Share

THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP

HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN

JOINED BY: ELEANOR CLIFT, PATRICK BUCHANAN,
MORTIMER ZUCKERMAN AND JAMES WARREN

TAPED: THURSDAY, JULY 1, 2004
BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF JULY 17-18, 2004

.STX

(C) COPYRIGHT 2004, FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE, INC., 1919 M STREET, N.W., SUITE 220, WASHINGTON, D.C. 20036, USA. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. ANY REPRODUCTION, REDISTRIBUTION OR RETRANSMISSION IS EXPRESSLY PROHIBITED.

UNAUTHORIZED REPRODUCTION, REDISTRIBUTION OR RETRANSMISSION CONSTITUTES A MISAPPROPRIATION UNDER APPLICABLE UNFAIR COMPETITION LAW, AND FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE, INC. RESERVES THE RIGHT TO PURSUE ALL REMEDIES AVAILABLE TO IT IN RESPECT TO SUCH MISAPPROPRIATION.

FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE, INC. IS A PRIVATE FIRM AND IS NOT AFFILIATED WITH THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT. NO COPYRIGHT IS CLAIMED AS TO ANY PART OF THE ORIGINAL WORK PREPARED BY A UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE AS PART OF THAT PERSON'S OFFICIAL DUTIES.

FOR INFORMATION ON SUBSCRIBING TO FNS, PLEASE CALL JACK GRAEME AT 202-347-1400.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT.
-------------------------

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue one: Think Iran, not Iraq.

GEOFFREY KEMP (Director of Regional Strategic Programs, the Nixon Center): (From videotape.) The United States has done Iran two huge favors over the past three years; it got rid of the Taliban, that was a menace and dangerous to Iran, and it got rid of Saddam Hussein, who had attacked Iran and killed hundreds of thousands of Iranians.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Two huge favors for Iran, and maybe more. In one unintended consequence of the Iraq war, Iran is turning out to be the biggest winner; so say Western diplomats. After the Tehran hostage-taking in 1978, the U.S. tried for decades to contain Iran's Islamic fundamentalist government. We imposed terrorist-nation status on Iran, along with diplomatic isolation, but instead of punishing Iran, we have brought about its rise as the key power in the Persian Gulf and given it regional hegemony -- an unintended consequence of the Iraq invasion and occupation. This is an awful upshot of the war, and probably its most poisonous. While U.S. attention is fixed on Iraq, Iran is creating a nuclear arsenal to make itself invasion-proof.

The U.S. made it happen; so says Mohsen Rezaei, a chief adviser to Iran's supreme leader, and a top presidential contender. If the U.S. had not tried to isolate Iran in the '80s but instead had acknowledged its strengths and worked with it, that structure would have kept the region contained. Iraq would not have attacked Iran, because Iran stood in the U.S.'s favor, nor would Iraq have attacked Kuwait. The Taliban would not have succeeded in Afghanistan, and the Twin Towers would still be standing.

Those surmises about Iran and what might have happened if the U.S. had not tried to isolate it are those of Mohsen Rezaei.

Question: We have created in Iran a situation more dangerous than we ever faced in Iraq; true or false? Pat Buchanan?

MR. BUCHANAN: That's true, John, but it's not for the reasons of isolation in the 1980s. We had no other choice. The Iranian revolution was in its rabid phase then. What we've done for Iran is we have smashed the only balancing power in the Gulf twice. That is Iraq. And now that Iraq is gone, the only balancing force is American power, which is retreating.

Iran is going to emerge as the regional power in the Gulf. It's a country of 70 million, three times as large as Iraq. I think the United States of America is going to have to deal with it. We're going to have to engage it. And now that the Iranian people have voted 70 percent twice to throw out the mullahs and move toward a more moderate government, there is an opening here. Ultimately Iran is going to dominate the Gulf.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Doesn't this mean that the U.S. is going to have to stay in place in Iraq in order to keep the vacuum filled so Iran will not take it?

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, you're exactly right. If we destroy the only balancing power in the Gulf, then the only balancing force left is the United States of America. But the American empire, John, is in retreat. Fallujah was the high tide.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: Well, fear of Iran is what prevented the first President Bush from going to Baghdad and taking out Saddam, because he didn't want to risk the breakup of Iraq. And now with the new interim prime minister in Iraq being Shi'ite, I think the likelihood of Iraq eventually becoming a client state of Iran is very strong. And while the president names the axis of evil, he goes after the weakest link in that axis and emboldens the other two, both North Korea and Iraq. And we're so stretched with our military commitment to Iraq that if indeed there were a military option either of those two places, we wouldn't have the bodies to carry it out.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Shi'ite majority in Iran has ties to the Shi'ite majority in Iraq. Does that further strengthen the position of Iran?

MR. WARREN: There are obviously some significant commonalities. There are some significant differences between the two Shi'ite groups, namely that the the ones in Iraq have no interest in having the clergy run them, as is the case in Iran. That said, there's also the common denominator of them wanting to really crush the Kurds. Neither has any interest in a separate Kurdish state, and that is real significant. But you've got to remember here, too, Iran has been a haven for anti-Saddam forces. Those guys are now all left; many of them are back in Iraq across a very porous border. And then you've got Iran monkeying around with some sort of nuclear capability.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think we're overstating the problem that has arisen because of our invasion of Iraq and its effect on Iran, i.e. moving it up to a higher place in the hegemony of the Gulf?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I think you've definitely overstated it. I mean, this isn't to say that Iran isn't the problem. They would have been a problem anyhow, certainly in the 1980s, as Pat said, and they have been committed to a program of development of nuclear weapons that goes back for years. This isn't something that started with Iraq; this started years and years ago.

In terms of what -- in fact, Iran felt it needed to combat Iraq. It was because Iraq had nuclear weapons that, in part, Iran wanted to have nuclear weapons. Now, we have a real problem with Iran, without question, if they become a nuclear power. But it is not because of what we did in Iraq. In my judgment, a lot will depend on what happens in Iraq. If Iraq emerges as a non-mullah-dominated, you know, secular state and runs itself in a very different way than the rest of -- than Iran, you will have an example there that may very well make a big difference to the Iranians over a long period of time.

MR. WARREN: Here I am, physically and philosophically closer than I've been in my entire life to one Pat Buchanan, but if you talk about the U.S. diminishing its military presence in Iraq, how do you avoid the fact that right there on the doorstep you have the preeminent military power in the region to play a lot of havoc?

MR. BUCHANAN: John, on the nuclear weapons issue, look, Mort is right. The Iranians have been working on this secretly a long time. The only way the United States of America can prevent them from becoming a nuclear power, if they are determined resolutely to do that, is through military force, where Eleanor's position comes in exactly. We don't have it right now to do it. We don't have the will, we don't have the --

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, well, also they're not making the mistake the Iraqis made in making one reactor that you can strike. The nuclear facilities are dispersed and they're much further along than we believed, and they're lying and they're cheating. And the whole purpose of -- part of the purpose of going to Iraq was to remake the Middle East. And in fact we've remade it; we've made our worst enemy there stronger.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: U.S. has forward bases in Iraq, Afghanistan, and that permits us, if we so wish, to make a very surgical preemptive strike.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Absolutely. I mean --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Would that clear your problem with --

MR. BUCHANAN: Surgical -- I think a surgical strike could do tremendous damage. I don't know at this point, John, that you can guarantee you could take it all out, as we cannot in North Korea.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that Israel is thinking in those terms? The last time I talked to Mr. Rabin, he spent about 80 percent of the conversation not talking about Palestinians but talking about Iran. Now, you seem to have a much more nonchalant attitude towards Iran than he and other leaders of Israel have. Is it possible that Israel might repeat something like the Osirak reactor surgical removal in Iraq?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, no, no. I think --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is there any concern about this development?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: No. I don't think they're militarily capable of doing it, given all the countries they would have to fly over to do that. The United States is the only country that is militarily capable.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We could also do it out of certainty.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: We do not -- we -- look, they have dispersed their nuclear program, but we know where a lot of the major ones are. If we wanted to take them out with a military attack, we could defer their entry as a nuclear power for years and years to come.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. Now --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: But it would be a disaster for us to do that, in my judgment, in political terms at this stage of the game. There will be and there has been, with Germany, France and England putting great pressure on them -- the only way we have: economic pressure.

MR. BUCHANAN: But, Mort, then the Bush doctrine is dead.

MS. CLIFT: Mort --

MR. BUCHANAN: The Bush doctrine is dead if we're not going to do it.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: If the Bush doctrine --

MR. WARREN: It is, it is. (Laughs.)

MR. ZUCKERMAN: If the Bush doctrine is dead, it's going to be for the same reason why we couldn't get U.N. support way back then. Russia and France have big economic relations with Iran. Russia is the principal supplier of nuclear technology to Iran, and by the way to other weapons of mass destruction. And even though Putin talks about Iran being the great threat, behind the scenes they'll do anything for money.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question. Two components of Mr. Bush's "Axis of Evil" are still standing: North Korea and Iran. Which poses the greater threat to the U.S. security?

Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: Iran does because of its potential to control the oil of the Persian Gulf.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And also for another reason. What is it? That the North Korean situation can be contained considerably by China.

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, the United -- well, if the United States walks away from North Korea, they're no threat to us.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Right.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: I agree: Iran. I think the Bush policy of invading Iraq has handed the Middle East to Iran on a silver platter.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think?

MR. WARREN: You know, you forgot the fourth component of the Bush "Axis of Evil:" Iran, Iraq, North Korea and Bill Clinton, that that's another component. But Iran --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It didn't sound like it the other day in the White House, when he unveiled Clinton's painting.

MR. WARREN: He got a little lovey-dovey, a little --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: If that wasn't an agape, I don't know what was.

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MR. WARREN: Yes, this was grotesque insincerity and flattery.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You want to get to the point now?

MR. WARREN: Iran.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Iran.

MR. WARREN: It's very simple, yeah.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes. But one of the reasons is that Iran is essentially economically independent because of its oil revenues, and Korea -- North Korea's totally dependent in terms of its economy on countries like China and South Korea.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: China can handle North Korea. When we come back -- the answer is five Iran, by far.

When we come back, who's better for business, Bush or Kerry?

(Announcements.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue two: open for business.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA): (From videotape.) I'm an entrepreneurial Democrat. I don't want to lead a party that loves jobs and hates the people who create them, and I don't intend to. (Cheers, applause.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Kerry is good for business; that's what Senator Kerry hopes to convince American businesses of. Kerry says he'll cut corporate taxes. He'll reduce the deficit. He'll bring back the Clinton era, with massive job expansion and with a big federal surplus. So he says. His wooing seems to have paid off. On the Kerry bandwagon: multibillionaire investor Warren Buffett, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, '80s corporate icon Lee Iacocca.

Why are some business leaders turning away from President Bush? For one, record deficits. "I was raised as a fiscal conservative, and I think his fiscal policy is scary," so says Eric Best, a managing director at Morgan Stanley. He says that his support for Kerry is driven by the anti-American hostility Best finds when traveling overseas: "I can testify to the extraordinary destruction of American 'brand value' accomplished by this administration, from Europe to Hong Kong to Shanghai to Tokyo and beyond. If any CEO of a global multinational had accomplished this for his enterprise as quickly and radically as George Bush Jr. has done for the U.S., he would be replaced by the board in no time."

Bush-spawned anti-Americanism or not, Bush has the edge on political donations from business. He's raised $218 million. Three-fourths come from business.

To date, Kerry has raised $175 million, 43 percent from business.

Question: What explains Bush's superior fundraising appeal with business, Mort Zuckerman?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, the Bush administration has been about the friendliest administration in terms of tax policy and regulatory policy towards business, in my lifetime, anyhow. So I think that is the reason why he gets that kind of support.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So it's not ideological?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, there is also an instinct in the business community, in case you hadn't noticed, to support the Republican Party, particularly after the second martini at the country club. So I think there is a cultural as well as a business reason why most of the business community typically supports a Republican.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. But you're leaving out a key element, a critical one --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- and that surprises me, and it saddens --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But I will therefore have to tell you what it is.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I'm going to try and cheer you up.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Bush is the incumbent, and the money follows the incumbent, because the incumbent can affect regulation.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: No doubt. But they would have -- they supported Bush even when he ran against -- (chuckles) --

MR. BUCHANAN: John --

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, and also they love his policies. (Chuckles.)

MR. ZUCKERMAN: And let me just tell you what is cutting against that support is in fact what is seen as a program of fiscal irresponsibility because of the huge deficits that this administration has run up.

MR. BUCHANAN: It is a terrible fiscal record. George Bush has not cut a significant program, agency or department.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Right.

MR. BUCHANAN: He has not vetoed a single bill since he took office. In fiscal terms, it is an appalling, unconservative performance.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you going to vote for him?

MS. CLIFT: Well, if you look --

(Cross talk.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Will you vote for him?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Discretionary spending has gone up by 30 percent under Bush, and only 8 percent under Clinton in the first four years.

MR. BUCHANAN: Sure.

MS. CLIFT: If you look at where those donations come from, they're industry-based. The pharmaceutical industry loved the prescription drug plan, which benefits them. The military industrial complex, all the big military contractors are ponying up to the -- to give.

MR. BUCHANAN: Halliburton's happy. (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: Oil industry -- Halliburton is loving it. (Laughs.) Right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You're talking about the position on the reimportation of drugs. That also happens to benefit the public weal -- that is, being against it.

MS. CLIFT: Oh, that's right.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, wait. Wait a minute.

MS. CLIFT: And that's going to happen eventually, but a lot of money is going to be spent --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: What about the inability of the government to negotiate prices with the drug companies in order to get lower prices on a bulk basis?

MS. CLIFT: Right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean the way Canada does, and we pay that price for them?

MS. CLIFT: Yeah --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Oh, no, I'm not talking about Canada. I'm just talking about domestic purchases of drugs from domestic drug companies. I mean, that's one of the issues that is fairly contentious. Now --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, let's not lose sight of the fact that $32 billion is invested by the pharmaceutical industry in research.

MR. BUCHANAN: Exactly.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Oh, I'm not trying to knock the drug companies. I mean, that's a whole --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It sounds like it.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I'm knocking the legislators --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the secret of Kerry's success in raising $175 million, which is phenomenal?

MR. WARREN: Well, the secret of success is these big deficits, in part, and it's also -- which we haven't mentioned -- the war in Iraq. And can I put 20 bucks here on which way Pat --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, but are you going to add to that small donors? Because he's done exactly what Dean did.

MR. WARREN: But both Bush and Kerry, the majority of their donors are 200 bucks or less. And 200 bucks -- I'll bet that Pat, deficits aside, is not voting for John Kerry.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah.

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MR. WARREN: But Kerry's been very shrewd on a bunch of interesting tax issues. On trade, I think most Republicans should be content with him --

(Cross talk.)

MS. CLIFT: Kerry's also getting --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor, let me ask you a question, because we're not getting to the heart of the matter.

MS. CLIFT: Okay, okay. Yeah.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The heart of the matter is, why is Kerry running a risk in presenting himself as pro-business?

MS. CLIFT: He's not running a risk. He's not running a risk. (Cross talk.) The unions are with him --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, he's got a liberal base he has to protect. (Cross talk.)

MS. CLIFT: Excuse me. He looks --

(Cross talk.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But they won't -- let's say they won't -- well, they will not stray.

MS. CLIFT: He looks like he might win.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, no.

MS. CLIFT: That's why he's getting big contributions.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: If he appears to be pro-business, he is surrendering votes to Nader, is he not?

MS. CLIFT: No, he's not.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: To some extent, yes.

MR. BUCHANAN: Look, Bush is going to bring back the left to Kerry.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Right. Center. Exactly right.

MR. BUCHANAN: He's got to get in the center. The game is won between the 45 yard lines.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Exactly.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'm talking about Kerry. Is Kerry running a risk by being -- presenting himself as pro-business? (Cross talk.)

MR. BUCHANAN: No, the left will come home because --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'm telling you he's surrendering votes to Nader.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: No. No.

MR. BUCHANAN: Bush will bring the left home. Nader is not on enough state ballots.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit: Who's better for business, Kerry or Bush, Pat Buchanan?

MR. BUCHANAN: Bush is.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Laughs.)

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: Well, Bush is instant gratification, whereas Kerry will give the children and the grandchildren --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the answer? What's the answer?

MS. CLIFT: I go for Kerry.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you say?

MR. WARREN: Obviously, Bush. But when it comes to fundraising, Kerry each night goes to bed with someone who could ease all of his pain by taking out a check and, for about a hundred million bucks -- Teresa!

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Teresa. (Pronouncing the name differently.)

MR. WARREN: Teresa!

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Short term, Bush is better for business. Long term, I think Kerry's fiscal responsibility is better for business.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know, I think you've hit the nail right on the head.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: John, I knew you'd get to that point sooner or later.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue three: Jailhouse blues.

"Treatment of crime and criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of civilization of any country."

If so, Winston, America is in the midst of a major crisis -- not at Abu Ghraib, but here at home in its own U.S. prisons; 2.1 million people locked up. That 2.1 million figure is 25 percent of the prison population of the entire world. So says a recent study of the American Bar Association.

If you compare Americans to Western Europeans, Americans are five times more likely to be jailed than Europeans. The cost of maintaining those 2.1 million prisoners for one year is -- get this -- $49 billion. So some Americans want an overhaul of the U.S. criminal justice system: less focus on punishment and incarceration, more focus on sentencing and rehabilitation.

Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy was appointed to the high court by Ronald Reagan 16 years ago. Today Kennedy is sounding a call for prison reform.

JUSTICE ANTHONY M. KENNEDY (U.S. Supreme Court): (From videotape.) This society better ask itself how it's allocating its resources. We have to ask ourselves whether or not there are more effective, more compassionate, more prudent, more decent and more effective procedures.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The American Bar Association offers what it considers more effective procedures. Give judges more discretion when sentencing convicted criminals. Sentence more lawbreakers to substance abuse treatment and mental illness programs. Prisoner rehab over prisoner punishment.

Question: What's more in the public interest; to spend $49 billion jailing criminals, or to have fewer criminals behind bars, at the risk of a return to the crime rates of the '70s?

I ask you, James.

MR. WARREN: None of the above. The key thing is having in plan some training, some reeducation for these folks. The recidivism rate in a state like Illinois, people returning to prison, is a stunning 54 percent. And the key predictive element is whether or not there's a job waiting for you when you go out there. The fact is we've got too many non-violent drug offenders, too many juveniles in there. Federal mandatory minimum sentencing has been a colossal failure. We've got to figure out some way to get more folks out and get them employed when they're out.

MR. BUCHANAN: John?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you want to speak to the discretion of judges? Do you favor giving them more discretion, or do you think that correlates with increased crime; and the obverse is also true, that the more you decrease their discretion, the less crime you have?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, there's no doubt but that the sentencing standards as the courts have recently ruled have been violated in certain ways by the judges incorporating things into the sentence that were not presented to the jury. Having said that, I think you have to have federal standards and state standards in terms of sentencing for these criminals. Otherwise, it goes all over the place.

MS. CLIFT: The sentencing guidelines for minor drug charges are ridiculous.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes.

MS. CLIFT: And judges are supposed to exercise some judgment. And so I'm all for returning the job to the judges, the way they were meant to have.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly!

MR. BUCHANAN: The safety of the people is the highest law. And we have reduced crime against innocent people by doing this. There's a lot of people in there for drugs who are there because they committed other offenses and they got them on drug offenses. I think fundamentally it's a good thing. I agree with your point they need job training in there.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does it trouble you that Western Europeans have a lower incarceration rate than the United States?

MR. BUCHANAN: Our ancestors left Western Europe, John, and we've had no reason to regret it. (Cross talk.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is there another reason? Is there another reason, namely, homogeneity of the population?

MS. CLIFT: No.

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, America's a more violent society.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is that -- why is that?

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, you know, we've got higher crime rates among certain groups that are not European, quite frankly.

MS. CLIFT: More to do with the prevalence of guns, the easy availability of weaponry.

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is a multi-ethnic society doomed to have a higher crime rate, which seems to be figuring in this?

MS. CLIFT: Absolutely not.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I ask you.

MR. BUCHANAN: I think there's no doubt about it, we do. But it's not guns. In New Hampshire, everybody's got a gun, and they got a low crime rate.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: If you had a multi-ethnic society in which the poverty levels were not so troubling as they are in this country, would that reduce the crime rate?

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, now we're talking. This is becoming two societies: one, low-wage service workers, mainly minorities; I mean, tens of millions of them. It's going to be a hellish problem in the future.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Should criminal court judges have more discretion in sentencing? Yes or no, that's all you've got time for.

MR. BUCHANAN: No.

MS. CLIFT: Yes.

MR. WARREN: Yes.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No.

We'll be right back with predictions. (Laughter.)

(Announcements.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: China will revalue the renminbi.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: Thanks to Nancy Reagan, stem cell research will be expanded after the election, even if Bush wins.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: James.

MR. WARREN: Remember the name; Barack Obama will become the first African male Democrat in the U.S. Senate from Illinois this November.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Keen grasp of the obvious.

Mort?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: The Democrats will increase their representation in the Senate by at least two seats after this election.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hard liquor will make a comeback soon. (Laughter.) You got that, Pat?

MR. BUCHANAN: Probably has in your case. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The constitutional amendment that prohibits gay marriage, urged by President Bush, will be debated in the United States Senate.

Bye-bye.

(PBS Segment.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Four: opposites don't attract.

The political divide in America is growing. Republicans get their news from sources that tend to lean right, Democrats from sources that tend to lean left. So says a survey from the Pew Research Center. Rush Limbaugh's listeners are 77% conservative -- as he is -- only 23% liberal or moderate. National Public Radio -- considered rightly or wrongly to be left-leaning -- enjoys a listenership of 31% conservative, 63% liberal or moderate.

This migration of consumers to like-minded media seems natural, but it could be bad for the public weal. "Both camps may ultimately submit to the same narrow logic: like-minded editors and reporters increasingly feeding like-minded customers stories that reinforce their world view. Economic interests and editorial biases will converge. The worthy, if unattainable, ideals of fairness and objectivity will silently erode. It will be a sad day when we trust only the media that voice our views."

Question: Do we lose anything in society by not having a common media as Samuelson laments? James Warren.

MR. WARREN: No, I don't think so. What you're seeing now is a recreation of what we had 80, 90 years ago -- six, seven, eight different papers, thriving papers, in a particular town, with lots of different ideologies.

I think it is unfortunate that at a high, elite level you do have a legitimization of utter bias, in some instances.

But one should (sic) also forget a couple of major points. A, most Americans still get most of their news from local television, which is unfortunately incredibly banal. Young kids who are now going on the Internet to get their news -- guess what's the first thing they're looking for. It's not news, it's the weather. And third and foremost, there are still some bastions, apparently, of utter high-minded legitimacy and neutrality and objectivity.

According to the Pew study -- Mort, can you -- I can't remember -- they say at the top of the list -- (laughter) -- as far as respected print publications, is --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: You're forcing me to do this, but I'm willing to go along. U.S. News & World Report was ranked the number-one print medium in the country in terms of credibility and respect.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hear, hear! But what's the answer to the question?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, I can't think of anything else beyond that particular issue.

MS. CLIFT: Right. (Chuckles.)

MR. BUCHANAN: Yeah. John, as I'd tell you -- John --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, I don't think it's really -- I don't think -- I agree with what Jim was saying.

MS. CLIFT: Well, the media --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is there anything wrong with partisan press, Pat, especially if it's announced?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, we always --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: For example, The St. Louis Post-Democrat.

MR. BUCHANAN: It was The Globe-Democrat and Post-Dispatch. One was very far left, and we were --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Which one? Which one?

MR. BUCHANAN: The Post-Dispatch was left-wing, and we were as conservative --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And the Democrat was what?

MR. BUCHANAN: The Globe-Democrat was right-ring Buchananite all the way.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: If it's announced by -- in the very masthead of the newspaper --

MR. BUCHANAN: If it's -- it's a terrific thing for a town to have a battling newspaper.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah. Look, the media marketplace is a free-for-all, and I think it's fine in the opinion pages. But I still hold out the hope that there is fair analysis in all the news magazines --

MR. BUCHANAN: Such as in Newsweek.

MS. CLIFT: -- including Newsweek. (Laughter.)

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Right.

MS. CLIFT: Right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's Newsweek?

MS. CLIFT: What's Newsweek? It's a major --

MR. BUCHANAN: It was not high on the list. (Laughter.)

####

®FC¯END
®FL¯