tv Charlie Rose WHUT June 22, 2012 10:00am-11:00am EDT
>> rose: welcome to the program. tonight aaron sorkin, jeff daniels and emily mortimer talk about the new hbo series the news room. >> a friend of mine said, had worked with her before and said wait until you see the things you get to say. and every two weeks we'd get the new episode and it was like christmas morning going i can just, no, it's just great. >> it really is. it's right down the middle. >> we chase good writing. when the writing's good, all we have to do is our jobs. >> it's such an exciting thing and what is so specific about aaron's writing is the music fallacy of it. i'm tone deaf. i never have experienced what it's like to stand on a stage and sing a song to people and i never will because she would chase me off stage within seconds. it gives you that feeling in a way, the feeling of just opening your mouth and these words
coming out and you feel like you're singing at times and as an actor it's really thrilling. >> i'm the first one to play the part. i talk out loud and very active when i write. there's a scene that jeff has in the second episode. i broke my nose writing because i was so active when i was doing it, i smashed my own face into the mirror. >> broke his nose writing. >> i heard that right. [laughter] >> this is a brand new show. it's brand new but just like, you know, you'd be able to tell if the two songs were written by the same songwriter or two paintings by the same painter. you can tell that this is written by the same person. >> rose: we conclude this evening with james mann is author of the new book called
the obamians, the struggle inside the whitehouse to redefine american power. >> i find he was more actively involved in the day to day details of foreign policy in the first couple years of his administration. than george bush was. the way we see that is there's no one force beyond him. in other words, just about everybody in the administration changes at the top levels. there's almost no one other than hillary clinton under obama who is in the same job that they were before. but him and his whitehouse aides are the continuity and it really is obama laying down the strategy. >> aaron sorkin, jeff daniels, emily mortimer and james mann when we continue.
from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. >> rose: aaron sorkin is perhaps best known for his iconic television drama the west wing, it was 27 seasons and won emease. he won a script for the social network and nominated for another moneyball. he returns to television about challenges of reporting the news, called the news room. here is the trailer for the news room. >> this is news night. i'm beginning this newscast by apologizing to the american people for failure of this program during the time i've been in charge of it. what we failed is in the mystery. we took a dive for the ratings. i'm quitting circuits and switching teams. i'm going with the guys who are getting creamed. >> welcome to news 92.0. this is the news show. >> they're very young out there. >> this is what you can be badly
at. >> this is george's country. >> you thought the russians invaded atlanta. >> i have a boyfriend. >> he's a great guy. >> how do you know this, you're the guy, the it guy. >> i'm not the it guy. >> are you kidding. >> this is a series story. >> i have a blog in the old days and it was written well. >> we just decided. >> when did that news room become a courtroom. >> those remarks have been taken out of context. >> those remarks are in the proper context. >> we can do this. >> is epa rated. >> how can we thought know who he is. >> what happens to human interest stories. >> obesity, breast cancer. >> he was great at that. >> it was an organization. >> that's why i -- >> everywhere i looked, he was screaming about how bad government is, what's your position. >> that people should know what they're screaming about. >> i want to be part -- >> they are going to fail. >> i came on this program to
fail. >> everyone comes on this program voluntarily. >> he turns it into a courtroom. >> these are done by teams and i've got the best team in television. >> this isn't in our control room. then screw it. >> rose: this is an ad of the series created by aaron sorkin two of his stars jeff daniels and emily mortimer. we just saw jane fond awe and you said. >> fonda is a corporate goddess. >> rose: your idea. >> she's. you never think you're going to get your first choice. we need someone like jane fonda and casting said let's see if we can get jane fonda and they say let's call and see. >> rose: who called and said we need another sorkin series? >> i've been, i love series television and i've been wanting to do another series and hbo had
been inviting me to do a series there and that's an invitation that's hard to pass up. >> rose: they didn't care what the subject was, you could choose. >> no, i could do what i wanted and we all got on the phone one day and i was the able to say more than i want to do a show set behind the scenes at a nightly cable news show and i came back to them 10 or 12 months later with a pilot script. >> rose: what did you say when you went out to do this series, what am i trying to accomplish here other than something i like and the audience likes. >> honestly, i've reached no higher than that. i'm trying to entertain you for the hour that i'm asking for your attention. this isn't a screen of any kind, it isn't an op ed piece, it's aspirational, it's romantic and it's idealistic and there's
some wish fulfillment but i'm not trying to convince you. >> rose: is it ideological. >> how do you mean? >> rose: does it have a point of view about the world works and the way politics is. >> it has an authoritytorial point of view. it was not produced by the republican or democratic party. one of the things i'm proud on the show is it doesn't groove with the same brush. if you think that it's saying that all republicans the same democrats, you're coming in -- >> rose: but it is your world view is it not. >> yes, it has an authoritytorial voice. >> rose: what do you think the drama has. what are the elements of a sorkin story. >> well it's good storytelling and that's when i met with aaron that's one thing i said. i watched west wing when it went on kindization and i watched the writing because you see the mechanics, the nuts and bolts.
the good writers are able to hide structure and aaron does that beautifully. so there's that. you also have this singular voice that is his and only sorkin could sound like this and it could write like this and y know it's not written by a committee somewhere. >> rose: is it the same voice that's in west wing. >> i would say that that search for truth, and i think that's a lot of what we do over the series is really go let's get away from the spin, let's go into what at least these characters are wanting to find that is true. >> rose: the truth as to what we do as well as who we are. >> yes. and where we're going, yes. >> rose: were you familiar with aaron before he came to you and said let's do this. >> yes, of course i was. and i never in my wild i was dreams imagined that i would get the opportunity to do it. but what for me i think is as an actor is such an exciting thing and what is so specific about
aaron's writing is the musicality of it. i'm tone deaf. i never have experienced what it's like to stand on a stage and sing a song to people and i never will because they would chase me off the stage within seconds but this gives you that feeling in a way, are the feeling of just opening your mouth and these words coming out and you feel like you're singing at times. and it's so, as an actor, it's really thrilling. >> rose: it's almost like the satiric dialogue -- >> up to the pace he's famous for, that's where it sings, it really does. emily's point about musicality is true, when you get that going and it's back and forth and you hit every word that you wrote, there's a rhythm to it. >> rose: so when you set out -- >> i really prefer to just have emily and jeff stay right here -- [laughter] >> rose: so then you said, when did you think of them.
when you set out to do this, you're looking for principal characters and a whole set, an ensemble behind them. >> we had to start with them. and jeff, i never met jeff before but i certainly known him as an actor since he was young and doing plays and now -- younger is what i should have said. and he had just finished doing god of carnage on broadway for our other executive producer, scott. and scott said this has to be jeff. and i said listen, jeff is brilliant, there's no question that jeff, the actor can do this. my only concern is jeff feels like such a nice guy to me. he's an incredibly nice guy.
will he be able, will -- cess a truly nice guy as emily's character describes him as a range rover. as the series goes on he becomes very easy to love. he tries -- >> rose: why are you concerned he's not the guy. >> because he has, the character also has a facade that he's broken, he's in pain. and he's angry about a lot of things. >> rose: because one word it's the ratings. >> no. that's the result of being in pain. two things -- [laughter] she broke his heart three years ago. three years before the series begins, she broke his heart. and the news has broken his heart. he grew up revering, because he didn't have a father to be a father figure. he grew up revering the murrows and cronkites and the rathers.
and the world of news changed right under his feet. and now he's lonely because of we find out what happens and that kind of thing. his friends, his only friends are the people on the other side of the camera of that audience and the idea of them leasing him is terribly scary. so he's going to do whatever it takes to not bother anybody, to make sure that they stay in place. that's why ratings are important to him. he's on the other hand very cold very brux, and short with his staff whose names he barely knows. i hadn't seen that jeff daniels. scott must have tipped you off that my only concern was that, because from the moment jeff and i met, and it wasn't jeff never had to addition for the show. i mean he had the part walking in. but for the moment that jeff and i met, he just decided i'm going
to be mean to this guy. [laughter] all i'm going to do is be a son of a bitch. [laughter] >> rose: that was you that morning. >> i may have been tipped off. aaron's not sure you can be angry enough. i came out before my butt even hurt the chair i'm going i want this. you have actually very little to say in this. so apparently, and it's good writers, they see, i barely hear what you said jeff but i see will and i think as the breakfast went on. >> that's exactly right. and he did have a part walking in. now emily, who is not accustomed to auditioning things, auditioning for things, additioned 35 or 40 times. >> yes. it was like american idol, it never ended.
>> it would get worse. >> rose: you were asked to addition again. >> we wanted to see her one more time and she would be on a family vacation in the mountains of vancouver and shirpa guides finding her way back to new york. and she was so great about it. by the way, these additions aren't short, they're not, you come in and read a couple scenes for a few minutes. they were long work sessions and -- >> but i was fiendish about it too. i'm not accustomed being quite so thirstily ambitious. >> rose: why was that. >> because i really wanted the job. >> rose: you loved the character. >> i loved the character and i loved the script. and that's all i ever have gone by. >> we loved her and she had the part after the first addition, we were just messing with her after that. but one of the things that
changed, she worked very hard and worked with the coach with an american accent. we had the luxury of about three weeks rehearsal before we started shooting the pilot because there's just a lot to rehearse, there's a lot of language and it was in the middle of rehearsing one scene one day. she was doing beautifully with an american accent. you would have never known when, i can't remember if it was greg who directed both the pilot and the season finale, said just try doing it in your own voice. and she did and it completely freed her up to be all the things that you cast emily mortimer for. this breeze, so sweetly silly
but so incredibly focused woman who doesn't have to act tough because she is tough. >> rose: also incredibly vulnerable. >> incredibliably vulnerable and you love her immediately. right in that instant i said this is crazy. this character is now an expatriate and you're going to use her own voice. >> rose: just write around it or write into it. >> and i did. she's the daughter of margaret thatcher's ambassador to the un. >> rose: through go. you have a pedigree in a moment. that's what writers do. there's also this though. talk about macvoy is broken about the news. someone once said all great drama is about the search coming out of loneliness and search for something, do you buy that, loneliness and search for something. >> absolutely. and the search for something is
important. i like writing about, writing the difference between bad and good, a bad person and a good person, a good person and a great person. somebody who has a tremendous amount of potential. when we meet these guys, they're not evil by any means. they're very good people, you would like to have dinner with them. you would like them to marry your daughter or your son. and but she is going to push him to do his best which is the last thing he wants to do. >> rose: this character does not want to do his best. >> he's working while i fix it. >> the ratings are good, we're very popular. >> rose: even the opening scene he's just being funny in one line after another and finally it just erupts, right. i mean that was as much sorkin speak as i could possibly imagine. i mean this is your definition
of the world right there. and by the way, mine too, what's happened to the country. >> yes. all those things are true. now this isn't a ventriloquist act. i'm not using actors and characters to say the things i want to say. i've created a world and i'm looking for point of friction and that kind of thing. by the way, this show is going to succeed or fail based entirely on whether or not the audience is engaged with the characters their personal lives and their relationship. >> i told aaron when he turned in the last episode, all the reimagining the news and searching for the truth and all of that he's written this wonderful romantic comedy through the whole thing. and that's a testament to juggling about six balls at once. >> it's really what i love.
>> i love stirgis -- it will take a lot of risks in this show. he's constantly putting his career on the line, his heart on the line, and the risks that he takes. in the first episode and certainly by the second and third episode we know for sure he's a moderate republican. and he's going to be the one to stand up and basically say what jeb bush is now saying but he's going to say it louder, much tougher and for an hour every night on tv that he feels it's got to be someone like him who stands up to the radical french of the republican party and not
a liberal. who is doing that. >> rose: is this in your own vision reflect what the country needs in its own leadership. >> yes, it does. >> rose: this is a rant we had at the university. roll tape. here it is. >> what happened the people. >> not the greatest country in the world professor, that's my answer. >> you're saying -- >> yes. >> let's talk about -- >> fine, sharron, the nea is a loser. it accounts for a point. it doesn't cost money, it costs air time. you know why people don't like liberals, because they lose. if liberals are so smart why do they lose. with a straight face you're going to tell students that america is so star spangled awesome that we're the only ones in the world that have freedom. canada has freedom, japan has freedom, the uk, france,
germany, spain, belgium. they had freedom. and you sorority girl in case you warned into a voting booth one day one thing you should one, there's absolutely no evidence to support the statement we're the greatest country in the world. we're 7th in literary, 27th in matt, 22nd in science, 47 in life expectancy, 178th in honey fant mortality, number four in labor force and number four in exports. we lead the world in only three categories. number of incarcerated citizens per capita, number of adults who believe angels are really and defense spending where we spend more than 26 countries combined 25 of whom are allies, this is not the not of a college student but you are a member of the worst period generation period ever period so when you ask what makes us the greatest country in the world, i don't know what the you're talking about. yosemite. >> rose: you're proud of that scene, are you? >> i'm incredibly proud of the work that jeff d i'm incredibly
proud of the director did. it's a scene that almost wasn't in the show. it was the last thing that i wrote. until then, i don't know if you remember, it was that scene was only talked about. the show began where something had happened when will was at a panel. we didn't quite know what but something went terribly wrong and something we just said just for fun try writing that scene. >> we've got to see that. >> rose: what about the scene where somebody under the audience holds up a card. >> well, it's it either is or isn't her. it's hallucination that he's having. it either is or isn't emily's character, mckenzie. and that's really what pushes
will to do that. he's being produced by her and you know how do you not love someone who forces you to do your best. >> is it important for you to establish immediately your own, your own sense that you are with him, this is going to be your show. this is going to be the show you want and you're going to bring him to that point because you believe in it and because you believe he can be unleash ed to be part of. >> yes, and i think that was the thing that i clung on to throughout the pilot, particularly the one area i was nervous about taking on this character was being somebody who is in control of a lot of people. and making important decisions. i never had to do that before in my life as an actor you're very rarely in control of anything. and i got very used to that but
i have a great friend who i was at university with who does backly this job in england on a show called news night which is the name of the show here, our fictional show. >> rose: with jeremy. >> jeremy pact, another sexy gruff can tang rules actor and she reduces him and she was my sort of model in way because she's somebody who would walk into a rom and someone would say who is this tough woman she's modest, shy, sweet, friendly, easy going. but she just cares passionately about what she does. >> rose: so when decision time comes she holds her own. >> yes because it's her baby. it's everything she cares passionately about her job so when it comes to getting people into a conference room at the end of the night and saying who screwed up tonight and why the health was this there and that there and she's able to do it
because she cares so fiercely about what it is that she does and getting her job right and the burden of doing the news well. and takes that role very seriously because as aaron writes in the pilot it's the single most important thing in a democracy is a well informed electorate and that's what she believes in. and when she walks into the pilot episode she's sort of righting two wrongs and one is a personal thing which is the way she behaved before in her relationship. >> horrible. >> yes. and of the is -- >> rose: he doesn't want that known, does he. >> no. >> rose: because of pride or because he just -- >> he doesn't want people sniffing around his private life. >> well all of the above. it's embarrassing and emasculating. it's like you're not going to
last a week. absolutely still madly in love with her. >> rose: he hates to be madly in love with her. >> hates her guts. >> rose: are you madly in love with him. >> madly. >> rose: that dynamic, that's a winner right there, isn't it. >> it really is. it's fantastic. and there are some things that are out of the writer's control, things like chemistry and boy do they have it. >> rose: and these actors have it. >> these actors visit. >> rose: you can't go out and say i need two actors who have chemistry together. >> no. >> rose: you cannot. you've been there, done that. >> that's at the bottom of my -- chemistry with anyone. [laughter] >> rose: or not. >> there are a bunch of things actors can't fake. they can't fake being smart. an actor can't fake being smart, and these two -- i really want to mention, it's an ensemble,
there are eight principles and then behind them there are eight others great best cast members and they are all fantastic. >> rose: what are you trying to accomplish other than something you like, something you think an audience will like interesting characters, is there something larger you reach for? >> drama is acknowledge intentional obstacle. >> rose: good line, where did that come from, intention and obstacle. >> aristotle,. [laughter] >> you want the girl, you want the money, you want to get to philadelphia. it doesn't matter. you want it bad. if you need it, it's even better and the obstacle has got to be formidable to overcome. and that's what i'm thinking about when i'm writing. now this show, it does take place in a specific place, it takes place in a newsroom, all
the news is real, none is invented. the characters are fictional but the news is real. >> oil spill in the gulf. >> that's right. yes. and the but the capture of bin laden, the arab spring, lots of stuff. so you don't start out by saying here's what i want to say about the news and go from there. right. but once you've got the drive shaft in place, once you've built the car, then, you know, we are it doesn't take place in a police precinct it doesn't take place in a hospital emergency room or a forensics lab or law firm, it's taking place in a newsroom. he so how is this newsroom
different from other news rooms. and they -- >> rose: and elsewhere. >> like i said, it's idealistic, it's romantic, they're extremely passionate about what they do. they're extremely patriotic and they feel that there is a bias in the news today toward -- >> rose: dumbing it down. >> fairness. >> rose: towards fairness. >> bias towards fairness. that there is a false balance, that there's a false new trallity there. that there is a need to, if we have exposed something, if we report on something dumb that mitt romney said. >> rose: something about the earth is flat, there was a line and one of you said --
>> it was a long line. >> he's explaining what bias or fairness is and he says if the entire house republican caucus would walk on to the floor and say if the earth is flat the headline in the new york time the next day would read democrats and republicans can't agree on the shape of the earth. that the "new york times" would be unwilling to say they're wrong, that you don't hear anyone on television say that was a lie, that they'll simply serve you what the candidate gives. >> rose: i think it was murrow who once said and it may not have been him being the sort of lion that he was, not every story has two sides. >> good people have been raised to believe that there are two sides to every story and that the truth lies somewhere in the middle. the fact of the matter is, that's not always a truth as mckenzie sometimes there are
five sides to the story, sometimes there's only one. sometimes the truth doesn't lie in the middle, sometimes it's right there. two plus two equals four. they're not going to compromise on this. and somebody is saying that two plus two equals three you've got to say they are either wrong or lying but it's either one or the other. >> rose: you get a bit of that in your character as well. >> yes. we also attack, spin marketing and branding. we really go after that in that search for -- >> democratization. >> i'm tired of you spinning it now i want you to answer the question and she's in my ear going stay on him, stay on him. >> rose: it's a hard thing to do in live television when this is live television and this is not but what i do in the morning, it's hard to do when you got somebody trying to be on talking points, and a you got a short amount of time, four or five minutes and they go into that and you want to say you know that's not true. you know you're just spinning the story. >> we have a line halfway through the series why can't we call a lie a lie when we know it's a lie.
>> rose: exactly. >> rose: tim once said to me he was interviewing the guy from louisiana and used to have some kind of something having to do with right-wing and perhaps even worse and tim was pretty hard on the guy and his father luke russell called and said you didn't have to go that far. and he really did criticize this guy. >> we van -- have an instances of that as well. a moment where will literally loses sleep because he thinks he went too far with a guy that he just started pounding on him. and in that instance, in his ear, instead of saying stay on him stay on him she's saying just the opposite stop hitting him. >> rose: there's another thing which i saw when i was in london, he asked her the same question 12, 15 times. >> the same question in the same
words, the same phrase. >> rose: the question was something like, do you and george bush share the same god. do you share the same god. and he went on and on. and he may have gone too much in that particular instance. probably the audience got it after four. >> we'll be back after this. >> that's an abstract question and i can understand having to ask it at least 14 times. but i'm using this example because it just happened the other day. when governor romney says that there should be that the federal government doesn't have anything to do with hiring police officers, firefighters and teachers. and that is demonstratably
wrong. they do. where is the charlie rose saying the candidate for president said this. he's either lying or mistaken. >> rose: this kind of drama, multiple drama hbo a good place for an actor because you can do things you can't in any other particular place whether it's film or quality of the role. >> maybe it's the quality of the role, the length. we do ten episodes, figure they're an hour each, that's ten hours. i ready a movie script last weak it's 90 pages, 100. boy that was over quickly. and we have so much longer to tell the story, it's like shooting a novel in a way. hbo, the whole cable side of television now maybe it's the return of the golden era of television. >> rose: it my very well be.
it's the idea -- >> creative. i can't think of another place. >> rose: emily. >> yes, i agree. i feel like i had a sort of tactical education brought up really reading 19th century novels and watching shakespeare plays. i was a very sad child. but it reminds me of those things. you talk about much to do about nothing, the romantic comedy that we get to do together in this show week after week feels like that. and you never get that, you never get the chance to act in that way unless you do shakespeare somewhere. certainly in a movie you never get to act that way. and then yes, the slow telling
of a story. >> rose: you can tell story. >> you can tell a different kind of story. also success is measured differently. we want people to watch the show. hbo wants people to watch the show but it matters less how many people are watching the show than it does how much the people who are watching the show like the show. that's what drives the scripts up for hbo. so as a business model, it's just a happy coincidence that it works out really well for writers and actors and directors too. >> rose: can you define a hallmark of a sorkin script? >> yes. i mean i've seen other people use those words. >> i used those words and i'm flattered by them. >> rose: for example in some profile already you can ride down the road and you played all the characters out in their voice. >> i do. they don't know but i'm probably the first one to play the part.
i talk out loud, i'm very active when i write. there's a scene that jeff has in the second episode, i broke my nose writing because i was so active when i was doing it, i smashed my own face into the mirror. >> rose: broke his nose writing. >> you heard that write. [laughter] >> this is brand new show. it's brand new but just like you know, you would be able to tell if two songs were written by the same songwriter or two paintings by the same painter. you can tell this is written by the same person. >> rose: i want to show a couple clips. this is when the two of them thank you about will mckenzie played by emily and will played by jeff who is going to be in
charge. this is the conflict right here. >> will. >> don't talk to me unless you absolutely have to. >> i absolutely have to. this is a good time to get a couple things straight. >> i'm in tv in 90 seconds i don't think this is a good time to get things administrate. >> this is the best time to get a couple things straight. >> can people hear me in there. >> not yet. >> ticking off. >> so i did a terrible thing and i don't expect you to forgive me. >> take me off. >> you got my contract but the thing have you to know is between 8 and 9:00, you are completely nine. for an hour but during the week i own you in my case it's for your own good and for the good of all. say i understand so i can get these guys a sound level. >> i don't see it working that way. >> you don't. >> no. >> okay. who is producer. >> right here. >> could i get some quiet. >> could i have a few seconds. >> yes, ma'am.
>> there you go. >> are you serious. >> yes, will take out your previous screen. >> do you understand. >> 30 seconds. >> one week contact but i don't have a lot to lose. >> there isn't a way to digitally store images and upload them to a website. >> youtube. >> i understand. >> good. >> you have a lot of trouble controlling. [laughter] >> rose: watching that what did you see, hear, feel, think. >> well first of all watching it, it was more pleasurable than i would have thought. >> rose: performing it what did you watch, feel, here, think. >> performing, i describe how crazy it is performing those's scenes because we're in this
incredible high tech state of the art set where we really are in the equivalent of he's in a studio and i'm in a control room and we can hear each other through head sets. so we're acting in real time with each other, we're simultaneously acting and there are cameras on us but we're in different rooms. and it's kind of confusing isn't it. >> yes. it's a lot like doing a play. and i found the whole shooting process to be incredibly freeing because there were two and three cameras going all the time. you never knew where it was so you couldn't do that movie star thing of here's my close ups. you had to just play it and you catch up and you find me wherever we are. and so it's us going at it and they just happen to be shooting it. so it's fun to watch. and it looks like two actors who could care less where the cameras are. >> rose: exactly right. that's really a nice quality.
>> i get back to the way cable news and hbo and the way they shoot it, it's great for actors, the freedom we have. >> rose: this is another scene. this is when you're trying to assess whether deep horizon, this is the gulf spill is a real story. >> people at horizon is drilling 18 feet below sea level. >> is that dangerous. >> that make it three times deeper fill it with water and poke a hole in the bottom. >> how do you know all this, you're the i.t. guy. >> are you kidding. >> i think this is a serious story. >> i have blog. >> how do you know this stuff? >> i made the volcano in primary school. >> so i did. i didn't know you had to learn from it. >> what's going on. >> nothing. >> a rig exploded in the
gulf. >> it's yellow. >> it's just got bumped up to organize. >> haliburton is hired to -- >> there's a failure of cement mix is the cause of the explosion but here's the thing. haliburton performed tests on the cement mix and. tests showed it was going to fail. >> holy mother. >> hang on holy mother i need to know who your sources are. >> hey, i don't owe you scooter. >> look you don't have to trust me you just have to trust her. >> try another strategy. >> i don't know you scooter. [laughter] >> no problem getting there. >> rose: that was easy, wasn't it. right down the middle. >> it's great fun. a friend of mine worked with her and he said wait until you see the things you get to say. every two weeks we'd get the new episode and it was like christmas morning and you're going i get to, oh, it's just great. >> rose: it really is.
right down the middle. >> we chase good writing. when the writing's good, all we have to do is our jobs. >> rose: how often do you see it? >> not as much as you would think. a lot of times certainly on my end of it, you see a lot of scripts written by a committee or written by junior executives who read the how to write a screen play book the paperback version. and so when you get somebody like that, here come their nose. when you see it, grab it. >> rose: but you worked with such great language, think of all the classical stuff you've done. >> well, i did, there's a myth about people that have english accents which is they've shrugged the boards for years and they've done a lot of shakespeare. i just did a lot of bad television in england so the wigs have been dropped from my
head. >> rose: thank you for coming. >> it's been a measure charlie. >> thank you. >> rose: as always. back in a moment. stay with us. names -- snaimedz man is here s a former correspondent and author of the best selling book rise of the -- his latest book focuses on obama's foreign team it is called obamians the struggle inside the whitehouse to redefine american power. i'm pleased to have james mann at this table. welcome. >> good to be with you. >> rose: tell me what you mean by the struggle inside the whitehouse to redefine. who is engaged in the struggle. >> his foreign policy team really. and i try to describe in the book how there are really three difference generations of people inside the whitehouse and inside the administration. you've got a senior, the grand daddies if you will are the
vietnam generations symbolized by richard holbrook but really including some others. then there's the clinton, bill clinton's generation. people who came of age in the 90's and then there are what i call the true obamians are people who didn't serve on foreign policy in state or defense or anything until this administration. and they're the ones that i think have a different perspective on the world. >> rose: let's talk about that. the first group is the holbrook represented the longest serving the the then hillary clinton, leon panetta. >> tom donald -- and then a whole bunch of people, michelle was the undersecretary of defense, curt campbell, a whole bunch of people. jim stein becker the former deputy secretary of state. the people who came of age and began working on foreign policy
in the 90's. >> rose: who was for what? >> i think that 90's, so the holbrook generation always had in mind the disaster in vietnam. it's not that they were necessarily, and i warned people they weren't really of the left wing of the democrat party sometimes they campaigned against left wing but they had to deal with vietnam. the second generation comes of age after the end of the cold war. america has no competitor it's america's unipolar moment and america is at the peak of its posterity. >> rose: hillary clinton, robert gates. >> gates i would call of the vietnam generation, tom donald and certainly curt campbell, michelle, floyd -- >> rose: his wife. >> right. and the obamians have an entirely different range of experience. they're not even, they're not,
they are teenagers or in one case not even born when the vietnam war ended. >> rose: that's ben rhodes. >> dennis mcdougha, president obama. >> rose: you argue he is in fact running foreign policy. >> i did. >> rose: and his voice, his drive, his ideas. >> i do. i mean he's certainly like everyone else, i find he was more actively involved in the day to day details of foreign policy in the first couple years of his administration than george bush was. and the way we see that is there's no one force beyond him. in other words just about everybody in the administration changes at the top levels. there's almost no one other than hillary clinton under obama who is in the same job than they were before. but him and his white house aides are the continuity and it really is obama laying down the
strategy. >> rose: how is the obama administration's view of foreign policy from the president through whichever team belonged to changed. >> without really acknowledging he's changed the military strategy. they don't really dispute this but in 2009, they essentially adopted just about whole hog the policy of counterin inowrnlg se and then they switched to the drone terrorism. that's change number one. they changed their views on the importance of democracy. they took office really particularly admiring of the george h.w. bush administration, people like -- and said so and in that first year when you had people in the streets of tehran, they couldn't have been more
distant from it. a couple years later in tunisia and egypt, they begin to see more the value of promoting democracy. >> rose: do you think they have changed that compared to what they might have done at the time when people were in the streets of tehran. >> i think so. i think they would not acknowledge that but i think they would, yes. >> rose: what would one person think has a presence more than any other in northern policy today. >> i think the closest person to him i think is the deputy secretary, the deputy national security advisor dennis mcdonau. it may be the other way around, it may be that obama talks to him about what he wants more than everyone else. >> rose: you have a quote i think that if dennis calls and speak it's clearly that he is speaking for the president. >> right. this was in originally obama's
national security advisor was james jones and people learned in that first six months out in the department. i had someone in the state department say you know, if james jones calls it might be from obama but it might be from james jones. but when mcdonau calls it's clearly he's clearly speaking for the president. >> rose: can you define an obama doctrine. >> i think that really at the heart of this book is the notion of american primacy in the world, that post world war ii, that america is the only question world leader and is able to serve as the world leader and is always looked to that lasted to the cold war. even more so after the end of the cold war. it's not that obama at all wants to do away with that role but he has in mind the idea that maybe we won't always be the maintain our role of primacy in the world. obama goes out to places, he'll
go out, whether it's the germany or economic conference in south korea and not always get what he wants. and so when he talks about it, it's interesting. if you listen to hillary clinton speak, she maintains really that sense of primacy. dates back to the clinton administration talking about the indispensable nation and so on. obama gives speeches that are quite intriguing that say you know, we have help underwrite global security for the last six decades, sometimes without thanks. and that perfect tense in there kind of suggests that maybe we won't always be the world's leader. >> rose: richard holbrook wrote a chapter on him. what is it you want us to know. >> how tragic it was, that he really didn't fit in with the obama team, that they, he never had the scope to do what he
wanted but in addition, that there was a generational conflict there as well. that he really, he saw himself as the central figure in afghanistan and other people in the administration, and then including the president didn't. and really it was just not a good fit. so actually, i mean i had people say, we had a meeting on afghanistan and holbrook came in and began talking about vietnam and finally we were all rolling our eyes. i had the u.s. ambassador to the united nations susan rice not of holbrook but saying we're just so sick of the psychosis of the 60's. so he really didn't want -- >> rose: many people thought u.s. involvement in iraq of george bush 41 would have said that he ended the vietnam syndrome. >> right. that's right and not just george
bush but democrats going way back to gary hart i'm past vietnam. in the odd perspective of the obamians, they were reacting to vietnam but the obamians, they were over reacting by showing that they were tough and so on. these guys think that they just, it's just not on their radar screen and they don't want to hear it. >> rose: one thing holbrook used to insist on and talk about a lot which i don't think changed necessarily was the fact that he thought that the military was a central figure in afghanistan and iraq and pakistan that military figures, general of joints chiefs and others were guiding policy. and their role went beyond just military strategy. >> right. and i think that was certainly the most true in the first year and with the key decisions to send a surge of troops into afghanistan. obama and his administration gradually shifted on that, and i
think that by the third year, they felt comfortable enough to either ignore or minimize the advice of the pentagon. >> rose: the obamians the struggle inside the white houses redefine america is one of the great questions of our time. thank you for coming. >> thanks. >> rose: pleasure have to you. thank you for joining us. see you next time. captioning sponsored by rose communications captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org