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NBC Hails Obama's Turkey Visit as 'Shrewd', CBS: Highest Approval --4/7/2009


1. NBC Hails Obama's Turkey Visit as 'Shrewd', CBS: Highest Approval
Giving a warm wind-up to President Barrack Obama's overseas trip as it comes to an end in Istanbul, NBC's Chuck Todd declared Monday that the decision to make Turkey the last stop "could prove to be one of the shrewder early moves in this young presidency." On CBS, anchor Katie Couric highlighted how a new CBS News/New York Times poll pegged Obama's approval at 66 percent, the highest ever in that survey the CBSNews.com online posting touted: "Obama Approval Hits New High -- 66%." Couric also pointed out how Obama has made Americans feel better with the "wrong direction" measure for the nation falling from 89, under Bush, to 53 percent: "More than half still say we're heading the wrong way, but that's a dramatic 36-point improvement from the waning days of the Bush administration." Reporter Chip Reid showcased more positive poll results for Obama's trip, as "67 percent of Americans believe the President will return to the U.S. with the respect of world leaders."

2. Shuster: Conservative 'Wing-Nuts' 'Inspire' Cop Killer Violence
Fresh off the cancellation of his own MSNBC show, an unleashed David Shuster, sub-hosting for Chris Matthews on Monday's Hardball, ranted and railed against "crazy," "conservative" "wing-nuts" like Chuck Norris, Michele Bachmann, Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck for fomenting "dangerous" and "red hot rhetoric" that "inspire some of the crazies out there", like accused cop killer Richard Poplowski, "to do something violent."

3. ABC Touts Gun Control Group; Hypes Special on Firearms
On Monday's Good Morning America, reporter David Muir highlighted a rabidly pro-gun control group as an expert on weapons, without referencing the organization's political stance. The journalist also promoted "If I Only Had a Gun," an ABC special to air Friday night that seems to argue for tighter restrictions on firearms. During a segment on the tragic shootings in Pittsburgh and New York, Muir featured a clip from Michael Wolkowitz, who is a member of the board of trustees for the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. No mention was made of his organization's anti-Second Amendment position and the only identification vaguely read, "Board of Trustees, Brady Center." Wolkowitz complained, "We have 32 people being murdered by guns every day in this country. If peanut butter or pistachio nuts or spinach killed that number of people once in one day, they'd be pulled by the FDA." In contrast, no voice opposing gun control was featured in the GMA segment.

4. NBC Rehabilitates Spitzer as Regulatory Expert, Forgets Party ID
NBC's Matt Lauer invited former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer on Monday's Today show, to help restore his reputation after he lost his governorship due to solicitation of prostitute and while the former governor expressed regret for hurting his family, it was Lauer who suggested the greatest loss was that Spitzer missed a chance to regulate Wall Street. Lauer also failed to mention the disgraced governor's Democratic party affiliation, something that has become a bit of a tradition over at Today. The following are just some of the pro-regulatory questions Lauer tossed to Spitzer: "You said something to the effect, and I'm paraphrasing here. You said that the regulations were there but the will to regulate was not there...So, so now that we've had, that the economy is story number one, two and three in this country, right now, and there's been so much public outrage, is the will to regulate there now?....And, and finally do you ever ask yourself, 'What if?' I mean you were a person with the knowledge and the position to perhaps do something about this? First as attorney general, and then governor of New York, until you were brought down by this scandal? Do you ever shake your head and say, 'I missed a golden opportunity?'"


NBC Hails Obama's Turkey Visit as 'Shrewd',
CBS: Highest Approval

Giving a warm wind-up to President Barrack Obama's overseas trip as it comes to an end in Istanbul, NBC's Chuck Todd declared Monday that the decision to make Turkey the last stop "could prove to be one of the shrewder early moves in this young presidency."

On CBS, anchor Katie Couric highlighted how a new CBS News/New York Times poll pegged Obama's approval at 66 percent, the highest ever in that survey the CBSNews.com online posting touted: "Obama Approval Hits New High -- 66%." Couric also pointed out how Obama has made Americans feel better with the "wrong direction" measure for the nation falling from 89, under Bush, to 53 percent: "More than half still say we're heading the wrong way, but that's a dramatic 36-point improvement from the waning days of the Bush administration." Reporter Chip Reid showcased more positive poll results for Obama's trip, as "67 percent of Americans believe the President will return to the U.S. with the respect of world leaders."

[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Monday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

The lead to the CBSNews.com summary of the poll:

As President Obama concludes his well-publicized trip to Europe, Americans are more positive about the respect accorded to a U.S. president than they have been in years, according to a new CBS News/New York Times poll.

Sixty-seven percent say world leaders respect Mr. Obama, while 18 percent say they do not respect the president. That's a sharp contrast to the response when this question was asked about Mr. Obama's predecessor, George W. Bush, in July 2006: Just 30 percent then said the president is respected by the leaders of other countries.

Mr. Obama's overall approval rating, meanwhile, has hit a new high of 66 percent, up from 64 percent last month. His disapproval rating stands at 24 percent. Nearly all Democrats and most independents approve of the way the president is handling his job, while only 31 percent of Republicans approve....

Poll summary: www.cbsnews.com

Chuck Todd began his NBC Nightly News report from Istanbul, the last stop in Obama's travels: "From a rainy Istanbul and what could prove to be one of the shrewder early moves in this young presidency, Mr. Obama is choosing to close his first overseas trip here in Turkey to do two things: Elevate the country's role in the world and, two, prove to the Muslim world that he means what he says in his pledge to reach out and he did it in a very personal way..."

From the Monday, April 6 CBS Evening News:

KATIE COURIC: More now about President Obama. His young term is still being measured in weeks -- 11 as of tomorrow -- and here's another number: 66 percent. That's his job approval rating in a CBS News/New York Times poll out tonight. As for the direction of the country, more than half still say we're heading the wrong way, but that's a dramatic 36-point improvement from the waning days of the Bush administration [89 to 53%]. Meanwhile, Chip Reid reports, President Obama was trying today to improve relations with the Muslim world and a key NATO ally.

....

CHIP REID: The President's foreign travel appears to be helping him at home. According to the new CBS News/ New York Times poll, 67 percent of Americans believe the President will return to the U.S. with the respect of world leaders. The poll also has good news for Mr. Obama on the economy: 68 percent say they're satisfied or enthusiastic about his handling of the economic crisis. The results are less favorable for his proposal to bail out the auto industry, only 47 percent approve, and only 33 percent approve of his efforts to bail out banks...

Shuster: Conservative 'Wing-Nuts' 'Inspire'
Cop Killer Violence

Fresh off the cancellation of his own MSNBC show, an unleashed David Shuster, sub-hosting for Chris Matthews on Monday's Hardball, ranted and railed against "crazy," "conservative" "wing-nuts" like Chuck Norris, Michele Bachmann, Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck for fomenting "dangerous" and "red hot rhetoric" that "inspire some of the crazies out there", like accused cop killer Richard Poplowski, "to do something violent."

[This item, by the MRC's Geoffrey Dickens, was posted Monday evening on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Shuster -- who apparently wasn't liberal enough for MSNBC's tastes, so he was replaced by liberal talk radio host Ed Schultz -- seemed out to show his bosses, that oh no, indeed he was liberal enough for the network's standards, and set out to prove that, right off the bat, in his Hardball opening monologue:

DAVID SHUSTER: Who is the real nutcase? North Korea's Kim Jong-Il or any conservative who wants to bomb him? Let's play Hardball! Good evening, I'm David Shuster, in tonight for Chris Matthews. Leading off tonight, nuclear war games! So what are we to make of North Korea's attempt to send a satellite into space? Even though the launch failed the North Korean rocket did travel some 2000 miles twice as far as an earlier North Korean rocket. President Obama called it "a provocative act," and wants new UN sanctions. Former House Speaker Gingrich says we should have bombed North Korea before the launch. Is Gingrich crazy to talk like that or is it dangerous to hope sanctions will do the trick?....And back for crazy talk for a moment. How in the world do you explain people like Chuck Norris calling for a second American Revolution to defeat President Obama's policies? And what about conservative Congresswoman Michele Bachmann appearing to tell her constituents to start stockpiling weapons and ammunition.
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN: I want people in Minnesota armed and dangerous on this issue of energy tax because we need to fight back.
SHUSTER: Now Bachman claims she was talking about information. In any case, folks we just had and election and guess what? Obama won! And yet the rhetoric from the wing-nuts is getting crazier by the week. Speaking of right wing fury wait till you hear David Axelrod's thoughts on Dick Cheney and what the former Vice President has been saying about President Obama. And fury, pretty much describes what Sarah Palin's family feels for Levi Johnston these days. Johnston went on a national TV show to explain the level of irresponsibility that he and Bristol Palin engaged in that produced Baby Tripp, nine months later. That's coming up on the "Hardball Sideshow."

Shuster continued his diatribes throughout the show. First up, Shuster's over-the-top use of the term "wing-nuts" was even too much for Newsweek's Howard Fineman:

SHUSTER: And Howard as far as the fringe right, I mean I suppose no matter what the President says overseas there are gonna be some people in this country -- we're gonna be talking about this later in the show -- they are gonna be some of the wing-nuts who are gonna hate President Obama no matter what he does overseas, right?
HOWARD FINEMAN, NEWSWEEK: Well you can use the wing-nut term, I'm not gonna use it.

Then, in the "Hardball Sideshow" segment Shuster went off on Sarah Palin:

SHUSTER AFTER PLAYING CLIP OF LEVI JOHNSTON ON "THE TYRA BANKS SHOW": Well Governor Sarah Palin, who apparently advocates abstinence instead of sex ed put out this statement in response to Levi, quote, "It is unfortunate that Levi finds it more appealing to exploit his previous relationships with Bristol than to contribute to the well being of the child." Um, speaking of exploitation, Governor, isn't that what you were doing with your family and Levi at the Republican Convention?

And as if he was saving the worst for last, Shuster went as far as to blame right wing talk radio for the actions of a cop killer as seen in the following exchanges from the April 6 edition of Hardball:

SHUSTER: Up next gun sales are up, violence is back on the front page and conservatives are calling for revolution. Is the red hot rhetoric of the right helping foment something dangerous in this country? That debate over words and what they may cause is coming up next. You're watching Hardball, only on MSNBC.

...

SHUSTER: New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow wanted a better sense of the mind and mood of the country, of the right, and so he immersed himself in conservative media. He wrote in Saturday's New York Times, "My read: They're Apocalyptic. They feel isolated, angry, betrayed and besieged. And some of their 'leaders,' seem to be trying to mold them into militias." There's also been talk, from some on the right, of a revolution. One of their chief concerns is gun rights. Joining us now the author of the column Charles Blow of the New York Times and Alan Gottlieb of the Second Amendment Foundation. Alan let's start with you. Do you believe that the Obama administration and, and the Feds are coming to take away everybody's guns?
[On screen headline: "Ramping Up The Rhetoric: Is The Right Wing Pushing Violence?"]

...

SHUSTER: Right, but that's very different from "taking everybody's guns away," which is the kind of stuff Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh and others have said. And, and the reason I ask this...There's no doubt that they want to get rid of the assault weapons but here's the issue. Because Richard Poplowski killed three police officers in Pittsburgh a couple of days ago because he thought President Obama was, and others, and the Feds were coming to take his guns away. And I guess my question is, Charles to you, who's responsible for that? Is it this deranged guy or how much a factor is the stuff that's out there in the right wing megaphone contributing to this, that, this thought process of these people?
CHARLES BLOW, NEW YORK TIMES: Right, I don't know what's happening in his case yet, and, and he will go to trial, we'll find out more about his case. But I think that what's happening in that echo chamber is very dangerous. Because it only takes a couple of people or one person to do something that, with a gun that, that is very irresponsible, that leads to something like this. And I feel like if you are gonna let these people ramble on, if they feel like that's a responsible way to use the platform that they have, then that's very unfortunate.

...

SHUSTER REFERRING TO PREVIOUSLY AIRED GLENN BECK CLIP: I think that's part of the problem of this entire debate is when the right wing echo chamber comes up with their own facts, and their own analogies and says that fascism is on the march and that FEMA is creating concentration camps you got some of these nutcases who are gonna take matters into their own hands.

...

SHUSTER RESPONDING TO GOTTLIEB: Right but you don't have every right to, to essentially inspire some of the crazies out there to do something violent because they think fascism is on the march.

To read about Shuster's biased exploits when he had the chance to host his own MSNBC show: www.mrc.org
TimesWatch has more on Blow's column: www.timeswatch.org

ABC Touts Gun Control Group; Hypes Special
on Firearms

On Monday's Good Morning America, reporter David Muir highlighted a rabidly pro-gun control group as an expert on weapons, without referencing the organization's political stance. The journalist also promoted "If I Only Had a Gun," an ABC special to air Friday night that seems to argue for tighter restrictions on firearms. During a segment on the tragic shootings in Pittsburgh and New York, Muir featured a clip from Michael Wolkowitz, who is a member of the board of trustees for the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

No mention was made of his organization's anti-Second Amendment position and the only identification vaguely read, "Board of Trustees, Brady Center." Wolkowitz complained, "We have 32 people being murdered by guns every day in this country. If peanut butter or pistachio nuts or spinach killed that number of people once in one day, they'd be pulled by the FDA." Now, while ABC tried to conceal the group's goals, the Brady Center's campaign website does not. It currently (as of Aril 6) shows a picture Wolkowitz's appearance on ABC and a pitch to "pass common sense gun laws that require Brady criminal background checks on all gun sales, including those at gun shows." (Readers are then urged to contact Congress.) See Brady Campaign www.bradycampaign.org

[This item, by the MRC's Scott Whitlock, was posted Monday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

In contrast, no voice opposing gun control was featured in the GMA segment. Instead, Muir, referencing gun shows, blandly stated at the end of the piece, "Now, the private sellers at these gun shows will tell you they don't have to ask, they don't have to according to the law. It's their privacy rights and, they say, business."

Co-host Diane Sawyer then promoted a one hour special on the subject of gun control subjectively entitled "If I Only Had a Gun." Among the topics to be covered, Sawyer explained, "...Since there is an impulse to think if I had a gun I could protect myself and others, we have an experience we'll conduct based on a real incident in which we show you what happens."

All of this is just a day after Sunday's GMA featured a "controversial" guest who argued that gun control wasn't effective. As the MRC's Brad Wilmouth explained, ABC should get credit for featuring an opposing view, but co-host Kate Snow seemed puzzled by his take. "We're going to have a guest on this morning, a criminologist who has a, interesting take, you could say controversial take," she opined in a tease for the segment. See: newsbusters.org

A transcript of the April 6 segment, which aired at 7:12am, follows:

DIANE SAWYER: We turn now to the question so many people have been asking, especially over this weekend: What is going on with the gun rampages in America? In the last month we have seen seven shootings that claimed 48 lives, including those attacks, of course, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Binghamton, New York. And some new details are emerging about those this morning. ABC's David Muir is here with them.
ABC GRAPHIC: A Week of Deadly Shootings: Guns in America: A Report Card
DAVID MUIR: The numbers are staggering, Diane. And this morning, we are getting a clear picture of those two killers. First the man behind the terrifying chaos in that Pittsburgh area neighborhood after police were called to the home where 23-year-old Richard Poplawski lived with his mother. The mother had told authorities she and her son had had an argument. She called police. When the first two officers arrived, she opened the door not knowing her son was standing behind her with an AK-47 assault-style rifle. Three officers were killed. Two others wounded. Police say he also had a .22 caliber rifle, a revolver and was wearing a bulletproof vest. His close friend told us Poplawski had long feared losing his right to own guns.
EDWARD PERKOVIC (friend of Richard Poplawski): They were all legal. He had about four guns. I've been into people's houses where they have gun cases with 20-some guns. I mean, you know, he had a small, small amount of guns.
MUIR: And in Binghamton, New York, the portrait of another killer. 41-year-old Jiverly Wong shot and killed 13 people and then himself at this immigrant services center where he once took English classes. Investigators believe he was an isolated man who couldn't find work.
UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICIAL: Apparently, people were making fun of him and his inability to speak English.
MUIR: And police say Wong made weekly visits to a gun range.
MICHAEL WOLKOWITZ (Board of Trustees, Brady Center): We have 32 people being murdered by guns every day in this country. If peanut butter or pistachio nuts or spinach killed that number of people once in one day, they'd be pulled by the FDA.
MUIR: These mass shootings come nearly two years after the massacre at Virginia Tech. Two years after the Virginia governor and authorities urged lawmakers to close the gun show loophole where customers can buy guns, no questions asked. For more than a year now, ABC News has followed this Omar Samaha, whose sister Reema was among the students killed. His quest now is to keep authorities to their word. We visited with gun show in Richmond, Virginia, where we give Omar one hour and about $5,000 in cash. What could he buy? Before he's even inside he's approached by a seller. He buys a gun, no questions asked. So this is what?
OMAR SAMAHA: This is a Glock.
MUIR: So, you bought it before you even got into the show.
SAMAHA: Yeah, he was sitting right outside the door. Went up to him. How much you want for it? 450 bucks. Here's the cash. Thanks. See you later. That was it.
MUIR: It was a purchase that sent chills for Omar, a Glock handgun, the same kind of gun used to kill his sister Reema and 31 others at Virginia Tech. Now, the private sellers at these gun shows will tell you they don't have to ask, they don't have to according to the law. It's their privacy rights and, they say, business. And, of course, Diane, you know that was just the first couple of minutes with Omar. You won't believe the question that finally does get asked of him in the parking lot. None of us were expecting it?
SAWYER: Right and we should tell everyone, you and I have been working for a year now on a special we're going to be bringing on Friday night. Trying to answer some questions, for instance, what kind of gun laws do work, which ones don't work and also questions about mental health.
MUIR: And about intruders. Whether or not you can protect yourself if an intruder came into your home.
SAWYER: Yes, we're going to take some surveillance tapes of scenes we've had around the country. Some of these gun violence scenes and tell you who survived. Who didn't. What did they do? And also, since there is an impulse to think if I had a gun I could protect myself and others, we have an experience we'll conduct based on a real incident in which we show you what happens. Some people who have been trained with guns, can they get to them? Can they use them? What really happens and what kind of danger is there to an innocent bystander?
MUIR: And, ten years ago I know you looked at kids and guns. What they would do. Parents who said I taught my kid everything. My child won't pick up a gun. We revisit this experiment. Look at the children here. Ten years later with Columbine, Virginia Tech, have we learned? Have we learned were promises kept? We revisit the experiment with older kids, teenagers, college-age kids and we'll see what they do when they discover a gun.
SAWYER: All these questions being posed. We'll try to answer them for you, Friday night ABC News on a special called "If I Only Had a Gun."

NBC Rehabilitates Spitzer as Regulatory
Expert, Forgets Party ID

NBC's Matt Lauer invited former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer on Monday's Today show, to help restore his reputation after he lost his governorship due to solicitation of prostitute and while the former governor expressed regret for hurting his family, it was Lauer who suggested the greatest loss was that Spitzer missed a chance to regulate Wall Street. Lauer also failed to mention the disgraced governor's Democratic party affiliation, something that has become a bit of a tradition over at Today.

The following are just some of the pro-regulatory questions Lauer tossed to Spitzer: "You said something to the effect, and I'm paraphrasing here. You said that the regulations were there but the will to regulate was not there...So, so now that we've had, that the economy is story number one, two and three in this country, right now, and there's been so much public outrage, is the will to regulate there now?....And, and finally do you ever ask yourself, 'What if?' I mean you were a person with the knowledge and the position to perhaps do something about this? First as attorney general, and then governor of New York, until you were brought down by this scandal? Do you ever shake your head and say, 'I missed a golden opportunity?'"

[This item, by the MRC's Geoffrey Dickens, was posted Monday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

The following is a complete transcript of the segment as it was aired on the April 6 Today show:

MATT LAUER: Now to a political story that sent shockwaves around the country. Eliot Spitzer rose to power, taking on the rich and powerful as attorney general of New York. And he rode his reputation and success all the way to the Governor's Mansion. But early last year Spitzer was brought down by his involvement in a prostitution scandal. He resigned 13 months ago and has remained largely silent until now. With the U.S. economy in turmoil, the man once known as "The Sheriff of Wall Street," is back. Governor Spitzer, good morning. It's good to see you.
ELIOT SPITZER: Good morning, Matt. Thank you.
LAUER: I want to talk about the 800 pound gorilla in the room in a second. But, but first I'd like to talk about your decision to step forward. Obviously the economy is in trouble. So much attention being paid to Wall Street. I know you feel that's a very strong element on your resume. But you also know, that by stepping out and talking about that subject, the subject of your own scandal is gonna come up. How difficult a decision was it?
SPITZER: Well it's very difficult. I've tried to apologize to, of course, my family, to colleagues, to, to the state, for what I did, for which there are no excuses possible. But I've also been asked my views about important issues, because I had worked for many years, trying to address some of the issues that unfortunately have been dragging down our economy and shaking the very foundations of our economy...
LAUER: So, so the decision to be here this morning, something you went over with your wife Silda and your daughters-
SPITZER: Absolutely...
LAUER: They had a say in this?
SPITZER: This, this is something that has caused excruciating pain to Silda, to my daughters. Something that I carry with me every day because of the pain to them. And so I've tried to balance the, these, the obligation to try to speak, if asked, but also the pain to my family, which has been enormous.
LAUER: People look at you and they say, here was the highest elected official in the state of New York, but there's more. Here was a guy who had an almost Elliot Ness-type reputation. He went after abuses of power. He went after the high and mighty. How could he have allowed himself to be involved in a prostitution scandal?
SPITZER: I, Matt, like most of us, I suppose -- I won't speak for anybody else -- have flaws. And have tried to think about it, deeply. Address it. As I say there are no excuses. I have tried to address these gremlins and, and confront them. What I did was an egregious violation of trust to, to my family, to colleagues, to the state and I've paid a price and appropriately so.
LAUER: You were not prosecuted for your actions and as a result we don't know the extent of your actions. I just wonder if you could give me some ballpark, some estimation of how long this went on and how frequently it went on?
SPITZER: Not frequently, not long, in the grand context of, of my life. It was an egregious violation of behavior that, that I fell into for, for many reasons. But, but are, none of them an excuse or justifiable, obviously.
LAUER: And, and, and because, and because of your reputation and because of the fact that you were a man who had enemies, you had to consider, at some point down the road, that somebody was going to say something to someone else. And you were gonna get caught.
SPITZER: Right, right.
LAUER: That crossed your mind?
SPITZER: It crossed my mind but like many things in life you ignore the obvious, at a certain moment, because you simply don't want to confront it.
LAUER: You said in your press conference, it wasn't really a press conference, you, you spoke out and you said you needed to now work to restore the trust of your family. What, where's that process?
SPITZER: Well I'm a very fortunate guy. I have a spectacular wife, three daughters who are wonderful. Forgiven. And there, there are moments when you realize those are the things that matter and those are the things that you should, indeed, pay attention to.
LAUER: Let me talk about what's happening on Wall Street and with the economy right now because that is really an expertise for you. We've heard so much about what caused the collapse, what got us to this point. You've said that, that you know bailing out these companies, we're just, we're aiding a system that's not working. Are you, though, comfortable with the steps that the Obama administration has taken, with the types of regulation they have suggested, that it can solve some of the problems?
SPITZER: In the short term. And I think we have to separate out the short term crisis of liquidity and insolvency in the financial sector versus creating in the long term, a financial services sector that will work for our economy. We are throwing a trillion dollars at a sector and yet I honestly don't yet see a new model of competition and a smaller financial services sector. Small in terms of they're not being these unbelievably large companies that are too big to fail. We have to confront the argument that because they're too big to fail, we bail them out, so the taxpayer bails them out-
LAUER: Well should we keep bailing out the likes-
SPITZER: No.
LAUER: -of AIG and-
SPITZER: No.
LAUER: -GM and Chrysler-
SPITZER: No we should not.
LAUER: -that, that many experts say are already insolvent?
SPITZER: We should, we should give them enough liquidity so that they don't drag down the entire economy, but then we should break them up so that there's genuine competition and the next time around they're not too big to fail. If they're too big to fail - break them up.
LAUER: You said something to the effect, and I'm paraphrasing here. You said that the regulations were there but the will to regulate was not there.
SPITZER: Precisely.
LAUER: So, so now that we've had, that the economy is story number one, two and three in this country, right now, and there's been so much public outrage, is the will to regulate there now?
SPITZER: I hope the will is there because the mistakes of the past were so egregious. But to a certain extent all of the focus on re-regulating, which is necessary - is masking over the much tougher issue, which is how do we redesign a financial services sector so that it does what it's supposed to instead of merely taking enormous sums out, giving them to the wrong people. This was an enormous extraction of wealth by people who manipulated money back and forth but did not create anything for the economy. And the, the toughest issue, Matt, going forward, is where will we see value creation in our economy? Where will we create the goods, the products to sell, to create the jobs and balance, our balance of payments.
LAUER: It's been, it's become very popular to bash any one connected with Wall Street. Let me go to AIG for a second. Here there was so much public outrage in the last several weeks, over these bonuses that were handed out to some employees after the bailout money had been given to AIG. But the fact of the matter is, many of those employees had that money coming to them and the vast majority of the people who got the bonuses had nothing, nothing to do with the financial collapse and, and, and the dealings of AIG that brought them on. Was it unfair? The criticism from the public and the government?
SPITZER: The, the, the compensation system on Wall Street spiraled totally out of control, just as the compensation throughout corporate America spiraled out of control. CEO's were making 500 times the average worker. It used to be 40 times. It was wrong. The, so, it was the lightning rod for our, our anger about that entire system. The larger issue, though, was that the AIG money was sent through to what are called counter-parties. $12.9 billion, with a 'b,' just to Goldman-Sachs. Why? Those are the issues that have to be asked.
LAUER: And, and finally do you ever ask yourself, "What if?" I mean you were a person with the knowledge and the position to perhaps do something about this? First as attorney general, and then governor of New York, until you were brought down by this scandal? Do you ever shake your head and say, "I missed a golden opportunity?"
SPITZER: I, I grieve first at, at the cost to my family and to colleagues. Sure I say to myself, what I had hoped to do was contribute, in some small way, and not to be able to participate is painful. The greater pain is for my family but of course I do say that to myself.
LAUER: Eliot Spitzer. Mr. Spitzer it's good to see you. Thanks very much.
SPITZER: Thank you Matt.

To read about the Today show tradition of skipping Spitzer's party affiliation: www.mrc.org

-- Brent Baker