Last night’s discussion about WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s book deal and his philosophy triggered an online debate and prompted a blog post by one of the guests. Some thoughts:
1) Glenn Greewald suggests that I am among those “leading the crusade against the transparency brought about by WikiLeaks.” This is an unfair accusation.
After Julian Assange accepted a book deal from a corporate publisher, we asked Greenwald on to address that news and answer some larger questions. I thought it would be helpful for viewers to hear a supporter explain Assange’s long-term objectives. Does he intend to disable what he considers a corrupt system? What is the end goal for him? I was interested to have that explained on air by someone who is sympathetic to Assange’s views.
2) In his blog post the author says I "angrily proclaim(ed)" that Assange is a terrorist when, in fact, I did something starkly different: I asked Fran Townsend whether it was fair for Vice President Biden to describe Assange as a "high-tech terrorist." That's no more an endorsement of Biden's view than my subsequent question to Greenwald was an endorsement (or not) of the view that Assange is a journalist. By Greenwald’s own logic, asking a question that challenges a guests’ view makes the journalist "indistinguishable from," "merged into" and "a spokesperson for" their opponent. That won’t get us very far.
3) The author revisits a falsehood I’d like to correct. I stand by a statement I made several years ago that during the war – when I worked elsewhere – I felt there was pressure to present the war in a way that was consistent with the patriotic fever in the nation and the president’s high approval ratings. I still stand by that statement. I’ve never backed down from that statement.
As a journalist, I enjoy moderating debates and asking questions that help viewers better understand each guest's view. In that light, probing Assange’s actions and endgame is not the same as aligning myself with the establishment. Similarly, engaging Assange’s belief that there should be more transparency in government does not align me with Wikileaks.
I ask questions. I push guests to explain why they believe what they believe. –Jessica Yellin
On last night’s show John mentioned that an effort led by congressional Democrats to require disclosure of donors among independent political groups had fallen victim to partisan gridlock in the United States Senate. Known as the Democracy is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections Act – or the DISCLOSE Act – Senate Democrats have filed for cloture on their bill twice but both votes were blocked by unified Republican opposition.
The bill first failed 57 to 41 along party lines in a roll call vote on July 27. Senators John Ensign (R-Nevada) and Joe Lieberman (I-Connecticut) did not vote.
After the July vote, Republicans accused Democrats of trying to protect their congressional majorities by carving out exceptions in the new legislation for groups sympathetic to their causes. In response, the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-New York) tried to win over Republicans by promising to postpone enactment of the new disclosure legislation until after November’s midterm elections.
Nonetheless, a cloture vote on the bill failed again along party lines on September 23. This time the Democrats rallied their entire caucus in support of the legislation, securing 59 votes, but no Republicans defected. Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) did not vote.
In the run-up to the September vote, Democrats focused much of their efforts on moderate Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine, a frequent target of Democratic bargaining. In the end she voted with the rest of her caucus, releasing this statement explaining her opposition:
“I am deeply disappointed that the legislation currently before the Senate is a 117-page wide-ranging bill that does not apply equally to everyone who is engaged in campaign advertising, contains provisions that are clearly unconstitutional, and has never benefitted from full public review and vetting at even a single committee hearing… “When we first considered this measure in July, the American Civil Liberties Union – which opposes the bill – wrote to me that ‘this legislation would fail to improve the integrity of our campaigns in any substantial way while significantly harming the speech and associational rights of Americans.’ Given the fact that we’re now considering identical legislation, there is no reason to believe this bill will do otherwise.”
CNN's John King cooked for a cause last week in his old neighboorhood of Dorchester, Massachusettes. Proceeds from the event went to Codman Square Health Center, which routinely provides health care for women who can't afford medical coverage. Below are some photos from the event.
John King and Michael Dukakis. (PHOTO CREDIT: JKUSA)
John King and Deval Patrick. (PHOTO CREDIT: JKUSA)
And What do “Busboys” Have to do With It?
With just over six weeks until the midterm elections, Republicans clearly are “fired up.” A Curtis Gans nationwide study of voter turnout in 35 primaries held before September 1 shows the average percentage of citizens who voted in Republican primaries was the highest since 1970. At the same time, the Democratic percentage was the lowest ever. The report says, “The average Republican vote for statewide offices (U.S. Senator and Governor) in the primaries held through August 28 exceeded the Democratic vote,” and notes that hasn’t happened in the midterm primaries since 1930!
Can anything get Democratic voters excited?
On CNN’s John King USA, James Carville revealed some of his fellow Democratic strategists had an idea. (He calls these strategists “busboys” because they want to take all the current campaign issues off the table, just like busboys who clear tables at a restaurant.)
“Take everything off the table. Take it off the table,” said Carville, mimicking the “busboys” argument, “Let's appoint Elizabeth Warren and that will get everybody excited. Oh, yes! A new consumer protection agency! She is a great woman! Really behind us! She will do a great job!” Carville says the “busboys” believe Warren’s appointment will drive Democratic voters and get turnout cranked up.
Warren got the job today. Be sure to tune in tonight at 7pm ET, John’s going one-on-one with her. But will her appointment drive-up Democratic enthusiasm?
“I'm not too sure,” says Carville, “I don't think that's going to work.” Carville’s bottom line: Democrats need more issues and more conflict to drive up voter enthusiasm. “We need waiters to put things on the table. Not busboys to take things off.”
- CNN Senior Writer Joe Von Kanel
Editor's Note: In the final 100 days before Election Day, CNN has been profiling one race at random each day from among the nation's top 100 House races, which we've dubbed "The CNN 100." Read the full list here. Today's featured district is:
Ohio 12th: Rep. Patrick Tiberi (R) is seeking a sixth term
Primary: May 4, 2010
Location: Central Ohio, Columbus suburbs
Days until Election Day: 68
(CNN) – Democrats may have as good as shot as any in recent years to capture Ohio's 12th Congressional District this November, but a potential victory in this Republican-leaning district still remains a tall order.
Franklin County Commissioner Paula Brooks is the Democratic candidate and her fundraising prowess has impressed the national party who once had little hope of carrying the district Barack Obama won with 54 percent of the vote in 2008. But Brooks still finds her campaign war chest to be about a third of the size as the five-term incumbent Rep. Patrick Tiberi, who himself has been aggressively fundraising over the last year.
Brooks is further disadvantaged by the fact that she doesn't live in the district itself (she has said she lives "eight minutes away" in what is the 15th Congressional District), and also faces the burden of running as a Democrat in a year when the party is especially unpopular in economically ravaged states like Ohio.
Adding to Brooks' woes is the demographics of the district that naturally favor a Republican candidate. It's Democratic stronghold – made up of the eastern half of Columbus that is predominantly African-American, is more than outweighed by the city's northern and eastern suburbs where Republican voters dominate. President Obama was able to carry the district on the back of a heavy black turnout in 2008, but a similar turnout is unlikely in 2010 when the top of the ballot features a gubernatorial race that is drawing a fraction of enthusiasm the presidential race did two years ago.
Still, Tiberi, who has yet to face a serious challenge during his 10 years in the House, is not immune to the anti-incumbent fervor that has swept most corners of the country. And Democrats are hoping their optimistic economic message contrasted with the more dire picture painted by the GOP may be enough to carry the day.
CNN Producers Jen and Susie celebrate their birthdays during a JKUSA team meeting.
“The incident on March 20th happened as I’ve described. It has been reported by numerous media outlets because it is a fact. Andrew Breitbart has tried everything possible to try and rewrite history related to the events of that day—including citing as proof a video that was shot a full hour after the incident happened.
I’ve refused to engage him in some tit-for-tat because he has zero credibility on this issue. He wasn’t even on the Hill the day the incident happened.
If he wants to spend his time inciting people and defending language and actions that the overwhelming majority of Americans find reprehensible, then that’s his prerogative. But it’s not doing this nation—or the Tea Party movement–any favors.”
As required by law, the administration just reported to Congress who's on the White House staff and how much they make.
Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel made $172,200. It's a far cry from the $16 million he made during his three years in investment banking.
But don't feel too badly for him.
The Chicago Tribune reports his detailed financial disclosure shows investments worth a minimum of $6.7 million, plus incidental income of 25 tickets to a pair of Bruce Springsteen concerts... Given to him by Springsteen himself.