: "Well you know one of the things that I, that our foundation works in is climate change. The two people who fund our participation are Rupert Murdoch and Barbara Streisand. I'm quite sure, talk about strange bedfellows, that they've never worked on anything before, but I think they're both pretty proud that they're doing it."
Vieira: "Everybody's calling you 'the Genie,' and they want you to grant some wishes. If you had a genie what wish would you want granted?"
Clinton: "Well I think it's naive to want all the problems solved. If I could have one wish I would have people accept the importance of our common humanity. If they did that we would, at least, be stumbling in the right direction for the rest of my life and probably for the rest of this century."

NBC then switched from the taped exchange at the conference site, to Vieira with Clinton in-studio: "And President Clinton, good morning to you. Thanks for joining us. Last year the Initiative raised about $2.5 billion. So how did Day One go of the second Initiative?"
Clinton: "We had 107 commitments and we already have $2 billion so I think we'll clearly do better. At, at the end of the meeting last year we only had about half the money we actually raised because some people formulate their commitments based on things they hear, ideas they get here. So, we'll, we'll gonna do pretty well this year."
Vieira: "One of the goals of the Initiative is to find solutions to problems in the developing world. Yesterday, at the UN, Venezuelan President Chavez launched an attack on President Bush. He called him 'the Devil,' accused him of quote, 'talking as if he owned the world.' Now it's easy to, to, to dismiss somebody like Chavez, and some have, as a nut but do you think he is giving voice to wider frustration in the developing world about this country and this country's policies? Do we need to change the way that we act?"
Clinton: "Well I think first of all let's give the Bush administration credit. I disagree with them on virtually everything domestically and a great deal of the foreign policy but they've given more money to AIDS than ever before, they have a Millennium Challenge grant that I think does a lot of good. You heard Mrs. Bush announce one of those projects yesterday."
Vieira: "But is the developing world frustrated with the way that we treat them?"
Clinton: "I think, I think they're frustrated not so much by the money we spend as they, they think that we're too unilateral. They think we cooperate when we have to and otherwise we do what we please."
Vieira: "Well do we?"
Clinton: "Sometimes yes and sometimes no but I think that Hugo Chavez said something that was wrong yesterday, unbecoming a head of state and-"
Vieira: "By calling, you mean, Bush a devil?"
Clinton: "All of, yeah, and all that name-calling, you know it's undignified and not helpful and it's not true. But on the other hand what we should think about is not him but the masses of people all over the world who find it always easy to resent the wealthiest and most powerful country in the world. So we have to give people a sense that we're pulling for them and that we, we may have to do things that are unpopular from time to time but we want to work together whenever we can. I think it's-"
Vieira: "Well then let me ask you-"
Clinton: "-a message you send out, you know?"
Vieira: "Let me ask you, then, about President Bush refusing to meet with the Iranian president Ahmadinejad, the other day. He said he would not do that, they wouldn't be in the same room together. If you were president today would you have met with the president of Iran? Given the sense, the, the reality that our countries are very polarized right now?"
Clinton: "Well I think that we should have some contacts with them. I don't know if the way to start is to have the presidents meet, given all the things Mr. Ahmadinejad has said about Israel and the Holocaust and, and the other things he said. I think on the question of their nuclear intentions we ought to have some contact with them. I'm not sure presidents, presidents is a place to start."
Vieira: "Why isn't it? Why isn't it?"
Clinton: "I offered to meet with his predecessor who declined basically because of the politics of Iran and-"
Vieira: "Why isn't it the place to start though, Mr. President?"
Clinton: "Because, because I think at least they need to know kind of where they're going. I think, but I basically believe that the United States should not be afraid to talk to any one. It should not be reluctant and shouldn't have too many conditions. I just think that in this case they need a, a little groundwork needs to be laid here. But if you think you might have trouble with somebody and God forbid if you think it could lead to a military confrontation then there needs to be, at least, a maximum amount of contact beforehand. So I wouldn't rule out meeting with him as the President but keep in mind, as far as I know, they've not had any lower-level contacts. And normally when presidents meet at least, you know, you got some idea of what you're going into and I respect that. I do think that we need to have some communication with them and surely we do, I imagine we do."
Vieira: "The President of Iran has said that the nuclear program there is peaceful. Do you believe him?"
Clinton: "Well so far we, we don't have definitive evidence one way or the other. I don't think there's any question that, that they would like to have a nuclear weapon. And I don't think there's any question, ironically, that that's one thing that unites Iranians, whether they're pro-Western, which most of them still are, most of them would like to have good relationships with us. But most countries think, well if you got a nuclear bomb nobody attacks you. The danger for us was not, would not be so much that Iran would use it but that they would throw their weight around with it and that because they also fund Hezbollah that, some of that fissile material might find its way into terrorist hands who might use it in a dirty bomb, a smaller nuclear device that could kill thousands of people. And so we have to be concerned about that."
Vieira: "You know when you were president you were very popular and, and very concerned with diplomacy. Meeting with world leaders and trying to solve problems. And yet the threat of al Qaeda continued to grow up and lead into 9/11. So some of your critics would say, what did all the goodwill accomplish in the end?"
Clinton: "Well it just wasn't goodwill, we tried to kill Bin Laden and I signed an authorization to that effect. We nearly got him once and bombed one of his training camps."
Vieira: "Where do you think he is? Everybody's wondering the heck he is, where do you think he is?"
Clinton: "I think he's probably in, I have no intelligence, okay? I think he's probably..."
Vieira: "You have lots of intelligence."
Clinton: "No I mean government intelligence."
Vieira: "I know, I'm kidding."
Clinton: "I think he's probably in Waziristan in, in the mountains region of that semi-autonomous area of Pakistan where they can move back and forth. It's one of the reasons, I think, we have to do what we can to support the, the mission in Afghanistan. We, we need to step up our attempts to roll back the Taliban's gains in the south and try to intensify the hunt for him but I think that he and Dr. Al-Zawahri are probably there, hiding in the mountains in a place that's very difficult to reach."
Vieira: "And now we are bogged down in Iraq. You have said, 'I never thought Saddam presented any kind of terrorist threat but once you break these eggs you gotta kinda make an omelet.' So how do we make an omelet, what should we be doing there now?"
Clinton: "Well I think the most important thing, it's a good thing the president of Afghan-, of Iraq came here to the UN. I think the most important thing is to make sure the Iraqis know that we're trying to help them. But..."
Vieira: "Do you think they know that?"
Clinton: "Yeah I do, I think the leaders do. But that there's a limit to how long we can stay and, and our presence is a mixed blessing. In a funny way if we could lower our footprint and increase our impact as the special forces Marines have done in many places, I think it would be more effective. But they have to know that there has, there's a limit to this. Unless they can put the, the Sunni and the Shia together and the Shia sections together and get people to choose politics over violence then no amount of troops will make any difference and you know just last week I thought it was interesting we, we, we withdrew some forces out of Al-Anbar province to send to Baghdad to quell the violence there and a Marine intelligence officer, very highly regarded, said, he thought, you know, the fight was lost in Anbar. So what happened? 25 of the 31 tribal leaders in the province said, 'we're gonna run these foreign jihadists out.' That's what you want, you want, you want, you want to leave Iraq as a coherent country with a functioning government that won't be a hotbed of foreign terrorists coming in because they didn't have that before and we don't want it to have, we don't want them to have it now."
Vieira: "Yeah, the question though is how do you do it? And I think a lot of people in this country when they look at the Democratic Party they get the sense that there is no cohesive plan. That the Democrats have come up with nothing."
Clinton: "I don't think that's quite fair. Most of the Democrats, all but I think 3 or 4 in the Senate voted for a resolution sponsored by Senator Levin and Senator Reid who's an Army veteran and been to Iraq several times, including with my wife and, and she supported it. And it called for basically a gradual phasing down of our involvement there but an intensification of the effort to find a political solution. When you get an insurgency like this you've got to make a deal. Sooner or later there has to be a political resolution of this."
Vieira: "Speaking of politics I'd like to talk a little bit about Hillary. I know she said she doesn't know whether she's gonna run for president at this point but the polls say that she is the frontrunner in the Democratic Party. If she were to run do you think she would win not only the nomination but the general election?"
Clinton: "I think she would. Of course no one knows how an election would come out. And I, I, I know she hasn't decided because I'm sure I would know if she had. I, I know this-"
Vieira: "Do you talk about it?"
Clinton: "No."
Vieira: "You never talk about it?"
Clinton: "No I'm superstitious about it and my, one of our family rules is don't look past the next election, you might not get past it. So I, I want her to win the Senate seat. She's, she deserves it. She's been phenomenally effective for New York. She's done more work with Republican senators to do joint things than I think anybody could have possibly anticipated. She's really done a good job. But if she ran and won I think she'd be a good president. I think she, probably a great president because she's got the right kind of skills and she got a good heart and a good mind and she runs things well, makes good decisions and because of all the experience we've had. So I, that's the most important thing to me is whether she'd be good for the country and she really would be great but..."
Vieira: "What, what about-"
Clinton: "-I have no idea if she's gonna do it."
Vieira: "What about the scrutiny that she would be put under and you as well. The New York Times recently ran a front page article about your marriage. Do you think that was fair and is it fair game should she run?"
Clinton: "Well the politicians don't get to decide that. But I think that the thing that I think is gonna be interesting is whether the American people, after all, with all the problems we've got really want to see the, the press basically follow the Republican bloodhounds and do all that sort of stuff again and whether or not the people that are doing it can escape the same scrutiny. They have in the past. It's been a free ride, you know? Just pick a Democrat and punch that person. And I don't think that'll happen this time. But I think it's a stupid way to spend our time. You know the older I get the more it amazes me that anybody would be interested in me in that way or anybody else really but I, I think-"
Vieira: "But I think you're spending-"
Clinton: "I think, you know, this election will be a thinking election. It's very interesting. This election, the one here in 2006 for the, I, I do a lot of work for the Democrats. You know I go around and campaign for these candidates. I try to help and they're not traditional rallies anymore. You can have big crowds, they'd be very boisterous and when I get up to talk it's almost like you're in a congregation. Everybody gets really quiet because-"
Vieira: "Why?"
Clinton: "-because they want to think through the challenges we face. You know there's no ideological, emotional outburst answer to Iraq, to climate change, to stagnant wages, to how you can have record corporate profits and increasing poverty among working people. I mean there are these, they know these problems are challenging and complex and we need to get back to thinking and that's really encouraging to me."
Vieira: "And that's what you're doing with the Global Initiative, obviously?"
Clinton: "Yeah I'm trying to get people to think and come together and it turns out we've got some strange allies."
Vieira: "You certainly do. Pleasure-"
Clinton: "Thank you."
Vieira: "pleasure to meet you and sit down with you Mr. President."
Clinton: "Thank you very much."
Vieira: "Thank you so much. It is now 7:19am, here's Matt."
Matt Lauer: "Alright Meredith thanks. President Clinton thanks to you."

Turner Takes Credit for Ending Cold War,
Spouts Other Silliness

Two days after CNN founder Ted Turner told journalists at the Reuters office in Manhattan that the war in Iraq was one of the "dumbest" decisions in history, that only women should be allowed to run for office -- though he simultaneously touted the male Al Gore, a "great leader," for President -- and argued Iran should be able to have nuclear weapons since "we have 28,000. Why can't they have ten?", he appeared Thursday night on CBS's Late Show with David Letterman where he spouted fresh silliness.

Recalling for Letterman his activities in the 1980s, Turner implied that he ended the Cold War: "I was trying to bring the Cold War, help bring it to and end with the Goodwill Games and a bunch of our initiatives that we worked on with the Russians and it worked." Turner described Cuba as "a wonderful place" and fretted: "I think it's crazy that we don't have relations with Cuba when we made normalized relations with Vietnam after the Vietnam war." He argued: "If we wanted democracy to function and capitalism in Cuba, what we need to do is send a whole lot of tourists down there to get everybody materialistic like we are up here. And then we would have already, I'm sure, I believe, that communism would have been gone from there if we'd have just been friends with them."

Turner reiterated how he believes "men all over the world should be barred from holding public office at any level for a hundred years" because then "you'd have a much kinder, gentler world almost immediately. Military budgets would be dramatically cut back and more money would be spent on health care and welfare and education. The things that we really need to be spending it on." Letterman expressed doubt, leading Turner to insist: "Well, I mean, I'm deadly serious about this. This would work. And it's easy to do. You just pass a law. What you would do is, as men come up for re-election they couldn't stand for re-election. The women would be the only ones that could run."

Apparently, civil rights aren't much of a concern to Turner.

Earlier, after criticizing Hugo Chavez for denouncing President Bush as the 'devil' and being prompted by Letterman who suggested the UN is a good place for venting, Turner trumpeted: "That's the great thing about the UN. It's a place where people can get, you know, let off steam."

[This item was posted late Thursday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Turner appeared on the Late Show to plug the opening, in the Time-Life building in Manhattan, of a Ted's Montana Grill, his chain of restaurants which feature bison meat: www.tedsmontanagrill.com

Reporting on Turner's appearance at their Reuters office, a Tuesday Reuters dispatch by Daniel Trotta relayed:
"The U.S. invasion of Iraq has caused 'incalculable damage' that will take 20 years to overcome 'if we just act reasonably intelligently.'
"'It will go down in history, it is already being seen in history, as one of the dumbest moves that was ever made by anybody. A couple of others that come to mind were the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor and the German invasion of Russia,' Turner told the forum....
"Often contrarian, Turner called it a 'joke' that Bush demanded that Iran abandon any ambitions for nuclear weapons while at the same time hoping to ban all such bombs.
"'They're a sovereign state,' Turner said of Iran. 'We have 28,000. Why can't they have 10? We don't say anything about Israel -- they've got 100 of them approximately -- or India or Pakistan or Russia. And really, nobody should have them. 'They aren't usable by any sane person.'"
"One way to reduce such dangers in the world would be to leave women in charge, said the former husband of Jane Fonda.
"'Men should be barred from public office for 100 years in every part of the world....It would be a much kinder, gentler, more intelligently run world. The men have had millions of years where we've been running things. We've screwed it up hopelessly. Let's give it to the women.'"

For the September 19 Reuters article: news.yahoo.com

Meanwhile, Editor & Publisher's David S. Hirschman reported Tuesday that Turner touted a man for President:
"Looking forward to 2008, Turner expressed his hope that the next U.S. President would be a 'great leader who thinks ahead, like Al Gore.' He suggested the audience help convince Gore to run because 'we can't afford to waste another eight years.'"

For the E&P story: www.editorandpublisher.com

I corrected the closed-captioning against the video of some portions of Turner's appearance on the September 21 Late Show with David Letterman:

David Letterman: "Hugo Chavez from Venezuela calling, referring to George Bush as 'the devil' and 'smelling like the devil.' This was-"
Ted Turner: "It's not very polite." (laughter)
Letterman: "No."
Turner: "I personally prefer not to use derogatory language for other people. All it does is make them mad. And it doesn't accomplish anything except get new more trouble."
Letterman: "That's right. But historically, I think I was a little surprised. But then if you think about it, this is sort of a forum for that kind of venting, isn't it."
Turner: "Well, that's the great thing about the UN. It's a place where people can get, you know, let off steam. If you remember -- Khruschev during the cold war got so mad at the United States that he took his shoe off and hit the podium. But he didn't order the bombs to fall, because when people have a chance to express themselves when they're really, really angry, if you give them a chance and listen to them, you don't have to always do what they want to you do, but if you just listen diffuses the anger. At least you heard me."
Letterman: "So in that sense it's functioning and serving the purpose for which it was meant."
Turner: "Absolutely."

....

Letterman: "There was a time when you actually spent time with Fidel Castro, is that right?"
Turner: "Yeah."
Letterman: "Were you friends or just friendly with him?"
Turner: "Well I tried to make friends with him. I -- and I am his friend. I was friends with Chinese communists and with the Russians with Gorbachev. This was back during the Cold War. I was trying to bring the Cold War, help bring it to and end with the Goodwill Games and a bunch of our initiatives that we worked on with the Russians and it worked. I mean my theory is that you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar. If you bomb people all you do is make them mad at you. If you are friends with them, you can do business with them, a lot of the time. I mean, at least you got to try that. And then keep trying. You know, if at first you don't succeed, keep trying."
Letterman: "Because regardless of ideology, folks are just folks."
Turner: "Well they are. I feel that way. They all love children and dogs and all over the world. That's good place to start, you know. I don't want my kids to die in a nuclear exchange. And they don't either, usually. It's very few people, there are some that want to kill themselves, but they are pretty hopeless sad lot, you know, these bombers."
Letterman: "Do you have any insight as to the future of Cuba now that it looks like there is some bit of transition is inevitable?"
Turner: "Well, I really don't know for sure. But what's going to happen down there. Any more than you do. Or anybody, anybody else does. But Cuba is a wonderful place. And the people down there are very nice when you get to know them. And, you know, I think that I'd like to see us closer to Cuba. I think it's crazy that we don't have relations with Cuba when we made normalized relations with Vietnam after the Vietnam war. And here we've never been at war with Cuba. A war of words, maybe. But if we wanted democracy to function and capitalism in Cuba, what we need to do is send a whole lot of tourists down there to get everybody materialistic like we are up here. And then we would have already, I'm sure, I believe, that communism would have been gone from there if we'd have just been friends with them."

....

Letterman: "What about the, your idea that maybe it's time for men to stop trying to run the world and perhaps women would do a better job of it?" (applause)
Turner: "I've been advocating for years that I think men all over the world should be barred from holding public office at any level for a hundred years. (applause) They can do everything else. They can run education. You'd have a much kinder, gentler world almost immediately. Military budgets would be dramatically cut back and more money would be spent on health care and welfare and education. The things that we really need to be spending it on. (applause) They certainly couldn't do any worse than we men have done the last few thousand years running things."
Letterman, chuckling: "Well."
Turner: "Well, I mean, I'm deadly serious about this. This would work. And it's easy to do. You just pass a law. What you would do is, as men come up for re-election they couldn't stand for re-election. The women would be the only ones that could run."
Letterman: "Replaced by women."
Turner: "That's easy to do. And it wouldn't cost anything."

Rosie O'Donnell and Joy Behar Blame Bush
for Chavez' Bush-Bashing

Reaction against Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez' remarks to the United Nations, in which he referred to President George W. Bush as "the devil," has been strong. Liberal Democrat Charlie Rangel forcefully argued that the attack on the President was an attack on all Americans, while House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi denounced Chavez as "an everyday thug." But Rosie O'Donnell and Joy Behar of ABC's The View were not able to do the same. Rather than criticize Chavez for his outrageous comments, Behar and O'Donnell on Thursday blamed President Bush. Behar charged: "Well, don't you think Bush threw in the gauntlet when he called people the 'axis of evil'?" Twisting her hands beside her face, Behar ridiculed Bush: "Once you start name calling, then it's like nah-nah-nah-nah-nah-nah." O'Donnell chimed in: "Well, he, he would, he, President Bush is very fond of calling people who have different opinions than he 'evildoers.'"

[This item is adopted from a Thursday afternoon posting by Megan McCormack on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org, for which the MRC's Rich Noyes caught Behar in action for an illustrative screen shot: newsbusters.org ]

ABC reporter Deborah Roberts, guest hosting on the September 21st edition of The View, made the only critical statement against Chavez: "He said, oh, I can smell the sulfur here. I mean, he was really insulting to the President...Kind of, I think, it was kind of over the top."

That led Joy Behar to make Chavez' remarks equivalent to President Bush's 2002 "axis of evil" statement [which, it should be pointed out, did not include Venezuela or Chavez]: "Well, don't you think Bush threw in the gauntlet when he called people the axis of evil? Once you start name calling, then it's like nah-nah-nah-nah-nah-nah..."

Then Rosie O'Donnell chimed in: "President Bush is very fond of calling people who have different opinions than he evildoers."

O'Donnell made it seem as if Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Chavez are merely world leaders who have simple differences with President Bush, and not dictatorial leaders of dangerous regimes.

Elisabeth Hasselbeck defended the President: "And sometimes that's not wrong when they behead individuals that happened to have lived on our soil and theirs as well, so I think there are evildoers out there."
O'Donnell: "Correct. There are many wrongs done in the name of extremism and religion every day, and its really not the right way to go as human beings."

After Hasselbeck brought up the controversy surrounding Pat Robertson's call to assassinate Chavez, which Robertson later apologized for, Behar wound up the segment by doing a little name-calling herself.

Hasselbeck: "...Didn't, didn't Pat Robertson call for his -- didn't he have that quote calling for his assassination? Chavez, a little while ago."
O'Donnell: "Yes, but luckily Pat Robertson is not an elected leader-"
Behar: "Some people think he's el Diablo."

-- Brent Baker