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tv   Reliable Sources  CNN  September 25, 2011 8:00am-9:00am PDT

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♪ when the president of the united states sits down with an author, that's a pretty good sign the white house is cooperating. now the obama administration is savaging the book by ron suskind, accusing him of distortion and worse. did he nail down the disputed fact? we'll ask him. much of of the press all but writing off rick perry after this week's fox news debate. is that fair? why are journalist promoting the chris christie rumors again? a statistical whiz kid has somehow become the most buzzed about blogger in the political world, and he think some of the media's coverage is pretty clueless. our conversation with nate silver of "the new york times." plus, pulitzer winner connie shultz resigns as a cleveland "plain dealer" columnist after word that she was favoring her husband, senator sherrod brown. can the wife of a politician have a journalism career? she'll be here. i'm howard kurtz, and this is "reliable sources."
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the pregame chatter when i was at the fox news debated in orlando this week wasn't about the candidates, it was about the lavish spread put on by the co-sponsor of google. everything from shrimp on a stick to a smoothie bar to a guy mixing root beer floats. but the post-game chatter was about whether rick perry had blown. it "politico" going so far with their headline "texas toast?" at least it was a question mark. it was the ankors at cnn who peppered perry with difficult questions and tried to foment a fight with mitt romney. >> governor perry, governor romney has been hammering you on your idea of turning social security back to the states repeatedly. can you explain separately how 50 separate social security systems are supposed to work? >> how do you feel being criticized by a number of these other candidates on the stage for being too soft on immigration, sir?
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governor romney, the other day governor perry called romney care socialized medicine. >> governor romney, i hate to follow up here, but called governor perry unelectable based on his says. >> have the media decided to take perry down? joining us now here in washington, jennifer rubin, "washington post" blogger who writes "the right turn" column. in new york, david shuster, chief substitute anchor for "current tv's" "countdown with keith olbermann." and craig crawford, blogs at no question he stumbled on the stage. is there any question that the media in general, even fox news, trying to ruin the governor of texas? >> look, the media lacks a focus on who won, who lost. for the media to write him off with the texas toast headline that you referred to in "politico" as insanity, there are a lot more debates. we're several months away from anybody talking about the iowa
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caucuses and how that process is going to work. for somebody to suggest that he's toast or to write off anybody or suggest that somebody is simpley -- is done is bizarre. i think it gets to one of the narratives that you talk good a long time. that is as the media tends to be so focused in the short term that they ignore the substance of what's from the debates. >> perry leading the polls. and jennifer rubin, those on your sides of the aisle apoplectic, one editorial says, "yikes," saying perry's performance is close to disqualifying. what explains the send of panic in the conservative pundit-ocracy? >> it's not just this devil rays, he's had two other debates -- this debate, he's had two other debates in which he did well in the first and poorly in the second. it's a series of these. there's a realization by people in the right side of the aisle that he has lacked spans in this contest.
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that he repeats the platitudes of what he's done in texas and gestures to texas but hasn't set forth any specifics. i think he would -- >> you would say the panic is justified? >> i would. and talking to people in the party operatives, people in florida where he lost badly in the straw poll on saturday -- >> hold on, a straw poll of 2,500 people. remember how we said the iowa straw poll was important because michele bachmann won it? i don't think so. >> if you're the front-runner and participate and try to win and lose, that's significant. we lost also badly in michigan. i think there's something to this. >> let me go to craig crawford, still on location in orlando. those fox anchors went not only after rick perry pretty hard but invited rick santorum and mitt romney to beat him up, as well. no wonder you get headlines the next day saying "perry under fire." >> yeah, what we've seen with the media on the flip side of what david said, rushing to write off candidates, i think it's crazy to name front-runners this early. i mean, look at the history of
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that. we've had people like howard dean and wesley clark named front-runners this early. hillary clinton, rudy giuliani, fred thompson, the list goes on. i don't know why we have to name front-runners so early. and this group here these last three days in talking to these delegates, howard, they are soft on perry and romney. that's what led the way for cain. they are very much taken aback by what they see as governor perry's liberal views on treating illegal immigrants. they are underwhelmed by romney's, what they see as his techno carr technocratic style and are tired of the bickering -- >> i want to bring this back to the media experience. david shuster, you worked at fox a long time ago. it's a news network with a lot of conservative anchors, obviously -- >> i still have friends there, too. >> conservative hosts, i should say, not anchors. isn't this the third debate where the fox moderators, megyn
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kelly, asked tough questions of the candidates? >> look, they did ask some tough questions. but there were also questions, howard, that were frankly incredibly silly and stupid. for megyn to ask mitt romney, oh, are you going to call president obama socialist, too, or for bret barrett to say, wait a second, how are you going to turn this country around, candidates, you have 30 seconds, i mean, it is not that simple. to the extent that journalists -- yes, they did ask some sharp questions, but for journalists it seemed they ran out of time. they were throwing things up there -- >> what's wrong with seeing whether romney would take the bait and pander to the right by using the "s" word, socialism, against president obama? >> the better way to enlighten people and voters is to say what do you view as socialism, as opposed to saying do you agree with a conservative label that may or may not apply. they could have asked specifics about what is your view about socialism and then how much of that is president obama's? likewise, instead of saying, how are you going to turn the country around in 30 seconds, why don't you ask a specific question like what's the most
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important thing that you can do to turn the country around. instead they suggest, this is all simplistic, problems can be solved simply. it contributes to the dumbing down of the electorate. and for all of the smart questions that fox asks, there were also pretty stupid ones at that debate. >> all right. now -- >> howard, my -- my favorite debate ever was the california debate with arnold schwarzenegger and all the crowd when they had no moderator. when the candidates just talked to each other, asked each other questions. >> you're going to put journalists out of work, craig. >> i don't like journalists as moderators to begin with. [ all talking at once ] >> let me ask you -- >> wait a second. if you're going to have journalists as moderators, pick people who have experience as politics. bret hume, there are folks at fox news who bring a certain level of sophistication to politics. when fox news goes to people who don't have much experience, haven't covered campaigns, the result is sometimes you have inane questions that come out
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and, frankly, waste everybody's time. >> i didn't think there were that many inane questions. and chris wallace certainly has experience covering milk. before i go to you, jennifer, the youtube searches, google, did that add to the debate, or it was a distraction? >> it certainly brought the most provocative moment of all when the gay soldier asked a question on video. and the crowd reacted. and we've been talking about it ever since. i actually think some of those questions, if they're carefully chosen, are -- they're more from the heart. they're from the grassroots. those are the kinds of questions i actually liked best. i don't like journalists as moderators in these things. one technical thing i liked about the last couple of debates is letting the crowd react. i don't like seeing journalists constantly admonishing the crowd to shut up and that's one reason these have been more entertaining debates is they've just opened up the spigot to let the audience be part of the show. >> for those who didn't see it, stephen hill is the gay soldier who appeared on youtube and talked about how he had to keep
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his sexuality private because he didn't want to lose his job. the crowd booed. it was not a credible moment. i'm surprised none of the anchors and the media generally haven't made more of that. as there was a booing at the cnn debate when wolf blitzer asked a question about a -- what would you do if somebody didn't have health insurance, died in an emergency room, the crowd cheered. the crowds can do whatever they want. i think some of this behavior should not go unremarked by those of us in the news business. i want to turn to you, jennifer -- >> yeah, let me -- >> go ahead. >> what about the candidates? i mean, the candidates saw this crowd booing a soldier. i can't believe none of them stood up to the mob -- >> let me respond to that actually. it wasn't the entire crowd. there were about two or three people. and i think just as the media perhaps shouldn't ignore it, they shouldn't elkage rate it and make -- exaggerate it and make it seem as though the entire room was booing. they weren't. >> you have been blogging about chris christie, governor of new jersey. maybe he's going to reconsider, maybe he's going to get in. this is a guy who said on numerous occasions, he doesn't
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feel ready to run for president. what does he have to do, commit suicide, to convince you people in the press that he's not running for president? isn't this kind of a media fantasy you're indulging? >> no, he's changing his mind. this is based on real reporting. i've spoken to people within the christie campaign. they are no longer denying it. they're no longer using the "suicide" line. >> he's not going to kill himself? >> he's not going to kill himself. he may run. i'm told he doesn't have a mitch daniels problem, a wife who's not supportive. he is talking to real people. that's donors, that's policy thinkers within the republican party. this is a reconsideration. it's real. he has seen the meltdown of rick perry. he has seen a lack of specificity in terms of bold reforms, and he is now reconsidering that maybe i am the best that the republican party has. >> what is it -- i have half a minute here. where journalists and columnists are always pining for somebody who's not in the race to get into the race. let me stick with jennifer. >> right. i think part of that -- [ all talking at once ] >> let me stick with jennifer,
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please. >> thank you. >> go ahead. >> i think there's two things. one, this reflects in large part what we're hearing from members of the party. so i think it's not the press that's always pining. i think constituents, voters are always pining for the perfect candidate, the man in the white horse. >> conservative columnists love chris christie. >> well, they do. i'm sure when he enters, there will be criticism of him, too. they'll probably be looking for someone else. i think it's human nature. i think there's something else -- >> some of them love jeb bush, some of them love sarah palin. we're talking about people not in the race. that benefits people whether it's chris christie, sarah palin, it suggests the mainstream republicans the current field is inadequate. that helps somebody who wants to get in late. >> to be continued. david shuster, craig crawford, jennifer rubin, thanks for joining us. when we come back, the book the white house has been trying to discredit. author ron us suskind. whether it can be done safely and responsibly. at exxonmobil we know the answer is yes. when we design any well,
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the groundwater's protected by multiple layers of steel and cement. most wells are over a mile and a half deep so there's a tremendous amount of protective rock between the fracking operation and the groundwater. natural gas is critical to our future. at exxonmobil we recognize the challenges and how important it is to do this right.
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ron suskind had all kinds of
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cooperation from the white house for his book on the administration. talks from top advisers and nearly an hour from the president himself. turns out the obama team doesn't much like the book and has pushed back hard, which some top officials denied the book quote them as saying. >> what we know is that very simple things, facts that could be ascertained, dates, titles, statistics, quotes, are wrong in this book. i think that -- in fact, one passage seems to be lifted almost entirely from wikipedia in the book. that analysis is wrong. tim geithner, who lived it, just told you that it bears no resemblance to the reality he lived. >> the book is, "confidence men: wall street and washington and the president." welcome. you spent a couple of years on this book. you had cooperation, access. and now the white house has mounted this campaign -- there's no other word -- this campaign against you. this must tick you off. >> the fact of the matter is, howie, when the book was
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completed through this summer, i got a sense that the reaction would be different than what it might have been in the spring. when we were coming at the end of the reporting after the interview with the president and the final areas of reporting, the president was sort of riding a very strong wave. i think the white house felt good about many of these disclosures being in a part of the presidenty that they viewed as over. that the president had evolved and moved past it. that's what he says strongly. >> then things got worse -- >> that looked like a false spring quickly by the end of the book. what i did at the finish of the book, as i've pointed out, is i went back to everybody again and again to say, look, this is what the book says next to your name. let's talk about it so you understand and you're ready for that. and frankly, the white house knew everything that was in the book prior to publication. >> there is a lot of reporting in this book. you talked to a lot of people. you have internal memos. when the white house press secretary stands up and says you're plagiarizing a passage, that is a concerted effort to discredit you. >> yeah. i've had a lot of pushback. sometimes we get a lot of pushback when the books come
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out. they've pulled back a curtain on something that heretofore has not been revealed. bob woodward has had examples, others, as well. i during the bush era on all three books, certainly the first book which really was similar to this in pulling back the curtain of the bush administration, they were vigorous. if you recall, they filed a frivolous federal investigation against me and paul o'neil, which of course dissolved a few months later. >> you're used to this. but hasn't the obama team succeeded in this respect -- when your book first came out, the headlines were about dysfunctional administration, president -- inexperienced president not ready to govern, and women in the white house felt that they were being given short shift. now all of the stories and interviews and i guess we're doing it here about the credibility of ron suskind. so was this a tactic to make you the issue? >> i think that as people read the book, they're often surprised to say this is not sensational. this is very well sourced. it's complete. it's credible, and in the book, there are long passages of responses from the key actors to all of the major disclosures.
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that was part of the idea of making the book complete as a text in and of itself. i think much of the attacks, they came prior to the book being in people's hands. now that it is in people's hands, that's turning. >> does it disappoint you that some of the chris simple of people in this administration has been so personal toward you? >> you know, you know as well as anybody it's a tough town. many of the folks who were praising me mightily during the bush era, these are the most definitive works on george bush, this is the historical record, now are doing their best to struggle really to discredit those books and discredit this book. >> are you suggesting it's ideological that some people who were liberals are perfectly happy to have you go after president bush and not so happy to have you go after barack obama? >> certainly many commentators have pointed that out, not just me. i think that's part of the way this works. when they look at this president, i think that this book will help people on balance get involved in a more thorough analysis of how we got here. this is a difficult time for
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everyone in america. we're feeling enormous pressure, is america in a decline. this economic nightmare is growing, it seems, and i think the point of the book is to look at that clearly so we can have a more fulfilling and more productive discussion, and i think that's already happening. >> let's get into the details. most of the attention has turned on anita dunn, former white house communications director, because of a fairly explosive thing you quote her as saying, that the white house would be in court for hostile workplace in terms of the attitudes toward women. you actually played a tape of your interview with anita dunn for a "washington post" reporter. here's the full quote -- >> yes. >> "i remember one i told valerie," valerie jarrett, white house official, "if it weren't for the president, this place would be a court for hostile workplace." in the book you took out the six words, "if it weren't for the president" which teams to me to change the meaning of what anita dunn said. >> i said and the "washington post" has reported that that was at anita dunn's request. at the end of the process, i
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called back anita, as i said, i called back all the key sources. i talked to her about the quote. she was vigorous in saying, "this is the way i think this is the quote -- this quote is most appropriate as to what i believed." the issue about the president per se is one that i said, anita, i never was sure had i meant by that. if it's a hostile workplace and the president is not involved, as you and others have said, what difference would it make if he were there or not, she says, you're right, that doesn't make send. the point -- >> whether she asked you to or not, taking those six words out really changes the impact of what she is saying. why didn't you as an author give us a full quote so we can make up our minds? >> well, the fact is, howie, that with a quote like that, you press the subject. and you say, is this what you really mean. and if so, how and if not, why not, so that they can stand up and take ownership of this quote when the lights come up. this was something i did for anita dunn. and this is the quote that she
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accepted, to say this is what i truly believe. the core of the quote about it being a hostile workplace does not change. her point was that i said it in present tense in the spring. looking back, this is true to what i believe, that's how the quote appear in the book. >> she continues to be unhappy with your rendering of it. >> i think that issue is settled. >> christina romo, adviser, talking about the white house staff, how the boys, so to speak, treated the women. "i felt like a piece of meat after some of the meetings." now saying i can't imagine saying that. >> christina and i talked for many, many hours. she said many, many thing. when the first call came, i simply don't think she remembered. i talked to her later. she didn't remember saying that. she said, "i can't imagine saying that." christina said many, many things that were in line with that quote or in many cases even more dramatic than that quote. but again, this is part of the pushpack that's happening where the white house is calling everybody and saying, are you loyal to the president, certainly say something now
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which in some ways kicks up dust about this book that we feel hurts him. >> you're making a serious allegation. you're saying that some of these former officials are disputing what they said to you because they're under pressure from the obama white house, not because they disagree with your rendering of events. >> in a moment like this when the president is seen under attack by a book in which they are a main character, they're going to feel pressure, period. they're going to feel pressured by simply living in america. at a moment like this, they do get calls, i'm not saying that did get calls. i don't know that. but it is indisputable that that's what happens. that's the way the world works. >> treasury secretary tim geithner, as you know, you have an account in the book that he basically dragged his feet on coming up with a plan to restructure citigroup, in deep financial trouble. >> that's right. >> he denies this vigorously. that seems like a substantive disputes between your account and what the treasury secretary says. >> i would direct readers to two page in the book from a long taped interview with the treasury secretary. again, prior to publication when
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people were confronted with the disclosures, right up to the president. tim responds step by step to what the evidence indicates in terms of the citibank issue. and the citibank incident. i think it's important people are now moving, reporters are now moving to the pete rouse memo which is there in full in the book which says that the treasury in cases, in instances relitigated, meaning they essentially ignored or tried to redebate issues when they disagreed with the president. i think the area of coverage now is asking the white house what are those instances, how many instances, in what areas, on what issues. because interestingly, it shows where the president wanted to do something, but treasury for whatever reason was not moving based on the president's will. >> pete rouse as a top white house official -- >> yes -- >> let me move to the broader question. there's a lot more in the book than these incidents. >> absolutely. >> these incidents are helping you sell the book, and the controversy, face it, helps you
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sell the book. why would these top government officials, people experienced at dealing with the press, tell you over a period of time these negative and sometimes embarrassing things despite even given the fact that, you know, the white house was cooperating and the president gave you an interview. why would they say this knowing one day it would be between hard covers? >> their own context -- there are many things in the book that i think are positive about the president. the president finishes with a great burst, i think, in the last 1/3 of the book. part of the goal is to show the evolution this man, frankly, across four years. and when people talk for hour after hour about their actual experiences, it is a truth that they own, they will tell you everything they know. >> but are they confiding -- you're not their friend. you're there as a journalist. >> sure. >> yet, they are saying things -- you say they are saying thing -- >> of course. >> that ordinarily they wouldn't tell reporters. >> we develop long, source reporter relationships that often stretch across years. i have those relationships,
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those source reporter relationships, common for all reporters, with many, many sources, all of whom live at the same time, and the same experiences. >> they know you're not writing this for the next day's paper or next week's magazine. >> that's a key objective all of we book writers understand, especially an advantage at a time when there's access journalism. if you write something pad in a newspaper, you may lose access the next day. we can spend years in some cases getting at least a first draft of a record this period. >> all right. ron suskind, thank you very much for coming in. appreciate it. coming up in the second part of "reliable sources," clashing careers. pulitzer prize-winning author connie shultz. and a blogger who makes political predictions based on nothing but statistics. nate silver of "the new york times" on his 538 blog and why he says media coverage often misses the boat. confidence. available in color. depend for women is now peach. looks and fits like underwear.
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connie shultz has worked for the cleveland "plain dealer" dealer" for 18 years. in 2006 she took a leave of absence to campaign for her husband, sherrod brown, a democrat who won a senate seat from ohio. earlier this month, shultz covered a tea party event but made no mention of one of the speakers, ohio state treasurer josh mandell, two attacked her
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husband. she later apologized. shultz resigned from the paper this week saying her position had become untenable. she joins me now from cleveland. good morning. >> good morning. >> your husband's been a senator for almost five years. what was the tipping point that made you decide to give up your column now? >> well, first of all, i want to make it clear i'm still writing a syndicated column for creators. i'm glad for that. creators came to me in 2007. i'm also writing essays for "parade." i'm not resigning from journalism, i resigned from the cleveland plain dealer. it's the largest paper in ohio and covers my husband's race which it should. he's running for re-election. it's different from 2006 and now for me professionally, but also for how it's working out there in politics. and i just felt i was getting a bigger target on my back. and i was going to make my editors worry too much. they had been so supportive. they did not want me to leave. but they understood why i did. >> in with the benefit of hind side, was it naive to believe
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you that could write a column for ohio's biggest newspaper while being married to a united states senator? >> of course not. first of all, let's be clear. i started writing the column in 2002 before i even met sherrod. and i was married to sherrod in 2004 at the age of 46. i've been writing a column throughout this period of time. i had been writing a column for nine years. so i don't get -- i don't get how that's naive. i've been doing this for quite sometime now. >> you seemed to suggest you that were under pressure or your bosses were under pressure from some who didn't like your husband or you had a built-in conflict. >> no, i think what has changed for me is i finally just want to be unleashed. and that's how i feel by leaving the "plain dealer" at this point because i love that paper. i have so much respect for people who worked there. i don't want to become a distraction for them trying to do their jobs. and i want to keep writing and weighing in on issues that matter deeply to me. a number of papers picked me up just this week after my resignation which means a great deal to me.
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and i'm in "parade" magazine today, in their issue. i'm doing what i've always done. i'm just eliminating one of the distractions. i'm reminded two of quotes from lucille clifton, the late poet. i've had these on my two desktop computers for years. what they call you is one thing. what you answer to is something else. and i am married to sherrod brown, but i do not define myself or my life as being a senator's wife. >> you, as well -- i totally understand that. you had a very successful journalism career before you met him. so does some part of you kind of resent this? i mean, you are giving up the job at this paper that you love in part because of the perception problem, perhaps? >> no. you know, i love that old quote resentment is when you drink the poison and expect the other person to suffer. i'm not big on resentment. i did this because i wanted to do this now for my life and my career. i'm working on a third book. and my future looks very
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different to me now than it did back in 2006. you mentioned that i took a leave of absence. i did not take a leave of absence initially to campaign for sherrod. i took a leave of absence because i was worried that my column was going to be become increasingly constricted by my choice because i was afraid of giving the impression of championing anything that sherrod was talking about on the campaign trail. this time around, i really want to be able to be set free and write what i want to write. focus on national issues. you know, when you write for a wrjal newspaper -- and i chose to stay at "the plain dealer," i loved it. i loved being a liberal columnist in the midwest. i will continue that in syndication. but when you write for a regional paper, you also have to cover the region more. >> sure. >> now i won't have to do that as much. now i can write and weigh in on national issues, which i'm looking forward to. >> what went through your mind at that tea party event when one of the state's top republicans attacked your husband and you decided not to quote him? >> the reason i didn't quote him is because -- while he's an undeclared candidate, it's ohio
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state treasurer josh mandell, n undeclared candidate against my husband. but he's raising money to run against my husband. my concern is i didn't want to look like i was covering him at all, i wasn't. i had not intended to -- first of all, he wasn't an announced speaker there. i didn't know he was going to be there. i went to the tea party because it was part of that tea party express, do you remember when it was going on around the country? it was going to be the only stop in ohio. it was down the street in from my house. i've been criticized by readers, rightly so, i think, for being critical of the tea party members without actually going to any of their events. i decided to go to this event at a public stadium, a ballpark, that my community where i live in actually voted for the income tax increase to fund it. so i was there as a journalist covering a public event. i had been there about two hours interviewing a lot of people. >> i'm short on time. in retrospect, you think the on, mission, not quoting him, was a mistake? >> no. no. the mistake i made was when i held up -- what happens, they
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kicked out another photographer. i found out they kicked out a photographer of the democratic party. when i held up my camera i was being a journalist saying you cannot cherry-pick who covers a public official's speech at a public event. what i had not anticipated was that a blogger for that candidate would hold up a camera, focus on me, and make it a post. >> we'll continue to follow your work elsewhere. connie shultz, thank you very much for joining us. >> thank you. we'll be right back. is best absorbed in small continuous amounts. only one calcium supplement does that in one daily dose. citracal slow release... continuously releases calcium plus d for the efficient absorption my body needs. citracal. delivering mail, medicine and packages. yet they're closing thousands of offices, slashing service, and want to lay off over 100,000 workers. the postal service is recording financial losses, but not for reasons you might think. the problem ? a burden no other agency or company bears. a 2006 law that drains 5 billion a year from post-office revenue while the postal service
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candy crowley has the latest on the two american hiker. candy? >> they have returned home to the good old us of a. shane bauer and joshua fattal along with their close family members as well as sarah shourd, the fiancee to shane bauer, touched down at jfk airport. now the pictures you're seeing there are when they were released from iran about four days ago and came to oman. what we know now is that they have arrived at jfk here in new york. there are no pictures of this at the moment because of security concerns. we expect at some point to have pictures, at least of that
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flight over -- cnn did have a photographer on board. right now we want to go to jfk, we're standing by as susan candiotti -- can you tell what reception they're going to have, or is this all being done privately? >> reporter: we can tell you, you alluded it, one of our employees on the flight. he told us that josh fattal, had a big grin right after the pland la plane landed. and the family members -- they moved to the front so they would be the first ones off. they were to have a brief family reunion with other relative to meet them at the airport. we were to get a picture of them walking out. because of security concerns, as you indicated, that's not happening. however, they will be appear at a press conference later at new york city. i'm told in prepared remarks -- they won't take any questions -- that the two hikers will be frank about their conditions while they were held for those two years in iran.
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we'll have live coverage of that news conference later today. candy? >> susan candiotti at jfk where shane bauer, josh fattal, and their families have touched down, very long trip from oman to jfk. they, of course, had been imprisoned in iran for more than two years. i want to bring in elise labbot, producer at the state department, and ask you why now. it's been more than two years since they were hitchhiking along the iraq/iran border. they along with sarah shourd were detained by the iranys, put on trials. she was released on humanitarian reasons. now after two years, suddenly they're out. why is that? >> reporter: i think that they -- iranians came to the conclusion that they weren't really getting the bang for their buck anymore with these hikers. this was really becoming an international incident. they had hoped maybe they could get some leverage with the united states, maybe make a trade for some iranian detainees that they felt were unjustly detained in u.s. jails. that wasn't happening.
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and as i said, this became an internal incident because the u.s. and iran don't have relations, the swiss were getting involved, the omanis, and international celebrities. i think it was as president ahmadinejad came to new york, i think they felt it was time to let them go. >> no longer useful in the p.r. department. >> reporter: no. >> thank you very much. once again, shane bauer and joshua fattal back in the u.s. after two years, more than two years in prison in iran. we do expect that they will hold a news conference without question sometime later this afternoon. cnn, of course, will be there. we want to go back now to howard kurtz and "reliable sources." >> thanks, candy. blogger nate silver of "the new york times" in a moment. whoa! hey! [ dog barks, growls ] ♪ whoa, watch out, little man. ♪ [ male announcer ] when you take away the worry, it's easy to enjoy the ride. hey, bud.
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now i'm here for her. [ female announcer ] ask the doctor about your loved one trying the exelon patch. visit to learn more. i tell you what i can spend. i do my best to make it work. i'm back on the road safely. and i saved you money on brakes. that's personal pricing. he's a 33-year-old data-driven dude that reports on everything from campaigns to hurricanes. blogger nate silver took his act to "the new york times." i sat down with him in new york. nate silver, welcome. >> thank you, howard. >> before you got into writing about politics, you had kind of a cult following in analyzing the statistics of baseball. what did you find so absorbing about analyzing that sport? >> i like -- i guess i liked numbers, period. and i had grown up in michigan. i was 6 when the tigers won the world series in '84.
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those things coming together where, you know, it was a big thing to do with my dad and friends. you know, and i. like even -- i was 10 or 11, i would invent new statistics, which i probably wouldn't think are very good now. but, you know, it's a way to be more hands on as you follow something so it's not quite so passive. and -- >> i can guess which side of the jocks versus in other wordstuate you came out on. >> definitely, yeah. >> when you made the turn writing in politics, you started as an anonymous blogger. why the secrecy? >> i mean, at the time i wanted -- i had my job, i was running a spaceball company, spaceball startup, basically. and politics and sports don't always mix so well. i tried to -- on the blog now. but i guess i wanted to have some distance. i'm not a big fan of anonymity on the internet in general. then it became -- people were asking me for interview requests and saying can we run your stuff, so i dropped that fairly quickly. you know, it was a got -- a good transition to feel things out.
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>> some people would say there's a lot in common other than sports and politics. when you took your independent 538 blog to "the new york times," did you worry that it would leases pizazz? did you have to watch your tone more carefully? >> i think with "the new york times," you're writing for a wider audience. and i assumed that people might come from the front page and read the piece. you know, the blog's targeted at a general -- like a high interest in politics audience. a literate audience, right? an audience that i'm not assuming is a partisan audience. if i make an argument saying this side is doing better than the other, it has to be framed in a way people can be sympathetic to and agree to. one thing i look at is who is following me, re-tweeting me and debating against me in a respectful way. seems like we get equal traffic from liberal and conservative blogs. >> you were keeping -- keeping your personal political opinions out of it? >> well, the easy thing with this is that we're mostly looking at the numbers, and, you know, i mean, last year it was clear that democrats were going
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to get slaughtered in the election, right? >> no way to spin that. >> there's no way to spin that, right? it's clear this year that obama could be in trouble. i think it's a 50/50 election. i think if you stay with that kind of stuff, then it's hard to get yourself in too much trouble. i mean, if you look at policy debates, they can be more difficult. it's one reason why i try and steer clear of stuff. we did cover health care last year. i wasn't personally thrilled with everything -- with how we managed to do that and the context of everything else. >> you did -- coming back to politics, but a post saying obama is not a lock. you were taking on an analysis by professor alan lichtman who you said didn't give enough emphasis to the economy. and other posts, michele bachmann, one in 25 chance, you say, of winning the republican nomination. where do those numbers come from? that's pretty specific. >> there are places where you can go on lane and bet on this. like you bet on everything else. that's about and bet in this. >> i don't engage in that. >> i don't either. >> this is your take, that she's
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got a 1 in 25 -- >> it's looking at how far down the candidates are in the polls. she appeals to a relatively narrow constituency. i'm not sure the republicans are quite that conservative. and rick perry is someone who i think has taken a lot of what her support might have been. >> rick perry, you write, nate silver writes, is not as electable as many people might think. >> i think over time, candidates tend to do better when they're closer to the middle of the spectrum. and romney, i think, might do four or five points better than in a general election than rick perry. considering it might thab close, let me put it like this, based on what we know right now, and things can change, i would say romney is a favorite to beat barack obama next year. and i would say rick perry is a slight underdog. >> of course, that could change 50 times between now and then. but you're not just -- there are a lot of armchair pundits out
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there. when you come to these conclusions, sometimes you're right, sometimes you're wrong, you're looking at polls and other data, you're a data-driven guy. >> to be as data-driven as possible. you look at polls, political science research that could have been done, you conduct your own analyses, even things that seem like they're kind of abstract and arbitrary can be quantifiable. just go through lexus nexus and see how often their names are mentioned at the top of each article. any way you can find to quantify, we do try to make clear it's not always perfect, that sometimes it's just a take, just an angle, and we encourage debate. we basically post comments that are critical of things we wrote, and try to be very open about it. >> you let people take a swipe at you. >> i think so. i feel like -- i enjoy the debate. i used to be a debater in high school. >> you did? >> yeah. >> you also enjoy taking on the
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press. for example, you say there's too much hyperventilating over each individual poll by journalists who are hungry for the latest numbers or here's the trend. who makes you say that? >> there's an element implicitly of immediate criticism in what i do. part of the reason i got into it is i felt like watching msnbc and fox news and cnn during 2007 when i started writing about politics, the same kind of cliches were repeated every day, maybe the wrong themes emphasized. i got into it knowing as a person who was in baseball and say maybe we could have some of this for politics as well. >> were you the guy yelling at the tv set and -- >> not really yelling, but frustrated enough. but i think in general, there's a media that covers politics, and it's their jobs, so they tend to maybe overemphasize how important the story on any given day is. >> this debate, this poll -- >> but i think the sound bites, one example might be this
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controversy over when the obama speech would be scheduled, until he gave the speech, and then everyone had something more substantive to talk about. we've had consequential republican debates this year. tim pawlenty, which his candidacy had been planned for more than a year, basically went poof because of his performance in two-hour debates. and rick perry and michele bachmann, those debates have been pretty interesting this year. i think the special election in new york was interesting. when it's just kind of the beltway stuff, where the audience is quite narrow, and it's so -- that stuff can get overemphasized. >> sometimes they make a lot out of not much, occupational hazard, and maybe that they don't pay enough attention to the kind of statistics that you thrive on? >> well, part of it is that if you look at the way elections are decided, it's maybe about the economy, and 25% about the candidates and 25% kind of
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mystery, right? and those fundamentals don't change very much over the course of a year. where the story is basically like, well, obama's in a fair amount of trouble, but the economy can get better and perry can beat romney. that's really going to be the headline for most of the next six months, unless there are major scandals or shakeups in the republican campaign. >> we don't know what's going to happen. >> we can't predict perfectly. by political science models, gore should have defeated bush in 2000. >> i can imagine reporters out there saying, your approach, nate silver, very interesting, but it's kind of bloodless, you're divorced from the messiness of the real world when it comes to politics. i'll give you a chance to respond to that. >> what we try to emphasize in what we put out there is there's a lot of uncertainty. i think sometimes political scientist do political science research and overestimate the certainty. it's true the economy is a major, major determinant of
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presidential elections. and obama is a favorite to lose, but it's not for sure. harry truman won in '48. you can go back to mckinley in 1900 who won with a recession. there are cases of politicians, who like gore, had a goo econd y economy and then lost. ally? [ male announcer ] alka-seltzer plus liquid gels fights your worst cold symptoms, plus it relieves your stuffy nose. [ deep breath ] thank you! that's the cold truth! thank you! ♪ ♪ ♪ when the things that you need ♪ ♪ come at just the right speed, that's logistics. ♪ ♪ medicine that can't wait legal briefs there by eight, ♪ ♪ that's logistics. ♪ ♪ freight for you, box for me box that keeps you healthy, ♪ ♪ that's logistics. ♪
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i've been interviewing roger ales, but i don't have much time to tell you about it. he's held private meetings with rick perry, mitt romney, and seems to sympathize with the politicians in the press, with the way they're treated by the media. he talked about fair and balanced journalism. i asked him about that. he said this, every other network has given all their shows to liberals, we are the balance. that's it for this edition of "reliable sources." thank you for watching. we turn things over now to candy crowley and state of the union which is on right


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