tv Piers Morgan Tonight CNN July 22, 2011 12:00am-1:00am PDT
that does it for this edition of 360. thanks for watching. piers morgan starts now. tonight a live exclusive with the man some say owns america. prince alwaleed bin talal. and some of the biggest korngss, including rupert murdoch's news corp. i'll ask him about that scandal, america's economy, and revolution in the middle east. also tonight. >> time is of the essence. we are running out of time. >> if america's debt rating gets downgraded, every interest rate in america will go up. >> two senators, democrat and republican, who think they've found a way out of this country's $14 trillion debt
crisis. and a man who has strong opinions on just about everything, from casey anthony to president obama, to harry potter and the space shuttle. what will he say tonight? i'll ask the opinionated new voice of "the new york times." this is "piers morgan tonight." good morning. "time" magazine calls prince alwaleed bin talal the arabian warren buffett. when he talks, the business world listens. tonight prince alwaleed bin talal joins me from the four seasons in paris where he's on vacation, to share his unique perspective on america's debt, the middle east, and the news corp. scandal. your highness, thank you for joining me. let me start right from the top by asking you of your impression of america's economy right now. where do you think it is? where can it get to? and what is your advice to the guys in washington about how
to get america incorporated back on its feet?
>> it's a pleasure to be on your show, my friend piers. as for the u.s. economy, as we all know, the 2nd of august is nearing very fast, and it's very important for the members of congress and the president of the united states, obama, to reach a conclusion as swiftly as possible because the budget deficit in the united states and the cumulative debt and the raising of the debt ceiling, it does not only impact the u.s. economy but also impacts the whole world economies. so it's very important for the u.s. congress, represented by the senate and house of representatives, and by president obama to come close together and to finish an agreement as soon as possible. frankly speaking, the so-called gang of six should be expanded to represent all the houses members and the senate's members
and reach a conclusion as quickly as possible.
>> what do you think has gone wrong with the american business model, and how can they fix it? >> well, it's very clear that the crisis that erupted in the united states, the financial crisis three years ago, specifically in the summer of 2007 -- that's where the whole thing began -- showed that capitalism went out of control. greed played a role. ignorance played a role. and very lax regulations did not help also. all these matters came together and caused the world crisis in the financial arena. clearly, this is behind us right now, and we hope some lessons have been learned whereby tighter regulations are needed, and hopefully greed will subside and lessons will be learned from what happened previously because
we are on the brink of a meltdown completely in the financial system globally. >> when you have a debt approaching $13 trillion and rising all the time and calls now for that debt ceiling to be risen again, surely it is now the time for the american administration to implement higher taxation, isn't it? i mean, you have to get more revenue back into the system. >> it is very clear that the republicans do not want to raise taxes. clearly, president obama and the democrats would like to have an element of taxes to be raised. clearly, cutting spending is very important. clearly, attaching entitlement, whether it's social security, medicaid, medicare, are going to have to happen. but inevitably some kind of taxation, or raising of taxation, has to happen. i hope that before the deadline,
which is 2nd of august, an agreement is reached because this is a time bomb. you can't play with fire. this is too important, too crucial for the world economies. and frankly, speaking of the 2nd august deadline is not met by an agreement between both republicans and democrats, the president of the united states and both chambers of the united states senate and house of representatives, this will be playing with fire and taking this to brinksmanship, which is very dangerous. >> one of the companies you have a big stake in is apple, of course. steve jobs has done an extraordinary job there. their recent profits were just astronomical again. obviously, they're a big global company, and they've aggressively marketed in countries all over the world. do you think america's doing enough of that? do you think it's time they went back to designing, creating, and building things they can sell to the world exactly as apple is doing so successfully? >> well, clearly, apple is a role model of the american innovation whereby it produced all these products -- ipod, iphone, ipad -- that is really now dominating all the technology arena in the world. clearly, apple is a role model,
and i believe the united states, with all its problems, is down but for sure is not out. i hope that an awakening happens in the united states whereby to go back to the roots of the main success of america, which is innovation and encouraging more ideas and more thoughts to be integrated in the u.s. system. >> are you concerned at all about the succession plans at apple given the ongoing situation involving steve jobs' health? >> clearly, as we have read
recently in the board of directors over there, has begun talking about succession. and any company successfully is measured by the succession plan that it has. no company should depend on one person no matter how that person is smart or genius, whether it's apple or news corp. or citibank or any other company in the world. i believe that apple will survive. clearly, we still hope that mr. jobs, who is my friend -- i know him very well -- i hope that he will continue there as long as possible. nevertheless, plans have to be put in motion just in case things do happen, like any other company in the world. >> you mentioned news corporation. they're obviously at the center of this huge scandal that's still erupting around the world, involving the activities of the "news of the world" in particular. when you look at the structure
of the newspaper corporation, you talked there about the succession plan for apple. are you concerned about the future of the murdoch family in relation to news corporation, or are you happy with the way things are? >> well, you know, news corp. is the only real media global -- that has a global presence that's involved in tv production, in movies, in publishing, in newspapers, digital media, et cetera. so for a company like that to function, clearly it does not depend on rupert murdoch or james murdoch. clearly, as a ceo, you have other functions that are managed by other people. i'm not worried about it at all because i do interact a lot with news corp., and i see a lot of depth at the management level at all levels. >> what mistakes do you think they've made managerially in handling the scandal? because the one thing that everyone seems to be in agreement about is they haven't handled it very well. >> you know, news corp. is a conglomerate that is really so diverse. it's available in five continents. if you take only the newspaper
arena between -- among the united states, uk, australia, and other countries, you have hundreds of newspapers that have been published. clearly, "news of the world" in the uk went out of control, and the lesson learned here is that mr. rupert murdoch, james murdoch, and the management and board of directors there, they have to have more stringent rules and regulations. they have to tighten the boss a lot more internally, and they have to have independent commoditied to manage the process. i believe this is in motion already. there are lessons to be learned there. thanks god that news world represents only 1%, as mr. rupert murdoch said in the latest hearings, of the con conglomerate which is news corp., and it has been shut down. hopefully, this thing will not affect other entities that belong to news corp. >> you were very supportive after the parliamentary hearings
of both rupert and james murdoch's testimony. there are questions tonight about some of that testimony, the former editor of "news of the world" and the legal manager have both claimed that james murdoch misled parliament in relation to some of the things he was saying. do james and rupert both retain your full support? >> i went public by supporting mr. rupert and mr. james after the hearings because i know them very well. i know mr. rupert since 20 years. i know james since more than 5 years ago, and i know them of being of high integrity, honesty, and honor. and i take their word for granted in front of the uk parliament presented by the culture committee. but at the end of the day, we have to let the investigation process take its procedure, and we have to see where this ends.
so let's not anticipate what the investigation will come up with, and we have to wait for that. >> when we come back, i want to talk about the middle east, about the extraordinary uprisings in that region that we've seen thus far, and saudi arabia's role in all this, which is obviously crucial. [ male announcer ] things seem better with travelocity's best price guarantee.
our girl's an architect. our boy's a genius. we are awesome parents! biddly-boop. [ male announcer ] if you find a lower rate on a room you've booked, we won't just match it. we'll give you $50 towards your next trip. [ gnome ] it's go time. my guest prince alwaleed bin talal. prince alwaleed, what have you made of this extraordinary year for the region, the middle east. we first saw tunisia, egypt, libya, dictators being toppled, uprisings driven by young people, better educated, restless, and demanding better from their leaders. what did you make of it from saudi arabia? >> well, it's very clear that the arab population is rising because they'd like to have a say in the running of their affairs, running of their government, and this is very legitimate. with the globalization of the world, the world is getting too
small, and they see what's happening all over the world from the openness point of view, from democracy, freedom of speech, liberty, freedom of press, and they would like to have the same thing. i think what happened in egypt, tunisia, what's happening right now in yemen, what's happening in syria and libya are all indications of what the world needs, and i believe it's very important for the arab rulers in all the remaining countries, excludeing these four that have erupted already, to take lessons and begin putting some actions in motion like the king of monaco has done recently. where he's heading very much closer to being a constitutional
monarchy. we're not calling all the monarchies to be constitutional monarchies, but it's very important to enact some rules and regulations whereby the population and the people will begin thinking in different terms, whereby the subject of the people, of the countries to be the people of their nation. >> obviously, saudi arabia is a crucial part of that region and one of the wealthiest countries. people are saying, come on, saudi arabia, this is the time to listen to your people, to bring in more freedom, to let the young people have their say as they have in other countries there.
have some other steps on the political front, such as electing members of ashura, which is our parliament, and to have ladies participate in the system. we have heard lately about the right of women to drive in saudi arabia. i think the issue is a lot more deeper than to have ladies only drive the cars. we need ladies to have equal rights to men. i believe king abdullah is seeing what's happening around him, and i hope that some new rules and regulations will be enacted before it's too late. >> hearing such a high profile saudi talk about women having equal rights is a pretty
remarkable thing, prince alwaleed. you are a lonely voice there. are you pushing your colleagues in government to be as progressive as you've just been sounding? >> i don't agree i'm a lonely voice because all what i tell you right now, my friend piers, i say it in public in saudi arabia, and the majority of saudis are with me. had this been a very lonely voice, i would have been attacked by so many.
but the e-mails, the faxes, the letters, the phone calls that i get from the majority of saudi upper class, middle class, low class, it's very encouraging. maybe a very small minority in saudi arabia is against what i'm saying, but the vast majority is with me. so i think i have a lot of tail wind behind me, and guess what? i'm going to use that and leverage it to the maximum.
>> you've been very vocal about the real sort of pivotal part of the middle east peace process being obviously israel and palestine. it's got to get fixed. in terms of saudi's role with terrorism and with al qaeda, do you think that saudi should be harder and tougher against islamic fundamentalism than it has been? >> well, you know, i'm a member of the royal family but not a member of the government. so i speak very openly and freely. saudi arabia has done an excellent job on that front.
king abdullah has really flushed, and his government flushed out many of those terrorists that are in saudi arabia also. you know, in saudi arabia there were many terrorist acts. my tower in saudi arabia, which is the highest priced tower in the middle east, was under threat for two times, and people had to evacuate from there. but the last two years, you have witnessed no terrorist act in saudi arabia. so we have been very successful in flushing out those terrorists and preempting all their strikes. so saudi arabia is doing an excellent job frankly on that front. whenever saudi arabia does a good job, i have to praise them. whenever saudi arabia and the government doesn't do a good job, i'll criticize them like on the front of women's rights, for example. >> what about colonel gadhafi? do you think it's time he just stood down now? >> well, i think that colonel gadhafi's days are really numbered. i don't think he can survive what's happening in his country. love and affection and getting communities closer to each other. and the latest visit to canada was very successful. >> and in hollywood, in fact, they were a huge hit here. >> oh, yes, they will be a huge hit. i think the world looks for good positive couples like that. >> prince alwaleed bin talal, it's been a fascinating conversation. thank you very much. i look forward to a longer interview with you and your wife, princess amira, in the fall, your first interview together. and i really appreciate your taking the time to talk with me. >> it's a pleasure to be with
you, and princess amira and i are looking forward to having a full hour with you, hopefully in the fall. >> coming up, two senators who say they may have a way out of america's $14 trillion debt crisis. almost tastes like one of jack's cereals. fiber one. uh, forgot jack's cereal. [ jack ] what's for breakfast? um... try the number one! [ jack ] yeah, this is pretty good. [ male announcer ] half a day's worth of fiber. fiber one.
i want to congratulate the gang of six for coming up with a plan that i think is balanced. we just received it, so we haven't reviewed all the details of it. the problem we have now is we're in the 11th hour, and we don't have a lot more time left. >> that was president obama talking on tuesday about the gang of six and their plan to cut the deficit. joining me now, two members of that bipartisan group, senator kent conrad and senator tom coburn. senators, thank you so much for joining me. i know it's been a busy day. >> good to be with you. >> good to be with you. >> where are we as things stand? >> well, i think it's clear that we don't know. there's been a negotiation at the white house that we've not been a direct part of, and we had a meeting scheduled with our leaders at 5:00, and they were called to the white house. so i don't think we'll know the full details until later tonight or perhaps in the morning.
what i'm hopeful of is that we do have a deal that changed the trajectory of our debt in a way that's responsible and balanced and that can pass. >> let me ask both of you. the recent polls suggest that the american public are now pretty clear about what they're prepared to accept. they want a cut in spending, and they're prepared to accept some tax increases, and they're prepared for the debt ceiling to be raised. would you both concur that that is where we are now in terms of public opinion? >> it depends on whether you -- how you raise revenue, i think. i think there's no question that the american people want us to cut spending. i think there's no question they want the debt ceiling raised under conditions that we're actually going to solve the problem rather than kick the can down the road a little further. and i think people will tolerate revenue increases as long as it's not a negative drag on the economy. >> is it the unthinkable still for the republicans, this whole notion of tax increases? we saw grover norquist flirting with the possibility today that you could perhaps rethink things? are we in a position in the american economy that thinking the unthinkable has to be the way to go? >> what i think we have to do is we have to reform our tax code in a way that promotes economic growth and not just add tax increseont mt taty su iinead 3 % reves tfera compromise, one that does cut spending and reform entitlements. and, yes, reform the tax code to put our country in a stronger competitive position and that people on opposite sides of the aisle can actually come together for the good of the country. >> nor senator coburn, we've seen a pretty special relationship developing between president obama and speaker boehner. would you say it's love on the golf course? where are we going here? >> i'm a good friend of the president's. we have almost 100% disagreement on most things, but i love the man. i think he's a neat guy, and i had a good friendship with him in the senate. let me comment back on what kent was commenting. i think the partisanship is made worse by you all. i don't think the partisanship is as bad as it's portrayed in the press. we get along most of the time in the senate. we just have frank differences of opinion on what's good for the country. that's not partisanship. that's long held deep beliefs and difference of opinion. that's why kent is where he is in his registration, and that's
why i am where i am. you all don't get to see the inner workings behind the scenes of the senate. i think there's a ton of relationships between both sides of the party, and i just don't shink it's near what you thik % fact, we don't come together and make the hard choices and the sacrifices that are necessary, then we're all going to pay a very big price for that, and we will be responsible for that by not working together. >> senators, i would be delighted to come down to washington and test your theory that all is now glowing in the garden. >> love to have you. come on down. >> i'll take you up on that. we can all have a cup of tea and chew the fat now that we're all getting on so famously. thank you both very much. >> you're welcome. next a man who has a lot to say about, well, just about everything. the very opinionated new voice of "the new york times," frank bruni. in 16 years at "the new york times," frank bruni has been washington correspondent, rome bureau chief, restaurant critic, and as of last month, the new op ed columnist. he's a man of strong opinions. frank bruni joins me now. frank, come on, which of all these myriad of roles that you've had have you most enjoyed, do you think? >> this one's so new, i can't weigh in on it yet. rome bureau chief was a pretty nice gig. >> yeah, you're living in rome, beautiful italian women. what's not to love, huh? >> the women wouldn't have done so much for me. i like to look at beautiful things, period. but, you know, i had a reason, a charge to travel around one of the most beautiful countries in the world to find interesting stories.
i mean, i remember at one point doing a story on water cops in venice cracking down on speeders and spending a day just riding around on speed boats through the canals of venice, and i thought, it is kind of criminal i'm getting paid for this. >> you've got this incredibly wide ranging brief now. you've been writing about everything from the shuttle to harry potter to gay marriage and so on. do you like that kind of freedom where you can literally choose anything that rocks your boat? >> you know, i do. i tend to have a real roving eye when it comes to public life. i'm very interested in politics. i'm a big movie buff. i'm a big reader. so for me, it's just -- it's the perfect thing to be able to flit from one subject to another because that's kind of the way my mind goes. it's the way i read the paper. >> you're one of the first openly gay op-ed columnists that we've seen. it's no longer as shocking as it would have been 20 years ago. how has it gone down? what reaction do you get? you wrote a fantastic piece about gay marriage the other day. i was particularly moved by what you said about your own father and how he dealt with you and your partner. how is that kind of column going down generally? >> where the world has changed so much, i get amazingly lovely e-mails from readers when i write about that topic. i also get some hate mail. society hasn't come as far as a lot of us would like to see it travel, but the reception's been very, very warm. it's a real privilege to be able to write about that issue as an openly gay man. it's funny, when we talked about me taking on an op-ed column, none of us said, y,e' he rt ow3n era % thri awaedn la3 you've got these no longer emerge ing countries, china and india, brazil. america's status as the sole super power is in real peril, isn't it? >> it is. the world has changed a lot in that regard, and i think in some ways it feels like we're at that pivot of empire moment when the arc is a little downward. there's a sort of dislocation and apprehension about that that is one of the things being manifested in washington with all this bickering and all this
gridlock. if there was ever a time to come together, this is it. i think our group demonstrated that you can have a principled compromise, one that does cut spending and reform entitlements. and, yes, reform the tax code to put our country in a stronger competitive position and that people on opposite sides of the aisle can actually come together for the good of the country. >> nor senator coburn, we've seen a pretty special relationship developing between president obama and speaker boehner. would you say it's love on the golf course? where are we going here? >> i'm a good friend of the president's. we have almost 100% disagreement on most things, but i love the man. i think he's a neat guy, and i had a good friendship with him in the senate.
let me comment back on what kent was commenting. i think the partisanship is made worse by you all. i don't think the partisanship is as bad as it's portrayed in the press. we get along most of the time in the senate. we just have frank differences of opinion on what's good for the country. that's not partisanship. that's long held deep beliefs and difference of opinion. that's why kent is where he is in his registration, and that's why i am where i am. you all don't get to see the inner workings behind the scenes of the senate. i think there's a ton of relationships between both sides of the party, and i just don't think it's near what you think it is. i think having said that, this is a time our country's at risk, ou future's at risk, and if, in fact, we don't come together and make the hard choices and the sacrifices that are necessary, then we're all going to pay a
very big price for that, and we will be responsible for that by not working together. >> senators, i would be delighted to come down to washington and test your theory that all is now glowing in the garden. >> love to have you. come on down. >> i'll take you up on that. we can all have a cup of tea and chew the fat now that we're all getting on so famously. thank you both very much. >> you're welcome. next a man who has a lot to say about, well, just about everything. the very opinionated new voice of "the new york times," frank bruni. from sprint.
in 16 years at "the new york times," frank bruni has been washington correspondent, rome bureau chief, restaurant critic, and as of last month, the new op ed columnist. he's a man of strong opinions. frank bruni joins me now. frank, come on, which of all these myriad of roles that you've had have you most enjoyed, do you think? >> this one's so new, i can't weigh in on it yet. rome bureau chief was a pretty nice gig. >> yeah, you're living in rome, beautiful italian women. what's not to love, huh? >> the women wouldn't have done so much for me.
i like to look at beautiful things, period. but, you know, i had a reason, a charge to travel around one of the most beautiful countries in the world to find interesting stories. i mean, i remember at one point doing a story on water cops in venice cracking down on speeders and spending a day just riding around on speed boats through the canals of venice, and i thought, it is kind of criminal i'm getting paid for this. >> you've got this incredibly wide ranging brief now. you've been writing about everything from the shuttle to harry potter to gay marriage and so on. do you like that kind of freedom where you can literally choose anything that rocks your boat? >> you know, i do. i tend to have a real roving eye when it comes to public life. i'm very interested in politics. i'm a big movie buff. i'm a big reader. so for me, it's just -- it's the perfect thing to be able to flit from one subject to another because that's kind of the way my mind goes. it's the way i read the paper. >> you're one of the first openly gay op-ed columnists that
we've seen. it's no longer as shocking as it would have been 20 years ago. how has it gone down? what reaction do you get? you wrote a fantastic piece about gay marriage the other day. i was particularly moved by what you said about your own father and how he dealt with you and your partner. how is that kind of column going down generally? >> where the world has changed so much, i get amazingly lovely e-mails from readers when i write about that topic. i also get some hate mail. society hasn't come as far as a lot of us would like to see it travel, but the reception's been very, very warm. it's a real privilege to be able to write about that issue as an openly gay man. it's funny, when we talked about me taking on an op-ed column, none of us said, hey, we'll have an openly gay columnist, and that's kind of the way it got spun on the news, and that's fine. but i think i'll be writing less often about gay issues than about other things. >> what's your take on america right now?
we had an interesting interview with prince alwaleed bin talal from saudi. we talked to some senators. obviously, america's got big problems. let's just face up to this. it's in massive debt. you've got these no longer emerge ing countries, china and india, brazil. america's status as the sole super power is in real peril, isn't it? >> it is. the world has changed a lot in that regard, and i think in some ways it feels like we're at that pivot of empire moment when the arc is a little downward. there's a sort of dislocation and apprehension about that that is one of the things being manifested in washington with all this bickering and all this gridlock. we have got to become more mature in washington certainly, and we've got to become more reasonable if we're going to get through this moment and have a country as strong on the far side of it as we had coming into it. >> i liked your column about the sort of lack of ambition when you see the space travel being dramatically reduced and that kind of dream ending.
i think, when you and i were younger, you remember these amazing explorations into space, and they were fantastically ambitious and exciting, and they kind of motivated everybody. what worries me about what's going on now is everything's been cut back. the great aspiration that america always stood for doesn't seem to be there so much now. people aren't, i think, living that dream in the way they used to. >> the space program was always a great metaphor for our belief in this country that we could do anything we set our minds to, that the future was going to be brighter than the past. what's really interesting, when you look at public opinion surveys and listen to people is that sort of bedrock american belief that my kids will do better than i do, that's gone away, and american confidence is on the wane. and i think what's happening in washington right now is not helping that at all. it is compounding those fears and that anxiety greatly. >> what's the answer, do you
think, frank? when you look at your country, you have a great platform to talk about those problems. what's the answer? >> the answer is an end to the polarized politics and bickering we have. when you talk to people, when you talk to your friends, everyone looks at what's going on in washington with a significant measure of disgust. the fact that we're coming this close to the deadline without any agreement about raising the debt ceiling despite what the consequences of that would be, it's kind of surreal and mind boggling and nightmarish. >> how much do you blame the american public for being reckless with their own spending? >> we've all been reckless. the baby boomer generation has been reckless. right now i think the problem is in washington and not elsewhere in the land. when we go to the ballot box and we exert our will, we need to be grown up and informed and intelligent about that, but i think we all want a better caliber of politics than we get from washington, and i don't
think it's the american people's fault that what's going on in washington right now has the kind of tenor it does. >> is president obama lacking initiative, do you think? >> i think he's trying very hard to lead right now. i'm a little confused about why he came into the picture so late. there's this recurring theme in his presidency. it's there also in his campaign. he seems to hold back and hold back and rush in at the final hour. maybe that was a smart strategy here. i don't think we'll know how to evaluate it all until we see the end result. it did seem for a long time, maybe too long a time, he was holding back and not coming in to kind of try to bring the parties together. i hope that wasn't lost time that's going to make a difference. >> commercial break. when we come back, i'm going to talk to you about casey anthony, about harry potter, and i want to ask you the greatest meal you've ever had and the worst. [ male announcer ] things seem better with travelocity's best price guarantee.
our girl's an architect. our boy's a genius. we are awesome parents! biddly-boop. [ male announcer ] if you find a lower rate on a room you've booked, we won't just match it. we'll give you $50 towards your next trip. [ gnome ] it's go time. back with my best frank bruni. frank, harry potter. i read your column about this saying you just didn't get it.
i have never watched a single second of a harry potter movie. i've never read a word of any of the books. i just don't get it either. why is the world so obsessed with harry potter if you and i, two reasonably intelligent individuals, have this completely passing us by? >> we're the two individuals who can't answer that because we haven't read or watched harry potter. so we can't analyze the charm of it. i wrote about that because it's just weird, as you know, in terms of harry potter, to stand to the side of a cultural phenomenon like that. i think there are other phenomena, whether it's the sopranos at a given point in time, "seinfeld," "mad men" for a certain group of people, and i wanted to explore how odd it is to have everyone around you enthusiastic about something and to not know what they're talking about. >> talking about phenomena, were you disgusted or curious or sort of bemused by the whole casey anthony trial? it became such a weird thing for me to observe when you see people fighting for tickets in
the morning in the queues outside the courtrooms in the morning as if it's some form of entertainment. what was your take on it? >> i tuned into it kind of late, and when i did, i was shocked it was getting as much attention as it did. there's something that really rattles people about the prospect of a mother hurting her own child. for complicated reasons that are in some ways sexist, we don't get as upset or shocked when it's a father. i think the details of that story were so gripping that people just got very involved in it. i don't understand quite what would bring you to line up hours in advance to watch a child, but some people felt that moved by it. >> you were pretty tough on nancy grace, my colleague over at hln. you said this. she doesn't serve the cause of victims with the kind of histrionics she showed towards casey anthony. she serves the cause of nancy grace. is that what you feel? >> to me, when i watch her, her degree of hyperbole and hysteria
doesn't feel like passion on the part of victims only, it feels like great manufactured theater. i don't know nancy grace perbl personally. i'm giving you my impression of what i think when i watch her. it's tv. you want to give viewers. that degree of hysteria attracts viewers. i think the law and trials are about reason triumphing over passion, and nancy grace is about passion utterly obliterating reason. >> let's talk food. >> i'd love to. >> because you became the most notorious feared man in the world of restaurant critiques. you would scurry around without people knowing who you were and then either bury places or praise them. fantastic reputation, you had. did you enjoy it? or does it become an awful chore? you suffered from various eating disorders while you were doing this. do you regret ever getting
involved in restaurant critique? >> no, no, it was a fantastic job. at a certain point, it, like anything else, becomes a job. when you have to eat out without choice seven nights a week and you are governed by this elaborate reservation book, it does become somewhat difficult. but of all the things one does for does for work, having to go to restaurant and sit there with friend and eat and drink wine? it's very, very hard to complain about that. >> you say that but i've read some of your reviews. you had to go to some absolute stinkers. i can't think of anything better than going to a great restaurant with friend. but going stop a complete turkey and having to sit there eating inedible food with terrible wine, that's my idea of absolute hell. so i'm not sure i really agree with you. >> it's a hell that expires quickly. it's a hell that you can redeem in the sense of writing some memorable copy about that hell. so there's always that consolation prize. it's a lot easier and more fun to write a scathing review than
to write -- it's easier to describe hell and discomfort than euphoria. >> what was the single best meal you've ever had in a restaurant? >> you know, i get asked that -- >> you have to answer. >> the single best meal i've ever had in a restaurant, i'm going to surprise you. it's not about the greatness of the restaurant. but for christmas eve in many years when my parent lived in southern california we would go to the same restaurant, the six of us, two brothers, two sisters, parents, and we would have this grand long meal. the fact that it was christmas eve, being with family, the fact that we were known there, we were welcomed in a special way. i think the best meals of your life are ultimately not about the food on the plate. they're really about whom you're eating them with. and my mother, who was with us then, passed away. and so maybe that makes it all nostalgia seem even more sweet. but i remember that restaurant and those meals more than any other. >> the restaurant's long gone, by the way.
>> yeah. if you could -- i love that story. but if you could only choose one existing american restaurant for your last meal, what would it be? >> existing american restaurant for my last meal? i don't know. i haven't been there in years so i don't know if it's as good as it used to be. and my success or recently downgraded it from the similarings i'd given years ago. but i had an amazing meal right here in the time warner center at a restaurant called mazza which is uncon chenably expensive. have you eaten there? >> yeah. it's fantastic. >> i mean, when someone's making you every piece of souchi or constructing it for you, handing it to you one after the other so everything is the perfect temperature, everything is perfectly seasoned, there's a kind of deck dense involved in that that feels to me like it would be an appropriate death bed meal deck dense. >> you've written this book "born round" a big best seller, story of family, food, and a ferocious appetite.
do you still have a ferocious appetite? or did it get quenched by all this gorging over the years? >> i would love to say that 5 1/2 years as restaurant critic put me off food and i have to for the myself to eat. unfortunately that's not one of the case. i'm one of these people who has had to wrestle love of food all my life. there was a period when when i was covering the white house and president bush when i was about 60 pound heavier than i am now. it is a constant lifelong struggle for me to control my appetite. i think it is for a love of reasoning. one of the reasons i wrote that book is so many of us who review restaurant or live in a world -- there i am at a heavier weight. so many of us who write about our love of food write about it in a purely romantic way. i think it's important at times to acknowledge you can overdo it with food, it can get the better with you and you need to work at managing your consumption. >> has it helped you giving up the restaurant critiques?
>> oddly it has hurt me. i've probably gained weight since i gave it up. when i was the restaurant critic i was in such constant terror because i could never go on a full-flenled diet that i would spin out of control hey was much better about portion size, i was more religious about exercise. so if anything, leaving the restaurant critic job has been more difficult on the fitness weight front than being in it. >> go on a final break and come back and talk to you about washington, whether you miss it or whether you miss it like a hole in the head. every day, all
back with my guest frank broon any. frank, unbelievably having escaped from washington after covering the bush campaign in 2000 you're going back in. are you mad? >> well, no, i still live here in new york and i spend most of my time here. but i like getting back to d.c. d.c.'s a great story. it's always a great story. and i think it's impossible as a journalist not to feel a pull to washington and not to want to spend a little time there writing about it. >> but isn't it a bit like al pa chino "scar face" when he says they're surk me back in.
you feel like it's an addiction? >> it's a whole -- i was in washington. i lived there from 1998 to 2002 before i went to rome. it's a different cast of players now. it's a much different story line. it's a much, much different moment in the nation's history. so in a way it all feel totally new. >> which of all the republican candidates has caught your eye, do you think? do you see a potential winner in a race against president obama? >> i think any small better right now would have to say it's going to be mitt romney. that may not be a sexy answer. i know that if you talk to people in the white house they assume it's going to be mitt romney. i think we'll have a lot of great storytelling, a lot of great characters will come and go and leap to the foreground. i think you just showed some footage of michele bachmann. she has certainly provided journalists like myself a great amount of terrific copy. i think at the end of the day it's going to be the predictable outcome, romney versus obama.