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Sunday, February 8, 2009

Highlights from State of the Union with John King: February 8, 2009

State of the Union with John King started off with a look at the latest unemployment figures and a discussion with Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

Respectfully, the Secretary was not committing to much. The first question was about how many jobs the stimulus package could create.... answer: "And I believe an enormous number of people, thousands of people, will be going to work in good paying jobs." What? I'm thinking that estimate is either a bit low or they're not going to get a very good return on the near trillion dollars that they're planning on spending. Next dodged question was about the buy in America clause that is being considered. The Secretary chose to punt referring the discussion to the President. Next, if the Secretary was still a Republican in the House- would he have voted for the stimulus package? Did he suggest to the President that he pick up the phone to call members of the House? Did the President ask him to do that? No clear answer. Why agree to go on a Sunday Morning news program is you can't answer any questions? Here is a clip of the interview:

John King's last question to the Secretary surprised me. I had not make the connection between the Secretary and his role in the impeachment of President Clinton. Politics is a strange animal.

Senator Charles Schumer (D) and Senator Richard Shelby (R) discussed the stimulus bill that the Senate is scheduled to vote on this week. Sen. Schumer prefers the House version of the bill. Sen. Shelby will not support the bill. Did you catch the reference to cloture? In case you aren't familiar with this term, here's Wikipedia's definition:

In parliamentary procedure, cloture (also called closure, and sometimes a guillotine) is a motion or process aimed at bringing debate to a quick end.

The second part of the discussion focused on the release of the second half of the bank bailout money and how much more deficit spending our country can tolerate.

Governor Mark Sanford (R) wouldn't commit whether he would accept money from a bad stimulus bill. What he did commit to was that he believes in a free market economy and that government intervention is wrong.

James Carville and Ed Rollins discussed the progress that the President has made over the first three weeks of the administration. Rollins had a good point that eliminating bipartisanship is going to be difficult task because of very different viewpoints.

The Reliable Sources segment with Howard Kurtz started with a discussion between John King (the Red Sox fan) and Kurtz (the Yankees fan) about Yankee's Rodriguez past steriod use. How much longer is it until opening day?

I noticed one technical oops moment... curious that John Roberts' name appears on the screen.

The first panel was Clarence Page, Amy Holmes and Ceci Connolly. They discussed the President's interviews with the five network anchors and the failure of Sen. Daschle's nomination.

Next up was Dee Dee Myers to discuss Robert Gibb's performance as White House Press Secretary.

Midway through Reliable Sources, John King was back and he wanted to talk to Kurtz about his interview with Katie Couric. King showed off a picture from his office that was taken in early 90s during the first Gulf war of Couric feeding grapes to him. Kurtz talked to Couric via phone about her interview with the pilot from the plane that had crash landed in the Hudson river.

Christine Brennan and Will Leitch discussed Michael Phelps's bong picture.

At the end of the Reliable Sources segment, Kurtz talks about a report from KRON that predicted the future of newspapers read via the internet.

For the transition back to John King, Kurtz and King discussed the prime time press conference with the President that is scheduled for Monday night at 8PM ET.

Donna Brazile, Gloria Borger, and Alex Castellanos joined King for a panel discussion about the stimulus bill. (There are just too many coffee cups on that table!) Gloria Borger had an interesting comment about if the Senate Republicans do not vote for the stimulus bill, they may find themselves on the wrong side of history. I also liked Alex Castellanos' point that the Republicans got kicked out of power, partly because of their drunken spending and now the Democrats are spending, spending, spending.

Carmel, Indiana is where John King had breakfast at Mike's with a group who didn't vote for the President.

The second political correspondent panel has Suzanne Malveaux, Candy Crowley, and Dana Bash. The panel discussed the stimulus bill as well as the topic of bipartisanship in passing the legislation.

Next, King spoke with Jack Welch. They discussed Obama's interview with the networks; assessed the President's performance and talked about the release of the remaining TARP funds.

King also discussed the GM autoworker's buyout with Welch.

While in Indiana, King also spoke with James Brainard, a Republican mayor.

Who got to have the last word this week? Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D). They discussed the House version of the stimulus package versus the Senate. I think this is the first time that we saw a guest pic up on of the newspaper and read the headline before King had the chance.

As John King travels around the country to talk to people who aren't inside the bubble of the beltway, he draws the attention of the local news media. Here's a follow up article that appeared in the Peoria Journal Star:

King for a day

John King was here last week doing interviews for his Sunday morning show on CNN. You might have seen him holding up the Journal Star (with Governor Gone) on national TV last Sunday.

Along with interviewing folks laid off from Caterpillar Inc. and picking up some local color at Doc's Diner in downtown Roanoke, King had time to chat.

"Getting out in the country is my obsession. We spend too much time in Washington, D.C. We need to talk with people on the receiving end," he said.

King, of course, became known for his telestrater duties during the political campaign. No sooner would the polls close, and there was John running a pen around the suburbs of Richmond or zooming in on some part of western Pennsylvania.

So I had to ask him, was he the student who always got to go to the blackboard in school? "Actually I was a pretty shy kid in school. I never went up to the blackboard. But it's a brave new world on TV," said King, just before boarding a plane at the Peoria airport.

Now he's up there in front of millions - apparently shyness fades.

Reviews of the new program have been popping up over the last few weeks. Here are two reviews that caught my eye...

The first is from David Maril of the Enterprise News in Brockton, Massachusetts. In the full article, he's not too fond of most of CNN's programming, but gives King and State of the Union very high marks.

Are you addicted to Sunday morning TV news interview and talk shows?

Well, you can begin skipping “Meet The Press,” take a pass on ABC’s “This Week,” and forget about Chris Wallace on Fox. The freshest, most informative news program to hit the airwaves is CNN’s new four-hour “State of the Union” with John King.


As impressive as his experience in the field, he’s a polished interviewer who knows how to pursue pertinent follow-up questions in a civilized manner. He avoids fluff and covers hard news in a concise and interesting manner.
CNN seemed to be taking King for granted too long.


While NBC attempted to make headline news naming their own David Gregory as the permanent replacement for the late Tim Russert on “Meet The Press,” CNN’s decision to put King on Sundays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. is a bigger deal. In fact, if NBC had really wanted to make a bold decision, it would have found a way to hire King away from CNN and give him “Meet The Press.” Gregory isn’t bad. But he’s not going to provide the strong direction viewers came to expect with Russert as host. The show has became a confused format of talking heads and uneven guests. King would have introduced a new look and plenty of energy.


On the surface, a four-hour news program sounds cumbersome. But with King interviewing a wide spectrum of guests and getting out of the studio to put together interesting segments from “outside the beltway,” four hours seems more like two. The program includes an hour break for Howard Kurtz’s “Reliable Source.” For a good change of place, take a break from the last half hour of Kurtz’s media coverage and catch Schieffer’s “Face The Nation” at 10:30 before finishing up with the last two hours of King’s program.

In essence, King’s program is a fast-paced, informative and objective four hours of news and discussion that serves as a rare example of the type of quality journalism television is capable of producing. Hopefully, enough viewers will discover it to develop the large-sized audience it deserves.

The second review comes from the Baltimore Sun's David Zurawik who was reviewing network anchor's performance on their interviews with President Obama. Zurawik ignored Anderson Cooper's interview, but gives high marks to John King.

But the newsperson who performed best in holding Obama’s feet to the fire over his three tax-challenged appointees worked for one of the cable channels. That would by CNN’s John King (pictured above). More on him later.


John King wasn't part of the network rotation that had interviews with Obama on Tuesday, but no one has in TV news has pushed harder and more consistently than CNN’s John King. The veteran correspondent and now Sunday-morning anchorman and host has been pressing Obama on the huge gap between campaign rhetoric and the reality of nominating someone like Geithner when almost everyone else on network and cable TV who didn’t work for Fox was swooning.

On the premiere edition of his fast-paced and informative Sunday morning show, State of the Union, King challenged Obama on Geithner, and the then President-elect treated the CNN host like he was a cub reporter from the sticks who just didn’t get what a trivial matter it was to have not paid some taxes for one of the only persons in the nation who could save the economy. To his credit, King remained polite, but never let up.

Last week on State of the Union while other Sunday morning hosts, taking their cues from their Senate guests, downplayed the grave ethical issues Daschle’s behavior raised, King and a panel of CNN correspondents stayed the course. They did what journalists do – brought their listeners as much information, reaction and analysis about the matter as they could.

Calendar note...on Monday, February 9th at 7PM David Gergen will moderate a discussion of the economy featuring Paul Krugman at Cambridge. It will be held at the First Parish Church, 3 Church St.

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