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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  October 31, 2015 12:00am-2:01am EDT

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doing is build up the capacity of local forces so that there is actually a political opposition that can engage in conversations about a political transition. what secretary kerry is doing in vienna right now is trying to bring around the table all of those who have influence and a stake in syria, to find some common ground for the need for a political transition about how to affect that transition. that has been hard work getting russia, saudi arabia, and iran in the same room. it is not something that has happened recently. it is what we believe is necessary for us to try to make some progress in pursuit of the only solution that addresses all of the root causes of the problems we are seeing in syria right now. reporter: [indiscernible] what do you hope to achieve -- the iraqi trained army that you do not have in syria, as you
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mentioned now, it does not exist. how can you do the job better than what you have done in iraq with thousands of troops? secretary ernest: the forces in syria been different because the conditions in syria and iraq have been different. in iraq, one of the biggest challenges is ensuring that they are under the command of a unified government. that is not something that had been in place until relatively recently went the prime minister
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to power and sought to govern that country in a much more inclusive way. that more effective and inclusive leadership have made the security forces more effective. the situation in syria is a lot different. opposition forces there are not affiliated with the central government. they are more loosely organized. yet, despite the loose organization, the united states and coalition partners have been able to effectively help them. the situation in kobani is a good example of this. there is this war between turkey and syria that is almost completely secure. the advances made have left them within 35 kilometers of the self-declared capital of the islamic state. the shows they have made progress. a lot of the progress is due to their efforts to courtney with our counter isil -- to coordinate with our counter isil cooperation. we would anticipate that there performance would improve even more when paired with the force
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multipliers that are this several dozen united states special operators. reporter: [indiscernible] secretary ernest: this is a mission to support the efforts of moderate opposition fighters on the ground as they take to
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fight isil in their own country. that is what they are trying to do. to offer training, advice, and assistance to those local forces inside syria there fighting isil. hazel? reporter: i want to go back to something -- are the forces combat ready if that needs to happen? secretary ernest: i made allusion to the fact that the special operations forces will have equipment to protect themselves, if necessary. they will certainly be equipped to defend themselves. reporter: if something were to happen, they would be considered boots on the ground, correct? secretary ernest: there are boots on the ground now. reporter: you are not looking for any kind of military action now? training, advising, and assistance? secretary ernest: that is the military mission that they have
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been given. reporter: no combat at this point? secretary ernest: they are not being deployed to syria with a combat mission. they are being deployed with eight training, advising, and assistance position. it is an effort to be as specific and clear as possible about what exactly there being asked to do. reporter: with the fight against al qaeda, no military solution. now, the same thing. no military solution. now, we are hearing the same thing. we never really saw the complete win during the bush years. what would a systematic win look like during this administration? secretary ernest: i think the reason for that -- this question actually goes to the core of our military strategy, ironically enough. the reason the president feels is important to build the capacity of local forces, to take that fight isil in their
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own country is because we want to enhance the ability of iraqis and syrians to provide for the security of their own country. united states to go in there and prepare that for them in perpetuity. we tried that. it didn't work. ultimately, local security forces, local government officials, and local citizens need to demonstrate the wherewithal to govern and secure their own country. with united states goes into try to impose that security, and impose the military solution, that can temporarily have the effect of pacifying the situation. united states military is extraordinarily effective. where also has the effect of doing is not forcing iraqi security forces and iraqi political figures in the situation in iraq of stepping up and fulfilling the responsibility's they have to secure the country and govern
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the country in an inclusive, unified way. once the united states military left iraq, we did see a situation where the iraqi central government, because they did not have the commitment to unify the country and govern it in a exclusive way, we saw the nation of iraq breakdown along sectarian lines. that was for the world to see when isil made its events against -- made its advance across iraq. all of it was reflective as a failure from the iraqis central government to unite the country and put in place security forces that were prepared to defend the entire country. that is why our strategy is not predicated on opposing our own solutions, but build up the capacity of iraqis and syrians to secure and govern their own countries. reporter: in syria, are we
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expected to mirror the same time period? we could be there for a while? secretary ernest: we have been clear that countering isil and completing our efforts to destroy that tears organization is not a short-term proposition. the president acknowledged this as well. reporter: could it be another 14 years? when you say it is not a short-term proposition, why rush, you are seeing already the situation in iraq, see it seems like we have to stand there and stay with them because it is not ending right now. secretary ernest: i think the important thing to understand, and the lesson that hopefully we
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would have all learned about this is these are problems that cannot be -- these are solutions that cannot be imposed by the united states using our military might. that is just not the way it is going to work. in previous attempts, it has been unsuccessful and did not at all serve well the interests of the united states. reporter: are these fewer than 50 on the ground now in syria? secretary ernest: you would have to check with the department of defense on that. i would not be surprised if they were reluctant to say one way or the other. reporter: you cannot say today, if they are there or not? secretary ernest: you will have to check with the department of defense. reporter: what include airstrikes -- will it include airstrikes? secretary ernest: i think chairman dempsey said this is an option on the table. i do not think chairman dempsey, while he was in office, ever recommended that to the
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president. he always noted that was an option that he could recommend to the president. you would have to check with the torment of defense for an answer on whether or not that is part of the training that we provide. reporter: you have a knowledge previously that the russian airstrikes over syria have targeted u.s. backed opposition groups, and now the president is sending in these forces on the ground to help training and assist these groups. is there any concern that the u.s. troops could now become targets of these russian strikes? secretary ernest: let me say a couple of things about this. the focus of russia's military activity inside syria has been in those areas where isil
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fighters are not frequently present. there have been, as we have acknowledged, some strikes in other areas. that is the first thing. the second thing is of course the president is concerned, and i think the department of defense is concerned, about the safety of these americans operating in a very dangerous country, and a very dangerous part of the world. that is why they will be prepared with the equipment necessary to defend themselves. there are contingency plans in place to try to mitigate the risk that they face. when it comes to the russians, the united states military has engaged in a handful of low-level tactical, practical conversations with the russians to the conflate our activities. i do not anticipate a scenario where the united states is coordinating our efforts with the russians, unless and until the russians are willing to make a constructive graduation to our
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counter isil coalition. reporter: these forces could be struck i russian airstrikes? secretary ernest: again, these forces are at risk in a very dangerous part of the world and in a dangerous country. the president has also made clear that he wants to make sure these special operators have the equipment they need to defend themselves and that is what they ask. scott. reporter: the scale the the deployment -- can you talk about the decision-making process? secretary ernest: i think what the president -- let me step back. i said a little bit of this before, but i think it is important that this is exhibit a of how the president has been making these kinds of decisions. the president and his team are
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routinely accepting counter isil -- a counter isil strategy to look specifically at the areas that are not performing up to expectations. the president has made decisions to curtail investments in those efforts. the train and equip operation is the best example of that. at the same time, they have been conducting assessments of the counter isil strategy to look for those areas that are showing some promise. areas where the strategy is yielding some progress. our effort to offer support to opposition fighters in northern syria have showed some promise. those fighters have made some progress. those fighters have benefited from resupply missions where the united states military and coalition partners have been able to provide them with
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equipment and ammunition that they have used in their fight against isil. they have also benefited from our coalition's efforts to coordinate military airstrikes in support of their operations on the ground. the president asked his military team for some options, for into the fighting -- intensifying further our support for those fighters. one option that they came back with was putting a small number, fewer than 50, special operation forces on the ground in syria in the train and advise role to make those fighters even more effective and serve as force multipliers by offering advice, and using their expertise to enhance operations and enhance the success of the opposition forces on the ground. this is probably the best example that you will hear me refer to in future briefings about the president's strategy in syria. looking for opportunities to
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intensify those elements of the strategy there are showing some promise. in some cases, that means actually asking the team to come back with recommendations on how to intensify their efforts. this is a good example of that. reporter: you are really trying to minimize [indiscernible] secretary ernest: i think we are cognizant of the discussion the april and i were having that the united states cannot have a situation in which we are imposing a military solution on this problem. i think the president is mindful of that. our goal here is not -- our goal here is to build up the capacity of local forces to fight this fight on the ground in their own country for themselves.
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we want to enhance their performance on the battlefield. we have much for of -- looked for a lot of ways to do that here the president is mindful that we cannot do that for them. have to do it for themselves with the expertise that the united states military and our coalition partners have to offer. heaven. reporter: would you acknowledge or reject the mission that this is the mission creed. secretary ernest: the mission has not changed. the president delivered a television address on september 10, 2014, in which he made clear that there would be u.s. military personnel on the ground to build up local forces, who could then take the fight on the ground against isil in their own country. that mission has not changed. reporter: and yet, we are adding people, special operations forces. if you continue to add forces, is that mission not free?
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secretary ernest: i just made clear that the mission from september's, 2014 was the mission that the department of defense implemented, and the mission that remains in place today. reporter: so, nothing is different? i'm just trying to understand -- secretary ernest: i'm trying to explain to you. i have made quite clear what we're doing to further intensify the elements of our strategy that have shown progress. we are intensifying it, wrapping of the support that we are giving to them. the mission has not changed. reporter: u.s. forces that may come under assault by the russians -- if american special operations forces are eliminated by russian airstrikes, is that or is that not an act of war?
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secretary ernest: right now that is a hypothetical situation primarily because we have seen that russian military activity has been focused almost exclusively on those areas of syria where isil fighters are not present. u.s. special operations personnel will be operating in a train, advise, and assist role alongside opposition forces that are fighting isil. that is why there is a low likelihood that they would come into conflict. we have engaged in low-level, tactical talks with russian military to the conflict -- deconflict our activities. we would welcome russia making a more constructive contribution to our broader counter isil coalition so we could more effectively coordinate with
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them. right now, russia's military efforts are not focused on isil, they are focused on propping up the assad regime. that is a problem for many reason, but it is a problem for russia because they are being drawn into the sectarian quagmire that has consequences for the national security of russia back home, and the national security focus is inside syria. reporter: an american iranian has apparently been kidnapped in iran. have we reached out to get of arts in tehran about this? secretary ernest: we are aware that an american has potentially been detained in iran. for any of our interactions with iranians about this, i refer you to the state department. they can give you an update on the efforts. as you know, the president has made a priority securing the
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release of americans who are unjustly detained in iran. that has been a priority for quite some time. secretary kerry talked about it in the context of a nuclear talks, when he was meeting frequently with our counterparts, that he would raise the cases of these unjustly detained americans in every conversation. this continues to be -- securing the release of americans unjustly detained in iran continues to be a parody of the obama administration and the american people. reporter: do you know if there was any prior consultation with congressional leaders on this deployment? secretary ernest: there was. [laughter] secretary ernest: i will not get into the details, but there were a number of conversations with congressional leaders. reporter: including speaker ryan?
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secretary ernest: again, i'm not aware of all the conversations that took place, but presumably that is the case. there were a number of telephone calls that have taken place recently to assure appropriate congressional leaders were aware of this decision that the president made to further intensify our efforts in syria. reporter: do you know if this deployment triggers a notification under the war powers resolution? secretary ernest: it does not, principally because the united states congress has already authorized this, dated back to 2001. reporter: could you take a question or two about the budget bill? secretary ernest: sure. reporter: when will it be signed? secretary ernest: argumentation is the white house will receive the budget bill on monday. i would expect the president would find it shortly thereafter, probably on monday.
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reporter: [indiscernible] secretary ernest: congress typically does not work on mondays. i do not know how many members of congress -- i think our intention right now -- reporter: [indiscernible] secretary ernest: maybe that would entice them. we are still working through that, by does the we will give you a chance to see it. reporter: could you say why president obama believes it is prudent to commit future administrations to selling oil from the strategic petroleum reserve as a way of offsetting increased spending in the bill? secretary ernest: typically these budget agreements cover a broader period of time. some would suggest that when you are discussing a budget as large as the budget of the united states of america, making decisions on a year-to-year basis, without looking at the out years, what impact the budget would have on those out years, is unwise. this is sort of -- making decisions on the budget over a 10 year window is what our accountants tell us is the most
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prudent thing to do. i would be the first to agree with you that sometimes it seems unrealistic to say exactly what the country will look like and what decisions are being made 10 years from now. this is the way that our budget experts say it should be done. reporter: is that the oil marketplace sufficiently volatile that you would not want to commit to selling 10 million barrels of oil and out years? secretary ernest: presumably. how those decisions would eventually be made -- reporter: 8 million barrels. secretary ernest: how exactly that sale would take place is not something i have been briefed on, but we can try to get you some details on that. reporter: what is the international legality, or lack
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there of, of putting u.s. boots on the ground in a country that has not agreed to it? secretary ernest: the case that the united states has made is the united states and our coalition partners are responding to a specific request from iraq, and the concern that they have expressed about isil. our primary response was to assist the iraqi government. what is also clear is the national security threat actually emanated from syria. because the central government of syria was either unable or unwilling to take the necessary actions to mitigate that national security threat that was being experienced by iraq, the united states and our coalition partners have taken action out of the concern that we have for iraqi national security, and the available evidence that indicates that the central government in syria is unable or unwilling to act on it themselves. reporter: who will be hosting
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the special forces in syria? you mentioned the moderate syrian opposition. is that the kurds -- is it the kurds, or a mix of different parties? will be bases, safe houses? secretary ernest: for operational security reasons, i'm not going to be able to get into the details of where exactly these military personnel will be, or precisely with whom they will be working. i can tell you that they will be -- they will have a train, advice, and assist mission, and the role where they will be partnering with those local forces, as they take the fight to isil on the ground in their own country. i cannot be more specific than that in terms of where they will
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be doing this, or who precisely they will be working with. reporter: you mentioned over the last few days of will to of airstrikes on behalf of the u.s. coalition over syria. according to what the special command sends out every day, there have been almost none in syria over the last two, whereas they do continual over iraq. why have airstrikes come to a minimum over syria over the last few weeks? secretary ernest: i would direct the question to central command. they're making the day-to-day decisions about what strikes should be carried out. there are a variety of scenarios to describe this. there could be bad weather, or it could be based on intelligence on the ground. i would encourage you to touch base with central command. richard. reporter: i don't want you to get into details, is this train,
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advice, and assist mission, is it similar to what the u.s. forces are doing with the afghan forces against the taliban? secretary ernest: it is always hard to draw comparisons because the situations and each country are so different. i think, generally speaking, that would be a fair comparison to make. it does effectively differentiate between the combat role that the american troops previously had in afghanistan. they no longer have that combat role. they're trying to make afghan security forces more effective. they benefit from the training, advice, and assistance that they typically receive from american military personnel that remain in afghanistan.
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the reason i'm drawing this analogy is because it is consistent with the broader counterterrorism strategy that the president laid out, i believe in his west point speech, in which you said that the united states needs to develop more capability when it comes to enhancing the capacity of local forces around the world to prevent extremists and terrorists elements from establishing a toehold in their country. we have talked about how this is an important part of our relationship inside afghanistan -- building the capacity of afghan national security forces. we even had a long debate about the situation in yemen. previously, before that country was assumed by a civil war, the united states was able to partner effectively with your many -- yemeni national security forces to take strikes, or at least mitigate the risks posed by opposition forces, operating in yemen. it has been diminished because we do not have a central government with whom we can order to effectively right now.
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this is part of the counterterrorism strategy that the president laid out before. it is why the president called for the establishment of this counterterrorism partnership fund, where we have resources available in the federal government, that could be used to support the local forces in countries around the world, with united states is trying to build the capacity of the local forces to provide for the situation in the country, and prevent terrorist organizations and extremist from establishing a toehold in the country. reporter: the decision to keep forces longer, and more than expected, and based on the fate of u.s. operations in yemen, shouldn't we be worried about a similar situation in syria? secretary ernest: i think the greater risk is -- and this is something we discussed in the
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context of the afghan decision that the president made -- the greater risk is denying a request from a government like the one that exists in afghanistan. for the united states to continue partner with them, and build up the capacity of their local security forces. afghan government has demonstrated that they are committed to taking on this test. they're not asking the united states to do this important work for them. they are asking the united states to build of the capacity to do it in their own country. that is why the president made the decision he made in afghanistan. always the, our relationship with the central government in
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syria is much, much different than that. there is a similar dynamic in iraq. the prime minister abadi, with whom the president consulted today, they talked about how they can intensified efforts and those parts of the country where they feel they need to take the fight to isil. in places like ramadi. the united states can play a role, not on the front lines, necessarily, but in a situation where they are supporting the forces, including places like ramadi. reporter: in iraq, the u.s. hopes that nato forces will continue the mission -- the training and assist mission. any plan of trying to build -- extend the coalition mission from the ed to the ground in syria with nato forces? secretary ernest: nothing that we are prepared to announce at this point. let me just say, generally, the united states benefits from the
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expertise and capabilities of our coalition partners and this region of the world. it is not just american military personnel that are serving this training role inside iraq. there are other countries that have made important contributions based on the capacity of their own country to be engaged in these training operations. i think it underscores the significance, the difference in approach of the united states to try to counter isil in iraq and syria, and the unilateral approach that the russians have taken, going on their own, and trying to prop up an assad regime, the has become increasingly destructive. reporter: can you talk a little bit of the meeting with the fbi director, where they talked about a different view on mass incarceration, and also the extent to which increased
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scrutiny of police activity has led to a shift in law enforcement patterns, and subsequently violent crimes. secretary ernest: you may not be surprised to hear that i will not get into the details of a conversation about the president had with the director of the fbi. the director of the fbi is an independent of was that role. the president does have an opportunity to consult with him on a range of topics, on a fairly regular basis. i do not have any specific conversations to read out. one of the reasons that the president chose director kobe for this job is because he is someone who is an experienced prosecutor, but also someone who has demonstrated the capacity to think and act independently. the director of the fbi has an important independent law-enforcement role. i think over the last several weeks, we have seen director kobe willingness to independently express his views. the fact of the matter is the
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president believes that the director of the fbi, particularly, with somebody who has the skills of director kobe must be involved in grappling with the difficult policy debates that they are having in this country right now in balancing security and protection of civil liberties. take for example the encryption debate. policymakers and officials have been grappling with how to ensure that the civil liberties of the american people are protected without giving terrorists the opportunity to hide behind technology, and plot and carry out attacks that could threaten the safety and security of the american people. this involves a highly technical debate about the capabilities of technology, but also it involves a more philosophical debate about how to balance these competing equities. someone like director kobe has an important contribution to make to that debate. the same is true about criminal
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justice reform. there is a similar dynamic at play trying to put in place criminal justice policies that adequately protect the american people and adequately protect the civil liberties and civil rights of everything will american. these are difficult issues. the president certainly appreciates the important perspective that the director brings to this policy debates, but more important, his constructive country should to that debate will be necessary for us to find the right policy solutions. i would expect the director to continue to participate in all of those debates, and do so with
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the full confidence and support of the president of the united states. reporter: should lawmakers, when they are figuring out what to do about reforming those laws, put the director's statements on the presence of interpretation? secretary ernest: i would allow the director to describe the point of view that he has. our expectation would be that somebody who has a position -- hoosiers in a position like the director of the fbi, that their views would be taken into account when making policy decisions that come to criminal justice reform. with that, let me do the week ahead, and let you get started on your weekend. on monday, as part of his commitment to criminal justice
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reform, the president will travel to new york, new jersey -- newark, new jersey. the president will be joined by mayor baracka on that trip. after that, he will travel to new york city for event benefiting the dnc and triple c. those are two separate events. the president will return monday evening. on tuesday, the president will attend meetings at the white house. he will give remarks at a dnc event and washington. on thursday, the president will host the tribal nations conference. the conference will provide leaders from the 500 cc seven federally recognized tribes the opportunity to indirect directly with high-level officials and members of the white house council on native american affairs. this will be the seventh
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conference for the obama administration, and continues to build on the president's commitment to strengthen the government relations with indian country and improve the lives of native american indians and alaska natives with an emphasis on increasing opportunity for sunday evening at 630, texas legislators and other officials look at the hispanic vote in 2016 and 2018 election. book tv,on c-span twos starting at noon eastern, it's
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the 27th annual southern festival of books in nashville featuring nonfiction author presentations including kristen green on a virginia town's reaction to the brown versus poe ruling. in sicilian tissue remembers the life of author jack london. and that afternoon on in-depth, our live three-hour conversation with an economist who shares his life and career in response to your calls e-mails and facebook comments. historian don doyle looks at the worldview of the american civil war and the perspectives of foreign-born soldiers who join the cause. interview with supreme court justice clarence thomas on his upbringing in the segregated south and the influence of his
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grandfather on his career. see our complete schedule it c-span.org. members of the white house press corps talked about their jobs and how to cover the president the at an event hosted by the washington center. this is an hour and 15 minutes. >> good morning everyone. i'm going to have a couple of quick announcements then we will have a short pause and we will go to our moderator. good morning. your director of academic affairs here the washington center. it is my great pleasure to welcome to the second conversation in the leader series.
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this is an important part of the washington center in that it's an opportunity for you to learn about issues of public concern. this afternoon you will have chance to learn about different strategies for citizens to make a difference about the issues that they care about. at the conclusion of today's conversation, my colleague will take a few moments to share with you some logistics and some thoughts for making that transition to this afternoon's conversation. you come from all around the world and all around the country. if the panel of professionals today that we pretty much only good of together here in washington dc. their journalists to cover the white house and are leaders in their field. they write the first draft of history. this is a good opportunity for you to think today about the issues you care about and the difference you want to make as you embark on your future pathways of achievement. so to introduce us in just a
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moment is our vice president of student affairs. >> good morning everyone. it is my pleasure to welcome our moderator, miss christi parsons. she is a 26 year veteran of the chicago tribune. she joined the washington bureau in 2006. she is a past president of the white house correspondents association. she has an undergraduate degree in journalism and english. and a masters from yale. please welcome miss christi parsons. [applause]
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>> thank you for that nice introduction. when we were talking to college students, i didn't expect you to show up on a friday morning. i didn't expect you to be dressed so professionally. we are going to have to up our game. >> it is not at 8:00. [laughter] >> we are looking at you and listening to you. we appreciate you giving us that honor. the washington center does such great work educating our future leaders. hopefully some of you are aspiring journalists and public servants and advocates. it is good to talk to this crowd directly on this friday morning. as the introducer said, i'm christy parson -- christi parsons. i don't just right for one
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-- write for one outlet anymore. i work for lots of readers and for a wire service as well. the media landscape is changing. we will talk about that. my audience is broad and wide. we really are lucky to have this panel of white house correspondents, the press and the presidency. the president could not be here today. [laughter] >> he is running the country or something. so this will be from the perspective of of the press. it is a special group of people. they are members of the white house press corps. they cover the presidency. we have something like 40 years of experience covering the white house. we thought it would be helpful for you to hear from each person here and their personal story, professional story, how they got to where they are today.
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i would like to start with that and we will go first to kathleen hennessey from the associated press who was my partner at the white house covering the president from the los angeles times. kathleen hennessey: we were colleagues three weeks ago. it feels strange to say that. i work for the associated press which is a wire service. almost all of the newspapers in the country, in addition to the internet and internationally an enormous audience, it is almost alone in the way it covers the president completely, fully, at every possible moment more or less. therefore my job when i worked for a newspaper has shifted a little bit too being a constant presence in the white house. we consider ourselves a constant set of eyes as much as possible.
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i started my career in washington and with the l.a. times. i left to go and cover a statehouse in nevada, and politics in las vegas, to get out into the country and cover politics on a more local level. i came back to washington to cover congress and national campaigns. now i am at the white house. i think that one of the things that i said that is most unique about the way that is different from -- the way we covered the president is different than the way we cover any other politician in washington or anywhere in any statehouse, he is basically stuck with us almost all the time. any public statements, any
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public appearance, even a personal dinner out with his wife, a cough game -- a golf game, we are nearby. a small cluster of the press as representative of the larger pool of the press corps, it is not glamorous. looking for any sign we can of him, making sure he is where he is supposed to be, and giving a rhythm of his daily life. christi: we view say where you are from and what your academic past was. kathleen: i didn't do any journalism when i was in school originally, i didn't know what i wanted to do.
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i studied history, the classics. t wasn't a terribly useful major. i got into journalism later in life and went to berkeley for graduate school. i did internships at the l.a. times and the ap. >> thank you. christi: let's do an introduction with april ryan. she started as a dj but now is a public author. i'm very excited about this new book by april. the presidency in black and white. we are talking about the things she raises. will you do your two-minute personal history for everybody. i am from baltimore, maryland. i cut my teeth and news in baltimore. baltimore is a newsy town. you know i love my job.
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i started out as a disc jockey. i was bored giving time, temperature and weather. and station id. i started producing a news program and then i left there and went to a radio station that the train james brown used to in baltimore. i left there and went to chattanooga and then came back to baltimore. all the while i was in news, i stringing from everywhere worked. let's what is that? stringing was to include american urban radio network.
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and theyd what i did really started looking at me when the national headquarters which is located in baltimore at the time the president was under fire. and it was not about if you would leave it was about when and how he would leave. and i broke that story and they said we would like you to come to washington to be the d.c. bureau chief. little did i was know i was young and dumb they wanted me to be the white house correspondent. now -- knownow then what i know now i would've said no. i've been white house correspondent for the last 18 years covering three presidents and as kathleen said we are the first line of questioning. in the last 18 years with his changed that i have seen, it is more intense because we are in a social media realm and everything is immediate on twitter. the president responds people on the hill respond. you have to watch the twitter
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feed instead of getting a press release. you have to be in good physical condition to run after the president. i was running behind him. i'm not a spring chicken. it's been a very interesting ride. christi: he slows down. i also would like to introduce jim. jim: you've heard the expression inside the beltway. i was born about a mile from the belt. i grew up in northern virginia and sort of the d.c. kid. i grew up in this area, i went to james madison university where i was the news director. the sort of started in radio. after that i came to the
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washington -- my very first job was a television answering the phones a channel five here in washington. remember samguys donaldson. his wife worked at channel five slot into the phone hello can i speak to jen's nucleus. i would give people their coffee and that was coming three dollars and $.25 an hour and at no but -- no health benefits. they would say jim go, this drive-by shooting that happened and they would come give an impromptu press conference to that was my first taste of tv news. from there i worked my way into a job in knoxville. then i went to dallas and chicago. i was hired by cbs news and later cnn area it was sort of a long strange road to get me back to d.c.. i covered the mitt romney campaign back in 2012. wins goes thever
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white house so i thought well i'm not going to the white house he lost. but cnn said went to go over there you're pretty good at annoying these guys and giving them our time. once you try got an excellent one the election. so i've been here since early 2013 so not quite as long as april. i agree it's fascinating. some of you were saying earlier writing the first draft of history doing the first live shot of the first draft of history is quite challenging. it's exciting and exhausting. it's a real treat. when i walked to the gates of the white house every day i still feel like the luckiest guy in the world that i his work in this place. it is a real honor. to work with all of you. i count myself lucky. you on your toes in qqq
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honest. it makes you want to do your best every day. did writeou really the first draft of history. if you guys watch those press conferences, but you see him stand up and turn around and start talking to the camera. the press after conference is ended telling you what just happened. and the rest of the press for a sitting there listening to the tv folks do their amazing take on what happened and it's very influential over the whole process. that's the first read that most people get on here. only onese not the listening, the other people in the press corps listening as well. it's really an amazing talent. i usually take at least 15 minutes telephone. anyway work in a talk about does pull back the curtain for you about how we cover the white house. that was the first part of the curtain. kathleen alluded to something
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about the pool at the white house. this is a really important group of 21 people at the white house every day that are very close to the president for every open or press open event. they report back to other members of the press corps about what has been said or done in a small room where you really can't hold escort. isn we travel that number 13. most people are on air force one with the president everywhere he goes. those members of the pool are with him sending feedback to their peers to report what's going on. kathleen as a member of the ap is a member of the permanent old. ap is always in the pool and always with the president. that's why thunderbird that we have are hearing now. someone has it. one of her peers is watching the president. could you talk about a little
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bit? to keept so important that constant watch in the ap obviously spent a lot of resources to make sure the president is watched at all times by your organization. when you do that? kathleen: i think it's a mix of some of it is just dark. president's has people want to do harm to the president of the united states and if anything were to ever happen, my organization and several others have to be there. we have to be in the motorcade near him should anything happen. real at theink a core. we'll talk about it that much but that is part of it. another part of it is just that he is arguably the most
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important person in washington. how he spends his time is always ofdoubt almost public interest. there's very little that the issident does or says that completely inconsequential. we really do want to hear what he's saying. what he's saying and what he's doing and who he is golfing with and who he's dining with. it seems crazy and i know it makes some folks in the white house crazy but it is the truth of him being as important as he is and as public of the figure as he is. we are -- myust organization and a lot of organizations have come up with is there a leopard system to make sure that just about everything he says is done under some oversight in some eyes are on him. it can be collocated at times. many people ask why you
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keep that watch up and one of them is the president himself. april, are there times when -- you spend a lot of time in the white house. when you are watching the president and keeping up with his daily schedule, are there things that you learn just from being there? april: oh my gosh, yes. you have to learn it from the public schedule. you have to be there yet to be seen you have to be around you have to know who the letters are. walking intowas the white house office of people coming out and it was some congressional leaders and their families and i said they did why was i so what you doing here and they said we met with president i asked her committees they were on and they told me. you learn a little bit more. you have to be -- i hate to say it but ocd.
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for instance, where way but my phone -- we all normally have our phones on because we need to find out -- our sources could be telling us something that is going on. someone inside the white house could tell us. we are 24 cylinders. it's all about anything presidential and being married you get a chance to talk to the principles. when they see you it's about trust and relationship. if they trust you and feel that they can talk to you they will give you information. they will give you breaking news they might even give you a chance to talk to the president area it's a in the moment and it's not a kind place. apply.ophobic need not i'm in a room that looks like a phone booth and i'm not joking. it's like to phone was put together. kathleen: but they don't know if phone booth is. christi: that's right. -- april: that's right.
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go to london. should the rent london phone booth. when april and i started as a storage closet. you would literally call lannon and dictate the story from a phone booth. >> your point was about getting a sense of what is happening. a lot of times they are told not to say anything. if you have that relationship, they will talk to you on your cell phone. their personal cell phone, about what happened and what was said. it is port to be there, be seen, be a part of the mix, be in the
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pool, be a part of the white house press corps. you are only as good as your last story. if you are not advancing a story, what good are you? how it is viewed at the white house. it is the best of the best. analysis available all over in newspapers, magazines, online, and that is really important and viable. a lot of time people are working with their own original reporting, but often it is broken out of the white house. very often it is just as simple as the president looks down today. upset? he i remember the body language being important leading up to the surge. the reporting was very
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intuitive, people trying to get a sense of the white house. robert gibbs was close to the president, and when he seemed agitated or frustrated, i thought that is a reflection of something. i think i will make a couple of extra phone calls to see what is happening. history thataft of the press corps is writing comes from your impressions of being there. acosta is someone who is great at breaking through the din. house the president is good at crafting a message, telling a story, his communications staff is also good. jim, the job of a reporter is not just taking what is said in retelling it. talk about that.
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jim acosta: that's right. i was thinking about this -- there are a couple of different episodes that bring to mind the spin machine that goes on at the white house. one of the most recent examples is when the president was going to the american university to deliver the speech on the iran nuclear deal. in the run-up to that speech, draw theallowed us to comparison between jfk in the 1960's. we're saying this is going to be like jfk going to an american university and say that we are willing to pay any price. what the president ended up doing was a very partisan speech. day justr the next thinking to myself, or even spin they day, the
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were putting out there that this was going to be like jfk, but when the president was going to deliver a partisan speech to rally the democrats behind him. there was opposition in his own party from jewish-american democrats. i was thinking that we need to call them out on this. we did that story that evening and pointed out that this -- andnt has been saying here he goes up to american university, leading us to think that he is going to deliver this jfk, style speech, and he really went after the republicans. i use that example to show that we can sometimes fall prey to the spin. another example, in the white house briefing room, i think that is the best place to try to cut through that spend. to be careful, because
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whose of us in the front roo can i know those behind us because we can ask too many questions and take too long, and april knows this. sometimes that first question you ask, you will get the talking points. i have no problems cutting in and directing that line of questioning somewhere else if i'm the getting the answer i need. i remember one day, kristi you and i talked about this, the day that they did not have somebody in charge of the apollo response -- ebola response. felt likeay or two, i laser beams coming out of their eyes at me. they were not happy about it.
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we would like to be friendly with these people, but it's not like we are going to go bowling with them. we are not buddies. we are there to hold their feet to the fire and hold people accountable. you failed to state that we ask questions, and that question perpetuated the fact that there became an ebola leader. at the same time, our questions help shape policy. we ask questions. it is cyclical. we find out what the community is saying, outside the white house, and throw a question to them and asked someone to find out more research. and sometimes it doesn't shape policy. that is one thing as well. they realize that nobody was in charge. april ryan: they were talking
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about so many things. we had something that we had never seen before, coming into this nation, infected, died, nurses were infected, other people said it was a real situation. jim acosta: i don't want to put this out there too much, but cameras are rolling. you get e-mails. if they don't like what you are saying, you will get an e-mail. from the white house. or phone call. there may be some language in that e-mail or phone call that i can't use here on c-span, but it can be tough, and you have to have thick skin going in there. then skin need not apply. you have to be on your a game. alligatorave to have skin, because they will come after you. for anyone who aspires to
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work in washington in any field, alligator skin is really helpful. i want upon's for just a minute and ask you to start thinking about some questions you might like to ask the panel. moment, we will open up those microphones and you can let us know what is on your mind. -- we to take a moment have been talking about how we do our job. we should talk about a little bit about what that means for readers, viewers, and listeners who consume our reporting. not just for americans, but for people around the world trying to understand the presidency. this is a pretty good representation of the white house press corps. we have three women, an african-american, a .uban-american,
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i come from a conservative part of the country. do you think that diversity is important in the press corps. you think that the makeup of the press corps, asking questions, makes a difference in what people learn here and read about the american presidency? kathleen hennessey: absolutely. every day there is a briefing where we all sit down and fire questions at the white house. a lot of those questions are , but a lot of them are a reflection of what the reporters in the room know a little bit about, care a little bit about, the way they are framed sometimes has to do with your personal experience. you do bring that to the job. it comes through in a very public way in terms of what the white house has to answer for and respond to, and that
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matters. it shapes stories, policy to some degree. for the stategood of media in this country to look and appeared to be representative to people who are reading the stories. i think especially even in a campaign setting to have people from all over the country who understand a little bit about ,he midwest in ohio or florida or where ever the place we are pretending to be experts on. i spent a lot of time in nevada covering the latino community there and the booming rise of a growing city. fromcouldn't be further some of the expenses of the people in ohio where we spend a lot of time campaigning in general elections. knowledge --tt of
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breath of knowledge is good. how has theons: press corps done it covering the first african-american president? him. ryan: we cover being the first african-american president puts an added pressure. i believe -- i'm just going to say it, and i'm not being partisan or saying this because he is african-american. i am looking this -- at this as a journalist and i've seen how we have come together as a group. and also cover as a group. he iseve that sometimes not placed in the best light. sometimes he is placed in the best light, but i believe there is a major hypersensitivity
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because he is african-american, particularly when it comes to issues in the african-american community. race will always follow him, always. term, the white house was very cognizant of the fact of him as president of the united states that they had to navigate the water strategically to get to that second term. the media kept harping, the white house press corps, especially when he made that gaffe or freudian slip when he wanted to come out talking issues, but went instead by heart instead of talking points, typically what he would do. the media jumped on that, and they jumped on the beer summit. thatd not see as much of until the trayvon martin issue, and now are seeing a totally different president come second
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term barack obama is different from first term barack obama. the media are pouncing on it more. i think while they are pouncing on it, it is also for the greater good because we are now seeing what african-american communities have been talking about for a long time, this tension with the black community and law enforcement. it's not saying you don't support law enforcement. you're supposed to support law enforcement, but there is some bad policing, and now we are seeing it be caught on tape. for one thing, it's a good thing, because it is helping to hold people to the fire, accountability there, and at the same time, it is unfortunate that he had to be held at a different level by the media and the public because he is african-american. he is president of all america. the double edged sword. christi parsons: you're alluding to the discussions he has
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promoted concerning how police relate to their communities. are these changes that he feels -- do you think these are changes that are a result of the fact that he is now at the end of the second term and now does not have a political price to pay or that people around the world know who he is now besides just the first african-american president? we know a great deal about him based on his record. isil ryan: one, because he an african american. he is a black man in america who has experience a lot of this. two, there are variables out there. some days you can plan which are going to talk about, but when there is something that hits, and a lot of these issues hit on a large scale, they made it to the desk of the president or eyes watching on tv, because we are watching the news that you are doing.
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when trayvon martin happened, the crowds came out. when we saw with the freddie gary -- gray situation. the white house response to what america is saying. so he had to respond as president. there is an extra burden because he is a black man. also, second turn, he does not have anything to worry about. we are seeing a totally different barack obama second term. you're a totally different person. he is able to do things now that he was not able to do before. i do think there is a different standard for men -- ham and, they understand it -- for him, and they understand it. this point.t is at christi parsons: jim, i want to ask you a related question. your dad is an immigrant from cuba.
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you are also cuban-american. does this matter to you? does this matter to eat what your viewers learn and what you report about the president? in the last few months, you have talked about and written about the opening of relations with cuba. to which youry brought a certain perspective or life experience to. does that affect your coverage? in acosta: my dad emigrated 1962, 3 weeks before the cuban this crisis. my aunt was reading the , thought this was an good, got on a pan am flight, and that's how they came over. my dad ass refer to one of the original dreamers. he came over when there weren't a lot of latino immigrants in this country. i was telling april before we -- and hed his name
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changed it to aj acosta. yeah, you do have that human history, that personal history that you bring to the table when you are doing this. presidential candidate out there right now who recently who aret the mexicans coming into this country are rapists and killers, and he is said i assume some of them are nice people. imagine that the president of the united states were to say that from the oval office, from the briefing room. i think these are questions that people have to think about when they approach this. having said that, talking about first half obama versus second half obama, one of the presidents promises was immigration reform. here we are, hasn't happened.
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he didn't do it when he had a majority in congress. you do think about those things. on the policy with cuba, i just never thought something like this would ever take place in my lifetime, and it just goes to show you come in speaking of second half obama, this was one of those things where they thought, let's wait to the second term, after the midterms of the second term, fourth-quarter to do this. so there might be some more surprises. the politics of it are very interesting when it comes to cuban policy. he may go to cuba. the white house says to not rule it out. and i will be fighting to get on that plane first. that will be a hell of a story.
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christi parsons: this president to doown a willingness executive orders, immigration being a perfect example. that went is well taken have 17 months let to go, and he things to check off the list. when he runs out of the things he can do with congress, there are things he can do strict they on his own authority. i don't know what time it is. as somebody watching the time for me? anybody? they took my phone when i came in here. if somebody from the washington center could give me a sense -- 10:36, so we have time for questions. i'm going to invite you to the microphones now. one or two people on each aside. jim acosta: here we go. fire away.
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we get a taste of our medicine now. christi parsons: why don't we start with you. >> good morning. i just want to thank you guys for coming out this morning and talking. i'm interning. a lot of the republican debate a few days ago was based around the mainstream media being an extension of the democratic party. i just want to hear your thoughts on that and possibly whether or not you support or debunk that theory. christi parsons: great question. i've been thinking about a lot since that debate. does anybody want to start? that is a: i think safe thing -- a lot of people always want to come up swinging at the media.
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there are some people who put opinion with fact, but for many of us in the white house, we definitely get all the sources, not one or two sources. we may push the fact. it may be something you don't like, but we put it out there. they can talk about the media all they want, but they are the first ones looking to the media to find out what is going on in this country. it is a double-edged sword, but trust me, we are good people and good journalists. i am not in anyone's pocket. you can assume what you want about me -- democrats think i'm a republican and republicans think i'm a democrat, so i'm doing my job. [laughter] [applause] jim acosta: i just want to echo that. i remember when i was covering the romney campaign. in this age of twitter, you can look at your mentions and people coming after you on twitter, and i had so much hate coming at me from republicans who just hated the stuff that i did on mitt romney. now i get it from liberals on
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twitter who don't like what i'm talking about when it comes to talking about president obama. walter cronkite used to say that. i used to work at cbs, and walter cronkite used to say if you are getting hit by the right and left, you must be doing something right. i think there's some truth to that. one thing i will say, and i find it interesting about this audience, is that i'm pretty sure just about everybody here grew up -- except for us on the stage and those running the event -- grew up in this age of partisan media. april -- we did not grow up with fox news, msnbc. there were newspapers that took points of view and endorsed candidates, but it is not what it is now. for those of us who grew up in a different era, it's not unheard of to be objective, to be the refs who can call it fair and square on both sides. but i do understand that mentality.
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"you guys just have opinions and you are letting your opinions affect your stories." we would not be where we are if that were the case. we had too many editors who would go, "you are out of there. you are not doing your job right." it is a system of checks and balances within our own bureaus. kathleen hennessey: i would add that we are not perfect, either. there was a lot of criticism on that debate and how it was managed and handled, and that's all fair and good, and we should be scrutinized, and people should debate how we do our jobs, and i think viewers also have to be mindful that -- you were talking about the mainstream media being an arm of the democratic party -- that is a long-standing political complaint of the republican party, and it works for them, right? there's a political reason for some of those folks to come out and complain about the media. the president of the united
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states loves to complain about the media. our current democratic president of the united states is a media critic. i feel it might be his second job. when he gets out of office he --ht write media chrism criticism because he has a lot of thoughts about it. i do think we go from both sides, and we should because we play an important role, and people should be watching what we do closely. jim acosta: cokie roberts used to have an expression that our only bias is for a good story. for the professionals in this business, that is true. the bias is you want a good story, to break news. that is much more valuable, i think, to all of us up here than trying to skew things one way or the other. it's too transparent, too obvious if that is what you are doing. christi parsons: yes? >> i'm working at american legislative exchange council. i would like to ask you that, as you already mentioned, about the
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iran nuclear deal. some of the people did not like it. actually, a lot of people did not like it, and there were several protests about it. i would like to ask you how you respond to these sorts of situations and what course of action do you take when a decision or situation of that kind happens and because you work closely with the white house. christi parsons: are you asking how we remain impartial when we analyze even though we are at the white house and hearing their point of view so much? is that what you mean? >> yes, exactly. do you have to act neutral about it? christi parsons: well, yes. we don't have to just act neutral about it. we need to be neutral. neutral is the only stance from which to do appropriate reporting. there's an awful lot of opinion media in the world today, and you can hear, like, opinions
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without end on the internet and on tv, but really, what reporters at the white house are trying to do is find as many facts as we can and get them to you. you just cannot do that if you are not neutral. you cannot get people to be straight with you. you cannot get people to be forthright with you. kathleen hennessey: it does, also, speak to one of the dangers of covering the white house. it's true. you are there to know what the white house is thinking, so you really do talk to a lot of people who think -- or agree. right? that is your job, to know what the white house is saying and what they are thinking. so i think there is sort of a bubble effect sometimes where you spend a lot of time talking to white house officials, and it can seep in, so you do have to fight against that. one of the ways is to make sure
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-- i think journalism as a team effort. you have to talk to your colleagues who are talking to folks at the state department and the pentagon and all over washington. folks on the hill. make sure you get out of the white house, have sources outside the white house, and just draw from a bigger pool to combat what you're talking about, i think, which is only hearing one side of the story all day long. april ryan: kathleen is right, and also, you have to bring the history into it. i think history plays an important part when it comes to issues like this. you have to remember conversations you had in the past with president, private conversations, and with people on the national security council and then go outside. one of the most dangerous things in the white house -- it's a adversarial relationship, but i think it's more dangerous for the white house to know that we do not rely solely on them. we go outside. you cannot just listen to what they say. you have to have outside sources to talk to people, to flush the story out because they will spin it one way, and the other side
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will spin it another way. you need some other people here. we try to use the information as it comes from all sides and give you the history so you know what may be the right or wrong thing. in that issue, you really need intelligence to talk about the fact -- you know, you did not know what was going on in iran before, and i think that is the key piece. we leave it to you to decide -- does this actually let you know what is going on with iran as far as their nuclear capability? it's a lot of pieces to the puzzle versus saying, "i feel this way." it is a lot of pieces to adequately inform you to make your decision. jim acosta: i will say very quickly on the iran nuclear deal, i think maybe the thrust of what she was asking is well, it's an unpopular thing, why didn't the media report it as such or hit it harder? i will remind you that prime
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minister benjamin netanyahu of israel came to the united states, spoke before congress, and that received extensive coverage. so i think both sides were aired pretty adequately during that debate, but the outcome did not agree with people on the republican side of the aisle, and they may have the last -- i don't want to say the last laugh on this, but certainly the last say on this if it ends up being not what it was cracked up to be. >> i intern at the american foundation for suicide prevention. my question to you is being white house correspondents, what is it like to cover mass shootings, since we had an increase in those the last few years? ms. parsons: great question. ms. hennessey: i think, unfortunately, it is sort of repetitive or kind of protectable these days. i mean, we don't -- we are there
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-- our role, usually, is to find out when the president was made aware. what does he know about the incident on the ground? these days, it is typically covering presidential remarks where he comes out and renews his call to gun control, and that is a pattern that is really kind of set. on that level, it's a little depressing, really, but nothing like the people who have to go and cover these on the ground. so you get used to sort of the -- the cycle, i guess. ms. parsons: there are certain kinds of stories that infuse the white house when they are happening, and that is one of them. that is one of them. those mass shootings are now so regular, and they hit the president and hit policy staff very hard when they happen because they feel this great
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sense of frustration because they have not been able to stop it, and this phenomenon has really proliferated during the obama white house. when that happens -- and i mean, it happens every day, by the way. there's a mass shooting in this country on average once a day. more than one person being shot and the shooter being -- having a gunshot as well. and the shooter being -- having a gunshot as well. by that definition, there's a mass shooting in this country almost every day, so there's a real sense of sadness that goes with it. i did a story in the past week thet how this was once president's approach to gun control, and i think that one thing we try -- i try -- i tried very hard to do at the white house is exactly what kathleen said, which is to step away from that -- whatever the white house fixation is or the white house point of view and to try to inform the conversation more with information,
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evidence, data from the outside. note --: just a quick yesterday because the president just was in chicago talking to the police chiefs -- the international association of police chiefs -- and gun control was one of the issues. at the briefing i did ask how you move it forward. i asked something along the questions of is it now time to , and the nra to the table josh earnest said something like "in 2013" and i said, "what about 2015?" when the president comes to the podium having to address america about another mass shooting and no change in backgrounds, gun show loopholes all that stuff. mr. acosta: i just want to say for the young people who are here, you guys have to solve this problem. for you guys to have grown up with the this mass shooting epidemic in this country -- it's
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horrendous. i think if there's anything that we need fresh thinking on, it's this problem. the gun problem, the mental illness problem. how we put these things together and solve it in a way that does the partisan all disagreement. i would love to see the people in this room get to work on that one. the aatce.erning at beenadministration has known for exploring other types of media other than the traditional media -- mr. acosta: we love this topic! ,> the personal twitter account to which we all know that he does not like peas in his guacamole. opinion, how has that impacted the relationship between the press corps and white house?
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that really hits us where we live. great question. how much time do you have? mr. acosta: do you have another hour? ms. parsons: estimate who has covered barack obama since 1995 when he was in the illinois senate and i was therefore the beginning of his presidential campaign, and immediately what set him apart was his ability to go around the established media because there were these blossoming avenues, opportunities for him to take his message directly to his give aaudience, to particular message to a particular audience, and his opportunity to do that has only has beenle he president. i don't know if you ever go to the white house website and look at what they have there, but they have their own tv show, and it's pretty good. i mean, it's, like, well produced and has a lot of information. they havet because
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information we only learn there. they have a lock on that information. the white house photographer is my former colleague at "the a wonderfulune," photographer with almost unlimited access to the president. those pictures come out on his -- ms. ryan: twitter account. instagram account. flickr account. they do not have to risk of yet, but that's probably right around the corner. -- they had --they do not have periscope yet. not only is barack obama the first african-american president, he is the first social media president. the do that interview with the lady who is famous for doing the thing where she sat in a bathtub of froot loops. it got millions of viewers. this is like gangbusters. let's bring her in here. she called michelle obama the
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first wife instead of the first lady -- i know. that was a lot of fun. the obstacles we have to overcome because they can just go around us now and find these new alternative places to get their message across. we're like, "wait a minute! what about cnn? we have twitter. we have things like that, too." they would so much rather play in those sandboxes and play with us. ms. ryan: because we ask the tough questions. ms. parsons: i was going to get to that point because sometimes, the president does choose to go around the traditional media with people he knows will ask tough questions or questions he is not completely prepped for. it's not entirely to avoid tough questions, but that's usually our complaint. blogger,talk to xyz the follow-up questions are not what we would ask, so they do not seem to us like the toughest
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questions. let's be honest -- they are just not. ms. hennessey: there's two phenomena happening. i feel like there's the president going around us and getting people where they live, going to "people" magazine, whatever. people who do not read the ap would find it. that has happened for a really long time and, frankly, might just be smart and we just have to accept it. the other thing this white house does it is also new and remarkable is the way they generate more of their own content and feed it out in ways that is not always identifiable as not journalism. to createare able their own television shows, their own tweets, their own photographs. it looks like journalism, kind of feels like journalism, but it's produced by the white house. mr. acosta: it is often to get a
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policy position a cross. they did of that -- they did a lot of that social media to talk about obamacare in a way that they got all the airtime they wanted to talk about what they wanted to talk about without having to go through us. do it on their own time with their own outlets that they have hand-picked, they do not have to answer those questions quite as much. ms. parsons: that was a great question. yes. >> i'm from university of new hampshire. you mentioned a couple of times that you guys are the ones writing the first draft of history every day, so with that, do you think the obama administration's foreign-policy legacy will be remembered positively or negatively? mr. acosta: that's a good one. i think that when your biography is written and you are the president who called the order to take out osama bin laden, it is very difficult if you do not like barack obama to expect that his biography will be this
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terrible disaster. it is going to be remembered that he made that call, like it or not. at the same time, he's also the president who said, "i'm going to wind down the wars in iraq and afghanistan." as we know with what is happening with isis and the decision that was made recently was not pulling all our steaks up in afghanistan by the end of the term, that those wars will go on with the next president -- ,ot pulling all our stakes up those wars will go on with the next president, and these are people who are more hawkish than barack obama. the iran nuclear deal was brought up earlier, and it's another x factor that may also have an impact on his legacy. but i think the killing of osama bin laden is a big one from a historical standpoint in my view. ms. ryan: as donald trump say, it's huge. it's huge. [laughter] ms. ryan: i hate to say this --
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you guys laugh, but we talk amongst ourselves. donald trump -- with all jokes aside, there are some people who are running for president that could be president. you are laughing. i'm not trying to be funny. i mean, you are laughing, but he in the polls. he's not falling off or walking away. you are laughing, but this is really serious. [laughter] ok, back to the original question, some of the facts are not known yet. we do not know how the iran nuclear deal has worked out. we do not know if the opening relationship with cuba is going to achieve the things that the obama administration wants it to achieve, but to a large degree, the answer to your question depends on who you are talking to. are you a person who thinks the u.s. should be moving to a more multilateral approach to the rest of the world, or do you
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think it is week for the president to keep trying to build coalitions everywhere he goes -- do you think it is weak? do you think it is a bad idea that the president has not fully drawn down troops, but he has dramatically reduced the american involvement in ground war and absolutely refuses to enter into another one -- do you think that is a good idea, or do you think the u.s. now has a weaker position as a leader and as a military force around the ? rld to analyze your question, i need know, there's a lot of data to be analyzed on .oth sides now it's your turn. yes? >> good morning. regardingn is coverage of policing in the media. as we know, there are millions policeractions between
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and the community every single day. it seems to me personally that there's a lot more coverage and a lot more in-depth stories about the negative interactions of the police in the community, and they seem to be getting more media attention in the positive interactions with the police and the community, especially lately, which is a good income of it at the same time, do you think that makes an impact on the community's perception of all police, specifically cop" that do"good not have these negative interactions with the community? ms. parsons: that's a really good question. [applause] i actually think again because we were so narrowly focused on the white the whiteo sense house is trying to walk this line a little bit. april mentioned the president talked to police chiefs this
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week. it was an interesting speech and that he was really struggling to try to acknowledge what he said about police brutality, his black livesthe matter movement, his own experiences, and also not enforcement, who actually he needs their support on gun control and some other issues that he cares a lot about. he is walking that line personally. i noticed -- i don't know if you guys did -- yesterday or this week there was a viral video of the police officer dancing "the it's really fun. with a young woman -- i don't know where they are. somewhere in d.c. there was some sort of mild confrontation. she was trying to get the young girl to leave the corner or do something, and they basically got into a dance off, and it's fabulous video. mr. acosta: didn't obama tweet about that? ms. hennessey: the white house tweeted it out.
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ms. ryan: i don't know how to do it. my kids would try. ms. hennessey: the power of the wit and -- the whip and nae nae. they also were trying to when i have a moment sees it -- seize it. one thing in how i report things and how i go about it and how my network treat things -- newss is about something that is extraordinary or uncommon. we have law enforcement in this nation that for the most part is great. fact -- we have some issues in this nation that have been videotaped. how do you marry them? that has gone to the leader of the free world, to his desk. and then you have these organizations that are upset because media is covering it and some people internalize it and
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take it the wrong way. instead of trying to make positive change -- and you also have people out here who make it opinion, but there is a fact that we have great policing out here. i'm from baltimore. i grew up with officer finley coming into my school room and talking to us and community policing. but then you see that there is a problem that needs to be fixed. it does not mean that everyone is bad. i don't know who was reporting it. i know there are people who have opinions and say things, but it does not make it right, and you have to find a way to marry the support and fixing the problem. i think any good journalist would really put that out versus saying the police departments are all being chastised. it's called weeding out issues. and they are not just problems with the black or latino community. there are problems with white people as well. it could be excessive force and control. there's a problem that needs to be fixed. that's it. that's the simple answer. ms. parsons: i think we probably
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have time for two more questions. let's go to this question are over here. is -- working in the white house, what do you think is the major issue that needs attention or policy change that you have experienced or needs more attention to it? mr. acosta: you guys go. i said guns earlier. that has got to be solved in this country. it's one of those -- the nra has so frightened politicians in this town to touch anything related to guns that it's just not going to -- i don't think that is going to get solved unless there is some sort of -- and we thought that the sandy hook tragedy was going to be that catalyst, and even that was -- getugh to get is done things done. even when universal background checks is supported by the vast majority of americans -- i think almost nine out of 10 americans -- and it could not get done
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because of the power of the nra. it's one of those stories that we cover fairly extensively when one of these mass shootings pop up, but then it sort of goes by the wayside. i don't think education gets nearly the coverage that it should, and that's in the media written large. -- the media written large -- writ large. it has to do with how widespread the whole enterprise is, but that's a big problem in this country. everything else we talk about that here relates to it, and it's almost -- it's probably the least -- if you were to list the top 20 things people talked about or broadcasted about in the last week, i bet that would be at the bottom. actuallyssey: i would have to agree with you on that. when arne duncan recently announced he was resigning, it was a moment in the white house press corps where we all had to remember when was the last time we wrote about education.
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it's just not a daily topic, but actually, federal policy does really -- people have strong opinions about it, too. it's actually coming up in the presidential race here and there, particularly jed bush -- particularly jeb bush. news outlets of not having the resources to hire someone who is an expert in that topic. >> does it bother you or offend you as professional journalists when the president goes on weekday shows like "the view" and hang out with whoopi goldberg, who i personally love, or hang out with zach galifianakis on late-night tv to talk about policy instead of talking to professional journalists and professional media superstars such as yourselves? mr. acosta: wow. ms. ryan: i embrace that. know, it doesu
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not bother me. actually, presidents have been going on late-night tv shows -- i think nixon was on "laugh in" -- this was way before your time. clinton on arsenio hall playing saxophone. that was a good one. ms. ryan: it was. mind ista: that i don't much, but what concerns me, and it's something i think you guys should be concerned about, and i feeling this is a case in covering campaigns as well, and maybe i'm getting old and too gray and grumpy, but i think this barrier that exists between the people we cover and the press is getting bigger and bigger, and it's getting easier and easier to corral us and move us off to the side. i don't know if you saw this just over the summer, hillary clinton's campaign used a rope to pull that the press, to make
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sure that they kept moving, as if we are cattle. beings.re human come up with a different way other than using an actual rope to move us around. hillary clinton's campaign also has its own pool. there was a story in the "new york times," where someone who is in that pool, which is a small group of reporters who cover a president -- hillary clinton's campaign in its infancy had a pool, and there was a story about one of the reporters had to be accompanied to the bathroom by somebody with the campaign. to ende is something with, and i don't want to end on a gloomy note because you sort of vast a lighthearted question about presidents going to late-night talk shows -- you sort of asked a lighthearted question -- is you guys have to anht this effort to put ever-increasing barrier between us and the politicians we cover. i think that is one of the greatest dangers to our democracy.
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people talk about, "you guys are all liberals. you are too conservative. you are to corporate -- too corporate." we still need us. what separates us from most countries on earth is the strong, robust press corps. i think i can put an even more positive spin on that is a great ending point, which is many of you will go on and in media.icy what we have explored today is the importance of an authentic dialogue, an authentic relationship between newsmakers and the people and the press. people here and talk about smart things the white house has done because they understood we were expressing of our readers and
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listeners, it makes the white house smarter. it makes you smarter. it makes all of us smarter when we are engaging in conversation .nd having real interactions if you were to ask each person , it's not because we are superstars. the only person who i know who called me up to tell me "great job on c-span," it's my mom. hi, mom. the people who cover the white house, the people on this panel and go do this every day. they could make more money doing something else but choose to do this because they really believe in the cause. asking questions, getting answers, getting people more informed.
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i thank you for having this great panel. i hope you will join me in thanking them. [applause] forgain, thank you all being here this morning. if you would like to dig a little deeper into at least one of our panelists'stories, ms. ryan has a book. do you want to say a few words about the book and give a little synopsis? you will be able to purchase a copy of it later this morning for 17 bucks. it will be in the classroom later on, and ms. ryan is going to stick around. you want to tell us about it? ms. ryan: my up close view of three presidential races in america on the record in this book. bill clinton, current president barack obama, former first lady laura bush, colin powell, condi --e -- the list goes on talking issues of race, and what it took to get these kind of
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people go on the record on race. it means they are trying to talk about issues of race, and that's the issue in this country right now. we are a nation that is browning. i encourage you to pick it up and let me know what you think. >> a little peace of housekeeping, go ahead and remain seated. we will continue our conversation in less than a minute but take a moment to allow our speakers to get up and leave the room, and we will continue that conversation in one moment. just one more time, how about a round of applause for this great panel? thank you. >> live coverage of the house and senate. here are viewer comments about the house speaker election.
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the past axis to congress's on c-span radio, and c-span.org. 's
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he also discussed the russian military's involvement in the region. this is 40 minutes. we will be in the building all day, so my blackberry will not be working. ok, good morning. thanks again for the opportunity to provide you with an update on the things that are keeping us busy at u.s.-european command. my last visit was back in april, so i'm confident that we will have some updates on many lines of effort since that time. i have one intervening conference with you scheduled, which was canceled for some tough things happening downrange. i will begin with a brief opening statement and that i will answer questions. since i was last year, a lot has transpired across the yukon theater of operations. european security challenges
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continue to grow and become more complex. in fact, it will not be an overstatement to say that we are changing on almost a daily basis. therefore my key focus is to remain constant. first, russia's continued aggressive actions and malign influence remain a top concern at high priority. although the cease-fire and eastern ukraine is holding i'm still concerned about russia's lack of effort to end its occupations and honor its commitment in ukraine. in syria, russia's intervention continues to make more questions than answers. russia's actions prolong the conditions creating massive scale emigration of refugees that is further worrying our southern allies. and the eastern allies continue to be concerned about russian expansion. these concerns are a strategic challenge for all of europe. as i stated five months ago we cannot fully be certain of what
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russia will do next. we still cannot fully discern mr. putin's intent. but i can observe the capabilities and capacities that russia is creating across our area. i continue believe that we must strengthen our deterrence and that our nato allies must continue to adapt by improving readiness and responsiveness. one example of how we continue to improve our readiness is the exercise triton to ensure going on today. that is the biggest exercise in more than a decade. it represents a clear devastation of nato's resolve and capability. -- demonstration of nato's resolve and capability. a high readiness and
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technologically advanced force comprised of land, air, maritime and special force units are capable of being deployed quickly to support our operations wherever needed. this exercise is enhancing our ability to work with our allies, partners, and other international organizations with response to crisis situations. we also believe that expanding our training mission in ukraine, from the ministry of interior's national guard forces to the ministry of defense active military component will grow the capability capacity to address the challenges it faces. the u.s. focus from the outset has been pursuing a diplomatic solution that respects ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity. we continue to: russia to fully cease and destabilizing actions in eastern ukraine, to end its occupation of crimea, and to
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fully honor its commitments. turkey, one of our oldest allies. the situation continues to become more complex around them. now a critical partner integrating at feeding iso--- in degrading and defeating isolate, they continue to support has across many lines of effort. the u.s. air force continues to be a important force more employer -- force multiplier. as you know, most of the forces we have in europe are also will have to do to africa coming in. while they are stationed in europe they are focused on african missions on the cognitive. in this way they are supporting across thece

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