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THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP

HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN

GUESTS:
MICHAEL BARONE, U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT;
ELEANOR CLIFT, NEWSWEEK;
TONY BLANKLEY, WASHINGTON TIMES;
CLARENCE PAGE, CHICAGO TRIBUNE

DATE: SATURDAY, OCTOBER 20, 2001

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THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT.
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MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue one: House flees Washington.

PRESIDENT BUSH: (From videotape.) Anybody who would mail anthrax letters, trying to affect the lives of innocent people, is evil. And I want to say this as clearly as I can, that anybody in America who will use this opportunity to threaten our citizens, you know, think it's funny as a hoax to put out some kind of a threat, will be held accountable and will be prosecuted.

TOMMY THOMPSON (SECRETARY OF HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES): (From videotape.) Don't let the terrorists win by frightening us unduly. Do not let them scare you into not living your life.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But anthrax is scaring people, notably the U.S. House of Representatives. On Wednesday, 435 House members fled Washington, even though the House had no cases of anthrax, whereas the Senate, where over 26 staffers have been exposed to anthrax, was open for business. Speaker Dennis Hastert closed down the House because of reports that anthrax spores may have passed into the Senate's ventilation systems, and thus throughout all the Capitol's tunnels, including the House's. Those reports turned out to be unfounded.

Question: The House, with no cases of anthrax, fled. The Senate, with 26 cases of anthrax, stayed. Now, each chamber is taking pot shots at the other. Is this the kind of unity of response by the government that is needed at this time, or is it deplorable? I ask you, Michael Barone.

MR. BARONE: Well, I wouldn't say deplorable, John. I think, with the advantage of hindsight, which we sitting here have, the fact is, I think, that it was a mistake for the House of Representatives to go out of session. They thought, as you noted in the set-up, that Speaker Hastert thought that this was in the ventilation system. That doesn't seem to have been true.

And there was apparently -- at least the House members thought they had an agreement with the Senate leaders at the White House breakfast that morning that both sides would go out. The Senate, after hearing from a number of members, gathered -- their smaller numbers, gathered together, decided to go on.

I think that the guy who's had good advice on this is Senator Bill Frist, who probably had an effect on that Senate decision. He's made the point that this anthrax need not be fatal to anybody, if you take proper precautions, treat it with any one of a number of antibiotics, which are available, that this is not going to be fatal, and we have to go on. So I think the House probably regrets, in retrospect, that they did this.

But, John, this is a unique situation that we're all facing as a country. People make mistakes from time to time. Even Rudy Giuliani, who's performed brilliantly, has done so. So let's not heap opprobrium on the House, even if we think it's a mistake.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, so Frist thinks that the reaction is overreaction.

MR. BARONE: I think that it turned out to be.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: The House sent a terrible message. While our leaders are saying, "Go fly in the skies and go to the shopping malls and buy," they behave in a way as though there's truly a threat out there. And the image of those House members fleeing down the steps, even if they were just fleeing to a press conference, was terrible. I mean, Parliament did not shut down during the blitz in World War II.

And maybe House members regret that decision now, but they're actually turning and calling the senators, saying they're all just grandstanding. The Senate did the right thing. The confusion, though, goes far beyond the Congress. The administration has been very slow to put somebody out there who can speak authoritatively on exactly what the anthrax scare is.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Too many voices?

MS. CLIFT: Too many voices and not one single voice. Now, they're trying to have -- Governor Ridge is trying to fill that role, and maybe he will. But he's not there yet.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The administration is saying, "Be alert. Be careful. Look over your shoulder. Monitor your fellow citizens," in so many words. On the other hand, "Let's get back to normalcy. Shop as usual." Does that add to the confusion, too?

MR. BLANKLEY: Sure. I mean, but there's inherently two messages. One, we're going to return to normal, but two, don't be foolish. You know, and I agree that the House, after the fact, had made the wrong decision. There were a number of members -- Henry Hyde, Dana Rohrabacher, some others -- who, before the decision was made, disagreed with it. But keep in mind that had it been weapons-grade anthrax and had it been in the ventilation system and had the 20,000 employees in Congress --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did Hastert actually hear that it was weapons-grade anthrax?

MR. BLANKLEY: That's what I'm told, that they got it from the Senate side.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you know whom he got it from?

MR. BLANKLEY: I don't know who it was, but I have to --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What senator was putting out that story?

MR. BLANKLEY: I'm told that Hillary Clinton was using the phrase "weapons-grade." And, of course, Dick Gephardt picked up on it and used it publicly.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So do we have the makings here of a set-up, namely --

MR. BLANKLEY: No, I --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- namely that the Democrats in the Senate want to create --

MR. BLANKLEY: No.

MR. BARONE: No.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- alarm in the House so that the Republicans will disband, flee Washington --

MR. BLANKLEY: No, no.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- and the Democratic Senate will look good?

MR. BLANKLEY: No. What happened was that there was a tentative agreement between the House and the Senate leadership to leave. Then the senators regrouped, had better consideration, decided to stay, but by then the speaker had already gone out and made the statement. So it was an unfortunate turn. It looked worse for the House because the Senate stayed, but it was a mistake for the House to leave.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence -- well done, by the way.

MR. PAGE: Well, thank you, John.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Will you please unscramble these eggs?

MR. PAGE: Well, I find it rather suspicious that the first time Republicans listened to Hillary Clinton, it's in this instance. (Laughter.) I'm a little suspicious about her being to blame for this. You know, it was a bad decision in retrospect. We don't know exactly what information it was based on. The Congress showed itself once again having a hard time responding quickly in a time of crisis, a unique time.

I think the smartest thing for them to have done would have been, if they really thought there was weapons-grade anthrax floating around, would be let the staff go home if they wanted to, but to stay on the job. That's a message you really want to send.

MR. BARONE: The Senate closed its office buildings but they had a pro forma session in the chamber.

MR. PAGE: Right.

MS. CLIFT: The initial testing of that substance seemed to indicate that it was a higher grade, the kind that can lodge in your lungs. And so there was a panic that it could have gotten into the ventilation systems and so forth. They've now backed off that. This looks like sort of everyday anthrax, and that --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. So the case can be made that if you were Denny Hastert and you heard it was weapons-grade and you heard it could be put into the ventilation system and that's all linked under the Capitol and you have a very, very high responsibility, people on your hands, high-level people, and there could be 435, so this does mushroom in your head.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah. But with a phone call or two and a little bit of investigation --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay.

MS. CLIFT: -- he could have made his decision.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let's take a snapshot of the anthrax count, if we may. The U.S. anthrax cases deriving from inhalation: One dead, one infected, and that person that is infected is now deemed to be in pretty good probability status for returning to good health. U.S. anthrax cases, cutaneous: Four infected -- now I see it's five on the screen; we have a rolling number on this particular issue -- five infected, and I believe they are all expected to recover nicely. Are they not?

MR. BARONE: Well, John --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Just let me finish, and then I'll go back to you.

MR. BARONE: -- this is treatable.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: U.S. anthrax cases, exposed, not infected: 35 currently. They are all expected to -- since they're all on antibiotics now, they're all expected to maintain their current good health, correct? So why all of this round-the-clock anthrax coverage by the media?

MR. BARONE: Well, I think we may have overdone it a little, John. I think we do serve a function when we help alert people to the signs that they should go get treatment. This is like many things in the world, most of which we're familiar with, which can be deadly if not treated but for which our society has ready treatments that are entirely effective. This is a new one.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is there an excess of precaution here?

MS. CLIFT: Yes. But I think it's because everybody is skittish and is worried that maybe, you know, the terrorists are just teasing us with this. This is mind games, and they've got something more terrible waiting. In fact, if it is mind games, they have succeeded, because we have discovered that we're vulnerable in many ways, but we're more vulnerable to fear than we are to anthrax.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is the press delinquent here?

MR. PAGE: Hardly. Hardly.

MS. CLIFT: Delinquent? I mean, you can turn off your TV if you've had enough. (Laughs.)

MR. BLANKLEY: Look, John, what's happened is that because the media and the politicians are the ones who've actually received these doses, even though we now know that it's relatively benign and easily treated, while the public has not experienced it, it seems like the political class and the journalistic class is getting overly theatrical and overly dramatic about the events, and they're, in fact, reflecting their genuine feelings, while the public has got a little lower level of apprehension because, by and large, most of the public hasn't experienced it. My sense is that by next week the political and media class will have got over it and will be back in gear with the public tone.

MR. PAGE: Well, if you think the public is lower-level, talk with some public health officers around the country. They've been inundated with frightened parents. I mean, the kid comes home with a cold, they go to the doctor. "Please tell me it's not anthrax." I mean, there is, at that level, a sense of panic out there.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is that being fed by the media?

MR. PAGE: Well, you know --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: In other words, is the appetite being --

MR. PAGE: (Inaudible.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- is the appetite growing by what it's feeding upon, the appetite for more and more information?

MR. PAGE: There is a reason for concern, not for alarm. And I think we ought to take this as a wake-up call for --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. China joins the fight against evil.

PRESIDENT BUSH: (From videotape.) President Jiang and the government stand side by side with the American people as we fight this evil force.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: This was President Bush's first visit to China as president and first visit with Jiang Zemin, president of China. How significant is China's cooperation? And what price will we have to pay for that cooperation? Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: Well, this is a fascinating question, because I'm not sure how much cooperation we're actually going to get beyond the rhetoric, and the price could be very high, unlike Russia, by the way, where I think there's very likely to be a strategic accord between them. But with China, one, we'll have to back off on human rights. Two, right now the Chinese sell missiles to Pakistan. If we back off on their demands on that, then the Indians, who are virtually at war with the Pakistanis, will be upset at us.

My sense is that it's nice to have China sort of on our side. Also I don't think we're going to stop being the counterweight to China in Asia, working with Japan and Thailand and Taiwan. So I don't think we have as much to give or get from China. But the relationship with Russia is going to be much more important.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that China had an IOU from us for not blocking their getting the Olympics, and this was, you know, part of that payback?

MS. CLIFT: No, I don't think --

MR. BARONE: I think there's a bigger strategic issue. Go ahead, Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, I don't think the U.S. could have blocked that anyway. The world community was behind it. Look, China is one of the most important countries in the world. I mean, you need to have them with us on this thing. And they're worried about Muslim extremists, believe it or not, in China as well. And I think we've already paid the price that we're going to pay with China, and I think it was a price well worth paying.

MR. BLANKLEY: China wants a lot more --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: China has a border with Afghanistan. That means intelligence, correct?

MR. BARONE: There's a possibility of that. Of course, the tactics the Chinese have used against these Muslims in Sinkiang (ph), not all of them --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How about financial information? Can't they give us that on the terrorists?

MR. BARONE: It's possible they have some, although I think other countries have more. The thing that Tony's worried about with them with proliferating or ending weapons to Pakistan, they've been doing that despite our wanting them not to.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Also they have a seat on the five-member Security Council --

MR. BARONE: Well, we're not going to --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- and therefore they could block us if we were looking for a resolution from the U.N. --

MR. BARONE: Well, we're not looking --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- to bomb Iraq or Libya or Syria or whatever, right?

MR. BARONE: John, it's important to have China on your side here.

MS. CLIFT: And the president has discovered Jiang Zemin the same way he discovered Mr. Putin. I think, to hear President Bush talk about it --

(Cross-talk.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Members of your political ideology can't say enough to congratulate Bush on the turning upside-down -- first of all, the nation-building --

MS. CLIFT: I approve.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- (inaudible) -- in Afghanistan. Also now we have this entente, if it's a real entente, with China going on. So I imagine they're very pleased, are they not? And Bush has done a triple somersault like a Wallenda (sp).

MS. CLIFT: Right. Where is candidate Bush? You know, he's nowhere to be found. (Laughs.)

MR. BARONE: Well, we all have to admit that circumstances have changed in some serious way. For example --

MS. CLIFT: Reality intruded.

(Cross-talk.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did you read Tony Lewis's column of praise of the president in the New York Times?

MR. BARONE: Well, I mean --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let's get out -- because of this transformation. Exit. Multiple choice: In terms of responsiveness, rate the government's response to the anthrax terrorist attacks. A, exceptional; B, excellent; C, good; D, mediocre; E, bad; F, negligent; G, criminally negligent.

MR. BARONE: I'd give it good.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You would?

MR. BARONE: I would.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You're a generous marker. What about you, Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: I'd give it somewhere between bad and mediocre.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Bad and mediocre.

MS. CLIFT: Mediocre. (Laughs.)

MR. BLANKLEY: I'd give it -- as a technical response, I'd give it a good to excellent. At the --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What does that mean? What does that mean?

MR. BLANKLEY: They dealt with all the problems that came up. At a communications level, I'd give them a bad.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Bad. That's all?

MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Can you give me just one general rating so we don't stay confused?

MR. BLANKLEY: No, it's two grades, two separate grades. They, in fact, dealt with the problem, but they created a communication mess out of it.

MS. CLIFT: It's called having it both ways.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, give me a simple grade, will you?

MR. PAGE: Okay, needs improvement. How about that? No, Tony's got the right approach. I mean, they got the word out, but the word was confused. It was muddled. You had some members of the Cabinet saying it was more serious than other members were saying. You had some members of Congress saying it was weapons-grade, others saying this was run-of-the-mill anthrax. This, again, is -- we ought to view this as a dress rehearsal for a much larger crisis, which is possible in the future. And that machinery is in operation now.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think that we have to give it a bad at best. The first person to speak about this was Tommy Thompson. He described the first case as exposure -- as coming from unpurified spring water as the man was traveling between Florida and North Carolina, noting that the victim was an outdoorsman and speculating that he had come in contact with anthrax through wildlife. And that man is dead today. That's Stevens.

When we come back, Blair welcomes Arafat to Downing Street. Is Arafat the Bush-Blair new ally in the Middle East?

(Announcements.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue two: The Blair project.

TONY BLAIR (BRITISH PRIME MINISTER): (From videotape.) A viable Palestinian state, as part of a negotiated and agreed settlement which guarantees peace and security for Israel, is the objective.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Another call for Palestinian statehood, this time from British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who made the call after meeting this week at 10 Downing Street with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. Pressure for Arab-Israeli peace has steadily intensified since September 11th, as more leaders state their conviction that resolution of the Palestinian issue plays a pivotal role in ending terrorism.

So far the list includes President Bush, King Abdullah of Jordan, Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who says flat out, 50 percent of the terrorism results from the Palestinian issue.

Question: Is Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak right -- 50 percent of the terrorism problems result from the Palestinian issue? Clarence Page.

MR. PAGE: Well, another 50 percent could be blamed on Egypt. Modern Islamic terrorism could be traced back to the 1950s and the repressive government in Egypt at that time. Today we have Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, countries that are seething with radical Islamic fundamentalism because they've got repressive regimes that are viewed as being supported by the United States. And that is the kind of idea that gets at the root of the terrorism we know today. Yeah, bin Laden doesn't like Israel, but he really hates the U.S. presence in Saudi Arabia.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He was directing his remarks, as you know, to the Palestinian issue. Do you think he was right, that that issue is causing 50 percent, half of the terrorism in the current situation that we're facing here?

MR. PAGE: Fifty percent of what? We're talking about the whole recipe.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Fifty percent --

MR. PAGE: Of course, that is a lot of the recipe, but it's not the whole recipe. I think that's the point he's making. But he's dodging the kind of responsibility of these autocratic regimes in the Arab and Muslim world --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Inaudible) -- on this very issue, as he has defended himself.

MR. PAGE: The Egyptian --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What would you do if 65 or 70 Germans were killed in Luxor in cold blood? Would you not invoke extraordinary powers in order to suppress that?

MR. PAGE: Well, it goes beyond that, though, John. You go back to the '50s and the old Nasser government when this first began. They were just as repressive then.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How do you account for the fact that his ratings, his popularity ratings, are quite high?

MR. PAGE: There's mixed feelings. There's great ambivalence on the part of the Egyptian people. I mean, you've been there. You've talked to the folks --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I was in Cairo earlier this year.

MR. BARONE: John, I think part of this supposition that Mubarak is basing this on is false. The problem with the solution in the Israel area is not because the Israelis will not accept a Palestinian state. The problem is the Palestinians will not accept an Israeli state. That is the major problem.

Mubarak is part of the problem. His government-controlled press, Al Ahram and other things, spreads this vile propaganda. They're peddling the protocols of the Elders of Zion. They're claiming that the Mossad flew the planes into the World Trade Center. That is the kind of garbage that Mubarak is feeding his public. If he's getting a high job rating off that, he's getting it for the --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, let me ask you -- let me ask you this question.

MR. BARONE: -- (inaudible).

(Cross-talk.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Just a moment. Let me ask a question.

MR. BARONE: The problem is not Israel trying to continue to exist. The problem is the hatred and the vile propaganda that Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Syria pump into the --

MS. CLIFT: (Inaudible.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on a second. I want to ask him a question. Why is it that Mubarak is always chosen as the mediator to mediate the Palestinian issue with the very leaders that you're talking about in Israel and with Arafat?

MR. BARONE: Well, the reason is that he, as well as Jordan, recognizes the existence, technically and diplomatically, of Israel, although it's a very cold sort of recognition. The danger, though, if you're talking about terrorism, you're getting it out of this kind of vile propaganda. The fact is that these Arab regimes allow these radicals to vent so that --

MS. CLIFT: Look --

MR. BARONE: -- the deal is you don't overthrow me and you spread this anti-Jewish, anti-Israel, anti-U.S. propaganda. And that has terrible consequences.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I understand. You've made your point. But I think that if you check into this, you will find that even Sharon would pick Mubarak as a reasonable mediator with Arafat to help resolve the issue.

MS. CLIFT: Look, everybody has made some correct points here. But the real question is, what happens next? And the Europeans are going to put a lot of pressure to try to force a peace agreement there and a Palestinian state and a recognition of Israel, because they are concerned about the tumult there and the refugees that are going to be created in that region.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about the Mubarak statement of 50 percent is owing to the non-resolution of the --

MS. CLIFT: I don't know what the percentage is. Osama bin Laden --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think he's generally right?

MS. CLIFT: Osama bin Laden just invented Israel as one of his causes recently. But it resonates in the area, and we can't pretend that it doesn't.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, let me ask you this question. You know that the president, President Bush, is preparing his own peace package proposal. Do you know anything about the elements of that?

MS. CLIFT: Well, what's been leaked to the New York Times --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you know?

MS. CLIFT: -- is that he will favor -- he favors a Palestinian state.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What else besides that?

MS. CLIFT: And that Israel --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A piece of Jerusalem?

MS. CLIFT: -- is going to have to pull back on the settlements.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you know anything --

MS. CLIFT: It's pretty obvious.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- about that proposal that's coming along, I think probably within a month? Is that what you hear?

MR. BLANKLEY: The internationalization of Jerusalem is, I believe, the cornerstone of solving that problem. But let me go just briefly -- the terrible problem is that with Arafat not yet satisfactorily turning over the murderer of the Israeli member of the cabinet, you have the problem that if he can't do it, then maybe he doesn't have enough power to deal with. The problem is, who can deliver peace from the Palestinian side?

MR. BARONE: Tony Blair called for safety for Israel. Instead they have a cabinet minister eliminated by a terrorist outfit.

(Cross-talk.)

MR. BLANKLEY: Let me just finish a second.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly.

MR. BLANKLEY: So even though there's going to be a tremendous effort that should be made to try to get an agreement, there may be nobody on the Palestinian side capable of delivering a peace agreement. That's the danger.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know that Arafat has banned the military wing, if not the entire FP -- what -- Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the group that produced the killer.

MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah, but he hasn't delivered up the killer.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does he know who the killer is?

MR. BARONE: He can find out.

MR. BLANKLEY: That's -- my point is --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Arafat just had his own Palestinian police shoot some boys who were in a demonstration against the president's, our president's plan.

MR. BLANKLEY: I was just talking about this situation of demanding to get the killer reminds me of Sarajevo where the Austrians wanted the killers and Serbia didn't turn him over, and that was the beginning of World War I. The danger here is that Palestinians are incapable of delivering you of a killer or peace.

MR. BARONE: And that means they're incapable of guaranteeing Israel its right to exist. They have -- (inaudible).

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is there any doubt in your mind that Arafat is backing Bush 100 percent? Is there any doubt? And Blair? Don't you think he's thrown in with them?

MR. BLANKLEY: I think, to the extent that he's committed to anybody, he's committed to that process.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue three: Sleeping with the enemy. CNN touched off a flap this week when it agreed to give Osama bin Laden an interview of sorts. Bin Laden's ground rules: CNN's questions had to be submitted in writing; no CNN reporter will actually conduct the interview; no CNN reporter will be present, even a cameraman, at the interview.

Question: Is CNN exhibiting sound journalistic judgment, or is CNN a sounding board for bin Laden? And who comes out ahead in this deal with the evildoers? Michael Barone.

MR. BARONE: Well, CNN is going beyond its own internal news guidelines of how to conduct interviews. They have a provision in their own rules for waiver of those rules. I'm kind of uncomfortable with this. You know, you'd think World War II -- would we give, you know, Mr. Hitler, what, question one?

MR. PAGE: Would you turn him down?

MR. BARONE: Well, I think that CNN certainly ought to reserve the right to broadcast or not broadcast this in full or in part.

MR. PAGE: Well, they are, obviously, aren't they? Of course.

MS. CLIFT: Of course. They're not committed to printing every word if it's just seemingly propaganda. But any access to him or what he thinks, I think, is positive. And, you know --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think of this? I'm reading now from Brent Bozell, Media Research Center; he's the head of it. Quote: "One finds it absurd to believe that if CNN existed 60 years ago it would give an audience to Adolf Hitler or Emperor Hirohito, who ordered the attack on Pearl Harbor. It's harming the war effort and it's a slap in the face to the American people."

MR. BLANKLEY: Well, you know, I mean, I seem -- I don't recall, but I recall reading that Hitler's speeches were at least receivable on radios in --

MR. PAGE: They were broadcast here before Pearl Harbor.

MR. BLANKLEY: Before Pearl Harbor.

MR. PAGE: That's correct.

MR. BLANKLEY: I mean, I think it's -- I can't imagine it's going to do any harm. I mean, this lunatic is going to rant on in some cave or give us some ludicrous answers. I'm not terribly worried about the American public being swayed by this man's answers.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think it's unpatriotic to broadcast an interview with bin Laden?

MR. PAGE: Patriotism has nothing to do with it. It's sound journalism to go after the interview and then reserve the right of editorial judgment as to how much you air, if any of it. And that's just what's happened.

MR. BARONE: Yeah, let's not have that we're going to get deep insight into his character. This is going to be pure propaganda by a man who lies and --

MR. PAGE: They're asking hard questions that we want answers to. "Did you or did you not do this?"

MR. BARONE: He's gonna treat it like Charles DeGaulle did. He's going to answer what he wants to.

MS. CLIFT: We didn't censor Tokyo Rose during World War II. If we could handle that, we can handle Mr. bin Laden, for goodness' sake.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that -- has CNN, in accepting the ground rules of bin Laden, lowered itself?

MS. CLIFT: Well, I don't think he's going to grant a person-to-person interview when this country is trying to hunt him down. No, CNN is doing what any organization tries to do. They're trying to get an interview with a big newsmaker. If they could have gotten through actually to Saddam Hussein during the Gulf War -- and there was some television access, and I think the CIA actually liked that television access; they could read his eye movements or something to see if he was under stress. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think by revealing, as CNN did, and we did on this program, the terms of the deal as laid out by bin Laden, CNN has immunized itself against criticism?

MR. BLANKLEY: Well, I mean, they're going to be criticized terribly for this because a lot of the country understandably resents any contact between the media and the enemy.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is the Russian-U.S. relationship moving into a golden new era? Michael Barone.

MR. BARONE: Yes, it's a genuine entente.

MS. CLIFT: Best since World War II.

MR. BLANKLEY: Yes, it'll become a strategic alliance.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Big?

MR. PAGE: Yes. A real partnership.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A really golden era. Bye bye.


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