tv NOW With Alex Wagner MSNBC June 29, 2012 9:00am-10:00am PDT
joining me today, msnbc policy analyst, ezra klein of "washington post," nbc news political analyst, former pennsylvania çgovernor, ed rendell, the host of msnbc's "up with chris hayes," chris hayes, also author of "twilight of the elites" and "usa today" politics reporter, the lovely jackie kucinich is on set with us. fresh off his health care victory, president obama is back in the mode of commander in chief today. the president is flying to colorado right now, where firefighters are battling the largest fire in state history. when he returns to washington, there will still be burning embers as republicans characterize the supreme court's ruling on the affordable care act as a new tax and vow to repeal it. after the ruling yesterday, there was no spiking of the football or victory dance from the president, but our friends over at the "tonight" show gave us a look at what that might look like. ♪
>> i think he's feeling pretty good about it. >> joining us now from washington is "time" magazine and msnbc senior political analyst who does a mean moonwalk, i hear, mark halperin, whose magazine is putting out a special edition on the high court's decision titled "roberts' rules." great to see you. >> thank you. i was dancing along with the president there. camera didn't come to me right just in time. >> mark, let's talk a little bit about the reaction to this decision. joe biden probably was doing the moonwalk.ç generally speaking, though, is this the beginning of the end of debate over whether the affordable care act is good legislation or not? >> it's not -- it's going to be
tied up in the election and it's going to be tied up in dealing with the fiscal cliff. you can't deal with the debt and the deficit without going into the health care programs that are obviously a big part of the affordable care act. even the president has said it's going to need to be dealt with. we need a serious debate between these two candidates about a range of issues particularly related to debt and deficit. i think again, no matter what the outcome of the election, the presidential and congressional, you are going to have to reopen a lot of the issues that are tied up here, if you're going to do serious deficit reduction which we must do in january and february. >> i want to open this up to the panel. chris, you already started to answer the question. >> i don't think we need serious deficit reduction in january and february just as a substantive matter. i think that would be disastrous and even mitt romney said essentially as much in an interview with mark halperin which is a really good interview and got mitt romney -- didn't get mitt romney to say, we can't do a whole bunch of deficit reduction at the front end in terms of where the economy is.
the question that's interesting to ponder, someone said this is the tea party's roev wade. the question is whether that's the case or not, whether this is the kind of decision that is going to trigger a generation long struggle and animus towards the court or whether it's something people are frustrated with now but essentially the law will normalize and people will accept it. >> here's the thing. whether or not you think that there needs to be a lot of deficit reduction, depending on how congress is made up, you will see a lot of people pushing for it. the debt ceiling has to be raised again and that has been the focal point at least the last year or two years -- >> we're already starting to see debate around sequesters. ezra -- go ahead. >> i would disagree that the health care reform bill will be a large part of the fiscal cliff debate. i don't think that's likely. i think there are two outcomes for the health care bill. one is barack obama wins and it goes into effect much as it is currently written. remember, the congressional budget office would tell you if you repeal health care tomorrow it is a $300 billion cost to the
deficit over the next ten years. it's currently a deficit reduction bill. that's one thing. if barack obama wins it goes into effect and i think if mitt romney wins it is largely repealed. but whatever happens, it gets decided in the election. once the election is over, i don't think it's getting reopened. i think at that point if obama wins a lot of the republican party's incentives will try to figure out how do you live with this thing. once it starts delivering benefits in 2014 it is going nowhere. >> i want to tackle the issue of repeal and replace in a second but as far as the president goes and the affordable care act beginning to be implemented, people seeing tangible results here, we know things are happening in 2014 for sure theoretically. am i naive in thinking that once the american public sort of wraps their head around the realities of the affordable care act it's not a tough sell? we have polling from the day before that shows that 43% of the public thought the law should be upheld, 35% of the public thought it should be overturned and 21% had no
opinion. i think that's largely attributable to the fact people don't know what's in it. >> even more importantly is that once people learn what's in it and they break down the component parts, the bill becomes more acceptable and more there's no question about that. the tax issue the republicans i think will ram that home, try to ram it home during the campaign, but the president can explain that the tax or penalty as he calls it, will be paid by a small percentage of americans, 5% or 6%. i don't know if that's exactly the right figure, 2%? 2%. the rest of us aren't going to have to pay taxes, no new taxes because we've got our health plan and we're not outriders, et cetera. i think the key here from a political -- by the way, in terms of its effect, yeah, it will have two aftereffects. republican governors are going to have to decide, a, are they going to take the exchanges. the states have the first crack at the exchanges but if they want to say a pox on this act, the feds come in and take the exchange. that's question one. question two, what do you do
about medicaid. that's crucial, because medicaid puts 17 million of the 31 million new people on coverage. governors have to pony up. not in the short term but later on. if you're a republican governor and thinking of 2016 and you want to make your bona fides, you say no way i'm taking this act, this act is horrible, et cetera. >> mark, let's talk a little about the tax boogeyman. mitch mcconnell is saying the court has spoken, this is a tax mainly on the middle class, one more reason we have to repeal it in its entirety. they are doubling down on the notion that taxes are enough of a repellant to get people on the other side of the aisle in terms of the affordable care act. do you think that it holds sway? when you look at the realities of this, we're talking about individuals paying $95 in ç201. that goes up of course in 2015 and 2016. but the benefits seem quite broad. do you think just the coded word
of tax is enough to sway opinions? >> well, historically, republicans have been pretty good on that issue, and the president has cut taxes for people and not gotten any credit for it. if you just look at recent history, there's a chance that could work. they're certainly going to try. can i respond to two things said about things i said? >> of course. >> is that all right? one, what chris said about deficit reduction, i'm not saying there should be deficit reduction enacted in january and february. i'm saying there likely has to be a plan by then in order to have some medium and long term deficit reduction. in terms of whether health care has to be part of a grand bargain deal with the fiscal cliff i think is a matter of politics for sure and a matter of bookkeeping. i think republicans are going to expect there to be cuts in some of the medical programs in order to reach a deal that involves new revenues. i think it's going to be part of the debate for the new president or the re-elected president, no matter what. i just don't think you will be able to get a deal without reopening it. that pulls at least at some of the threads of what obamacare is
now supposed to be. >> ezra, i want to talk about the medicaid piece the governor brought up, because that is 17 million -- >> more than 50%. >> exactly. it comes down to states that are facing fiscal cliffs or budgetary cliffs and whether or not they accept the deal with the federal government. >> on the medicaid portion, for folks who don't know, the bill covers everybody beneath 133% of the poverty line with medicaid. that is how it gets about half of its coverage. what the supreme court said yesterday is the only thing they changed in the bill. one way to interpret it is if you don't participate in medicaid, if [oá texas and say we are not going to be part of this expansion of medicaid, you lose all your medicaid funding, all the old medicaid funding. they said you can't do that, can only not give them this set of medicaid funding. currently, they would get a ton of money and it would be full for three years. everybody would be covered for free by the federal government for three years. after that, it would be a 90/10 split. for every $9 the federal government is chipping in, states will give $1. when i talk to people who know
medicaid and work in these things, you might have grandstanding for a couple years around that but then the next governor will come in and he will be able to for almost no money put people on health care insurance and call it the governor, you know, the governor ed rendell our children plan and they are going to do that. that's how every other medicaid expansion has worked. >> right now, ordinary medicaid, for example, in pennsylvania, we pay about 45% of the cost. even if it kicks in in the out years and we pay 10%, that's terrific. >> i do think the short term/long term thing is key. i do think you will see in the short term republican governors absolutely making an issue -- >> rick scott will stand -- >> they all will. they will symbolically rip up checks. >> if i could add on to something mark said, republicans have an extra incentive to push this tax issue because it turns the focus on the senate which they think that because it's been deemed a tax by the supreme court, they can use it for the
budget, for the reconciliation process, which you know, they need a majority in the senate to do. so that's another reason they're going to use it in the campaign, going to be hammering it. it's not all about the presidency. it's also about the senate. the bill does have a lot of taxes in it. that's a real thing. there are significant hundreds of billions of dollars of tax increases in that bill. they're just not the individual mandate. the individual mandate is not a big tax increase. republicans have been saying since the bill passed this is a huge tax increase and they are not wrong that it's a tax increase, but the mandate is not where it's coming from. up until now they haven't gotten traction on that argument. it is complicated, as is evident. is governor mitt romney's talk of repeal and replace a dead end? that's next. [ music playing, indistinct conversations ]
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that's why i called it obamney care. >> tell you what the people of the state of texas don't want. they don't want a health care plan like what governor romney put in place in massachusetts. >> i worked with speaker gingrich to fight hillary care. i have been outspoken fighting obamacare which needs to be repealed. now i'm running against romney care. >> with regards to massachusetts care, i'm not running for governor. i'm running for president. >> this is the election that's going to decide if we have socialized medicine in this country or not. this is it. >> the final point i would make to governor romney, you just don't have credibility, mitt, when it comes to repealing obamacare. >> this is true whether it's romney care or obamacare or any other government centralized system. you inevitably move towards the
coercion of the state. >> the romney campaign announced it has raised $4.3 million since the supreme court's ruling on the affordable care act but as you just heard, criticism from all of governor romney's former rivals demonstrates why the issue of health careç is far fm a slam-dunk for the former governor. mark, we still have you there in d.c., i hope. when talking about the issue of health care, it is a difficult dance for mitt romney. he has said he's going to repeal and replace it. i wonder how feasible you think that is. i thought david frum had a compelling argument in the pages of "the daily beast" yesterday saying even if republicans win big in 2012 they will have to fight inch by bloody inch for changes they could have had for the asking in 2010. truly this is waterloo, a waterloo brought about by a dangerous combination of ideological frenzy, poor risk calculation and a self-annihilating indifference to the real work of government. there is no boom teat the end o the sentence but there may as well be. >> the republicans won back the
house, won a lot of senate races, without specifics about deficit reduction. they said we will be a check on barack obama. i think if democrats don't do a better job of making the case, they may be able to do that again. i don't suspect governor romney will be that much more specific, although he's been more specific about health care than a lot of issues, and i think it would be difficult if you were elected regardless of the makeup of congress to actually repeal obamacare. not impossible. but as a political issue, it is one of his most effective lines. it was before the decision, to at least the audiences he speaks to, the law's unpopular. to say i will get rid of an unpopular law is a pretty good thing to have. it's not universally unpopular but more unpopular than popular. more people than not would like him to get rid of it even if it will be hard for him to deliver. >> as of right now, chris, where is your thinking as far as the likelihood ofç repeal if we ha a president romney? >> they will definitely push for it because i think the
republican party is fundamentally kind of parliamentary institution at this point -- >> or perhaps a better question would have been a likelihood of replacement. >> there is no replacement. it's really important to note, ezra has been doing a good job writing about this, there is one political coalition in america that genuinely has a vision of health care. there's one coalition that doesn't see that as a priority. that's the facts of the matter right now. that's fine. obviously i'm one side of that divide. but there just is zero, zero, zero will or desire -- >> it's also a political reality of the fact we have been subsumed with arguments over a national health care plan. can you walk back from that and say never mind? >> we've had that political reality before. it happened in '94 and we walked back from it. >> don't touch the hot stove. >> bill bradley's great line, he said for ten years after that, democrats didn't want to go into the dark room where the bad thing happened. it's going to be like that again. one thing i do want to say, i think there's been sort of an overly procedural argument mounted in some corners about
how this should be so difficult to repeal. they could. mitt romney if he has a republican senate -- >> which is still an if. >> it's an if but he could use budget reconciliation, take all the money out of the bill and once all the money's out of the bill, it will be very hard and frankly, illogical for anybody to stand trying to defend these regulations that require the money to work. >> governor, we were talking about this during the break, the likelihood of disassembling the affordable care act in congress. frum makes the point, it's an important one, which is by 2014, the states will have set up their health care exchanges, peopleç will have much more fluency as far as not only talking about the act, but would it be politically expedient for the president to say i'm unwinding this? >> that would be the first initiative of a romney administration. you have to act quickly. once these things really start to phase in it becomes more and more difficult. the analogy to hillary care is
not good because it wasn't enacted into law. here you have to disassemble something that's in the law. secondly, the president did a terrible job of selling the health care act at the beginning. if the speech he gave yesterday, he gave at the outset when he introduced it, bingo. it would have been tremendously different. i think the president can and will continue to point out the good things that are in this act because we're not going to be able to run away from it. they will make it a campaign issue. i have always said we make a mistake, we democrats, when we don't stand and defend. it's going to be an albatross around our neck. let's stand and defend it. >> mark, you know, as someone who has never lost your swagger, i don't know if this is a hard question for you to answer, i talk about the president getting his swagger back. we have done a lot of analysis about the president's address yesterday. he mentioned and really personalized the affordable care act. this is what was said on npr yesterday. take a listen. >> i never expected the
president to actually read my letter but i wanted somebody somewhere to know that i canceled my insurance, i'm glad that it passed. i'm glad the supreme court viewed it as legal and i view it as a start. i don't thinkç it's perfect, b it's going to help a lot of people. >> mark, we're going to hear more of those stories and it feels like the president has maybe begun to figure out how to talk about this legislation. what do you think? >> well, i think it's going to be interesting to see whether certain things happen to help the president. i think there's no doubt as the governor said, he talked about it well yesterday and he needs to, because it's going to be part of the debate. will voices and stories like that be part of the convention in charlotte? will other democrats besides nancy pelosi want to be out there defending the act, talking about it as an historic and great achievement that's not appreciated enough by the american people. and finally, will the president put paid advertising on the air with the hundreds of millions of dollars he'll have to talk about this issue and fight, because there's no doubt the republican
candidates at the convention in their advertising, including governor romney, are going to be going hard at the law. i think that's an open and important question on this issue for the rest of the way. >> i think the answer to many of those questions is yes. but we'll find out. msnbc and "time" magazine senior political analyst, mark halperin. thank you. remember to check out "time's" special edition on the high court's decision titled "roberts rules." the issue hits newsstands monday. after the break, what do you get when you combine a little weekend mornings with weekdays at noon? a brand new segment we like to call "up now." that's next. hey. hey eddie. i brought your stuff. you don't have to do this. yes i do. i want you to keep this. it'd be weird. take care. you too. [ sighs ]
much like a liger or the new beefy nacho burrito, putting different things together as one. let's talk about what you have planned for your shows this weekend. >> there was this court decision handed down this week, i'm not sure if you're aware, the supreme court and affordable care act. we will talk about that. we will talk to a reporter who did this amazing six month investigation into fast and furious and separating the truth from the myths of fast and furious. it's an incredible story and one of the things that comes through in this is that the problem wasn't that the atf was letting guns walk. the problem was they had absolutely no legal or statutory authority to stop people from trafficking guns. >> i think if there's one take-away from the whole fast and furious debacle, it is the power of the nra is so broadly unrecognized in american culture that the atf can't set up an electronic data base because the
nra has stipulated that it cannot. >> not only that, it's not just the power of the nra. it's that the democrats retreating from gun control as a tactical maneuver has not made the nra just say okay, we're shutting down, we're going to go take a vacation. no. what they need to do is gin up ever more extreme things to do because they have to justify their own existence. >> also as a former prosecutor, i was district attorney before i was mayor, it's abysmal. federal prosecutors should be ashamed of themselves. the level of evidence they demand before they take a case is pitiful. go for it. go for it. even if you don't win, there's a salutory effect of going for it. >> one of the things revealed in the reporting in this piece is how hard it was to get any federal prosecutor to take a case even in places where a guy is taking food stamps but bought $300,000 in weapons in the last year. can we go after him for being aç
fraud. >> if i didn't pander, i would say they're wusses. >> the other thing you talk about is the montana decision. >> it's important for several reasons. what's so bizarre about this, citizens united comes down completely totally alters the landscape of everything about the way we fund campaigns. basically it's like taking the referees out of the stadium during the nba finals. no one actually knows what the rules are. yet at the same time, here's an opportunity to revisit the case, to relitigate it. montana says we have a very specific history and you're finding in citizens united that unlimited corporate contributions do not create corruption, nor the appearance of corruption, it's contradicted by our history in which people would pass around satchels of cash in our state house to elect senators and the court says not only are you wrong, we won't allow you arguments to make your case. >> i think that's what is called giving the hand, judicial branch version. unfortunately, we have to leave it there. thank you, chris hayes, who you can see on "up" right here on
msnbc weekend mornings at 8:00 a.m. eastern. a bang-up couple of shows you have slated for this weekend. >> thanks. >> coming up, brand new developments in the george zimmerman case. we will get a live report, next on "now." ovider is different but centurylink is committed to being a different kind of communications company by continuing to help you do more and focus on the things that matter to you. the charcoal went out already? [ sighs ] forget it. [ male announcer ] there's more barbeque time in every bag of kingsford charcoal. kingsford. slow down and grill. [ female announcer ] gross -- i'll tell you what's really gross:
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george zimmerman did not take the stand for his second bond hearing earlier today. his lawyers were asking for zimmerman to be released on bail after it was revoked when his wife was arrested on perjury charges earlier this month. zimmerman is charged with second degree murder in the shooting death of trayvon martin on february 26th. nbc's carrie sanders is live in florida with the details. >> reporter: it's been a very curiouq a bond hearing, as you just said. will the judge grant george
zimmerman a new bond. but it really devolved into sort of a mini trial here, because the defense called witnesses, as did the prosecution, and they questioned the strength of the case for this second degree murder case. now, among the pieces of evidence that has been used by the prosecution to help bring the second degree murder charges are in the background of some 911 calls, you can hear screaming for help. trayvon martin, the unarmed 17-year-old who was shot and killed, his mother heard that tape and said that was my son screaming for help. well, today, george zimmerman's father took the stand and he unequivocally stated that he listened to those tapes and it was his son screaming for help. now, after all of that was wrapped up, the judge returned to the issue at hand which is about the bond hearing. he emptied the courtroom without issuing a ruling. he will do that, we're not sure when. the state wants him kept in jail. the defense says that's
punitive, he should be allowed to get out and they are actually asking for a similar bond that he had before, $150,000. we may get a ruling today. it may come a week from now. the judge did not tip his hand. >> we will certainly be monitoring that. thanks for the update. coming up, the republican-led house votes to hold attorney general eric holder in contempt but not before democrats put on a powerful display of unity. do they have their swagger back? luke russert joins the conversation next. ♪ ♪ what started as a whisper every day, millions of people choose to do the right thing. there's an insurance company that does that, too. liberty mutual insurance. responsibility. what's your policy?
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named to car and driver's 10 best. ♪ hello...rings ♪ what the... what the... what the... ♪ are you seein' this? ♪ ♪ uh-huh... uh-huh... uh-huh... ♪ ♪ it kinda makes me miss the days when we ♪ ♪ used to rock the microphone ♪ back when our credit score couldn't get us a micro-loan ♪ ♪ so light it up! ♪ even better than we did before ♪ ♪ yeah prep yourself america we're back for more ♪ ♪ our look is slacker chic and our sound is hardcore ♪ ♪ and we're here to drop a rhyme about free-credit-score ♪ ♪ i'm singing free-credit-score-dot-com ♪ ♪ dot-com narrator: offer applies with enrollment in freecreditscore.com. 13. the chair: for what purpose does the gentleman are from iowa rise? >> i move that the committee do now rise and report the you're looking live at the house floor, where lawmakers will soon vote on a package to extend the transportation funding and prevent student loan rates from going up, a move that will impact three million construction workers and more than seven million students. yesterday, a bitterç scene plad out in that same room when the house voted to hold attorney general eric holder in contempt
of congress. but in a show of solidarity, angry democrats led by the congressional black caucus boycotted the vote and marched out of the capitol. nancy pelosi walked arm in arm with congressman john lewis, a scene reminiscent of 2010, when the two democrats joined arms before the passage of the president's health care bill. yesterday, holder dismissed the gop-led contempt vote as political theater. >> it is at base both a crass effort and a grave disservice to the american people. it's clear they were not interested in bringing an end to this dispute or even obtaining the information they say they wanted. ultimately, their goal was the vote that, with the help of special interest, they now have engineered. >> joining us from the nation's capital is nbc's luke russert. the only capitol hill correspondent who may or may not be wearing boat shoes right at this very moment. luke, it is always great to have you. >> life's a beach. how are you, my friend? >> i'm good. i want to ask you, we just
played all that sound and saw those visuals. are democrats feeling like they have the wind in their sails, understanding the contempt vote was sort of political freak show more than anything else, in my humble opinion, the defiance i thought was really remarkable and of course, the supreme court ruling had to give some sort of vindication to those in congress who had fought so hard to see passage of that bill. >> let's start with the supreme court ruling and what it meant for democrats. nancy pelosi yesterday, i have not seen her that elated and that excited for two years. it's been some dark times for house democrats. they lostç their majority, the have seen a lot of what they passed when they were in power here dismantled by the house gop. they were on cloud nine yesterday because of the health care ruling. in terms of the eric holder deal, you kind of got the sense following it that both sides sort of realized this had become for show. a lot of the ammo was wasted in the morning about the health care fight, going back and forth. you want to talk about them getting a little swagger, well, essentially you've had a lot of house democrats join together
and say we will walk out of this chamber, we will show this is absurd theater and nothing more than a red meat issue given to the rank and file base in order to try and embarrass democrats come election time. but i think it would be an overstatement to say that the house democrats are somehow back and found their step. they still face daunting prospects in the house. they can rarely get anything through of their legislation. mr. boehner makes sure that doesn't happen. even yesterday, after you had all this, republicans are still very excited to run against house democrats on the health care issue and on the eric holder contempt vote, it was done yesterday purposely so it wouldn't be as big a media spectacle. the health care debate was the lead story of all the news. if you look at the papers today, the eric holder thing is not getting as much play as it would have any other week. i think both sides walked away from that not really gaining a victory. >> speaking of the headlines that didn't make the front page, one of the things we haven't talked about is the fact that 17
democrats did break rank and vote along with the republicans to hold eric holder in contempt, but those folks largely seen as making that move because of political reasons, re-election reasons and their chances for but you also have a few interesting once. nancy pelosi, they weren't necessarily keeping a very strict count on this. it was if you need to do it to protect yourself at election time, go ahead, no one in the administration takes it
personally. however, the guys who are retiring, guys who this meant nothing for, they were making a statement saying we don't like the way in which the administration operated here and we will be contrarian for the sake of being contrarian. >> the house or the congress is getting some work done. there is a major bill expected to pass that involves transportation, jobs, construction jobs and of course student loan rates. governor rendell is shaking his head. keystone was the big sort of say the arrow in the republicans' quiver on this. it was taken out of the bill. what do you make of that? i know you have been a supporter of keystone going forward. >> supporters of keystone like myself wanted it as part of a comprehensive energy package, where there were hearings, proper guidelines and controls put in place. i'm in favor of it but we have to have proper oversight and control. that wouldn't have happened by jamming it in a bill like this. >> the transportation bill expected to costç $120 billion. two year, three month extension, student loans, $6.2 billion.
one year extension of course keep -- >> congress is doing a terrible job at doing its job and should be ashamed we have not had a real transportation bill since 2005. >> this level of funding even though it was somewhat of a victory for barbara boxer is t pitiful, significantly less than we spent ten years ago, at a time when the infrastructure is falling apart and we need the new jobs. >> unfortunately, we have to leave it there. i don't get to make another corny joke about luke russert and vineyard vines. thank you for your time and patience. >> alex wagner with your very chic outfits every single day. where do you shop for those? >> that's not something we talk about on camera. i have no comments to say on that matter. have a great weekend, luke. >> be well, my friend. after the break, his work has spanned politics, entertainment, media and sports and now he's taking on the news. aaron sorkin joins us live next.
how math and science kind of makes the world work. in high school, i had a physics teacher by the name of mr. davies. he made physics more than theoretical, he made it real for me. we built a guitar, we did things with electronics and mother boards. that's where the interest in engineering came from. so now, as an engineer, i have a career that speaks to that passion. thank you, mr. davies.
i want to go on record saying we should open with the spill. >> done. >> we'll open with a spill? >> no. >> a spill's all anyone's talking about. >> because we're the ones telling them to. we're still reporting on it. just not at the top. >> i'm looking at film of an ocean rig sinking into the ocean. that's pretty good television. >> we don't do good television. we do the news. >> that's a scene from "the newsroom" which takes a critical look at the news business in much the same way aaron sorkin has taken on other major institutions from the federal government to the military. joining us now is academy award winning writer and creator of "the newsroom" aaron sorkin. it is a pleasure and honor to have you on, sir. aaron, i will ask you the most ç navel-gazing question i can which is why did you take on the news industry? what about it sparked the
creative juices? >> i just want to say that i wouldn't characterize it as taking on the news. honestly, i think it's a valentine love letter to what you guys do. i like -- i write very idealistically and romantically and that can be fun. >> let's talk about that. the idea of sort of institutions and institutional failure which is very much on the minds of many as we talk about the federal government and so forth. i'm not going to say that's a theme in your repertoire, but from a few good men to of course "the west wing" is it something about these institutions you find intriguing? is it personal experience you've had with them? how have you come to these different places? >> it's not personal experience. i don't know -- i have never written about anything i know anything about. i have to be tutored by really smart people. what usually happens is that beginning with my first play and
my first movie, a "a few good men," there's an institution i look at ignorantly because i don't know anything about it and then suddenly i become interested in humanizing it. so again, with "a few good men" you start with a character who he's in the navy because he's got to pay back the government for sending him through college and law school and he just wants to get out of there, and doesn't think much of honor and code and anything that the military is about, and the emotional climax of the movie isn't "you can't handle the çtruth." it's when he says to jack nicholson "don't call me son, i'm a lawyer and an officer in the united states navy." suddenly he has pride in it. same thing with the white house, which we generally in popular culture, our leaders are portrayed either as machiavellian or dolts and i wanted to -- >> or machiavellian dolts.
>> and i wanted to take a more optimistic look at it. that's what we're doing now. >> you know, i wonder what you make, having created "the west wing" which was a game changer in terms of the way people think of politics and was very much a valentine to the idea of service, of government -- >> patriotism. >> exactly. where we are in terms of the national dialogue around not only the president but public service. we talk a lot about in the show the way i think a lot of folks on the right vilify public service, congress' hours should be cut in half, et cetera, et cetera. >> that's sad to see, public sector jobs seem to be discussed on the right as a bad thing, that if you work for the government on the federal, state or local level, that that's a bad thing somehow. everyone in my family except me has done that. my sister with the navy and with the justice department.
my brother with the district attorney's office. my mother, a public school teacher in manhattan her entire life. they are doing that instead of doing jobs that could have paid them a lot more money, and i have always admired that. the closest i have been able to come to it is writing about it.ç so i would love to see us return to a time when that jfk invoked, where young people were encouraged to go into public service. >> do you think such a change is possible, governor rendell? >> sure. one of the reasons i wrote my book is because i wanted to give young people a look at my life, and i say in the book despite all the frustration, the challenges, the low pay, the lousy working conditions, if you spend every day of your life trying to make peoples' lives better it's an incredible way to live. >> i would imagine. i would imagine that 98% of it is incredibly frustrating but that 2% -- >> makes it worth it.
>> being able to see you changed peoples' lives has got to be worth it. >> let's talk about the news business. you said news shows should be exempt from having to deliver ratings which is a brilliant concept, but i would like to know more about why you think that. on the show that you've created, ratings are obviously certainly part of the game but there seems to be a core belief that you can have a great news program and also get great ratings. >> again, that's the idealism of the show. this is a show that's making constant references, whether it's don quixote or brigadoon, it's making constant allusions to lost cities. this show is fiction set against the backdrop of real events. it used to be that networks had a real firewall between entertainment and news.
petticoat junction, gilligan's island, news were supposed to be a loss leader and ratings weren't supposed to matter. when the original deal was made, the inventors of broadcasting and of network news made their original deal with congress for, they wanted free use of the air waves. congress said sure, but in exchange, you have to give us back then it was one hour, not a half hour, one hour of what they called informational programming, we call it the nightly news now. if they had gone one step further and said under no circumstances can there be paid advertising during that hour, imagine how different the news landscape would be. >> a wildly different place. this show is a cross between brigadoon and petticoat junction in a lot of ways. >> yeah. i'm a big fan -- >> i like the long sorkin-esque
pause there. certainly the point is well taken that ratings would change the way, jackie, i would love to get your thoughts on this, in terms of covering the news. you're working at "usa today" , a legendary newspaper, a mass newspaper, and in terms of what we cover and how we cover it, the times are changing and the thing that we haven't talked about is the internet also has changed the news business game. i will use that in a second after jackie answers to talk about the facebook movement. prepare yourself. >> getting web traffic is a huge driver now, of course, because it drives eyeballs to the site and áere's ads on the site. that is part of our life right now. that said, i think it highlights the drive that we've always had to write a great story that people want to read. we can quantify it more than people picking up a paper and looking at it, while it adds pressure, i think it also drives you to really -- with politics, anyway. >> i agree. i work for a newspaper as well
called the "washington post" and i'm online so we have the web traffic. i think that in the period before we had such good information about who was reading us, i think there's a desire to think we would all be better if we didn't know and i think we were worse. it's better for us to know how to reach people because when you don't need that, when you don't have that spur, when you don't have to know, people don't really read you, they don't read to the bottom of the article. you're losing them. you lose the incentive that forc you to write for your audience. you can take ratings and take them in a bad direction and do bad shows, but you can also use it to figure out how do you explain complicated things in a way people can actually understand and will keep coming back to. >> don't you think the problem, and you said it right, everyone wants that one great line in the story that goes viral. don't you think that sort of perverts the process a little bit? that worries me. it's gotcha journalism that
seems to reign even in places held in high esteem. >> absolutely. i think if there's a profit incentive in the news, that the news simply can't be credible. >> if i can clarify, i guess i meantç more what ezra was sayi, delivering a story that catches people, not because it's bombastic but because it's good, it's a good story and good news. it's interesting. >> unfortunately, this episode of our newsroom has to come to an end. i do want to leave everyone with a great analysis of what you're doing. it's not to the tune of any song from brigadoon. "new york" magazine writing i like sorkin's optimism. the very quality many of my colleagues are hanging in with, he seems convinced that no matter how bad things get, they can always be made better, provided we're willing to do our homework, engage in civil debate, put common sense ahead of ego and work together. >> that's a very nice statement. civil debate was the most
important thing there. >> civil debate is indeed the most important part. aaron sorkin, an honor and pleasure to have you on set. a great show. "the newsroom" airs sunday at 10:00 p.m. eastern. thank you to ezra, governor rendell and jackie kucinich. see you back here monday at noon eastern, 9:00 a.m. pacific. until then, find us at facebook. "andrea mitchell reports" is next with chris cillizza in the anchor chair. t.g.i.f., my friend. let me say, i'm not just saying this because aaron sorkin is next to you, multiple days ago i tweeted that i like "the newsroom" a lot. i want to be on record. >> you got the cillizza endorsement. that's all that matters. >> semi-handsome blogger. >> exactly. >> thanks, alex. coming up, what's next for the states whoç filed suit to overturn president obama's health care law. georgia's attorney general will join me. also, the romney campaign is
collecting cash hand over fist since yesterday's health care ruling. more on that in today's political briefing. and the real-life hoosiers. we'll meet the film makers behind a documentary, next. [ male announcer ] this was how my day began. a little bird told me about a band... ♪ an old man shared some fish stories... ♪ oooh, my turn. ♪ she was in paris, but we talked for hours... everyone else buzzed about the band. there's a wireless mind inside all of us. so, where to next? ♪ the charcoal went out already? [ sighs ] forget it. [ male announcer ] there's more barbeque time in every bag of kingsford charcoal. kingsford. slow down and grill.
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