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tv   Reliable Sources  CNN  July 8, 2012 8:00am-9:00am PDT

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emerging economies like brazil, india, and china have kept interest rates high. that gives them a secret weapon in their arsenal. they can lower rates if growth continues to slow. thanks to all of you for being part of my program this week. i will see you next week. stay tuned for "reliable sources." it wasn't exactly stunning news, but it was news he had never before publicly acknowledged. when anderson cooper said, yes, i'm gay, he didn't do it in front of the cameras where he makes a living but in an e-mail. "i've always been open and honest about this part of my life with my friends, my family, my colleagues. in a perfect world, i don't think it's anyone else's business. but i do think there is value in standing up and being counted." so is it any of our collective business? and why did the cnn anchor finally feel compelled to come forward? rupert murdoch chides mitt romney on twitter, and his "wall street journal" follows up by slamming the candidate. is the media mogul leading a
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right-wing revolt against romney? the "politico" reporter who lost his job after making racially charged comments on more than. we'll talk to joe williams about what happened. plus, we all thought we knew the story of barack obama's early years. but thanks to four years of relentless reporting, david mariness has cost it in a whole new light. >> what obsessed me were two things to start with -- the world that made him. sort of the randomness of his existence, and the ability to write about the whole world through that story. and then how he remade himself. >> a conversation about his book on the president. i'm hurd kurt-- i'm howard kurt and this is "reliable sources." i am starting to get the distinct impression that rules package isn-- that rupert murdo isn't a huge fan of mitt romney. mitt romney last week, tough o chicago pros will be hard to beat unless he drops old friends
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and hires real pros, doubtful. i'm sure it was a coincidence, but days later, the "wall street journal" which is owned by murdoch, spanked romney in an editorial saying the republican nominee is slowly squandering a historic opportunity to beat barack obama and letting the president paint hip as an out-of-touch rich man. other conservative pundits are piling on. >> the romney campaign squandering a big, fat gift. over the past week, the campaign has lost the momentum created by a terrible obamacare ruling and instead managed to create a new media narrative of gop confusion and descent. >> is this not no friendly fire having impact or just venting in the dog days of summer? joining us, julie, host of the press pool on sirius x.m. radio, and matt bye. what is rupert murdoch trying to accomplish with the 140-character swipes at romney? >> the dignity has gone out of
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this. rupert murdoch tweeting it mitt romney and the editorial, you didn't mention william crystal, also who doubled down and compared -- >> we'll get to that. >> we'll get to him. i read in "the new york times" that -- that rupert murdoch wanted chris kristi to run. >> is does this criticism matter? >> sure it matters. it controls a bullhorn in the media. he put out a tweet. i put out a tweet like that, no one would look at it for a year. look, there is a -- historical analogies in our business, and most are lame. but having put that disclaimer out there, this reminds me so much, this campaign, in many ways of 2004. so many similarities between romney and john kerry and the situation they faced, they're from the same state. they have similar weak nots, personalities. one of the things so similar, the base of the party, the ideological base of the party, never believed he was resolute enough. they saw him as the best acceptable alternative. the best acceptable vehicle out there. but they were always ready to pounce. and i think the same thing is true of romney now. >> no secret that many of these
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conservative commentators didn't support romney in the primaries, didn't want him to be the nominee. take a step back, julie. should the head of a giant global media company be meeting privately with the presidential candidate, giving him advice, then criticizing him, then following up saying of course i want him to 2009 save us from socialism? what position does that put reporters in? >> no, i think there's still the dividing line between the editorial page of even a powerful newspaper and major personality like rupert murdoch and the reporter at the "wall street journal" who are just nonparalleled excellent. >> i believe that, you believe that. but in terms of the image this created, doesn't it seem like the guy who runs the company has made his mind and wants to be a player? >> he's made his mind, but so many want to be players. i think it's a problem for mitt romney. it's a problem for the credibility of the "wall street journal." was that your question? >> yeah. i'm not sure i agree. people who want believe that fox news is biased will say look at what rupert murdoch's saying. take the "journal" editorial
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page, the bible for conservatives. ripping romney for floundering on the question about the health care mandate that was upheld by the supreme court. whether it's a penalty or a tax. i don't know that the average voter cares about that. but i do think the "journal" editorial page, you know, carries considerable weight. >> it does. yeah. i mean, there's nothing new about media moguls wanting to weigh in on -- robert kennedy went to indiana in the primaries in 1968. the paper that -- major newspaper, refused to acknowledge his existence in the state. they didn't like him -- >> not ben bradley, of course, another one. >> ben bradley was the editor of the newspaper. and ""newsweek's"" bureau chief during the john f. kennedy years. >> and was close, had a role, had a voice. >> i think there's also something going on. remember the "saturday night live" skit with onlovitz, he says, i can't believe i'm losing to this guy. in this day and age, the base of the parties are so convinced. seems so self-evident that the guy they're running against is completely hapless and unqualified. they can't understand why you're not up by ten points. >> right. >> i think some of this is a
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frustration of murdoch and crystal and others saying i can't believe we're not beating this guy. >> keep in mind that murdoch's news corp. contributed $1 million last cycle to the republican governor association. so the play is on the financial end, as well. on this tax and a mandate and obamacare, 45% in a new poll said they didn't know which way the supreme court had ruled or thought the supreme court ruled the other way and struck down the law. which makes me realize that things that we obsess on in the media sometimes are not breaking through to people in the dog days of summer. youention mentioned bill chrisl likening romney to kerry and dukakis, shall we say -- i'm struck by the way they seem to be turning on -- not cheerleading. >> that's the point here. not whether or not it's a tax or penalty. i think people don't care, that's a washington hob-nob. rhetorical debate. the idea of the party leaders men of name like crystal and murdoch not liking mitt romney underscores a lot of the
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uneasiness that the rest of the party has. i think that's where the trouble is for mitt romney. >> but is that an inside the beltway, inside new york thing, or could it actually shape perceptions around the ford general election voters? >> i think it does shape perceptions because people sit around and talk about it. i also think it's worth that campaign listening to that. a lot of people -- and bill crystal said something interesting. and i think the same was true, and i wrote about it with john kerry in 2004. that romney wants to get from point a to point b with excessive caution, without having to risk, to take the risk of putting out ideas or debating the points. that he think the president is unpopular enough that he should be able to glide through. i think john kerry made the same mistake. i think if the romney campaign is actually listening to that criticism as opposed to getting their back up over it, they might actually -- might benefit from it. >> and speaking of perceptions, mitt romney with his family taking a vacation this week at his lakeside retreat in new hampshire. and here it is on the front page of "the new york times," julie. contrasting romney with the jet skis. we see that on the screen now. with barack obama talking about
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the -- having once taken a bus trip vacation with his grandmother and staying at howard johnsons. the press really seems obsessed with romney's wealth. he has -- he has four houses. he's rich, get over it. why -- >> take the car elevator. he's not like the rest of us. and also, yes, barack obama talked about his trip on the bus and everything. but the startling contrast was that barack obama canceled his annual trip to martha's vineyard. the optics of that would be untenable. they all need the time to campaign. >> let the guy take a vacation. i think journalists make too much of this. everybody knows that romney is a wealthy man. he made the money himself. >> right. >> and yet, you see this theme come up in stories again and again and again. is it a fair thing to harp on? >> yes. and i'll tell you why. i don't think -- i agree with you that i don't think the sweth a defining characteristic. i think you should be able to be wealthy and serve the public. we should actually welcome that. what you can't do -- i think -- is provide no context for who you are or your candidacy. not do interviews, not talk to the press, do limited
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availabilities. again, it goes to the point of excessive caution. trying to get from point a to point b without taking the risk of people knowing you or what your ideas or core are. and then say, well, you're harping on the small part of me, i have a car garage. that car garage has no context. give people context for who you are, and i think you get a break for things you probably ought to get a break for. right now he's a rich guy running for president and not giving anybody a more complete picture. >> romney did an interview with cbs this week. he often doesn't answer the questions when pressed on specifics. that's something that frustrates me in all presidential campaigns. julie mason, thank you very much. matt bai, stick around. coming up, matt will explain why he doesn't always pay attention to the media. ow the weather patterns. i upgraded to the new sprint direct connect. so i can get three times the coverage. [ chirp ] [ manager 2 ] it's like working in a giant sandbox with all these huge toys. and with the fastest push-to-talk... i can keep track of them all. [ chirp ] [ chirp ] [ male announcer ] upgrade to the new "done." with access to the fastest push-to-talk and three times the coverage. now when you buy one kyocera duracore rugged phone,
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i tell mike what i can spend. i do my best to make that work. we're driving safely. and sue saved money on brakes. now that's personal pricing. we're back with matt bai of "new york times" magazine. the first assignment of many reporters is pulling the clips. you don't do that, why? >> i don't do that because particularly i want to stay away from the commentary. i want to know the news, what someone has said. i think the biggest challenge in
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our business, one of them certainly, is to not fall into the rut of one side's argument or the other's. to be away from the conventional wisdom. people say, it sounds like the same thing over and over. how do you get beyond it? i think the only way to get beyond it is to not have stuff, for me anyway, is to not have that stuff floating around my head. i want to know what happens, what's in the news every day. but i'm not interested particularly as a writer in what's being said on twitter, what's being said on blogs, what's being said on cable tv. because i -- i think my experience is that if you go out and talk to people with an open mind and actually ask questions and actually try to figure it out yourself, where you stand, nine times out of ten -- there's right, you might end up right where conventional wisdom is. but nine times out of ten if you don't know the arguments, the partisanship and carping, you don't have that in your head, you will come to a place that -- that is different and that is more complex. >> do you avoid watching cable news when you're not on it? >> i do. i don't know that avoid is the
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right word. i have a lot to do, i have my job and kids -- >> you have a life, we've established that. >> i don't pay a lot of attention to -- >> a lot of the circus of politics is played out precisely for the tv cameras, the cable news, even on twitter where the top officials snipe each other. if you're removing yourself from that, aren't you missing part of the context of today's political combat? >> no because i'm interested in the yesterdays and the truth of the debate and where it affects the country on a policy and political level. i'm not interested in where it affects the media debate. that's my opening. that's -- as a magazine writer that's my opportunity because everyone is watching the show. something behind the show is something that matters more to voters and more to the process. and -- if you can keep yourself free of all of that, first of all, i think you have happier quality of life because you're not constantly engaged in this debate. but i also think you -- you know, you come to conclusions
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that are different and more complex than -- >> in a way, this amounts to -- i know you don't intend it this way, but it amounts to an indictment of what many of us in the press do. that we are engaged in a group think or conventional wisdom that often turn out to be wrong or perhaps beside the point. >> i don't intend it that way. i have a different job than those folks do. >> right. >> right, i mean, there are folks whose job, many here, elsewhere, whose job is to make sense of it instantly for people. and to put it in the -- the political context. >> you have the luxury of time. >> i have the luxury, the responsibility to put it in some deeper context for a magazine. and get beneath that side of the debate. and also to nominate -- to focus on what is it here that matters and how close can we get to the truth of it. >> refreshing approach. matt bai, thank you very much for stopping by this sunday morning. coming up in the second part of "reliable sources," anderson cooper reveals what everyone pretty much knew, he's gay. why is that such big news? and joe williams on the words that led to his departure from politico. and later, how did david
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you might have thoughts that if anderson cooper was finally going to address rumors about his homosexuality he would have done it on his daytime show and made a splash. instead he did it in an e-mail to his long-time friend andrew sullivan. he's long felt journalists had the right to keep their private lives private, he says, it's become clear that by remaining silent on aspects of my personal life i've given some the mistaken impression that i'm trying to hide something that makes me uncomfortable, afraid, or ashamed. this is distressing because it's not true. the fact is, i'm gay, always
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have been. i couldn't be more happy, confident in myself, and proud. what should we make of the media coverage? joining us, gale shuster, columnist for tv newser, writing fellow at the university of pennsylvania, and member of the national lesbian and gay journalists association hall of fame. in new york, host of the sirius x.m. radio show and editor at large of the "huffington post" good day voices. and in tampa, eric deggans, television and media critic for "the tampa bay times." eric, anderson cooper did everything he could to downplay this, not only announcing by e-mail by waiting until he was on assignment in africa to go public. yet it was still a big story, why? >> well, i think it's important -- for a couple of reasons. "the new york times," for example, noted that he is now the most visible gay journalist on american television. and there's also a sense that it's a sign post. it's a sense that, you know, we're advancing in our acceptance of homosexuality and gay people in public life. what was interesting to me was to see the tension for anderson
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cooper between. ing to do it right personally and also doing something to serve a larger cause. to serve acceptance of gay people in society and deal with the fact that some people are stigmatized and bullied and harmed by anti-gay prejudice. >> which sets up my question for mike, which is you say that the vast majority of tv, media, and hollywood personalities are still closeted. why do they stay in? >> well, you know, for years they've been told by the powers that be in hollywood, in the media, in politics, as well, that it's going to harm your career. it's going to hurt you,a t's going to be something terrible for much of your working life. and i think that's changed. certainly we've seen with many of the actors who have come out, performers, ellen degeneres, and other. and i think we really sort of moved quickly on so many issues regarding gay life that suddenly a lot of these people started looking at it and saying, wow, not only would it be okay but, in fact, it's an embarrassment
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now to be in the closet. and i think that's one reason why anderson and others -- i wrote a piece on "huffington post" about how the new trend is doing it low key because i think there's an embarrassment to having been in the closet. and they want to slip out. >> let me jump on that for a minute. why should it be an embarrassment for somebody who happens to be in the public eye maybe because they make a living in front of the cameras to keep their sexual life private? why should there be pressure on them to go public? >> well, it's not about their sexual life. and certainly nobody's talking about anything regarding sex. and you know, that should be the same way with heterosexuals. it's about who you are. it's about something so much a part of your core being. and people like anderson, people like many of the other stars who have come out, they've been living their lives openly among their colleagues. certainly in their social life. it just is the public that didn't know. and i think for them that really
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starts to look like they're hiding something, and it became uncomfortable. >> gail shuster, anderson cooper said before he changed his mind that he felt that his private life was no one's business. was he right? >> i think it is -- at a certain period of time that was true. but i think that to answer your previous question about why so many gay people are in the closet and it's embarrassing is because they're on the wrong side of history. i think that the trend is absolutely changing. we're in the midst of a cultural sea change in terms of same-sex marriage, don't ask, don't tell. it's only a matter of time before it's legalized all over the country. they just don't want to be seen as completely out of touch with the mainstream. and i'd like to make a point which is why are so many so-called celebrities coming out so quietly. it's because people were making a lot of noise about coming out, like me for example, 40 years
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ago, that we were the people and michael were the people that were breaking down the walls so we would be at the point as a society where you can come out quietly. but if the walls hadn't been broken very loudly first, we wouldn't be in that position. >> eric deggans, weren't we at the point in the media where everybody basically knew that anderson cooper was gay, but we weren't allowed to say it or write it? i abided by this because we felt it was his choice whether he wanted to publicly acknowledge it or not? >> i don't know if everyone knew. there was a sense that we all assumed that we knew that he was gay. some people knew definitively. but i think a lot fewer people -- i don't know anderson personally. all i know is what i read about him in the press. i assumed he was gay, but i didn't really know. "the new york times" had an something story on one of its blogs talking about how anderson's coming out has inspired an activist in china to suggest that there might be a day in december where all the homosexuals in china might come
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forward. and also come out. it's much more dangerous to be out as a gay person in china. so there's a resonance to this coming out that even goes beyond what we know in the united states. and i think assuming that people knew he was gay without it being reported is a dangerous assumption. want to point out one other thing. there's a dynamic that academics talk about called linked fate in and people in minority groups sort of judge their actions according to how they will affect the entire minority group. and we're used to seeing that with black people. and i think that's happening in the gay community, as well. and i think that's something that anderson cooper was struggling with. how does his actions affect the overall group versus what he would prefer to do in his personal life. >> right. and mike, you have written an adult public figure living in the closet is often seen as sad and pathetic and living a lie. i don't know if i agree about w that, but i wonder why there is so much endless media speculation about those who are
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assumed or believed or maybe they're gay. you know, why -- it seems on a certain level that it's gossip as opposed to an issue that we ought to stick our noses into. >> well, when i -- when i talked about how it was now seen as sad and pathetic, we're really talking about -- and gail pointed to this -- decades of gay activists really making the case that the closet is not a place where people can feel happy and comfortable and live their lives openly in the way that heterosexuals do. heterosexuals do not live in a closet. in terms of how it's reported in the media, we live in, yes, a celebrity-obsessed culture. we live in a culture where everybody in the public eye has talked about. again, heterosexuals are not given this sort of, you know, place where they don't have anything written about their pet sexuality. and it's all kept quiet. with gays it is, and it sends a
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message, particularly to young gay people that there's something to be shameful about. i've had callers to my radio program, moms and dads, saying this is great because with anderson, that glass closet where so many people knew he was gay was sending a message to their kids, their gay kids that, hey, i should be ashamed. now they feel they can be open and proud. >> i see your point. interesting phrase, glass closet. what made me sometimes uncomfortable because anderson has a sessionment on his show called "keeping them honest, ""and he devoted time to bullying of gays. i felt like he was leaving out a pertinent fact. maybe that was unfair of me, but it did seem like it would be nice if he could acknowledge it which he has now done. >> i think that was part of the pressure on him is that i think arguably he more than any journalist in the united states over the past year has dedicated more coverage. and it's been almost a crusade against bullying of gay youth. and i -- he reached a critical
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mass where there were just no more excuses for him. and there's another point, too, here, i'd like to bring up which is -- quickly, there's a paradox. on the one hand he comes out big deal. on the other hand, look how many headlines it generated all over the country. so there is a disconnect there. >> yeah. i think he's basically gotten positive price. thank you very much for this interesting discussion. up next, he was cut loose by "politico" after loaded words about mitt romney. joe williams is here in a moment. it's time to live wider awake. only the beautyrest recharge sleep system combines the comfort of aircool memory foam layered on top of beautyrest pocketed coils to promote proper sleeping posture all night long. the revolutionary recharge sleep system... from beautyrest. it's you, fully charged.
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news and twitter. it led him to be suspended for conduct the editors said, "fell short of our standards for fairness and judgment in an especially unfortunate way." later it was announced he was leaving his job. joe williams is here now. good morning. >> good morning. >> let's start with this -- did you want to stay at "politico"? >> i thought it would have been a better opportunity to stay at "politico" than leave, especially under these circumstances. but i understand their decision, and i understand what led them to have us come to this conclusion in the situation. >> you were forced to leave? you didn't have a choice? >> i had a choice, but the choices weren't good. i think that "politico" said for me to come back and be -- have them have confidence in me and for me to return would have been a little tricky, especially after all this had come out. >> all right. just to give people the context, let me play what you said on msnbc with martin basheer about mitt romney which kind of triggered this whole firestorm. we'll talk about it on the other side. >> romney is very, very comfortable, it seems, with people who are like him. that's one of the reasons why he seems stiff and awkward in some
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town hall settings, why he can't relate to people other than that. when he comes on fox and friends, they're like him. they're white folks who are very much relaxed in their own company. >> white folks. how is that comment not biased against mitt romney? >> because it's something that was very much proven. something that seems obvious to everyone. and a lot of people who i talked with about my suspension said, well, we don't understand what the big deal was. in their is something other people reported. something my paper reported. >> as a white house reporter whose job it is to be fair to both sides, was it a dumb thing to say? >> i would say it's an artfully phrased thing to say. i don't think it was anything that was revealer to or slanderous, i think it was artfully put and that drew the most attention to it. >> i'm hearing you don't think you did much that was wrong. and you kind of feel like you got a bum rap? >> i'm not saying that at all. i'm saying that it was a context thing. i'm saying that there were a couple things that happened.
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the first was that a lot of what i had said earlier had drawn attention of some conservative web sites, and i said a week earlier on another cable show that the conservative press and conservative communications are very, very much good at pushing back and pushing back hard against reporters who they feel are biased. now that statement in and alone of itself was not necessarily controversial. you couple that with saying that i believe mitt romney is more comfortable around other white people who are like him, and that was an impetus for them to push back hard at me, and that's what made "politico" uncomfortable. >> but that leads to my next question. what you have said and written since then, you have blamed your problems to a large extent on what call the right wing noise machine. but you provided the ammunition. these are your words and tweets that are being thrown back at you. so it sounds like you're blaming others for your own missteps. >> no. that's not what i'm doing at all. in the context of what i wrote and if -- if you reread carefully what i wrote, i said that i take alone responsibility
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for what i did. i was careless, i was -- i heeded warnings too late and was not especially judicious in what i was doing and saying. that part i take responsibility of completely. what i do say is that the right wing media machine is very good at pushing back and creating an image that causes one thing to be the story and not the other. certainly in my writing and in what -- the work i've done for "politico," i don't think anybody's called into question my bias or fairness or my ability to give both sides of the story. certainly the white house has had criticism with some of the things that i've written about them for "politico." so to say that i'm biased purely on what i said on television and not examined the entire context and my work, i think is unfair. >> you've gotten a lot of unwanted media attention including problems -- >> to say the least. >> including to problems in your personal life s. that unfair? >> i think my personal life was brought into the situation unfairly. i think it was much analogous to anderson cooper talking about how his sexuality had become an issue and wanted to dispel that. that really doesn't have all that much to do with what he is
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reporting and how he does his job. i don't think what i have to do, what my personal life involves has anything to do with how i do my job. has everything to do with how i protect my children. how i protect my -- other people involved in the situation. that i believe crossed the line. >> but didn't you make yrself fair game? in other words, once you become scrutinized, people are going to look at all aspects of not just your journalism about your life? >> they are fairly or unfairly. i think the difference here is that the media on the right that decided that this was an issue, decided and did so without context, again, without giving an opportunity for a fair response, and without examining the entire contest. >> when you talk about the right wing noise machine, talk about romney being uncomfortable with white folks, when you talk about false equivalency in the press where republicans are being obstructionists but journalists don't want to write that, you sound like a liberal guy. >> i wouldn't say liberal. i would say that if you look at my record as a whole, i've worked for a conservative
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publication, "the richmond times dispatch." i've worked for publications that are at the center, which i guess you would consider "the miami herald" or "boston globe" -- >> i'm talking about opinions not about what you write in "politico" which i don't think people have questioned. bow cable where you're more free to engage in analysis. it sounds like what you believe is coming out. >> i wouldn't necessarily say that either. i say that what i am talking about is what i have observed. journalists are very much committed to writing and -- examining the truth as they see it, without spin, without fear of favor. now i think that in cable news, the problem that was most difficult for me is that i have an organization behind me. and that organization is being represented by me on camera as well as -- >> speaking of that organization, i have a half a minute. you are probably the most prominent african-american journalist at "politico." does "politico" need more diversity? >> i think the washington press corps as a whole needs more diversity. i think the reason this has gotten big press is because of
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the diversity problem we have in an era with a president who doesn't look like all the others. and the fact that in the right wing media, divest and race issues are the favorite chew toy. they love to go at this stuff. and i happened to provide them a good opportunity to do that. >> joe williams, appreciate you coming on this morning. i know it's difficult circumstances. thank you for being here. after the break, david mariness contradicts barack obama's book about his life. a conversation next. bp committed bp committed has helped fund economic and environmental recovery. long-term, bp's made a five hundred million dollar commitment to support scientists studying the environment. and the gulf is open for business - the beaches are beautiful, the seafood is delicious. last year, many areas even reported record tourism seasons. the progress continues... but that doesn't mean our job is done. we're still committed to seeing this through. scroll... tap... pinch... and zoom... in your car.
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unlikely rise has already been told by the president himself in a pair of memoirs. the journalistic challenge for pulitzer prize-winning author david maraniss was to dig deeper from president obama's kenyan relatives to high school years in hawaii to his college experience in new york.
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the result of that reporting is the book "barack obama: the story." i spoke to him earlier here in the studio. david maraniss, welcome. >> thank you, howard. >> you spent four years researching the early years of barack obama. and what made headlines was his drug use and the journal of his old new york girlfriend. does that bother you? >> you know, i have to -- i don't want to whine about it. i knew that that would happen. yeah -- >> how did you know? the nature of the beast? >> the nature of the media beast. yeah, the way that the culture's changed so much from my last book, you know, with the social networking and people looking for something and getting most hits right and all of that. so i wasn't -- not going to whine about it. i knew it was coming. of course it bothers me because i spent four years trying to get the context and the real story. when you just cherry pick things from it, you know, i mean -- >> suddenly it's 140 characters. >> exactly. >> i want to get into the way you tackled this reporting challenge. so why, for example, did you spend so much time reporting on obama's relatives in kenya? >> well, first of all, i do a
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book that i want to do. that's the first rule. who obsessed me were two things to start with. the world that made him. sort of the random not of his existence, and the ability to write about the whole world through that story. and then how he remade himself. so it n studying the world -- so in studying the world that made him, you see echoes and threads that go through his own life. you know, his kenyan relatives, for instance, were considered outsiders in kenya. you know, so they were called jadoc, the word for outsider. so that sensibility, you can see, obviously carried through to president obama. >> was it hard to get them to cooperate with this project? >> to get the kenyans to cooperate? >> yeah. >> some it was. obama's step grandmother, mama sara, a major figure in his book -- when i went to interview her, i had to -- you know, she's now like the queen mother of kenya. so there are gates around her compound. there's souvenir trinket sellers
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outside and fact totems who vette you before you get an audience. >> interesting. >> i'm sitting there and a young man says, so, how much profit did you make from your bill clinton biography? maybe he wanted kickback. i don't know. then he said, david, mr. david, is that christian or jew? to which i could answer both because i'm half jewish. and also the name is, you know, both. so but -- yes. >> i thought handlers were only -- an american phenomena. you had to pass a series of hurdles. >> absolutely. >> all right. >> for the most part the kenyans were wonderful, and i got what i needed. i found the real relatives miles away. >> now you spent a lot of time on obama trying to make the starting lineup in his high school basketball team. >> yes. >> and you also had the former girlfriend, genevieve cook. how much can we learn from those episodes? she gave you old journals in which she wrote that young
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barak's warmth can be deceptive he speaks sweet words, but there's coolness. he was 22. >> he was 22. yet you see the echoes of that in president obama. you know, obviously a journal of someone -- a future president, someone observing a future president, is inherently going to be fascinating. and, you know, you can look at it as being salacious. but i found actually her journal to be perceptive. that she was seeing in that young man his search for self-identity. and also some of the characteristics that are on display still today. >> you eventually got a chance for an oval office interview. what were the first words that obama said to you? >> well, i said to him, charles woodson got here before me, but i'm glad we both finally made it. he's a bears fan, i'm a packer . fan. the packers won the super bowl. >> thank you for explaining. >> but then i let him read my introduction. because i want him to understand where i'd been, what i'd found, and some of my general
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conclusions. he did read it. he said, david, you know, this is very interesting that you call my book "fiction." and i basically looked at jay carn carney, the press conference, because i didn't. he's scrambling looking through the -- actually i called it literature, which was a compliment. but then we went through various example in his memoir where -- he con plated events or used -- >> i want to go through that. when you describe his tone in that conversation as defensive. >> good catch. dreams of my father, that he consciously played up race to a greater extent than you believe race played in his young life. >> well, i think the original
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proposal that he wrote for that book was called journeys in black and white. and the whole point of the book was to sort of view parts of his life through the lens of race. so he did. there were characters in his memoir who were minor figures in his life but who he enhances to make certain points about race. and then there are others that -- you know, that are part white or composites of various people that he uses. >> and there was a significant discrepancy to put it mildly involving his grandfather. >> his kenyan grandfather. >> yes. >> yes. and his indonesian stepgrandfather both. the kenyan grandfather in his memoir, he passed along the family mythology that he had been imprisoned by the brits and tortured for about six months. during the early stages of the rebellion, the late 1940s. there's a shred of possibility that that happened. there are no documents that show it. and i interviewed six people who
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knew the grandfather well. and they all said, no, that didn't happen. >> how about his death? >> this is the step-grandfather in indonesia. >> step-grandfather, okay. >> yes. that's great. that one's just hilarious, really. i mean, although he dies. but the family story was that he, again, was fighting colonialism, the dutch in indonesia during the revolution against the dutch and that he died a martyr for the revolution. in fact, i discovered that he died falling off his stool, changing the drapes in his living room. slight lly different. >> less dramatic. you write that a young barack obama was a heavier user of dope that he acknowledged in his memoir. >> in his memoir, he does talk about drug use. in high school and college. what i basically did is found the real story. which he sort of invites by writing about it himself. so you know, what really was it? and you know, there was a group of guys who played basketball and smoked dope. they called themselves the tomb gang.
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and unlike bill clinton who said he never inhaled, obama had actually earlier acknowledged on jay leno or somewhere, said, that was the point, wasn't it? not just the point, but they had what they called t.a., total absorption, meaning you couldn't let any marijuana smoke get free and -- it was serious dope. >> when you bring these threads together, didn't you prove, whether you set out to do this or not, that obama's book was highly misleading? >> i wouldn't draw that conclusion, howard. >> conservative critics are using your book -- >> they certainly are, yes. and, you know, people can draw from it what they want. what i drew from it was that his book was a valuable insight into his internal thinking during that period. which you don't usually get from politicians. but it's not rigorous biography or historical fact. >> you usually don't get publishers writing their own books. >> nicer, too. >> my sense is you found a mosaic, and there were a lot of damaging threads in that mosaic. but that you didn't pound away
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at this as you might, say, if you were writing a newspaper story because you -- >> that wasn't the point of my book. >> you sort of admire the president in a way? >> well, i -- i'm not going to go that far. what i would say is that i was t the right story. where i found that the right story as i could report it different from his memoir, i point it out. >> do you have an obligation as an author to not just unearth these facts but to reach a judgment about the future president's voracity? >> i think that's up to other people, honestly. i mean, when you're righting biographies, i mean, in my introduction, i talk about that. i say that he claims that all of these compressions and composites are simply to smooth out the narrative. and i say no, there's more to it than that. and there is. but to call him a liar or say that he fabricated his life story, no. he was writing a memoir about race, and the internal valuable
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insight, but don't trust it as rigorous factual account. >> and finally, many conservatives firmly believe that have shared this with the rest of the world that the media did not properly vet barack obama in 2008. does they ha did they have a point? >> well, he came along awfully fast. and a lot of people relied on his memoir for sort of the thread of his story. >> don't the media have an obligation even when a candidate appears out of nowhere to dig deeper and go further than the account that he himself presents? >> so, you know, the conservatives who make that claim also are the ones claiming he wasn't born in the united states or that he's a secret muslim. >> some of them. >> yeah, i think that's always a valid point. but you can't just -- i couldn't just do this in a month or a week. this took years for me to get to the depths of this story. >> so in other words, beyond the reach of the daily journalism, do you think? >> well, i think there are a lot of different valuable parts of trying to find a story. some of it's daily journalism.
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some of it's, you know, weekly. it takes a few months. some of it takes years. it's all part of -- it's all part of the journey of finding the truth of somebody's life. >> enormous amount of research in this book. thanks very much for joining us. >> thank you. he learned his trade at "the washington post." it's refreshing in this age when somebody goes out and does the work of old-fashioned reporting and unearths new information even about a president. still to come, dr. drew's secret moonlighting. a columnist has to return to money, and bill o'reilly says he's an idiot and doesn't think much of me either. "media monitor" is next. the greatest empires. then, some said, we lost our edge. well today, there's a new new york state. one that's working to attract businesses and create jobs. a place where innovation meets determination... and businesses lead the world. the new new york works for business. find out how it can work for yours at
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time now for the "media monitor," our weekly look at the hits and errors. drew pinsky is a major media figure for shows on "hln" and the cw network and his radio program, "love line." we are just learning about something highly questionable he did 13 years ago. federal authorities say he talked up wellbutrin without revealing that glaxo smith kline had paid him $275,000 over a period of just two months. the information emerged in a settlement in which glaxo agreed
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to pay $3 billion for promoting uses for its drugs that were not approved by the fda. dr. drew acknowledged being part of the glaxo campaign, telling "forbes" that, quote, my comments were consistent with my clinical experience, but that misses the point. he took a big payday while passing himself off as an independent expert. glaxo says it now discloses such relationships. dr. drew says he is no longer involved in such arrangements. and "hln" says in a statement that the network, quote, requires any relevant disclosures be made to our viewers. it must have seemed like a sweet deal for clarence page, $20,000 and a trip to paris for a three-minute speech. "the chicago tribune" columnist was speaking to an eiranian committee on the list of truft organizations. "the tribune" says page violated its policy by not obtaining permission in advance and has ordered him to return the speaking fee. page told me after taking his
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40-year career into account, my editors decided it could be slewed slew views as an aberrational incident and we could resolve this with a letter of reprimand. we can move on with me promising to run any future speech invitation past my superiors. attention, i'm going to give bill o'reilly some credit, that is before i get to the part about him being thin-skinned. he talked about his prediction of the supreme court which striked down obama's health care mandate and then not following through. >> and it's going to be 5-4. and if i'm wrong, i will play your clip. and i will apologize for being an idiot. >> on his fox show this week, o'reilly addressed his faulty prediction. >> i'm not really sorry, but i'm a man of my word, so i apologizing for not factoring in the john roberts situation. truthfully, i never thought it would go into taxation. i may be an idiot for not
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considering that. >> good for him. but then he takes a shot at me, your humble correspondent, for playing the clip. >> i do think, though, that a guy like howard kurtz who has a background in journalism, i mean, the msnbc people and the left-wing bloggers and all of that, we don't really care what they say. but kurtz does the bidding of media matters. >> oh, come on, bill. i didn't even know that the liberal group media matters had zinged o'reilly over this. i saw it on a number of websites. the man with a huge multimillion-dollar contract has an irresistible urge to play the victim. not even fox analyst bernie goldberg was buying. >> howard kurtz does a media show. so of course he's going to mention that. >> i've interviewed o'reilly a number of times. i've actually been quite fair to him, but i guess he wasn't in a great mood that night having to call himself an idiot and all which is far harsher than anything i said. that i