tv U.S. Senate CSPAN November 23, 2010 5:00pm-8:00pm EST
there, and it's going to have to be decided. lastly, it may be at some point, and i would have smart people think about this, it may be that the formality and the bright lights of the negotiation is itself the problem. it's just too hard to do is in a formal negotiation, and maybe what we need is a kind of relationship where the parties agree on sort of coordinated parallel steps that over time actually resolve issues and lead to peace, but sort of sitting down with the great formal peace negotiation may just be too hard. if the laughing at the idea, somebody smart needs to think through it. we need to think outside the box if we can't make progress this way. >> thank you all very much. [applause] [inaudible conversations]
[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] congress is on break for the thanksgiving holiday. so far republicans gained 63 seats in the november elections. three weeks after the midterms, solomon ortez, a 48-year-old native is an attorney in founder of a computer consulting and web design firm.
>> now senior pentagon officials and journalists talk about relations between the military and media. participants include defense secretary robert gates chief press liaison, and "new york times" pentagon correspondent. it's held by the school of journalism, and this is just under an hour and 50 minutes. >> good morning, and welcome to those of you here and those following us on our live web cast. this panel on the military and
media is a fall event sponsored by the medill college. i'm director of the medill washington program part of western ifort. medill has been a leader in journalism education since we created our unique covering conflicts in terrorism class in 2003. in 2009, we opened the medill secure journalism initiative, a long term effort to help journalists and journalism students gain the knowledge and skills to report accurately and on context of issues related to defense, security, and civil liberties. the initiative has four components and received generous funding from the carnegie corporation to pursue these endeavors. we have a see convince of --
sequence of programs here in washington for our students, and we also are sponsoring an annual symposium in 2011. we've created six month research fellowships #, and training for working journalists which brings us to today's event. i want to thank the museum for kindly allowing us for using this wonderful facility, and now let's get on to it because we have an exciting panel discussion ahead. leading us is josh meyer, the directer of education and outreach for the initiative. he joined our initiative in january coming from the los angeles times spending 20 years doing investigative reporting and the last 10 years exclusively covering terrorism and national security. josh, over to you. >> thanks, ellen. first, i want to thank the pagists for come --
panelists for coming here. a way of quick introduction, thanks to the assistant of defense, douglas wilson here in the middle who, i believe, this is the first time you're talking about military and the media issues like this. hopefully, we'll have an engaging discussion. i want to thank major general paul eadon whose accomplishments are many and has been an advocate for more transparency in the media. major kirk over here, three people over, in uniform, senior press liaison in baghdad at an operating base in iraq and here at the pentagon he's much respected and by the media because he's sort of tells it like it is and has been very helpful and working on social media issues and so forth, and elizabeth from the "new york times," a special course
respondent cover -- correspondent covering the terrorism and started the white house beat on september 10th 2001, and things changed the day after that. she expected to be more of a dmessic policy white house reporter, and then of course, the next day became, you know -- >> everything changed. >> everything in the world changed. as it did for me, i left l.a. to go to new york the next day. you know,ic i wanted to -- i think i wanted to keep my remarks short and we have two hours, but we want to hear from the audience and hear you talk. i wanted to touch on a couple of issues. you know, this is especially a good time for the panel because the obama administration has now been in for some period of time, and even though the secretary of defense is the same as the last years of the bush administration, there's a lot of new faces in the pentagon and military, and secretary wilson is one of them, and the obama
administration has said repeatedly that they want to inject a lot of transparency into government in all facets of it including the military. i think the military has been trying to do more of that in getting people to the front lines to report. it's also been doing more social media in terms of blogging and facebook and so forth which is a very complicated subject i hope to touch on today, but, you know, there's also -- there's other issues as well that we want to talk about. you know, gan -- guantanamo and there was agents kicked out and there was a discussion on what happened and a resolution to that. that's something we want to talk about and the rules of background. i think despite the administration's efforts to make everything more transparent, there's still an institutional resistance to give backgrounds
and use their full names. we can talk about that and part of the culture that you guys are working on, but it's still tough. you know, the counterinsurgency efforts in iraq. one thing i wanted to do first is update on a tragic story that shows the relationship in a positive light. the tragedy is that a veteran war photographer shooting for the "new york times" was seriously injured saturday, i believe it was by stepping on a land mine, and if there's any silver lining to the tragedy, it's this, that silver was injured while embedded with an army and that shows that embeds are occurring and bringing reporters to the areas where fighting is very intense. that case shows that he was not only treated deftly and quickly by medics on the ground there, but was brought back to the air base and then to ramsteen air
force in germany. i'm told that, you know, that high ranks officials in the pentagon were instrumental making sure he got the best medical care. on a broader level, general petraeus, another holdover from the bush administration and a career army person, his coin manual describes the need to work with the media allowing the media to embed with the troops for weeks rather than days to better understand the mission. in july, after a "rolling stone" article led to general stanley mcchrystal being replaced and new media guidelines were issued saying we're in the war for some time making sure that the rules were followed and gotten sloppy over time and they would make sure things were done according to process. some critics in the media say the new rules are more restrictive. we want to talk about that in
this panel. under the revised guidelines set by robert gates, military leaders must inform secretary wilson of public engagement with possible national or international implications according to a "new york times" report on that. we want to talk about whether that's produced a bottleneck or improved things, and i could go on and on. i wrote ten pages of stuff here that i'll weave into questions later, and i think with that, we should, we should just go on. do you want to -- elizabeth, duped to ask the -- do you want to ask the first question? >> i'm asking a question? >> oh, we have prepared remarks. secretary, do you want to start? >> i'm happy to do it. first i want to thank ellen and you josh and the medill center for doing this and inviting me and my colleagues here. you do outstanding work, and it's a pleasure to be here. your introduction, josh, give a
number of issues for which i had to deal with in less than a year that i have been heading the department's office of public communications. one of the interesting things that i have found during this time, and i was at the pentagon, twice before the 90s under then secretary colin, is that as i deal with issue after issue, i keep remembers near year's eve 1999, and i remember looking towards the new my lem yum and the advent of the year 2000, the major issue talked about was y2k, and i look back now and think how the world has changed, and the world has changed not just in a policy sense, not just in a national security sense, but very, very much in a communications sense, and one of the things that i think that people make a mistake in doing is separating communication from
policy. they think that for reporter's react and those in government proact, and in in essence it's a zero-sum relationship. when in fact, communications have changed as much or more every facet of our lives, and it's become integral to the making and everyonation of poll -- implementation of it. it's to say technology produced new tools of communication like the social media and cell phones and skype and others and the traditional print and cell phones are losing audience and revenue in this new world, but it's true, and i think that vument -- as a result, we have unintended
consequences that manifested themselves in a number of issues in which i had to deal. gan -- guantanamo and wikileaks. in all of these, you now have to deal with outstanding men and women not just in uniform, but outstanding men and women like elizabeth, who are at the top of their game and terrific professionals finding their own pressures and constraints in today's communications environment. you're finding the rise of celebrity status and a new importance on standing out from the crowd that in my view gives rise to some sensationalism and some celebrity focus that wasn't there even a decade ago. you have lives blurred between fact and opinion between reality
and image and even the determination of who is up and who is down, so i think in this institution i'm hope -- discussion i hope to have an opportunity to not just talk about military versus the media, but how the communications environment has changed for all of us on issues we never thought we had to deal with before are all dealing with often times without guidance or precedence. >> thank you. general, would you like to? >> sure. i have a tendency to view this in terms of military civilian relations, and i'll tell you that our four-star generals are interfaced between pollty and military execution. the men and women in this room are reporters are the interface between civilian and military. you are the conduit very often
for commentary, and we can talk about this at any time, but i'll throw out a few incidents. agree jaffey. gregg was with the wall street journal was destined to be a young general officer. during the course of the embed, the back of the humvee is riding. i know greg, i've met mr. jaffey, but what was said is what every colonel and sergeant and major in general agreed with was we were not going to be in bosnia for more than a year. in the course of the discussion, it's reported and laid out, but the system ground him up because at the level in military and in
civilian arenas, fontenot was ground off, and he was decided not to be made a general officer. then you got a shift in process where when i was at fort bening, i got 60 journalists to conduct a 6 0* day training. i loved it and they seemed to like it. we sent these journalists and a lot of others to do what mr. rumsfeld the thousand soda straws approach to give america feedback of what was going on on the ground in iraq. wonderful, wonderful idea and process where the sons and daughters of america committed to fighting are communicating back to their faps and societies and -- families and societies and communities, and then josh
touched on the "rolling stone" mccrystal event that pops up the question of civil military relations certainly, and then we have the woodward book come out, and again civil-military relations, so we have less about the military facing off with the media, but media as conduit, and i'll end with two points. there's a difference between retired military and active duty military, and within the retired community, there's a difference between those who are paid by networks and those who are not paid by networks. one. two, when i first came on active duty, i had a general tell me after i asked him to do a press thing, i didn't make general by talking to the press, and roll forward 35 years later, and we have dave petraeus, a master at
using media to communicate, and the change in strategic communications that we've seen coming out of afghanistan in the last two and a half months is not an accident. >> great, thank you. kirk? >> i just want to echo everyone's sentiments and appreciate you guys having me here. i want to salute those of you, the students out there in the add yen that are journalists and working towards honing your craft and becoming more skilled in what you do. i think that that is an essential career, and it's an essential part of the fabric of our republic, so i salute you. when i was younger, i had two aspirations, to be a soldier or a journalist, and you can see which way i went, but being in public army affairs, i have the best of both worlds.
through my interactions over the last five years with professional jowrnists, it's been a real pleasure to see the workings and as the general said, seeing that conduit of communication. i believe that soldiers have a very compelling story to tell. soldiers, marines, airmen, sailors, but they have a very compelling story to tell, and our country wants to hear those stories. at the same time, my job is not to wave the pom-poms and try to facilitate only positive coverage. i have a duty to the american people to tell it like it is, and i think you'll see as just speaking from the public army affairs stand point, we maybe didn't always do that, and we're getting better. still a work in progress like everything and we always strive for improvement, but we made observations how oh sister
services operate in the public affairs realm, and we are more agile and tech savvy in the career field, and we are attracting young men and women to the field, so it has been a really rewarding time for me to shift from combat arms and go over and be a part of this career field in which is still very integral to what the combat arms and what our soldiers are doing in terms of accomplishing the mission, and so having had those experiences, i'm glad to be here and ready to share with you maybe some helpful tips and guidance to help you facilitate and set of conditions for success when you move into the world and have your contacts with the military. >> thank you, kirk. elizabeth? >> thank you for having me here. as a loan reporter on the --
lone reporter on the panel, i'll talk about the practical implications of the day-to-day rated of covering -- reality of the covering the penalty gone. -- pentagon. i covered the white house for nearly five years, and then i covered the bush white house and the john mccain campaign. i didn't cover the pentagon until late 2008 or 2009. what's it's like over there? i find the pentagon in many cases far more open certainly than the bush white house was in terms of access and getting someone to answer questions and certainly more than the late days of the mccain campaign, and you know, it's still extraordinary to me you can wander around the pentagon if you have a pass. you can knock on anybody's door. they don't have to answer, but you're free to roam.
that's not the case at the white house or the state department even. i have found that there's certainly an effort as you've all described to reach out to the press and to realize there's an opportunity here. as general petraeus has seen and demonstrated. with embeds, i know there was a concern about a number of embeds being canceled around kandahar in the last number of weeks. in helmand i had the opposite experience. i was embedded in may and then in december. i was following a group of women marines, and to embed, you embed with the men because there are most ri men, but i had no issues whatsoever, although i think embeds are, and i think embeds are an amazing thing to do. i mean, if you survive them there, they are one of the most amazing reporting experiences anyone can have, and i find that
although i think that the troops on the ground, the marines, soldiers on the ground are skeptical about the press, these are young men and women, 19, 20, # 1 years old, they are nervous about the press. they have a perception what the "new york times" is, but i think that -- i think they are won over pretty quickly if you, you know, are not making a lot of nuance of yourself on an embed and follow the rules and dahl with a lot of very physical hardship and challenges of an embed. as far as the pentagon, i -- these new rules, i forgot that they were imposed, but now i recall that last july after they were imposed, i was trying to interview a fairly senior person, and it was taking a long time to get it approved, and last i heard was that the secretary gates still had to
approve it, and then nothing ever happened. i realize now that's probably a result of the new restrictions. that said, i've also interviewed people in the last month or two where i have gone in the next day and nothing comes up about it having to be approved. it's very hard to tell, maybe you and tony and brian, you can tell me more about whether you encountered more restrictions. it's hard to tell. it's a big building and it's a big military. in terms of another briefing just last week, and this is endeemic in washington, it's just a plague of washington reporters, the pentagon puts an awful lot on background. they have a big briefing in the briefing room with the senior official and announce it's on background. they did this last week and we all pushed back. it was an briefing on don't ask, don't tell. they got a little bit contentious because we pushed back, and finally i raised the
question at the end and say, why is this person on background? if we can name the person, it would give a lot more weight to the pentagon argument. this is an issue with someone reviewing all of the legal ups and downs on it and the judge's decisions on don't ask, don't tell, and was just providing or trying to provide clarity on the pentagon's position on all of this. i said, it would just be helpful to everybody here if we knew who the person was. finally jeff morrell says you can say this person is a lawyer. it was absurd at that point. i said we need a reason why this person is on background. jeff morrell said because that's the way we say it is. i quoted jeff, and he got upset with me, but i felt it was important to lay down a marker here because we get a lot of pushback from readers when we do things like that, and in the old days, the new york times would
attend those and walk out, but that's not realistic either. it's just sad of the white house and the state department -- >> right. >> anyway, those are my comments, and i'll answer any questions. >> i think it's across the board and fbi and cia and other agencies are like that too. >> yeah. >> i wanted to start with something more broad. the officials involved in preparing the memo, the work began before stanley mccountryal's firing or leaving, but it increased the resolve to add more discipline to the defense didn't's interactions with the media, secretary gates said, "i have said many times we have to be open and transparent as possible." this is outlined and said the department has grown lax with engaging with the media in established rules and procedures.
this meant before that you had to approve a lot of these if not all the interviews which makes me wonder if you get sleep? i wanted to ask you about the process on how this works. before i do so, jeff morrell, gate's spokesman, said the pentagon was not trying to restrict criticism or free speech whatsoever, but when it a reporter said that's probably what's going to happen whether you intend it to or not and morrell said it will not happen, if we do this right, it should not happen and we need to empower people to make wise decisions. when one rises above one's responsibility, we get visibility on it to be aware of it and provide insight and perspective and advice because the reality is somebody speaks to one thing they may not know about, and it could have a ripple effect through our operations including decisions made in the national security counsel or other areas.
i par phrased a little there because it went on, but that being said, can you talk about how this has been -- >> sure, sure. i don't get much sleep, but it doesn't have to do with the memo. i agree with elizabeth. i don't know if tony and brian will agree, but hopefully this memo has not had any huge discernible effect about how the media works. the media is not the enemy. we don't treat the media as a enemy, and in fact we have gone to great lements to try to reach out when folks in the media have issues that they want us to deal with. >> right. >> journalists on the battlefield and guantanamo are just two of those, and we can talk about that, but the memorandum proceeded the rolling stone article by several weeks. it's a big billing and takes awhile to get this stuff out. >> right. >> the rational was seeing an
increasing comment on issues in iran, iraq, strike fighting and other issues. it came from sources where folks in the building say who is talking and where do they get that information? >> right. >> there's a phrase in the pentagon which i'm sure journalists learn quickly because it's used a lot called situational awareness. in other words, what informs a decision? who has the broadest scope in being able to explain why a decision is being made and what the elements are? the purpose of that particular memo was to say it was important that if you're going to engage with the immediate media, that you know of what you speak, and if you are going to engage with the media, that you find out what you don't know. we, in fact, have gone to great lengths after that memo was issued not only to make clear to
the media that there's no iron curtain that is falling, but to reach out into the building as far and wide as possible to say we want people to engage with the media. this is extremely important to our society. it's important to the military. it's important that the facts be known whatever they may be. we have a dual responsibility in our office which is to be as open, transparent, and candid and timely as possible with the media, and also to make sure our men and women in uniform are protected. it's a hard tight rope to walk, but we walk it, and this media, this memo was not intended in any way to be a zero-sum choice between those two think think things. it was intended to those inside our building, not the media. those inside our building, if you're going to engage, know of what you speak.
i very rarely get personally involved in a particular decision about whether to engage in an interview. i have a fantastic team of people and some of them are here today, brian colin, former six fleet spokesman, who in fact headed the task force about eight or nine years ago that led to the embeds. ..
>> this memo has nothing to do. you engage with the media there because they want to see and hear first hand what's going on on the battlefield. it's really intended, josh, for those people who like anonymity better than accountability. we'll get to the point you make in terms of on the record as opposed to background. the point that we are trying to make, if you are going to give information as an official of the defense department, those who are receiving that information, writing and reader deserve to know the full context of it. >> right. >> so what is the reason for the background briefing like last week? what's the rational? >> let me address that. because first, i agree with you. that as many engagements with
the press as we possibly can have should be on the record. we have no disagreement there. with regard to the briefing that was held on "don't ask, don't tell." it was interesting. i read a story by one of your colleagues, ann flaherty. it was probably because the official involved didn't want to wade into the spotlight on a issue where essentially the pentagon is not in control. this is an issue where the pentagon is not in control. we are seeing an extremely uncertain time with the regard to the legislation with regard to the courts and the legislature. the decision to engage on that issue was made -- we wanted to provide the press with as much context about what the pentagon was doing in light of the uncertainty as we possibly
could. and we made the decision that this had to be on background because the individual involved wears several hats with regard to this issue. and in fact, it was not the determiner of overall policy and direction. where we are going on this. these are judgments being made by the white house, by the senate, by the courts. so you -- i think it's well within your right and we're -- we understand the criticism that was made about that particular background briefing. but in all honesty, we felt that was an exception, rather than a rule, and that was the context in which we made the decision. >> well, the bottom line is that the issue is too controversial for you guys to -- but this is life. life is filled with minefields. that seems to be -- seems like you could use that excuse for
any number of briefings. i won't belabor this. i'll stop. but that's a good excuse for any number of briefings. >> it is a good excuse for any number of briefings. we are trying our best not to make that excuse and have people on the record when it is an instance where we actually are determining policy where decisions that we make essentially are the decisions that are guiding the overall direction. we felt in this instance, we were not trying to duck questions, we were trying to better inform. we were trying to inform from our perspective. we thought that we wanted to put out the person who was best qualified person to do this. does the person go out publicly and risk unintended consequences about issue itself? or do we try to address what the
press is asking for? and we were well aware that the press was clamming for information about this issue, we were genuinely trying to run. >> does that mean we can look forward @ -- forward to more officials being on the record? >> yes, more on the record. we have made a effort to bring in briefers by television from afghanistan at all levels to go on the record. we do this weekly. whether it's general caldwell, general clark, or rodriguez working in the field, both civilian and military. and we are doing this on the
record. so there's no, in my view, perfect prescription for how to do any given thing. you are right it's better to do things on the record. we strive to do that. that's the explanation for why we came to the decision that we did. >> i can give you a constantly historical perspective. in 1968, i reported to west point my window of the world. they didn't have radio, television, we had "new york times". we delivered to every upper classman, and we were expected to be able to deliver the three-minute synopsis. we go from that to my retirement in 2006. it was speak to the press if you want, stay in your lane. talk about what you know.
that was about it. it was very late in the game that we got into media training. where we actually tried to teach seenon enlisted and officer components of the military how to engage with the state. and it was surprisingly, and as late as 1994, the courses that the army war college were over subscribed for the how to talk to the press media training, live camera training. to we've caught up a little bit. but i -- obviously we've got brand to -- got ground to cover yet. >> in the last decade, there's been a new emphasis on training. isn't there a special officer course? >> there is. if you don't mind following what paul had to say. we have a defense information school. the best and the brightest men and women in uniform attend that
school. they are deployed all over the world. people like curt who have learned -- basically who have had basic training in dealing with the media. i would say though, going back to the points that i was making at the beginning, about the change in environment, it is time to take a new look. we are taking a new look at the curriculum there. you have a new generation of communicators in military. they are not just the people who went to our school, who are you know, the officially anointed officers. they are the colonels, lieutenants, that have been in the field in afghanistan and iraq and elsewhere who have had to because of the nature of the deployment and the circumstances in which they find themselves, communicate in ways they never have either thought about or been trained to do. that's had some interesting
unintended consequences. the most interesting in my view, you've had the people come out of the battlefield with new lessons learns that i think are very applicable and need to be integrated into the training that goes on for those who deal professionally with communications. and, in fact, the first time that i ever met dave petraeus, our confersation focused on how can we get some of those in the battlefield to begin to incorporate the talent, remove the stove pipes, and produce what i think will be even better new officers. >> curt, do you want to speak to that? i know you have experience here and out there. >> right. i think that's a terrific idea. i think he's absolutely right in that our primary communicators and spokespersons, if you will,
are the soldiers. and the people who are going to interact. it's not the public affairs officers. we facilitate and we are a conduit to linking the media to our troops because ultimately, the troops are the one that are going to tell the story and let their actions speak for themselves in a lot of cases. i agree that it's a good idea to look at the curriculum, at the defense information school, and i will tell you as a brigade public affairs officer, and a brigade is about 4,000 soldier formation, we did a lot of training. media awareness training for them. workshops and things i was involved with, not only for the leaders, but for the soldiers as well. a lot of time embedded reporters, they are not just going to be around and exposed to the leaders in a unit, but they will be with the soldiers, the troopers, the rank and file, and infantry men as part of the
squad. those guys don't need to be forgetten. we owe it as leaders to involve them as well. the general comment made about staying in your lane is critical. that's something that we reinforce time and time again. sometimes falls on deaf ears. this is all a part of the lessons learned. but i'll relay one aspect that i thought my media training program was great and going swimmingly. we were out -- i was out on a mission. actually, i was on a mission with our calvary squad. and we were riding in the humvee. and one the soldiers was kind of talking and bantering and carry on. i was sitting in the back. we were heading down route jackson in baghdad. and his -- the vehicle commander who was a young staff sergeant said, hey, shh. we have media in the vehicle. and i said where?
and i started looking around. and then i had to stop and explain to them that i was a public affairs officer. i'm one of you guys. i'm not the media. but it reminded me that as much work as we had put into training our soldiers about media awareness, we still had a long way to go. sometimes there's just a disconnect. a guy in uniform with a camera to them, even though my rank was clearly on my body armour and i had the unit patch and all of that, but to him, he was trying to do the right thing. he was trying to keep his men professional. he wasn't trying to censor what the guy was saying. he was using salty, calvary-men type language. he was worried i would be offended or misrepresent the unit. that's the lower tactical levels. we have to keep with it and
maintain that training posture. >> right. >> sure. >> a small little known fact, i don't know if you you know it, every year about forty green lieutenant and colonels who are new commanders, newly minted commanders, spend two days at "the new york times" where they are exposed to the culture of journalism to do right alongs with reporters both print at "the times," and broadcast. a similar program is hosted by the "l.a. times" on the west coast. and it's a fabulous way for these machines who are headed out to understand the culture of the people who are going to be embedded with them. >> a big proponent of that program was walter anderson, the former publisher parade magazine
who takes great pride in that. [inaudible] >> marine in air scream ma. >> no, thank you. you mentioned it's time to look at the new curriculum. you mentioned people are communicating in ways they haven't. journalist are fitting in with the facebook and twitter. military seems to forbid that. more recently, you have come to embrace the use, and in some cases encourage it. one the night news challenge winners this year was a private project like a unit in afghanistan would have an embedded reporter. they would be doing social media
via facebook to give some length of ground truth as what's happening on the ground there to the outside work and work with the families too. it was pretty innovative, i would just wondering if you could talk more about that. we have generals now blogging and tweeting and so forth. the press is going it as well. that seems like a whole brave new world for both sides. >> i think it's a whole brave new world for everybody. i would say this, that there are huge strengths to the social media. >> right. >> but that nothing is panacea and communication. and social media is not a panacea in communication. social media is a tool which offers the ability to reach large numbers of people instantaneously, and it is terrific for many things. you are right. the pentagon within the last year has made it easier for people to use the social media. this is where the secretary is bluffing.
and, in fact, one of my colleagues, who came to us from google who had been the head of google's mobile division has been a read leader in helping us define and understand the ways in which we can effectively use social media. i'll tell you here that we're going to be even going one of the t.e.d. conference. that having been said, the social media is not the answer to everything. and i permly don't think the social media is a stove pipe into which you fit all of the other parts of communication in order to figure out how you make it work for facebook, twitter, and the others. >> right. >> facebook and twitter have been superb tools, as have skype for our men and women to connect with the families. i think that's the single best step forward in helping communication between families
that i've seen. we also have outstanding ability to deal with those who are our are adversaries, our enemies, on using the social media. i won't get into specific details, but i will say that the feeling that those in the cave are out maneuvers those at the pentagon probably is not a truth any longer. but i think it -- i will also say this. that we have some outstanding younger journalists who are coming to visibility as a result of blogs. and there are some really excellent military blogs. but that having been said, i don't believe facebook and twitter are their own entities. they are tools, just like print and broadcast media and the internet are to be used as tools of communication.
if we pretend otherwise and think that, you know, this is completely and solely the way of the future, we are making an erroneous zero-sum choice. >> i think there's pitfalls. it can be for lack of a better term, double-edged sword. curt, you had run ins with a baghdad with a blogger. i don't know if you want to talk about that. >> that would be a two-hour discussion in itself. what we had, you know, cliff notes version, we had a soldier who was writeing anonymously a diary about his experiences in baghdad. there was problems with that. because he was in violation of the policy. you know, he had not disclosed to his chain of command that she was doing that. that was only the tip of the iceberg, because what she was doing was fabricating stories. and unfortunately, the publication wasn't checking
those stories. so i soon found myself embroiled in a situation that was twofold. number one, we were trying to figure out who the individual was. number two, we were trying to figure out if what he was saying was truthful. we were talking about, you know, essentially war crimes. we had an obligation to investigation that and make sure that what he was relating as fact, you know, -- did it happen? if it did, then we have to take appropriate action. what we discovered, it was not truthful, it was unfounded, and it just -- it caused problems to say the least. so again, it's just a reminder of we are not there. some of the questions that i fielded with the media were, you know, i said it's not a free speech issue. we're not trying to curtail this soldier's right to do that, to be involved and to blog. but he has an obligation as a
soldier to be in compliance with the policy. but more than that, he has an obligation to tell the truth. >> by the way of background. he wasn't just blogging out in cyber space. he was writing it for the new republican. >> right. >> under the name the baghdad dirist. >> yes. it was 2007. you may recall. he did come forward. having been involved with the investigation and having seen what happened, very small grains of truth. but mostly embellishment, it just caused -- it creates a problem, a distraction for the unit. because a lot of those guys were going the right thing. they deserved better. they did not deserve that kind of negative focus and attention. >> what are the rules now about blogging? i was just going to ask that. >> yeah, assuming it's true. i mean for a soldier on the
ground? in infantry say in kandahar, can he blog? >> yes, i can't get to the absolute details of the policy because to be completely honest, you know, i'm going off of my experience, my tactical experience was three years ago. i haven't seen the policy as of late. i don't know exactly what's in it. soldiers can blog. what you have to -- the most -- the stickiest wicket so to speak is an operational security. and when these guys are blogging, sometimes what they may believe in their mind completely innocuous, relating an incident or situation or a photo is taken could be something that puts other soldiers in harm's way. and that's what we mean by operational security. and so there has to be a level of oversight. and again, it's not about curtailing an individual's free
speech. it's about making sure what they are doing is not going to put other soldiers in harm's way. >> right. >> so that's really the bottom line. >> yeah, i agree with what curt has to say. to me, this is one of a myriad of examples of this new world that we are all living in. which is in my view, largely defined by the fact that technology has out pace the policy, has out paced law, and has out paced legislation. so what you have is the capabilities to do things you never could do before. and as a result, you are having to deal with questions and unintended consequences for which there are no frameworks. it doesn't mean that we want -- that we are adversaries, it means we haven't figured out how best to deal with these yet. >> yeah, we have a lot of ground to cover. we want to open it up to questions. one the words on everybody's mind i'm sure is wikileaks.
we want to bring that up. we want to talk about the embed situation. people like you, elizabeth, have gone out there. military reporters and editors have circulated sort of a protest letter in which they said that last month while in kandahar, several journalist complained of being ousted from the planned embeds at the media center in kandahar airfield. they complained about suddenly finded themselves unbooted like the airfield for unclear reasons or gotten in trouble for going to the unit's public affairs, this is "a.p.," "new york times" complaining. i also wanted to get into guantanamo, i've been done there several times. i remember one the things that was really hard was to get any kind of scripts or
documentation. i know that's still a problem. i talked to someone who's down there right now covering the qatar case. getting what they field the public deserves in terms of documentation of what's happening down there. that's another issue. i think we can sort of, if you would, why don't we start with the embeds thing. is there any kind of restrictions going on? or is it because of operational, you know, restrictions down there in terms of like not being able to go to places because of the combat situation or? >> i'm probably not the right person to ask in terms of being able to answer that, you know, completely. >> right. >> my colleague, protection -- admiral greg smith who heads unifashions for isaf is doing great. so i don't know. i do know that the quest for
embeds in kandahar are -- there's waiting lists. they have enormous numbers of requests. they are trying to fill them as much as possible. and again, i would have to defer that to my colleague, greg smith. he'll know the details. i'd feel awkward speaking for him. >> sure. do you guys want to talk about the embed situation? >> i can talk to what i experienced in iraq. that is units are limited in the amount of media that they can bring in. and it's not -- you can't apply a universal template, different units have different capabilities. it's just the way of the world. and sometimes, there are situations beyond a control, such as weather that prevent transportation of media personnel and journalist into those formations and things. so what i'm saying is that there are probably very good reasons for why this is happened. not having been there, you know, i'm not a part of that have
chain of command. so i can't talk to what's going on in afghanistan. i will tell you that i tried as a pao to facilitate as many embeds as i possibly could. i always tried to work with the journalist to the best of my ability. most of the time, we could do that. i was fortunate that my higher headquarters gave me the leeway to work directly with journalist to try to solve the problems and the -- not so much the problems, but the challenges in terms of getting them into our formations. but not every headquarters has the same policies. and the way to do business. and so without knowing how they do it, i mean i can't speak specifically to that of other than to say that i think that most public affairs professionals want to get these journalists into the formations. >> right. >> there are going to be challenges and factors that are out of their hands. you have to work through it. >> yeah, i don't know specifically what happened down
there. i know there are a lot of complaints. they all happened around the same time in kandahar airfield. there were six embeds canceled around the same time. if you get all the way down there, and your embed is canceled, it's a serious drag. i also know, of course, we had a "new york times" reporter and "new york times" photographer, jawal silva, when the bed was hit by an i.e.d. whatever caused that, there seems to be more going on. again, i don't know what was going on down there. >> right. let's get to wikileaks for a second. everybody knows the story. but this summer, they released about 70,000 documents, i think it was, about u.s. troops in afghanistan, and just in recent days they distributed nearly 400,000 classified documents
from the iraq war. and there's been a, you know, flurry of responses in washington from both sides of the political aisle. and i think that there are some people interpreting jeff morrell's statement as a suggest that maybe the federal government is considering having wikileaks be the first public target for a u.s. government cyberattack. by that, using whatever means necessary to shut them down. if you can't stop them in court, we might have to use other ways of taking out their ability to do this. i think his remarks, and i could read them to you, i don't get that reading from them. but i think other people have publicly written that. is that something that's being con policemen -- contemplated? what do you do with an organization like wikileaks, especially when you have an organization like obama saying we want transparency. this seems to be further across
the line than mere transparency. i wanted to ask you your thoughts on that. >> let me give a shootout to my friend and colleague jeff morrell. he's taking a beating here. he's having to deal with the same kinds of issues that we all are. and i don't think he's stated nor is it our intent to state whatsoever, you know, that we are out to bomb wikileaks. >> so cyberattack. >> cyberattack, okay. wikileaks is another one of these in my view it's the template of the inability of policy and law to keep up with technology. >> right. >> you now have the ability to send anything, anywhere to anyone at any time. in doing so, i think wikileaks
have given whistleblower a bad name. there are justifiable reasons for whistle blowers to want to make available information this they honestly and truly believe the public needs to know. i think this is a different case. i'm not sure the journalistic credentials of wikileaks. you have hundreds of thousands of documents that have been released illegally. they are not possession of wikileaks illegally. >> right. >> they contain information that can put the information of men and women in danger. the founder of wikileaks said they made an attempt to do redactions without the expertise to do it. they apparently only addressed a few thousands of the tens of
documents that were in the case. >> what about the pentagon? >> i don't think the pentagon is in the area to do consultation on illegal documents. they can say these are illegal. we want them back. what you have is a situation of if you wanted to define it as what is the roll of the whistleblower in the internet age? i think wikileaks -- i think wikileaks is the template for arrogance, self-right outness, -- self-righteousness, and naivety. wikileaks was given an award in the uk for being the best. they then wrote to wikileaks
saying you are putting the lives of people in danger. as this whole issues evolves and emerges, and as there are no absolutes in so much of what we do, i would say there's a couple of absolutes. one is the documents they have have been obtained illegally and are being used illegally. second, i do not believe they have the expertise to know how to eliminate information that could have been of danger to our men and women in uniform and national security. and third, it is a glaring example of how technology has out paced law and policy. >> yeah. well, i noticed one thing it did in a rare point of convergence, it brought the "washington post" and "washington times" together in criticizing them for doing this. that doesn't happen very often. i wanted to make sure, i wasn't saying that jeff was saying it should be bombed or even
disabled through cyber space. i was saying there are some people out there that have written that's what they interpreted from his remarks. does anyone else want to talk about wikileaks? >> i'd like to repeat two words. and that's anonymity and accountability. and this -- a lot of things have failed to keep up with current events and with technology. but i wrote that down. it's fundamental here. elizabeth? >> just "the new york times" has been the recipients of the documents that "the times" has pointed out, we have redacted names and identities. >> right. >> curt, do you want to? >> i just -- it's not just people in uniform that are put in danger. it's the people in these countries that have been -- >> afghans on the ground. >> right. afghans, iraqi, that have put
themselves at risk to help because they believe it's the right thing. >> right. >> and if you've been there and you've been in the situation, you've seen some of the horrible, horrible things that are done to people, it's conceivable to me that someone would do this. >> has any of that proven to be true? i know that was concern in the afghan documents that people were going to retaliated against. is there evidence of that happening yet? >> it is absolutely clear that our enemies in many places are basically going to school now on these documents. >> yeah. >> and certainly efforts are being taken -- >> uh-huh. >> -- to protect the lives of people who maybe at risk. and i would just leave it at that. but let us just say that anybody who has access to the internet now have access to these documents. >> right. just because it was tantalizing,
can you give any more information? what efforts are being made? moving people, putting them in witness protection, or increasing security around them as a result of? >> i will resist the template to take you up on the tantalizing. and just say that there are a lot of people who are paying a lot of attention to making sure those who maybe at risk are not so. >> right. i think we should open up to questions now. i do want to circle back to guantanamo later. hopefully somebody will ask. where's the microphone? >> the microphone is right here. give me a moment. >> here in the first row. if you want to state your name and affiliation. >> i'm clark bell with the mccormick foundation. since 1992, we've hosted an every other year conference on media relations.
there was talk that request for embedding were down partly because of the newsroom cutbacks and partly because of the dangerous situation in afghanistan and outside the green zone. i know the dynamics have changed. is somebody actually keeping score on how many applications? how many are placed? how long they go? i was just wondering if there's records kept on this. >> well, i don't have -- [laughter] >> the answer is yes. i'm not the one keeping them. yes, yes, of course. >> are there more embed requests now? >> i don't know how they compare with the past years. there certainly had a large number of embed requests now. yes, there are. kandahar in particular. >> does anybody want to add to that? >> i -- yeah, the big embed. it varies with the news, of course. so in the winter, i know there's a number of -- large number of embed request for helmand and
marjah when that operation got going. there was a waiting list. it's now shifted to kandahar. the big operation is now in kandahar. >> nadia, and three pentagon reporters. i'll let them have it, then you. nadia, brian, then tony. yeah, it's coming right here. >> thank you. my name is meade ya. -- nadia. i'm reporter with the nbc middle east center. you raise important topics. i wanted to ask you about wiki leaks. almost since the documents have been released, it's a dismissal that we haven't heard anything new, we haven't learned anything new. for us in the media that have been covering the war in iraq, it seems like the validation about the civilian deaths, at
the infiltration of the iraqi prime minister. don't you think the release of the documents is going to cause of problem of credibility to the u.s. military considering that general petraeus is talking about a twofold strategy in terms of reaching hearts and minds, when the u.s. army, civil leadership, is turning a blind eye at least to say the best in civilian deaths and killing in iraq? >> on the credibility question, i think that we've been quite clear that the release of these documents and the publication of them is -- causes a credibility question for us, our allies in particular. how do you keep information protected? it's one the questions that i think that is an unintended consequence of the advances in technology. in terms of what is in the
documents, i'm not going to get into what is in the documents or have that discussion here. that's a discussion you are more than welcome to have with my colleagues at the podium. but what i will say is that in my view, the difficult thing for me to grasp about wikileaks is that the things that are out there now have been covered by the press and have been covered by journalists, warts and all. and so the question becomes what is the whistleblower value here? i think it's a very valid question to ask and there are many of us who question whether there is in this instance. >> well, i would just say from the point of view on "the new york times," i didn't write the stories. michael gordon wrote the main stories. i sit next to him. i could say what you saw in the paper is the editors and michael and the other reporters felt that while it didn't change the
overall narrative of the iraq wars, we know it's certainly added texture, a lot more detail to the historic record. especially for somebody like michael who is now writing a third book about iraq. he looked at the documents as someone who was essential to the historical record on the long history of the war in iraq. and the story on the -- there was more influence from iran than had been previously disclosed. and again, the greater number of civilian deaths and the torture that was going on. that's the view of the "new york times". there was something that was important to know in these documents. >> general? >> there is a little bit of picking at the scab that this wikileaks has done. my -- i left iraq in june of 2004.
so my experience is dated. but one thing that i'll not forget is when abu ghraib broke. and when my senior iraq advisor, who was a brigadier fighter pilot under saddam came and said, general, you can't imagine how badly this is going to play on the arab street. we were in the business of developing the iraqi army and security forces at that time. and we had been put on a pedestal by all of the young iraqi men that we were bringing in. and that caused -- that abu ghraib thing costs us dearly. the many snapshots in wikileaks that could hurt our reputation will do again perhaps not as violently as happened in 2004, but i would also try to balance
the bad things that we discovered in there with the great things that young men and women from the united states and coalition are also doing. so i would plead for a balanced review of these documents. as we see outcomes in the analysis that intel officers either as professional intel officers or as folks who do it for an advocation tried to see into the picture of the last few years in iraq. >> clark, do you have anything to add? >> i can only speak from my own experience. but the characterization that the u.s. military as a whole turned a blind eye to torture and abuses is incorrect. because i was involved with an investigation of abuses of iraqi
detainees by security forces. my chain of command, my commander saw it immediately for what it was, unacceptable. we investigated it. for anyone to characterize this is a blanket kind of policy that accused across the spectrum. >> i don't think we said that. >> no, but i would put this out there. if that's the perception from the wikileaks documents, i've seen the u.s. turned a blind eye to that. and in some cases, that maybe, in fact, correct. again, i can't speak to that. i can only tell you from personal experience. there are people out there trying to do the right things as the general said that have the values and the stand -- the moral stands to do the right thing when confronted with a crime. >> can i use this opportunity, by the way, i'd be interested, elizabeth and brian and tony and anybody else in the press. wikileaks does raise the very
interesting issue involve and beyond wikileaks itself as to the roll of the mainstream press in taking the documents, using them, writing about them, you know, we are aware that it's happening. we've had, you know, a number of folks come to us which we greatly appreciate. others have not. but i'd be interested in press view of wikileaks and does that put you in any kind of more difficult situation or is this -- or is this the framework under which you all currently write and operate allow for a wikileaks presenting all of these kinds of, you know, kind of classified documented? >> well, speak for the editors. i think the view is certainly that wikileaks was viewed as a source. the way that "new york times"
views a source. you check the source out, you don't take everything verbatim. you get different opinions. in this case, certainly in afghanistan, but with the most recent case in iraq. we have michael gordon, who's "the new york times" authority on iraq plus a number of reporters who covered this war for many years. so, you know, michael and sabrina poured through the documents, pulled stuff out, had researcher, and would never have used -- didn't use anything that didn't check out. it's like any source. and as you know, went to the pentagon. this is what we've got. and, you know, we're redacting these names and so forth. that was how "the new york times" chose to view wikileaks. not as collaborator, or partner, but an outside source. >> how do you verify them? >> you'd have to ask michael.
i guess -- the point is it was reviewed by people who have covered the war for a long, long time. >> right. brian first. then tony. >> brian bender with "the boston globe". to follow up on nadia, she talked about credibility, obviously, the documents as you said, were released illegally. but they do -- they do raise credibility questions, i think, in the minds of some of us. and you mention credibility in terms of american allies, you know, can the u.s. government keep secrets, that sort of thing. but one thing that really struck me, and it's been covered somewhat in the last few days is some of the numbers on civilian casualties. something that us in the media for a long time in iraq tried to get a sense of. how many civilian deaths? who were responsible? obviously the u.s. was not.
not the primary driver of that. we were told for many years, well, the u.s. military doesn't keep those statistics. when some media outlets would make estimates based on news reports, other sources, i think at one point, i think it was the "a.p." was estimating 2,000 civilian deaths per month. we were told by the u.s. military command at the time that was over blown. turns out one the documents or a number of the documents talk about that in the wikileaks release. which put the number at one point at 4,000 a month around the same time. so my question to you, i guess, is without getting into the specifics of that, where you sit, sort of on top of the pyramid of what's a vast public affairs operation, worldwide, how can you be sure that when that official is put out there to talk to the press, number one, they are not lying. or number two, which i assume is
the case more often than not, they don't have all of the information. they are misleading by omission. general casey was asked about this the other day. he was the commander. he's now the army chief of staff. he booted the question and punted and didn't answer it. i haven't seen the documents. the fact is his command, number one said for a long time they didn't keep casualty counts. when they did respond to press inquiries, said it was over blown. turns out the internal estimates were far higher. >> one the first estimates came from president bush. i remember when he first came a number on civilian casualties. it was news. that was the first we'd heard of it. >> that was much later. so the question is how do you know or how can you be sure that, you know, the information that is getting out there is truthful, is not omitting information, and is not purposely untruthful? >> it's a great question. i can't speak for those who
headed my office in the past. although i'm sure they have approached this in the same way that i would or i think anybody would republican or democrat. when you take a job, like i have, you have to take this on the understanding that your credibility is key. it's your currency. you have to say, as i did under oath in front of the senate, that i will be as credible, transparent, and timely, and accurate in dealing with the press as i possibly can. the people that i choose to work with me, the people who speak on behalf of the department for whom i'm responsible, i'm responsible, i'm accountable, and i can only do the very best that i can to ensure that what is being said is the truth. i don't know how i or anybody else could answer your question
above and beyond that. other than to say that it is a commitment that i have, it is a commitment that those who work with me have to take in order to work with me. and based on the individuals with whom i've worked on both sides of the aisle, i'm sure it's the commitment that everyone who would take a job intends to live up to. >> general? do you have any thoughts on that? or? >> the -- during the last administration, it was the military's views specifically the army's view that the military that the army chain of command had to impose a higher standard of discipline and moral warfare execution than did the civilian leadership at the time. and this goes back to what happened in guantanamo, how it morphed over to abu ghraib, and
it caused general petraeus, among others, as the commanding general to put a letter out. we are not going to torture prisoners. we are going to follow the following policies associated in our treatment of detainees. near concurrence with that, you had an unfortunate face off between mr. rumsfeld, and general pace. and the comment was related to finding something going on that is wrong but it's in -- it deals with iraqis, a sovereign state at that time. and general pace said that the -- that the soldier or machine is obliged to stop the activity. to stop the illegal activity. and the secretary of the defense at time said, no, the obligation
is to report the activity. and general pace came back and said, stop the activity. general pace had to recant the next day. that gives you an idea of some of the ambiguity that game from the highest level of our government and it's impact on what was going on in a theater of operations. where the military actually had to go in and establish a higher level of moral code than they were getting from washington, d.c. >> tony is next. i guess then we'll -- >> tony with "bloomberg news." two questions for doug. at this point, have any of the 300 iraqi names that the pentagon was particularly concerned about in the wikileaks
documents, have any of them been released in the dump from last week, or did wikileaks at this point in your estimation do an incredible job of redacting those names? i have a follow up. answer that first. >> again, tony, who is my great friend, a question like that is more appropriately directed during the daily briefings to the briefer. i will say this, that we understand that the wikileaks team understands redaction. you had to have been deaf not to have heard the message the first time. we still believe that there are individuals who could be at risk, we believe that there is information about how we conduct ourselves on the battlefield which can put our soldiers at risk, and we are doing everything possible to address that. and there is an enormous amount of man power and financial
resources going in to having to do this. that would not have been necessary had these documents not been released illegally. so i'll just leave it at that. >> second question, between the first wikileaks dump in july and last week's dump, there was woodyleaks. latest woodward book. they were silent about the material that was in his book. he bragged about his access to classifyied documents, his access to documents nobody could get to. but he had access to the book. it's a striking double standard. how do you square the circle? outrage for wikileaks, silence or praise, everybody should read the book of cardinal gibbs at the white house when that thing is filled with classified information and probably access to individuals that mr. gates is probably tearing the white hair
out? how do you square the two? >> great question. [laughter] >> there are three other people on the panels. >> no, no, no, you don't want my answer. >> i'll ask all of you. >> that's okay. because i think it is a valid question. we are living at a time when we are seeing presentations of facts and opinion appear like we've never seen before. wikileaks is certainly one of them. bob woodward has written 16 books. he does have a kind of iconic presence in this town given the watergate coverage. it's hard for me, tony, to really reply to what i think is a great question about the woodward book. because what we've seen in this is the rise of kind of histories that don't cover years and
decades, and long periods of time, but they may cover, you know, 18 months. it's a new definition of history. it is clear that given the kind of coverage that takes place here, coverage is no longer just separated into here's the news, and here's the gossip, and here's the stories about who's up and who's down. they all do tend to blend together. and i think that there are the kinds of new relationships that individuals have both with -- who are in the press and outside of it that i think come together to collectively raise new kinds of questions that hadn't been raised before. i don't know how i would answer that question. other than to say that those kinds of questions are being asked when they have never been asked before. >> right. >> they are being asked by lawyers that now have clients and the government is going
after them for leaking classified information. woodward gets the stuff. why don't other people? >> yes, they are being asked by lots of people. >> so what is it? so if you have to define the difference between the information in the woodward book and the information that wikileaks released, is there a difference in quantitative, or qualitative, what's the difference? >> the information that was presented by wikileaks is hundreds of thousands of documents literally obtained illegally and dumped illegally. snapshots in time, individual reports, no context and no permission. those who talked to mr. woodward about his book, each of them talked to mr. woodward consciously, and for a reason. i am not a judge.
and i am not the person to judge why or how they did it. but each of them did so knows what they were doing. i don't think the release of the documents illegally obtained was done in any kind of coherent manner for any kind of stated purpose with anybody having reviewed everything that was in the those documents. i understand the question, and i understand that -- >> so leaks -- >> they are not easy answers. >> so leaks with a sophisticated political agenda are acceptable? >> no, i didn't say they were acceptable. i just said you asked what the difference was in terms of the information conveyed. that's how i convey the information. it is not for me to judge the bob woodward book. i've never been in a bob woodward book, any luck i'll never be in a bob woodward book.
had maps like that, so it is a good question. do you want to weigh in on those? >> there's a lot of other ground to cover, too. >> the ground level detail on reporters coming into areas where classified information is exposed, and the rules are understood. at the same time, i am reminded of president nixon's comment to paraphrase it's not wrong if the president says it's not wrong. >> that's right, the president can be classified documents just by saying here it is. >> [inaudible] one big difference. >> i thought it was just the president who could declassify. >> each level of the classification is a program where the guy who is responsible for that can act on it, so if
doesn't all go to the president for classification of doherty to the scope of doherty deacons -- authority. islamic classified on every page everybody was trying to get but he got it and the pentagon been over backwards the weekend before he came out, he declassified all of it. saddam, the double standard. nothing happened to him, there was a deafening silence, a twittering, but that was it. >> you are absolutely right, tony, i wasn't here last september. [laughter] i was preparing a conference on military families, so let's go to another -- who has a question. right here. >> i'm from the crime of war project, used to be the chief prosecutor of guantanamo bay on active duty. throughout my career public affairs has always talked the talk and said the media is
important. we want to walk with the media. since the problems walking the walk. they talk about transparency and openness that used to state secret privilege to glock the gypsum lawsuit and with wikileaks the judge's decision was published on redacted and polled in the redacted version to paint an entirely different picture of the case. and in the carter case, you have the video of the canadian interrogation video, supreme court canada released it was available on the internet, yet you had a closed secret proceeding to air the video at guantanamo, which literally met the requirement of the rules but the rules made no sense in that case. so i guess my question is the over classification of information and secrecy i feel is why people are so curious what's behind the curtain and wondering what is being done to try to avoid this over classification of information.
>> that's a great question. do you mind if we turn to guantanamo because i'm perfectly happy to do that. >> that's great. before we do, i interviewed one of the reporters down there right now and this reporter said at least on the carter case, reporters are still -- we still have to struggle to get basic information like court transcripts, even information like how much the pentagon spent on mental health testimony in the carter case. photographs are still censored to a ridiculous degree. so anyway, just want to add that. >> let me address that, and it's too bad that the reporter you talked to felt that way because we made a huge effort over the past several months to bring her reporters, bureau chiefs, lawyers and representatives of the military commissions in order to address what i think everybody agreed outdated and ground rules of engagement between the media and the military commissions.
again, this is one of the serious where we are in a new world and there are not presidents, particularly when you're dealing with the military commission. the initial ground rules i believe were written in 2002, 2003 and hasn't been updated for a long time. and people had made those complaints. they weren't getting the documents that their photographs for being overly censored, and we felt that there were very valid issues to be dealt with and we took the initiative and brought the group together including the pentagon press corps. in the process, we tried to deal with both the operational aspects -- i mean, we went from how do you determine what are the security risks with photographs to how do you provide better toilets for the journalists who are covering this. and we believe that we covered
all of these issues and we have developed new ground rules which were developed in cooperation with the press and presented to them. i am aware that in the process of implementing these rules that they are not going absolutely perfectly, although i've been told it is a huge improvement over what took place earlier. i don't know why there's problems getting transcripts but i will find out because it is worth the ground rules the transcript and documents are to be made available. the issue with regard to over classification was a very valid issue and we have dealt with that with jts and the commissions. interestingly enough, i've been involved in trying to address everything from overreaction to liquor. how can we make sure journalists have a place to drink, and where
should they have liquor, and i have spent a good deal of one of the day's the past week trying to find out, you know, where the jts put a particular reporters liquor because the bureau chief, you know, asked me, you know, is in this kind of bad taste. well, actually, no. it's not bad taste. we are trying our very best to respond in a forward leaning away to valid issues. we did the same thing we think on battlefield engagement. win reuters came to us with regard to the death of two of the reporters in 2007. so, the intention -- our intention is to work in tandem with the press in order to address these issues. i am going to find out about these particular issues because i easily have an issue today at a guantanamo, but it is not because there is not a willingness. a lot of people to inform
command i guess i would be interested with what you would have to say or tony. each site has rights and each side has responsibilities. we try to address issues in the context of both debt the press has rights that need to be addressed and we intend to address them. there are also responsibilities, and i will say that virtually everyone with whom we dealt in coming up with these new ground rules on the press site at knowledge that military commissions, those of the pentagon, have unique responsibilities and are in unique positions of putting unique positions with regard to protection of information and with regard to the new world we face down there. i found the whole process to be
not only in licensing that very encouraging that people were recognizing it's not just a one-way street. that's the attitude with which i tried to approach this job and how we deal with the press. are we perfect? no, but it's not for lack of trying to address. >> we only have a few more minutes. just briefly i know you are personally involved in the case of the guantanamo floor. the reporters who were reportedly beaten of guantanamo and then allowed back in. could you go into the firmament? >> the actual image of them being booted out, chained and behind bars is probably not the right image. every reporter who was down there has to find a willingness, a statement being willing to adhere to the ground rules. they all did sign a statement for them, went against the rules that they signed.
i'm somebody who believes naively that when you sign your name to a piece of paper that means that you are signing your willingness to abide by the rules, that you've given your name. they did not. there was a penalty to be imposed. there was also an appeals process. the was implemented very quickly, and it went all the way up to us and the reporters were reinstated. as a result we all agreed to take a look at the rules, and we all did collectively. so with regard to all of the issues involved with guantanamo from the imposition of the penalties to the reinstatement to the resizing of the rules altogether i personally don't regret any part of it. >> who's got a question of their? >> is their anybody here who is not a working journalist who would like to ask a question as well? we encourage that as well, so
anybody -- go ahead. we have time for a couple more after that. >> i am the pentagon correspondent for voice of america and an adjunct as a kid here in washington. i want to follow on to things that have been talked about. one is on the issue of on the record verses the backroom briefing room and was good to hear you say that your preference is to have as much on the record as possible, but i have not researched it but i'm sitting here trying to remember when an assistant secretary or deputy assistant secretary has been in the briefing room on the record in the last two years. i can't remember such an occasion being on the record even undersecretary or deputy undersecretary with the exception of ash carter, but certainly nobody talking about policy. that's always on background whether it's a report that's come out like the china report or a follow-up to some foreign visitor. it's always on the background and also on her trips when traveling with the secretary
policy folks always on background, so i would be interested to hear why that is or whether you have an interest in changing that. and then the other thing on wikileaks, you mentioned the colonel who does the morning gaggles. about a week before the latest documents cannot, he come on behalf pentagon, urged established media organizations not to cooperate with wikileaks and publish this material, saying it would give a veneer of credibility to this what he called this irresponsible action. so my question for you, doug and elisabeth, is do you think the times and the other newspapers did a terrible thing by participating in this, and what, if any, a consequence is looking for c.? and elisabeth, to the extent you were aware was this discussed at the times? was it considered that although your always happy to get new information that maybe there was some reason to consider that maybe it shouldn't be done in that way to raise them before we
start out with regard to the first question you will notice i did ask the secretary if we could be looking forward to more on the record briefings in the future. so anyway. >> i will go first and then elisabeth. but it's all right with you, josh, after we do this i do want to raise one issue for the school and for the purpose of the seminar. because al is a correspondent for the voice of america. i worked for several years in public diplomacy and i do want to make a point that al is that the kind of nexus of the kind of military and civilian parts of journalism coming and i want to make a point about public diplomacy in the military as well. let me just respond by saying we are making every effort to provide as much information as transparently and credibly and timely as we possibly can. i take your point about having more of the policy folks be on
the record as point that i intend to follow through on. i also have to say that there are times and i believe that what we did last week that the background decision was made to be doubled to provide information. we saw it as either provide information this way or we wouldn't be able to provide it. so i think that there are -- we are not always meetings you know some decisions about this person is going to go out on the record and on background or of the vehicle but the point you're making is a valid one. and if i could say one other thing with regard to "the new york times" and other papers writing on this subject. it is one of the reasons i asked elisabeth and wanted to hear from the press when you thought because i don't think there is a clear-cut answer on mainstream media writing.
i personally think it's probably an issue that if you're a journalist trying to put myself in your shoes you are always faced with, they are always faced with what are your sources and how you get the information and present the information as best you can. i have to make difficult decisions, and understand members of the press have to make difficult decisions as well. so in dealing with this, i have stated what we think about wikileaks and what we think about the information and which was presented. but i also understand that no one is living in a zero sum world including the press. >> i wasn't part of the discussion of whether this would be run in "the new york times" once was made available, so all i can tell you is like been told by editors. there was a news value in the information and the times decided it had -- as i said before they give to the source
and can live responsibly. >> we have one minute left. did you want to say something else? >> if you don't mind because i would love to hear also my colleagues and what you think and al asking the question brings this to mind because i think it's relevant. in a world where you can and to communicate by technology and e-mail and facebook edolphus, a think we are losing sight of the importance of the direct human contact in conveying information to read you have a decade in which younger men and women in uniform have really been the ones representing the u.s. government out there in gauging directly. not just -- your no longer dealing in london and paris and rome with editors and government leaders. you're dealing with the village leaders and religious leaders and teachers and people who,
themselves, have become opinion leaders in their countries because they have the means to do so, and because the press is covering them. you can have religious extremists from florida to yemen become international figures of consequence as a result of the attention paid to them. it's an issue that i think is not addressed and discussed enough, and i think an accompanying issue is the fact the non-military components of our government, those in public diplomacy, development and elsewhere i think of lost the ability to do their work productively, given the structure and circumstances to have to work behind the of the embassies stamping visa at the beginning of their careers and on a sense a kind of parallel but lesser track to try to
become investors paid do you see young men and women working for ngos, americans all over the world and i would just say that i hope your next seminar or one of your next seminars would have to do with how you provide the incentives and encouragement for those kind of people to come into the lawn and military parts of communication and be able once again to provide the essential element of the human interaction that i think is key in developing policy. >> that's a great place to stop and a great idea for a panel. thank you for coming, everybody in the audience and whoever's watching, too. appreciate it. [applause] [inaudible conversations]
the bipartisan policy center recently held a forum looking at how politics is covered. journalists and political advisers discuss what their political coverage is still taken seriously. this is one hour and ten minutes. >> let me begin again this afternoon buying thinking of the bipartisan center, tulane and all of you for coming and our great friends for making this trip. this is -- looking across the stage a person that isn't heavily involved and still trying to catch their breath
from the recent events and they are all here for free. so thank you all for doing this. [applause] this panel one journalism -- if you want to see by partisanship, talk to any democrat or republican and you will find agreement about the year due to the press. so one of the things we talk about this morning is how much this campaign compares to this election cycle compared with previous ones and keeps talking about 94. the media today is really completely different from the media environment in 1994, and the media is a player. that is why we can all have our views about them, but we couldn't do this -- we couldn't have a democracy as we all know with all the media. and for those of us and many of the panelists we travelled round
the world and work with emerging democracies. you talk to young people. what do they want to do? they want to be a journalist, they want to tell the truth. they want to get the truth out there. for those of you who have kids know, or my girls want to be a journalist, both of them, so is an incredible profession and it's one that is under a lot of tradition, and everyone here has lived through that transition. the title of this panel is learned a long, journalism and entertainment of course politics has always been the show business for ugly people. [laughter] so you will speak to the journalist part of it. david corn is the washington editor for the nation, he's on tv, he's an institution in washington, very thoughtful person. we used to score on crossfire, and lovingly so, and i want to
publicly apologize for something a privately apologized for. i used to refer to david as the faludi leche which i thought was a term of internet and he told me after the show i don't consider that a term of endearment. and we i think always had a civil conversation and it can happen and will happen because it and get some point we are going to please ourselves out with some of this rhetoric that's been pressing for political dialogue and now is the time. david is going to introduce these fabulous palace coup have been instrumental in this election cycle and passed. thank you very much for coming. [applause] thank you, mary, and a promise not to refer to any cookie conservatives. anyone that knows my work goes on a bipartisan type of guy. [laughter] as many people in this panel. let me do a quick introduction
so we can go right to questions and write to discussion and then get to questions. all the way -- actually this is in the right order will start with dan bartlett who is not person in the dress. [laughter] dan has several divisions in the white house and was very instrumental in george w. bush winning the white house he is now the president ceo of public strategies washington, d.c.. next to him on the left is betsy fischer, executive producer of the number one rated sunday morning show "meet the press," and it is the longest running television program in the history of the world. she hasn't been there all that time. [laughter] dale lockhart was press secretary for bill clinton, very easy job at the time. [laughter] and he's now a founding partner
managing director for the park group in washington, d.c.. next to him in the baseball cap is mark mckinnon, who is a leading producer and communication strategist who has worked for president george w. bush, senator john mccain, lance armstrong, and bono. i would like to see them in a room together someday. [laughter] next to him is kiki mclean of public affairs as part of the valley which is a big firm in d.c.. she is the senior adviser to hillary clinton and worked the obama campaign and also worked for the john kerrey campaign and has done a lot of political consulting over the years. right next to me is jonathan martin as he's known in washington j mart. it's an honor when you are known in d.c. by a nickname and he is the senior political writer for politico and has written for the "national review," the new republican national journal and washington post. he's one of the top guys that
political. if you hear what the top breaking news story, one of two times probably is one of his stories. so let me talk about blurring the line. is it -- is it entertainment, is it journalism, maybe it's something else. should i be using this? okay, i'm using this now. so let me just start by putting out a few promises. when i think of the media -- it is the really tough term to use because it covers a lot of things that really aren't the same but it's convenient at least. it seems there are three views of the media. one is the platonic ideal which is the media exists to inform the citizenry as we get good public debate and decision makers make better decisions. that is the ideal. then we have with you might call the corporate view, the media largely for-profit corporations that have to make money, and what they do, you have to
justify the bottom line. that might be different than educating the public for better conversations. and then i think for some people on the panel and for the political class the media is really something to use. it's a vehicle. it's not their job to make the media do a good job. it's their job to use the media to advance their agenda to be electing a candidate, it could be promoting a presidential policy. and so all those things are sort of happening at once, and people i think as they approached the media become mad from different perspectives. so, we've seen -- i don't think we have to go into details of the ever-changing media landscape by the time we finish this panel we will have changed them more. let me start with betsy because the freedom of the discussion is journalism or entertainment. and my friend, harry come told
me he is at the school couple years ago. brian williams was talking. it was about katrina, and harry asked the question about why the networks weren't covering for one of his key issues that is what went wrong with the engineering of the levees in new orleans during the flooding. and bryan said it's the emotional stories that are the most compelling. to his credit he then had to carry on the next day to talk about that issue, but the notion it's the emotional stories that are the most compelling. now, you have a particular niche in meet the press but in terms of network news and the way the media looks at an issue, is that a fair way of looking at framing it? >> i to use the katrina example, the emotions that went into our coverage of that, the people at the superdome pleating at the convention center crying for help, that was the emotional
story. that was the first week or two of the story. and then i think as time goes on to look back and do more investigating how did this happen, why did it happen but at that point, the motion of the story is what actually generate the huge cry across america going on. if you didn't see those people on television crying for help, you know, the next step wouldn't necessarily have happened, so that was an important starting point. >> do you think there's a sort of decent position in the media that's not just the next story but other stories to go with, you know, personal, the dramatic narrative, and, you know, maybe we will get to sort of the deeper, tougher issues? >> i think in order to draw people into the story that you always have to start with that narrative and kind of what people know, why they are connecting to a certain issue and move from there. and i think it infringes on television. you normally start a story with relating it to something and then move on from there. so if you it's kind of how you draw the reader or the viewer
in. >> mark, as a person who does media and to try to use the media more than just to sort of create media. do you -- do you care about whether it is a good job? sorry, i'm looking at dan. if you care if the media gets it correct its not what you're doing? and is it -- is it an important vehicle for you guys these days as other forms of communications stories? ..
because for the most part particularly when you talk about a crisis whether b. 9/11, the wars in afghanistan, iraq and obviously with katrina the network news the traditional news are still going to shape the narrative and still going to have the reach and the context to provide the most amount of americans during a crisis, so it was very important for us. winners to the old adage is that if it bleeds it leads than we knew a lot of the emotion would be put on the forefront that why joe and i have gray hair is the sky saying we will focus on this, focus on this, focus on this and it is right. there's an evolutionary process particularly during a crisis that starts with that law of motion and each day you get further from that event the dispassionate these commending you start seeing what went wrong
but didn't and that is where the dissection takes place. >> there is a lot of criticism that the media often goes for titillation. if you are in the white house during a presidential campaign, i mean is that in some ways your job to manipulate the media as much as you can to advance what you are working for? >> sure. i don't know if i can handle that. look, i mean obviously in a campaign to more you control the narrative of your candidate and of your candidacy, the more successful you are going to be. but the reason why we spent millions and millions of dollars on political advertising is a direct recognition that you can't control the media or the free journalists media, but having said that, having a strategy to recognize that reality understanding the tendencies of journalists and the competitive juices between
among networks, all those things, there is something that you can do to help kind of try to shape the news and if you leak strategies, who you give guess to an all those types of things is our little effort to try to steer the beast in one way or the other. some weeks you are successful and other weeks you get in a barrel and it feels like you never get out for many many weeks. so when you see those waves coming, you try to ride it as much as you can or if you see it coming at you try to get out of the way but the very recognition of paid advertising demonstrates that we recognize there are limitations on how much you can manipulate or control. >> joe, when you you were in the white house was there ever sort of a conversation in which someone said we need to have a good public debate on this? let's get out some great information about this particular issue? >> yeah and then we had the real media. [laughter] i think just to pick up on
something betsy said and dan, what the media is doing now, i buy into your second argument that they corporate argument, that it is a business and they are such voracious competition out to keep viewers or to keep readers and the traditional mainstream media is losing that to a host of other things which we can talk about another time. so what is missing then is while everyone is sitting there saying we have got to get people to watch us or we have got to get people to read us is the basic element of we have to inform people of what is really happening, and it has become just what you get a product of just what you think they want. and there is nothing that has come and underneath it yet to give you that roger texture reasoned analysis of what really happened and what they want and you know it is just not good
business right now. there may be as we move forward, with the wonder of the internet and the digital revolution, something that will emerge but it is not there right now that is why do you see some of the debates that you see on cable tv that aren't really about what the public interest is. >> which brings me to politico. jonathan, according to you, some people would see it as the next great big thing that bizarre to hear and others it is everything that is wrong with internet journalism. it focuses on the horse race. it is all about winning in the morning and getting -- to squeeze out its competitors and make money for its well-heeled backers. it does do a lot of analysis and it does cover a lot of legislative details. but those stories don't seem to be the ones that get deleted and they get the links.
do you think political represents the sort of a step forward, step to the site or just something else in terms of modern journalism? >> david we don't control what readers are interested in, so we write it and put it out there and obviously it is up to the reader to decide whether he is going or put it on facebook or link to it. that is their decision but i'm not going to say that we have a lot of people who are serious about politics and policy and i think to say that a person like david roderick for example has covered capitol hill for 35 years or rich cohen is just not fair. i spent lots of time on the road. i had 15 states to cover the midterms and i think we did pretty sustainable covered so i think it is not a critique. i will though say that there is no question that we are i think guilty as part of a more collective shift in the media
towards -- tends to get logged out about process and personality. you have to guard against that but i think it is in some ways inevitable. look, this past cycle you look at the most covered centers candidate was. the most covered candidate in america this past cycle was the person who was lost the race by 17 points. that should happen and that is a problem for us but we have to reconcile. >> christine o'donnell. >> i wasn't going to say your name. [laughter] so we have to try to examine that and figure out what we do about it but what i'm concerned about and a lot of other folks are in the business is all the incentives are built-in towards behavior that is more provocative than more flamboyant and more outlandish. case in point, joe wilson, the
congressman who stood up on the floor of the house and said you are the president. what happened to him after he said that? and what does every politician wants? they want publicity and they want money for their campaign. what do you get in spades after that incident quickly got publicity and money for his campaign. he was a backbench congressman that nobody in this room would have heard up -- up before he stood up. he said something there was very and gentlemen play. he was on national tv for days and raise raised millions for his campaign. you look it up on that, i don't know because he totally helped himself some way. that is what i'm concerned about is we reward that kind of behavior and it is not this incentivized. >> at the scene with the explosion and expansion of media whether it is logs blogs or professional web site, that there are few gatekeepers and
there is always somebody out there if you do something provocative that will transmit the message. and so in days past or maybe decades past, the bull would say you know a small number of people could control someone's access to a large number of view, and if you offended them or you didn't play by the rules, you didn't get access. but nowadays, through proliferation of media and bloggers and twitterers and everything else, people can break through very easily. that is the lesson of matt drudge. kiki, sarah palin, entertainment or journalism? [laughter] >> how about a made-for-tv movie? [laughter] you know, i am going to probably not be popular to this, but it is all entertainment. and when i say that i don't mean to demean serious journalists like john, betsy or david rogert
we are competing with a lot for people's attention in their daily lives so whether it is me as a press secretary on a campaign or betsy is the executive producer of the network show we are competing a lot with your attention -- for your attention, right? you are taking care of aging parents, going to work, cleaning the house tried to make sure you fulfill your obligation a church, take care of her friend on the street, make a doctor's appointments. somehow in the middle of all that, you need to stop and understand the deficit in trade and jobs and what the health care reform package means in all of that. so here's what happens. two things, number one we are using the term media. are we talking about the news media or the media? where we can being information? jon stewart in "meet the press." president obama -- he is going to both, right? so at a certain point as many
nights as i have spent tolerant as a member of the news media i also have to say some of the responsibilities out there. there is a lot of rubbernecking that goes on. do i really need to know what has happened to lindsay lohan? >> did something happen to lindsay lohan? >> i'm sure by 5:00 today we will -- it will. not to say we should be intellectually lead to only want to watch highbrow levels of conversation, but the reality is to get your attention and for you to take 10 or 15 minutes to pay attention out of your life and be engaging about it. that is what everybody on this panel from one point of view or another have struggled with, whether it is a commercial get made,, where there's an interview that is given. i think the front page of "usa today" is a dramatic example of that. what you see with president bush and really the demonstration in the headlines that came out about that story of his memoirs a dramatic and it is compelling because it is his point of view.
if it'd simply have the publication date in the name of the publisher chances are you weren't going to stop for 15 valuable minutes out of your day to take a look at a. >> it often seems to me in watching matt lauer's interview that he asked a lot of questions about how the former president felt about things. how do you feel about there not being wmd? what went wrong, how did this happen but do you think you should apologize to the american public? i mean those questions there may be important, may be engaging but it seems to me they really are half the story and at the end of the day they don't give you anything to use to improve the situation or maybe get it better next time. market, you worked with politicians and you work with celebrities. is the line blurred between how we cover each, and from your perspective, you know, in the next 10 or 20 years, how have things shifted?
>> radically, but it is a market in the markets are funny unless we want to be a soviet style culture where we force -- in this environment respond to what people want and just a couple of examples. one, recent poll asked 19 to 29 euros for the most respected news source was. number four was jon stewart. i was not long ago on the cable news show with a very well-known cable host with one of joe lockhart's colleagues when we were doing some bipartisan work and we were talking about working together in a bipartisan solution to some problems. we cut to the break, the host turned to me and said with you guys got the bipartisan and give us some red meat? so that is the kind of media we are dealing with. but the market is responding to matt. i think there are outlets like the "texas tribune," a lot of nonprofit organizations are beginning to pop up with very serious journalism where people can get the news that they want
straight sort of news, and at the same time i think we should quit this charade about this notion that some of the networks that it is really news. why don't we just ran some of the stuff unfair and unbalanced, and tell it like it is and then brand -- and i'm saying that for all. i'm not relating that to one side or the other. >> you are not talking just about fox. >> no i'm not, and talking about all the media but my point is they are, most of them now, cnn is the only one that is not in it is tiring and it's rating. some news, some sort of editorial opinion, they are calling it all news. i think you ought to called up and call news and call whatever else they want to caller, editorial perspective or whatever you want to call it. we are calling it news. >> newspapers have successfully divided opinion from news.
>> right, but that isn't necessarily the tradition of american journalism. you have papers that identify with political parties and to me there is also the a false dichotomy between say opinion and news. you can have -- having worked for "mother jones" in the nation, you can have journalism with values that is still accurate. to me, that is sort of the standard that is the hardest to maintain. no one would care i think about a bias at fox or a bias at msnbc if the stories were accurate because then you could say this is what happened and this is what it means. people understand when you say what it means it is a value judgment. dam, you now represent corporations and clients who are
sort of, who i guess are struggling to get messages out out maybe sometimes in times of crisis. do you have more media choices now? how do you sort of, is it harder to get a message out? >> no, and for those that have always had to rely upon the filter or to get their message out, now have through the proliferation of outlets, now have much more opportunities. for example, i talked to a lot of companies now. your greatest ambassador or spokesman or press secretary so to speak for your company and its reputation are your employees. your employees have access to facebook and twitter and these other things to discuss the values of their company and if they don't like where they are working they are going to let people know and if they do like it they are going to be advocates. i think that there are more opportunities now for ngo's and others when it comes to that. i think from a political standpoint, when we talk about
how the consumer, what they choose to use their time with, this proliferation has integrated the consumer. we don't have to tune in at 10:00 a.m. on sunday morning. we can download it or use their ipods or consume it when we want. my fear though is that what i see is those who are politically inclined are using this new found luxury to go to places, to go to places that only reinforce their ideas, not to question the view so if i wake up in the morning i've got to go wherever. somebody and they left has to go to "daily kos" or "huff post." you have to get your talking point and then you will decide to have a conversation knowing you are armed with a point you have made any of got this point because you have access to all of these people who think just like you and articulate better than you and you paired with a tell you. >> marxist that is great. that is laissez-faire in the market. you are giving people what they want. >> i agree. >> we know the ratings are going
to msn fox. >> i think the consumer likes it. i think to our politics that contributes to some the systemic partisanship we are saying. >> i got that the other day. i had senator demint on -- and someone sent me a message on twitter and said i have never met "meet the press." how can you have someone that i don't like what he says? that is not the reason not to watch the show because you would disagree with somebody's opinion. >> five years ago that person would have thrown something at the tv set. they have never would have reached you and you would have felt bad about a. >> i want to disabuse the notion that this is all new that it is all gone bad recently. that is just not true. >> media has always been problematic. >> for some. but the fact of the matter is the first televised debate, do you think people went on because they wanted to understand the difference between two presidential candidates waxed no. they went on for the wow what is going to happen next factor. people rarely for the first time
nor today do they turn to the debate because i feel like i'm going to have a clear understanding of where these two people in the process are. i am telling you it is rubbernecking and they are waiting for the crash. the other piece when you take a look at it, go back to 1992. bill clinton went on arsenio hall. breaking through the national media so we found a different avenue of media to do it. i hate for people to walk away thinking this is all just some new crisis because it is not a new crisis. it is about a relationship between citizens and information on how they are going to get it. >> let me bring a ratings down for a second and ask joe because i get e-mails. i get e-mails from joe all the time about global warming. because it is one of the issues he works on at the globe report. to my mind and the mind of most scientists it is very serious. we are not doing anything about it. the last election is put more -- into congress then there were
previously. looking at the media, taking that as an example of a serious issue for one that president bush agreed upon in terms of the degree of seriousness, i don't think he did what he should have but nevertheless there is bipartisan this about this being a serious issue. looking at the media landscape and what people focused on whether the horserace or lindsay lohan, what do you do in your office to try to work on that issue? >> well i think part of the problem is we are going to have to redefine our terms because news used to be controlled by a few people for the public good. and you can only turn on four channels. you can -- remember if you grew up, unless you were born say in the last 20 years you didn't have access to papers outside your hometown paper. you might be able to get "the new york times" or "the wall street journal." now we have moved away from this
idea that a select few will make decisions for us to where news is just like any other context. it is just content, and politicians are just creating content the same way people do with the real housewives of beverly hills. that is also content. and endy said at home, and you have an amazing ability to program your own information. i want a little of that, i want a little of that so that is how you do it. well, take a look at global warming. global warming was an issue that no one paid attention to until someone figured out a way to make it interesting content which was al gore's lily. with you like it or not, it is about content. so the answer is in the problem with any transition is change is hard. you go through these periods where it is not working and it is not working out with the way you will do it is the successful politicians, advocates, activists who are going to be the people who create content
that will give the impetus and political support for change. and global warming is a great example. we haven't built something on that that has been able to push us through and until we do we are not going to get anywhere. >> jonathan, let me ask you, being apolitical and let them marry while, and we have gone through the 2010 cycle, and as of four days ago we were in the 2012 cycle. do you see anything changing in terms of political media in the last two years or in the months ahead? >> i think it is definitely changing in the past couple of years. yeah and i think you have now political news captured basically real-time. the notion of watching the news at 6:30 at night or reading about it the next day a sort have gone. but, don't think that this is necessarily something that is unique to political news.
we have to step back and realize fragmentation is happening not just across the media buzz across everything in american society. we are now living in an ipod culture or satellite radio culture to choose your better for. you decide whether you want to consume or listen to when you wanted. and, people now have political political -- if they are into guarding the of gardening. yes they are radically ahead of their time when they create this all sports niche 30 years ago but it is not just us. i think it is across the board. the consumers want power so they can forget whatever it is they want, so it is taking place well beyond world politics and journalism. >> let me ask you and mark too about the ship speed. one thing that impresses me is that information comes and goes rather quickly these days. stories break at 10:00 a.m.. they are on cable within two
hours. they are regurgitated by the nighttime and then the next day it is like, that was weeks ago. how many people here have a twitter feed and follow twitter? the thing about twitter is, every time you add somebody to your twitter feed, it it makes your twitter feed go faster. if you have 600 people your information moves up and people tend not to subtract. they tend to add, so this is part of what political's model was, to go faster beyond time and to get give thanks real fast. i am old enough to remember that day when used to be able to think for a day, maybe two about something before writing or reporting it and then it would come out and for a week, sometimes even longer than a week, people responded and were considered. the next thing would happen, but now it seems everything is so compacted. >> that is a bit of a false choice david. i think when it comes to
breaking news it certainly happens in real-time and we consume it and chew over an hour later. and the pieces that can penetrate the take weeks or months. i just don't think just because there is now a platform where you can get something real-time, that quality and depth program journalism necessarily is a thing of the past. think about some of the magazine pieces that have come out about politics. peter baker's piece about the obama fight house. congress magazine amount or so ago, sort of the pre-mortar maffei will do for the election. peter probably is the best white house correspondent in washington and perhaps one of the best ever i think. long, thorough, have been reported, 15,000 words about the obama whitehouse. their challenges and what they got wrong. an hour with the president in the oval office. that piece had staying power and
was referred to again and again and again. it was not just some puff in the wind. it was there for sometime so i would dispute the notion that we are only in a world now where 300 words and then you are gone. >> i agree. i think there are breakthrough pieces. i think there may be fewer than they used to be and there still is the transmission belt is just getting faster and faster. mark, what do you think? >> it has been an ongoing debate with my wife just in the past 24 hours. we have been talking about this because i'm a big consumer and i happen to think that the disintermediation ultimately while it is messy like democracy gives us more information and is great for campaigns and for people seeking information because campaigns now are compelled to provide very deep information on policy because people can get to it. if you are responsible campaign you want to get elected you have got enough addition to provide that so i think in a lot of ways it is that a lot of the impact.
my wife on the other hand feels pretty strongly that you don't need information 30 times a day and that you don't have time to reflect or get any kind of deep meaning unless you stand back and reflect on it so i think our family is a good reflection of this debate. >> i want to raise one thing. it is interesting but i think it takes two to thank here. not just the press but people like dan and joe and mark and me have a role to play. we had a conversation at dinner last night about what is our expectation of journalism? do we treat them like a vendor that we want to flip a switch and get coverage versus do we treat them like a stakeholder. are we taking time along the path to talk to them when there is no coverage, when it is really about making sure they have all the fact that we have her go so when they do have to write quickly and when they do engage in understand the context they have it right.
they can't do it by themselves. but we have a responsibility on our side to maintain that part of the relationship. >> let me direct your direction betsy within me and that is you are compelled now given the cycles you are talking about where you are having to sort of post frequently throughout the day and i remember you sitting down in the middle of new york city in the middle of the campaign because you had to post at 10:00 a.m.. remember? so you are compelled to do little bites multiple times a day. does that allow you the time to do long format? >> absolutely. during the 08 campaign i had a blog for two years and every day i was sort of doing items on that blog eight or 10 hours a day. i still blog occasionally now, but yeah it is not an either/or mark. it is possible to do a quick hit about some speech excerpt but
also sort of step back and do anymore carper has a piece about a demographic trend you are saying in politics. i don't think it is an either/or question. >> i think there are two sides to that issue. i agree with jonathan and that "mother jones" we have, we are totally schizophrenic. we have a bimonthly magazine and a 24/7 web site. you have got to do both at the same time time and it can drive us crazy at some points. my concern is, i have some concern about the diversion of resources to the fierce urgency of now. and then, but the other thing is just again, the cacophony that the fierce urgency of now creates and you no it is not necessarily a problem for the media to solve, but for whether it is people involved in policy debates, citizens at large have absorbed information and whether there is indeed the this space
and the time to ponder it in an effective way. i think the proliferation of hyperspeed communications is making that more typical. let me just take -- check on the time because there is no clock here. i want to make sure we get to questions. who can tell me the time? 10 till. okay, time for questions. there is a microphone up there. let's get some students to map. >> you all talked a lot about -. >> let's try to get there a lot, so no speeches, questions. although you can practice or question with a short remark. >> you all talked a lot about the vast amount of news that is out there, the whole spectrum. what you didn't talk about is the accountability, how much misinformation is in there. how can we restore some accountability to what is being out there and consumed? >> i was going to ask you
because you are the big market guy here. >> yeah and i think that is what is going to happen. i think it is going to take time but what we are experiencing now, so many albums that are ungoverned that increasingly we are getting bad that information and there are consequences to that. i mean it was just amazing in the last campaign were a would see these stories come out that seem to have it legitimate by line and legitimate source and they are completely fabricated about being indicted or whatever it might by. and so i think what is going to happen over time is that people will get inoculated to that sort of thing and begin to demand accountability and they will look for sources where they can go get information that they know is honest and true and over time, the multiple sources will congregate into fewer that are more legitimate. >> that is very optimistic because one bleakest people will just go to where they hear and see what they want. >> that is the danger of this mentality we have now. anybody can be a journalist and
have a blog and there's no editor. you are reading in the newspaper and on newspaper blogs. someone else is looking back. something that is going on the nightly news, there were two or three people looking at that script making sure it is correct before you see it on nbc nightly news and that is gone in the blogosphere. >> but i think we are missing something here, which is right now the most profitable part of news is in some cases misinformation, which is we are locked in room and have to alternatively watch msnbc and fox every other hour, you would go crazy. [laughter] and some of that, they can't all be using correct, credible verifiable balance information. they are telling a story that they know will appeal to people to make money. both on the left in the right and maybe what we make it too
and i think this is where the promises, jonathan mentioned espn in ahead of its time. espn now has five channels. they have everything you can want to watch. there is going to have to be things that come up and there will be smaller audiences for people who want the new strait and for people who wanted 10% right and people that wanted verified. they are going to want to see underneath. sort of television put notes on how you can prove that. >> by the way joe, i think that is part of the reason we have been a success because we are giving reader something to do which is news. you can get opinion across the internet on every cable news channel but news and new information is an asset in this environment. >> i think we are best served if we stop using the word news because i can argue with you on news. you are giving us continent information and we are going to have to figure out how to do content. we are going to have to take out
a process because the people he is the process for us aren't around anymore. >> this is for another day perhaps and i will have to say that when it comes to come it is easy to make equivalence the arguments between fox and msnbc. i would challenge that. i would challenge anyone to say what glenn beck does has anything that is remotely similar on msnbc. >> that is quite biased. [laughter] >> duly noted. >> back to questioners. >> i wanted to sort of offer an alternative view about what could happen with all of this segmentation, because this is my own personal experience and also as a professor here what i'm seeing in my classes of students is that one of the options with all of these different alternatives with the cable and internet and everything else is to just shut it off.
and that, don't know if that is more dangerous or less dangerous than just choosing your news based on your their political preferences, but you know that is what i think younger people are choosing to do. it is just to say look, i can't trust any of these outlets. nobody is accountable so i'm just not going to watch. i'm not going to read and i'm not going to vote and i'm not going to participate in this process. so what do you say to those people that feel like they can't trust anything that they hear or read? >> i think it is an interesting point. i think it is on a much broader scale actually. i think a lot of the takeoff and social media is not because people want to go and gossip with their friends on a chat site or a blog site. it is that sort of the traditional institutional pillars in life that we used to go to to verify big decisions whether the financial, whether
b. political, whether it be religion, although stick pillars we have relied upon are now under assault in many respects and their reputations are under assault. i think the news media is probably one of those pillars that is under question just like politicians. so they are not going to seek information. they are just going to ask a friend, what are you doing? of the social aspect, although they are people i trust and i only have on my facebook people i trust are only follow tweets of people i trust and i'm going to do what they did so it breaks down the whole analysis and research and all that. i'm going to go to a forum where i know people have like mindedness and say magicians and values. the person i vote for, the church i want to go to or the financial adviser want to use i'm going to go to people who i trust. give me good information that regards i think that is part of what i think driving a lot of the social media. >> before we get terribly depressed about this, but
politics, the attention span is pretty short. all of those things that came together in 2008 where the youth were engaged in this country in a campaign like they hadn't been since the civil rights movement and the vietnam war. so we just need, does the combination. in the people who are willing to tune in but we need leaders and a system where they can engage and for better or worse, the obama presidency has not been able to engage in a way the candidacy did and that is an ongoing issue for them. they have got to figure that out >> let's go to the next two questions so we can get to some of the people in the back of the line. keep it reef. >> hi, my favorite anchorman growing up was walter cronkite and my favorite one is an adult was tim russet. i miss him dearly.
he wasn't afraid to challenge the person sitting on the other side of the table from him, and he wasn't afraid to ask pertinent questions and put them on the spot and make them feel uncomfortable. and today, what i find comments that are watching news, i'm finding that what i am watching and hearing her talk shows and sound bites, and one of the things i wanted to ask you is, because of the limited number of owners of media, -- you know at one time you could only own media in a newspaper if you want newspapers or television if you on television. now, ted turner owns a lot of things and hearst and all of these companies, you guys. i am wondering how is that affecting investigative journalism? >> let's take the next question.
thank you. i would like to ask a question about morbid global perspective. as the world's largest exporter of democratic ideals and media, do you think turning public-policy conversation into a spectacle more than a real discussion for the public to engage within is going to change the way that emerging countries like india, china and russia and brazil in particular, approach allowing freedom of speech? >> interesting. betsy do you want to talk about nbc news and i know they just hired the author of my book. mike is an investigative reporter so we are happy about that, but the truth is that investigative reporting costs a lot of money. and newspapers that are under pressure and networks that are under pressure, cable networks under pressure are finding it
increasingly difficult to spend that amount of money particularly if they don't think there'll be big ratings of big returns. >> i think it is a whole culture but we are were talking about earlier, 24/7 news turns around quicker and quicker and i think investigative journalists have to spend a long time working on a piece. just say you so your editor is t going to see you turning out story after story and we see that with television networks and increasingly in newspapers that the investigative department is no longer. >> and that is why do you have places so propublica, center for public integrity integrity at nonprofit organizations doing investigative journalism. "mother jones" is a nonprofit as well. it is very hard in the for-profit world now to justify the cost and expense. >> i think the center actually, think it is the center for public integrity that actually collects information will work with reporters at different
networks and different newspapers and partner with them and help them along the way so they are like a research partner for the news organizations and a cost-effective way of getting out investigative pieces. >> anybody have any thoughts on the global question, how it might impact the emerging democracies? >> is interesting just from my time between 2,002,007 and traveling the world is that i think it it is sorted and exported. they are just sensationalistic not more in other parts of the world. transformational eight it is satellite television. if you think about it, just the difference between how the gulf war one was covered with no satellite television and what it was like in 2003 and how that debate has moved both in the region and around the world. i think it is already taken off.
whether it is able to be used if you are in certain countries like you said russia or china to say this is not what we want. a fascinating story, there is a meeting with president putin and president bush and as we commend there is a lot of criticism at the time about president putin about steps he had taken against the free media and of course one of -- when the u.s. president comes to see a leader of russia he brings a lot of complaints from ngo's and news organizations and others. this issue came up and president bush said, vladimir say what you want, i hate to say anything. but gosh dang it just let them do it. vladimir putin goes don't you lecture me about the news. don't you lecture me about what happened. you fired that anchorman. what are you talking about? you fired that dan rather. you had him fired. you call the corporate headquarters and had him fired.
if i could have fired him, i would have fired him a long time ago. but there is this mindset that there's a lot of manipulation around here but i think the horse is already out of the barn. >> let's take two questions and try to keep them short. >> no problem. it seems lately that young people have become disillusioned with the media for many other reasons discussed today in that sort of has -- we are familiar with the rallies that happened in new york, jon stewart and stephen colbert. seems the comedians have been the new source for the news. satire seems to take on a new credibility that didn't exist before this change. >> actually had a similar question. thank you all for coming here, if for no rid of the reason a reason to skip class. where do you see the line kind of being drawn between being an entertainer and being a journalist? glenn beck would think of himself as a journalist
obviously. had a big rally and despite the fact he is very popular it is kind of morbid entertainment. the show is about glenn beck as opposed to news. stephen colbert or excuse me someone like jon stewart, seems like it is about jon stewart did he is willing to have this ralla back to a more, more of a discourse in this country as opposed to someone like glenn beck even though he marketed himself as entertainment. what you see that line being drawn or such is going to be blurred and it is going to be left up to us to decide where we draw that line? >> he will tell you with the line is drawn. i think what both israelis captured is the rise of media and public personality. as the referee taking off and sort of playing the game. think about big rallies in the past. they featured public figures. it was martin luther king giving the speech.
it wasn't jack parr or jack penny. now you are seeing the media. these folks are becoming come i don't want to know -- say the word leader but they are public figures of some influence in their own life. i think that attest to the fact that the media has become much more powerful and the lines have heard. they are not just observers for the task but they are actual players in the game. but it is interesting. i don't know any politician that could draw as many folks as those two figures did to them all. and look at sarah palin. this is somebody who was born in the lines of being a politician and a media figure. how do you cover her? do you follow her as a politician or to cover her as a limbaugh hannity that type figure? i don't know what the answer is. is not clear. >> do you cover it is a soap opera? >> with all this sympathy to the
young people because i was one once, it is not that funny. [laughter] young people getting their news or their political guidance and information from entertainment is not new. there was a show called laugh in which was the criticism and in the vietnam war came out and then there was a show called saturday night live, right? here's the difference. technology where those entertainers have a daily relationship with you, no pun intended and can say come meet me at a coffee shop, come meet me on the mall in washington d.c.. so the debate about young people not being inspired, being turned off my very stale debate, not necessarily true, just dale. the import -- the exception would be when they turned it upside down in 2000 or a post-watergate rally if you will. so that concept is not new. now one of the differences is today when you look at the journalist turned out the kid turned entertainer turned toward
personality we haven't talked and about specialty media or minority media. we have a huge rise of minority media in america which i think is awesome. african-american leaders on radio, telemundo and a lot of cities outrank traditional broadcast network. you look at the print newspapers. major news outlets, but traditionally in the communities of color, the news has been brought to bear by efficacy leaders because they would be the resources to pull it together and that is still happening today. >> let's go to two more questions. >> why is it that you think that comedy central has managed to kind of cornered the market unaccountability with fake fake news programs? >> my questions about jon stewart on the rally. what your reaction was to his blade and attacks media and i think it connects to what my
professor said earlier about how young people are disingenuous with "fox news" and cnn because part of it is jon stewart talks about how we feel and i wondered what you guys thought about that? >> one thing that was interesting about the jon stewart rally in the glenn beck rally, both at the end of the day had no political content. we thought went back what but but then emitted a religious rally and virtue and handed out awards to people who are good people and jon stewart, it was really an extended version of the show with a ten-minute sermon attached at the end, in which he said that really the only problem we have in this country is that people fight on cable news and they fight on the capital. he didn't really acknowledge that as you heard on the earlier panels, there is some very significant real policy differences in how we should handle our economics and foreign affairs and then we have twice had trouble resolving these
issues. i think stewart and colbert are geniuses. i mean fair mark twain level of satire. but you no it is not their job. their job is indeed to entertain, and maybe to engage but not to talk about how we deal with these conflicts, so at the end of the day i thought that it was kind of an easy out for john to make that sort of broadside against the media, because there are people on this panel and others who work hard and to care about issues and do try to have honest debates. it is not always easy and sometimes the public turns the channel. but you know, there is npr. there is pbs. there is c-span and a lot of stuff out there that doesn't get the ratings that jon stewart gets. why is that? >> in the end we mix up our definitions here. we are having a conversation here with smart people and
referring to jon stewart is a journalist and he is not. and, so maybe the better example is stephen colbert who now makes a fortune pretending to be someone else. now, maybe that, there is a future for that and politics. [laughter] >> i think that is happened in the past already. >> but the point is, you can say you get information from watching "the daily show" but it is not a new show, and baby news is now a definition that has to be redefined or thrown out, but the people who sit around in new york and put that show together are very very bright and they are very funny and very well-informed, but they are not journalists. they don't go out and gather news for the purpose of delivering news. they are trying to make you laugh. >> betsy how does make you feel since you produce a number one sunday show, the longest running new show.
how do you feel when you hear people say i'm not going to "meet the press," i'm going to jon stewart. i am talking these people. i'm talking about these people. they don't feel the need to watch david gregory or tim russert interviewing jim demint or somebody else. there watching jon stewart and feeling, i assume, tell me if i'm wrong, do you feel you are getting some news value and you are being informed by that? >> i think some of. >> i think i should point out that tulane just got newspapers on campus and they are all gone every day. there is this combination i think of this old-school style newspaper that we still read and at the same time we have this like comedian who can filter out all the garbage that the 24 hour news networks. >> but is he putting his own garbage on top of that?
>> yes. >> but you said it, he entertains you and you watch his show to be entertained. you don't necessarily watch betsy show to be entertained. >> i do think as long as people are engaged, as long as you were watching what is happening if it comes from jon john jon stewart fine, you may not be watching "meet the press" now that but maybe 10 years from now he will. or a guest on "meet the press." as long as you are engage in some aspect whether it is jon stewart or saturday night live, it doesn't matter. i think that is a positive thing. >> mark i think it is fascinating to see this affirmation and the impact jon stewart is having. is interesting to me is watching jon stewart and where he is kind of going back and forth across that line of irony toward direct engagement as a kind of news source and he is wearing that line of little bit himself. at what point does he adopt the mantle of a sort of guy who is really trying to change the
civic discourse or is he just an entertainer? >> he is a media critic thing in media critic. >> yeah and it is interesting to watch them. he has got 1 million viewers a night, or 300 million. he is not controlling debate and i think it is important and i think what you said is important about "the new york times" and "usa today." is this the only place you get information you have real problems. if you are using to bring texture and sometimes entertainment and sometimes to sympathize things and at least in your mind to think it is funny or not is fine but as long it is not the only place you are getting the news. the proliferation is made harder for people because now you have to go to a lot of different places to piece together what is going on. you can do it in a customized way but it still requires work. >> lets take two more quick questions. try to make a quick. >> we have talked about the rally a lot. actually had a chance to go to it, and i couldn't hear a single thing. there were so many people but it was really an incredible
opportunity, because unfortunately what i have been able to sense from, did any of you attend the rally by the way? were you able to get into the main area or were you outside? >> he was in the mosh pit. he was in the skybox. >> i was sent, because i was just walking around talking to people. >> why did you go? >> why not? >> i mean what drew you there? did you want to be entertained? what did you want to get out of it or were you there is an activist? >> well, i went because i thought it would be a good thing to do. [laughter] >> i had no idea what to expect. i was with a bunch of other
members. this year i'm starting a normal chapter and i went down there and met up with the national organization. >> so said he went an activist? >> but the distinction that i feel, from what i was able to get engaged from being there was, it was more an opportunity to discuss issues that in so many other ways are sometimes muddled and clouded and really not early discuss. for example the d.c. vote. washington d.c. does not have representation and there are individuals out there holding signs. the amount of creativity that people would normally apply to a hollowing costume was put to a really good. >> a fun time was had by all. >> it was engaging awesome experience and it was really unique but i guess what i really wanted to ask you in relation to that though was, you make this
assumption that jon stewart and colbert are trying to dictate this message and d. this controlling, no but i'm saying you mentioned you were saying they were not, like they are not news anchors. and they are entertainers. when you mentioned they don't do journalistic pieces, jon stewart has done a lot of journalistic pieces where they go and interview people. it is very thorough. it is interesting and has a different take. >> on the question is? >> the point is, politicians don't seem to -- i mean i don't know what your opinion is about this. >> tried to get to a question. >> these typically with candidates and ending cannabis
for industrial usage, how do you think that individuals like me and you could require individuals seeking to represent me in congress to answer these simple questions? >> i think that is the question. we will leave the question behind you. as long as it is not about jon stewart. >> i wanted to talk about the potential benefits that the nontraditional media sources bring to the public today. i think back to the a.c.o.r.n. controversy where you have two pseudo-journalists using nontraditional means that they brought about an issue that was considered by congress and the international media that they weren't reporting so if you talk about the potential benefits that those nontraditional sources bring too? >> okay, let's do cannabis quickly. the question really is, to what degree -- [laughter] you can take your time with it,
joel. to what degree can the media sort of imposed a policy agenda on politicians? i mean one thing, you guys have worked for politicians and the hardest thing i have ever found is to get them off of their talking.. they have only gotten better and better at it. and you can see that on "meet the press" every week with how hard david or tim used to push. basically what are you telling them in the locker room? >> this is free market, a free-market element which is that when your issue is important enough to the majority of americans that it should take up time in their day is when a politician will answer a question about it and when a journalist will ask a question. so, right now it is not a statement of whether i think you are right or wrong in your position. is a matter of how many people today are worried about that affecting their quality of life versus getting a job, making sure there's health import --
insurance. speier is one good side of the market moving one candidate in nevada, sharron angle decided her approach answering questions would be to not answer question. she said famously on tape i will answer your questions when i am the senator. so the market works, right? >> barely. >> well, five point. >> i think first of what we are telling them and the locker room is not -- [laughter] >> this is the promise of this great new media which is every politician in washington, almost to a person doesn't understand the new media but is definitely afraid of it because there is no quicker way to get run out out of office than missing the next big thing. and you no it is not that hard. if this is the issue and you can get you no 15,000 people on facebook to send an e-mail to congressional office, let me tell you something the next
morning that congressional offices going to be devoted to figuring out what their position on cannabis is. that is the kind of power people didn't have 20 years ago so there is great promise here. it is just a mess right now trying to figure out how people are going to use this and where everything is going to settle, and you know a lot of people, we have four or five people come up in a roe and say i don't watch any of you people. i just want to watch jon stewart. i think it is a recognition of we haven't figured out what the next thing as because i don't know, don't think it is going to be pure entertainment and comedy but we don't know what it is. >> on and on that note that we don't know -- i'm sorry we have to finish now and i'm sorry we didn't get to the final question but please take a while the panel is. thought they were great. [applause]