"My Brilliant Friend" by Elena Ferrante is the first of the mysterious Italian author's Neapolitan novels. The series tells the story of a life-long friendship between two working class girls in Naples. Critics have called Ferrante “one of the greatest novelists of our time.” Yet nobody knows her true identity. Join Diane and her guests for a discussion of “My Brilliant Friend.”
Wisconsin’s Senate Republicans bypass Democrats to pass an anti-union bill. The Senate rejects two partisan budget plans. And a House committee begins hearings on American Muslim radicalization. A panel of journalists joins Diane for analysis of the week’s top national news stories.
- Lisa Lerer politics reporter, Bloomberg News.
- Shailagh Murray reporter, The Washington Post.
- Lynn Sweet Washington bureau chief, Chicago Sun-Times, and columnist at politicsdaily.com.
News Roundup Video
A caller comments on Rep. Peter King’s (R-NY) past support for the IRA. King’s past comments revealing his support for the IRA have come under fire in light of his running of this week’s House committee hearings on the radicalization of Muslim-Americans as the current head of the House Homeland Security Committee. According to the Associated Press, in 1985 King said, “If civilians are killed in an attack on a military installation, it is certainly regrettable, but I will not morally blame the IRA for it:”
MS. DIANE REHMThanks for joining us. I'm Diane Rehm. Wisconsin State Assembly Republicans found a legislative loophole to curtail bargaining rights of most public sector workers. A House committee held a hearing on the extent of radicalization of American Muslims, and President Obama broke his campaign promise by lifting a ban on Guantanamo trials. Joining us for the domestic hour of the Friday News Roundup, Lisa Lerer of Bloomberg News, Shailagh Murray of The Washington Post, Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times. We'll welcome your calls, questions, comments. Join us on 800-433-8850. Send us your e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Feel free to join us on Facebook or send us a tweet. Good morning to all of you.
MS. LYNN SWEETGood morning.
MS. LISA LERERGood morning.
MS. SHAILAGH MURRAYGood morning.
REHMAnd since this is a week honoring women, I'm certainly glad to have you three here. Lynn Sweet, the impact of the tsunami, not only felt in Japan, waves now hitting Hawaii. The question becomes, what can the U.S. do in a situation like this? The president has already offered help.
SWEETWell, one of the things that the administration is doing is trying to demonstrate from the moment it -- almost from the moment the president got news -- 4 a.m. -- from Chief of Staff Bill Daley, that the White House was on top of the situation since the tsunami was headed to the western coast of the United States. So while the president and first lady did issue their condolences in a statement that came out at about 5 a.m., Eastern time, they also said in the same statement that they are -- stand ready with federal emergency management authorities to help out the West Coast in case there is incredible damage.
REHMThe concern there in Japan is certainly about the people whose lives have been already lost. A ship has been lost. But, now, there is concern about a nuclear power plant. Shailagh.
MURRAYWell, that's right. They don't understand. They're not sure of the extent of the damage of this, both the earthquake and the water that's come after it. And as they try to investigate this, I think, it is opening up a whole new challenge for the president and, certainly, all of -- well, the whole world, as they try to respond to this new front of chaos. You know, the Middle East is a jump ball, and now we have a massive catastrophe in Asia with -- that's already affecting the markets, affecting oil prices and, you know, could have ripple effects just as pronounced as the Middle East.
REHMAnd speaking of those oil prices, the Republicans, Lisa Lerer, are using rising gas prices to attack President Obama.
LERERRight. We're sort of -- we're getting into the summer driving season. We're getting closer. Oil prices are going up. So in Washington, that, of course, means the return of, drill, baby, drill, and the fight that we seem to have almost every year between Republicans and Democrats over domestic oil exploration, how much exploration to do at home. Economically, though, it's important to note that this rise in oil prices is a little bit different than what happened in 2008, largely because, since then, the country has become a little bit more energy efficient -- Cash for Clunkers. People have more efficient -- fuel-efficient cars. There's more use of natural gas.
LERERSo, you know, of course, the economic impacts will depend on how prices -- how high prices are, how long they're high. But it might not be quite as bad in terms of the -- hampering the recovery as 2008 was.
REHMThere has been a push from Republicans to open the strategic oil reserves in order to try to bring down prices temporarily. Do you see the president doing that, Shailagh?
MURRAYI don't expect him to. The -- this always -- this debate always surfaces. And when gas prices go up, the -- it's true, as Lisa says, that the brunt of these high gas prices hasn't really been felt, or you just hear people complaining about it now, even though they've been on the rise for over a year -- I think, 17 percent last year and about 12 percent so far this year. But economists do think that once it gets to about $4.40 a gallon that you could potentially see a collision between the recovery and oil -- and gas prices, where it really starts to influence the way businesses hire people and the decisions people make about finding work.
MURRAYSo the president has met this challenge before in 2008. High gas prices turned out to be a really good issue for him. He refused to concede on this idea of a gas tax holiday that Sen. McCain and Sen. Clinton were both proposing. He scored a lot of points for that, for holding fast, and -- but he will have to -- if the prices continue to rise, he'll have to confront it. And we expect he will begin to do that in his press conference tonight.
LERERRight. And, of course, the economic brunt of this will be borne on people who have -- you know, lower-income people because more of their -- you know, more of their money has to go towards necessities, like food or, like, gas. And those are people who are already hurting in this economy. They're the people who are most frustrated, who maybe they're out of work or they're struggling, you know, to meet their mortgage payments or they're in foreclosure. So that's also something he'll have to deal with, especially as a lot of their benefits get cut with state budgets feeling so strapped.
REHMAnd, certainly, we're going to and have already seen rises in the cost of airfare. Lynn Sweet, let's talk about the latest standoff in Wisconsin and what the Wisconsin State Assembly has done.
SWEETWell, the Wisconsin Republicans, led by the Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, did an end run on the state Democrats who were hiding out in Northern Illinois, and they managed to pass legislation that stripped unions of some of their collective bargaining rights, which was the whole point of the runaway Democrats, to try and prevent that from happening. That's why you had all the protesters. So what this does is become a blow to unions in the very short term. On the other hand, as one union official told me, nationally, it has, perhaps, awakened unionism.
SWEETAnd here's one thing it has done for the Team Obama. They used this protest in Wisconsin to galvanize their troops. Obama for America, which became Organizing for America, which will become part of the Obama 2012 re-elect, was activated to help the demonstrators there. And Wisconsin, which is not a dependable Obama state anymore with the Republican sweep. You have a governor -- Russ Feingold was defeated. They have used this as an organizing tool.
REHMBut, you know, there's a lot of questioning as to whether this move was actually legal. What the GOP did was strip the bill of some fiscal measures that require a 20-member quorum for actions and then passed it with an 18 to one Republican majority.
LERERRight. The big legal questions, it seems, or the major legal questions are whether this violated a rule in Wisconsin that's an open meetings rule. They have to give 24 hours notice of any public meeting. There's a dispute over whether that happened, and also whether they actually stripped out the non -- all the fiscal components of the bill. And this is a political problem for Scott Walker as well who's seen his numbers just drop since he came into office -- 20 points or so -- because his major argument for stripping out the collective bargaining was that this is something that hampers local and state government's ability to deal with their budgets.
LERERSo then if he's now turning around and saying, this is not a fiscal issue, I was able to pass this non-fiscal bill. I think that's going to raise a lot of questions for people in the state and open him up to some attacks.
SWEETWell, he's already been opened up to attacks. Any time you say legislative sleight of hand, it goes to the courts. This is true of many states and many -- in many general assemblies -- whatever you want to call it -- in the state legislatures. You do sleight of hand. You get a short-term gain, which Scott Walker really needed because he's been getting beat up the wazoo, looking like he cannot manage. So even if you think that he's right on the issue, he's not managing it. Short-term gain, long-term lawsuit.
REHMBut there are already efforts to overturn what's happened here, Shailagh.
MURRAYRight. There are, and there are also recall efforts waged against both Democrats and Republicans in the state legislature. But I think that this Wisconsin debate also raises a bigger question about the style versus substance approach to -- that these governors are taking to their fiscal problems. And you see in some other states -- Indiana for instance, New Jersey -- governors taking a much more -- well, a more direct and sort of working within the system to try to enact these massive cuts.
MURRAYAnd, I think, for Gov. Walker, the challenge maybe that he failed to meet was guiding his state through these rocky waters and trying to bring people along with him. Even people who may agree with what he was trying to do in principle are not going to like the way he went about it because people don't want that kind of disruption. And states -- these states have been in crisis for a long time. This is not a new issue for these states.
REHMSure. But what about the Democrats who hid for this period of time, trying to avoid this vote altogether, Lisa?
LERERRight. Well, that's -- I mean, if you're questioning, sort of, the legality and the tactics used by Scott Walker, I think people also have to question the tactics used by the Democrats. But one thing's sure, that it's made them -- the party -- it certainly benefited the party. And, as Lynn mentioned, they've been fundraising out the wazoo. I think, overnight, some liberal groups raised half a million dollars, you know, last night after they passed the first part of this. So...
REHMAfter the vote. Lisa Lerer, she is politics reporter for Bloomberg News. Shailagh Murray is a reporter for The Washington Post. Lynn Sweet, Washington bureau chief for the Chicago Sun-Times and a columnist at politicsdaily.com. Short break. We'll be back with more and your questions and comments. Stay with us.
REHMAnd we are back this week with Lisa Lerer of Bloomberg News, Shailagh Murray of The Washington Post, Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times and politicsdaily.com. Do join us, 800-433-8850. Yesterday, Congressman Peter King chaired a hearing on the radicalization of Muslims in America. What came out of this hearing, Lisa?
LERERWell, this hearing was certainly a target for a lot of controversy on both sides, and, in part, that wasn't so much because of the topic. It was because who was chairing it. Congress has had a number of hearings on whether American Muslims are becoming radicalized. But Congressman King is known for using particularly inflammatory rhetoric when he talks about this. For example, one thing he said in an interview two or three years ago was that there's too many mosques in America.
LERERThat came up in the hearing, and he said, well, I wasn't saying there's too many mosques. I was saying that they don't participate with law enforcement. They don't -- and that didn't necessarily help his cause in terms of calming down the rhetoric, which I'm not sure he wants to do anyhow. So it attracted a lot of attention.
REHMAnd it was pretty emotional at one point, Lynn.
SWEETIt was. Congressman Keith Ellison -- who is a Muslim, one of two in the House of Representatives -- cried when he was telling his story. The hearing had a lot of personal stories in it rather than any new facts that came out of it, which I would think is something that Congressman King might want to think about. If that was the result of it, was it worth all the tumult and uproar? By the way, I bet he'll say yes because he thought this was important to sort of throw a spotlight on the subject even if the hearing itself did not yield any new information about the subject at hand.
MURRAYThat's right. I mean, it's -- there were stories on both sides that were gripping stories. Others talked about how relatives had joined up with extremist forces, and, certainly, that is a concern within the Muslim community. Among some young people, there are factions just like there are within any group. And I think that Chairman King was pretty much up against the rail right there when he decided to focus on this one group without necessarily a lot of information or facts to back up -- I mean, it's certainly a valid concern, but it's hard to paint it with such a broad brush, though.
LERERAnd I think that kind of tactic has hurt the Republicans with that community. I saw something interesting the other day, was that George W. Bush, who made a lot of outreach to the Muslim community, won something like 80 percent of the vote in 2000. 2008, Obama won over 80, 90 percent of the American Muslim vote. And that's because this group, which could, you know, maybe be a swing group, they're socially conservative. They tend to be -- a lot of them maybe are small business owners.
LERERThey're economically more conservative, but they've really been turned off by some of the rhetoric. And, also, if you remember some of the -- from the Republican Party, and also some of the accusations made in the 2008 elections, that President Obama was secretly a Muslim or something like that, which, of course, were not true. So that shift has been interesting to watch.
REHMAnd it was interesting to hear Peter King sort of lash out against those who believed that these hearings were irresponsible.
SWEETHe did that in his opening statement. I thought he was...
REHMHe sure did.
SWEET...highly defensive. I thought he did not need to go as far as he did in justifying what he was doing because, up until his defensive opening statement, he said he wasn't going to be captive of political correctness. And this is a subject that needed to be talked about.
REHMLisa Lerer, let's talk about the status of federal budget negotiations. We are at a standoff, are we?
LERERWell, the latest is that they're talking about doing another three-week extension of funding, which would be accompanied by a $6 billion spending cut. And that's something that Republicans -- that's a strategy that Republicans think is working for them because every two weeks or a month, they get to cut some spending. And that, you know, helps -- gives them a little political boost. They seem like they're, you know, implementing these spending cuts, and they're all sort of still low-hanging fruit. And it's something that the White House, really, and Democrats think has been very hurtful for them because it doesn't allow them to get ahead of this issue or regain any momentum.
REHMThey -- Republicans want $60 billion by the end of September. When the fiscal year actually ends, will they get that much?
LERERWell, we have to wait and see. These smaller bills are a pro-rated amount of that amount.
LERERSo they think -- some of them think that they can get there by just doing all these smaller bills. Economically, that could be pretty difficult for people. It doesn't give, you know, the economy much certainty. It doesn't give business much certainty. But a lot of Republicans -- particularly freshmen, who make up a third of the caucus in the House -- think that they can hang tough on that $61 billion number.
REHMWhat about the Pentagon, Lynn?
SWEETWell, one of the issues is always cutting defense spending because no one wants to be accused of being soft on defense. So some of the spending -- you know, I think there is some unanimity. One of you could help me out there. Is it -- not a tanker. Is it the F...
MURRAYIt's the alternative engine for the...
SWEETThe alternative engine for the...
MURRAY...for the -- this fighter plane.
SWEETRight. For one of the big fighter planes. I think there is some cross-aisle consensus on reducing that program. You'll have some...
REHMWhich was in Congressman Boehner's backyard.
MURRAYAnd many, many members' backyard.
SWEETRight. So you can nip and tuck. You're talking about a budget so big, though, that you should make significant cuts, billions upon billions. You have to -- you know, you just have to do a lot than even cutting a significant weapons program or plane program.
REHMHow much public support is there for these cuts, Shailagh?
MURRAYI think there's a lot of public support for the concept of these cuts. I think some of the particular cuts are not going to be popular, especially the ones that seem -- people generally accept as being helpful, things that -- safety net issues that -- where there's no other alternative in communities, like community health centers, for instance. But the -- I think the challenge for both parties is going to be getting out of the short-term debate, which is just a massive distraction for Congress. Every two weeks, they have to pass another one of these bills.
MURRAYAnd I think they're hoping to string these out long enough to get the debate on the budget going, which will begin in the middle of April. And then they can start tackling some of these bigger issues that really make a difference, like Pentagon, like the Pentagon budget, agricultural subsidies, which Democrats are willing to put on the table. Democrats want to raise -- take some tax breaks away from oil and gas companies. It'll be interesting to see if they continue advocating that idea if gas prices stay high. So I think the country and certainly people in both parties are ready to have this big fiscal debate. And it could take several years, but it -- they can't get there until they resolve this short-term problem.
REHMBut, long-term, they've got to look at Social Security and Medicare, Medicaid.
LERERRight. That's exactly right. And I think that there's going to be a fair amount of education that members of Congress are going to have to do. Bloomberg -- we had a poll this week that said -- that showed that a majority of people thought that you could really make a dent in the budget by cutting foreign aid, and that's just not true. I mean, it's such a small percentage of the budget.
REHMIt's less than 1 percent.
LERERRight. So, I mean, that's a tough thing for members of Congress because, although people do support spending cuts, I think there are questions about, you know, whether people really understand what it will take to get to a place where the budget is more balanced.
REHMAnd let's talk about Guantanamo. Why did President Obama come out with a reverse policy, Lynn?
SWEETAnd he's now supporting military trials. This has just been a subject that Obama could not deliver on. It was a big topic in his campaign. He made a pledge to close Guantanamo.
SWEETThe day he was sworn in, he said it will be closed a year from now. He set in motion buying a unused prison in Illinois to buy -- he had to have the federal government buy to house the prisoners there. So where are we now? Not only the base is -- the prison is open. The prison is the idea to send people to America of the detainees. They shut down. And, lo and behold, he's come to the conclusion that the only thing to be done with them is pretty similar to what George Bush was suggesting.
REHMBut why, Shailagh?
MURRAYWell, Republicans shut him down on this. They very cleverly denied any funding to do -- to move these prisoners or open this prison in Illinois. And, you know, there are members of Obama's administration and, certainly, a lot of Democrats who thought he got too far out ahead on this issue, take -- moving forward with it right away after taking office without a strategy for making it happen. And when there's money involved, that means Congress can get in and stop something. And so that strategy probably wasn't well thought through, and he's playing -- paying the price.
LERERShailagh's exactly right. This was a recognition of what the political realities were. And the political realities is that Congress was going to block moving these folks, these detainees for a trial. So the administration had to deal with the reality of Gitmo and find a way to make it work more efficiently, put in more checks where they could, you know, reviews for the status of the prisoners every year, once every three years.
SWEETRight. Because they -- we're not comfortable with the idea of indefinite detention.
LERERRight, right. But...
LERER...in a way, they institutionalized Gitmo. I mean, it's here to stay.
LERERThis is going to be a long-term situation, even if the political realities change, I think, which just seems unlikely.
REHMDo you agree with that, Lynn? Gitmo is here to stay?
SWEETYes, in the short term. You'll have attrition. It won't be here, you know, 50 years now. You'll have attrition. And one of the things the administration was able to do, in some cases, in the last few years, was transfer some of the detainees to other countries. Now, of the numbers that are left -- and it will dwindle -- there may be some people -- I'm not sure -- who are still eligible for transfer if you find an appropriate company -- country. They might not have anything in the pipeline now, but it is a short-term problem when you look at the problem. But it's one that wouldn't be solved during the Obama first term or even the second one if he gets it.
REHMAll right. Speaking of short and long-term problems, let's talk about what's happened at NPR, with the resignation of Vivian Schiller, with the immediate withdrawal of another young man by the name of Schiller -- no relation, Lynn.
SWEETWell, this really follows up on our budget talk. NPR has been in the crosshairs of Republicans for many years as PBS. If you look at the whole budget problem we have, even if you cut it, it's not going to make the big dent that is needed to get the budget in shape, won't reduce the deficit. But this is a symbolic issue. It's a red-hot issue. And NPR officials stumbled into just some messes. In this last mess with the -- I'm going to call it a so-called sting from right-winging operatives. Was it a set up? Yeah. Did they get caught in it? Yeah. Bad timing. And it doesn't help now that this is the very time when their money's at risk.
REHMLynn Sweet, she's Washington bureau chief for the Chicago Sun-Times, a columnist at politicsdaily.com. You're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." Lisa Lerer, you were about to say something.
LEREROh, I was going to say that, Diane -- I'm sorry -- but I think the funding is going to get cut in Congress. That seems to be how the momentum is looking there. There were some moderates at both sides that came out and defended NPR as a place where maybe the rhetoric was less heated than other, you know, more partisan stations. But, I think, any time that you're a target in this environment, whereas the focus is so much on spending cuts, it's likely that the money will be cut.
REHMHouse majority leader, Eric Cantor, said after Vivian Schiller's resignation on Wednesday, "NPR has admitted that they don't need taxpayer subsidies to thrive, and we certainly agree with them." That was taken from that recorded -- illegally recorded -- I won't say illegally, but surreptitiously recorded conversation when Mr. Schiller said, well, we really don't need federal monies. We have to think not only about the big stations around the country who have many listeners who will contribute, but smaller entities out in the rural areas who rely on NPR, PBS and all the public broadcasting. Shailagh, do you agree with Lisa that there will be major cuts? And, if so, what's your guess?
MURRAYI think so. I think that there's nothing worse than living up to your own stereotype. And in this one instance, we see all kinds of worst case scenarios for NPR -- the comments about the Tea Party and conservatives being raised, there's the meeting with a Muslim -- you know, a fake Muslim organization, dredging up the same things that these hearings in the House yesterday tapped into as well. And I think that maybe this is an opportunity for public radio to seek a new business model or show some effort to change, and I think it's going to be necessary.
REHMRemind us of who James O'Keefe is.
SWEETWell, he is a -- I'm going to say a rogue operator who has been part of these stings before. He is best known for being one of the players in the video dealing with the ACORN officials. ACORN is the group that deals a lot with public housing issues, and they were able to create a video. And I say create because it was edited that ended being an embarrassment to ACORN and basically, more or less, put the organization out of business.
LERERAnd, of course, we've recently saw a video -- a similar video operation with Planned Parenthood, where they were accused of giving help to women who were working as prostitutes. So it's sort of become a trend in the conservative universe to do these video stings.
SWEETWell -- and you would think, though, that people would be on the alert at this point. If somebody comes in with an offer that's too good to be true, it probably isn't.
REHMSo, you know, NPR currently has serious funding threats, has no CEO, no head of news and no head of development.
SWEETAnd you're doing just fine today.
REHMYes. Well, that's WAMU, an affiliate of NPR. And, remember, we are an affiliate. NPR...
REHM...is the behemoth, and we are the satellite radio stations.
MURRAYWell -- and, ironically, the -- this coincides with a time when people from the outside, looking at NPR, see an organization performing at the peak of its power. It has an excellent website. It has more authority than ever, I think, as a news force...
SWEETActually, a very good point. They're one of the growing news organizations.
SWEETAnd this is an important point. When you have so many national outlets with shrinking staffs, NPR is one of the few national outlets that is growing and is creating more original content than other national outlets.
REHMLynn Sweet, Washington bureau chief at the Chicago Sun-Times. Short break. We'll be right back.
REHMAnd it's time to open the phones. We'll go first to Chapel Hill, N.C. Good morning, Vincent.
VINCENTGood morning, Diane. I just want to say I am a little disgusted by Peter King. I believe he's a hypocrite and a political opportunist. And the reason is, in the past, he gave -- he was a supporter of the IRA. And I think he was quoted as saying at one time that if citizens get killed in the line of fire against the British Army that that was just the cost of business. And I'm sure his speech in New York areas, in his District, which was highly full of Irish Americans where they collected money for the IRA. So for him it's okay if we support terrorist organizations in other countries. And this is one of our major allies.
VINCENTAnd the second thing I would like to say is I have no problem with congressional hearings on hate groups and things like that, but let's have it on all hate groups. I mean, we have people on the right, like Michele Bachmann and -- what's her name -- Palin, who keep on calling people -- you know, if you hate your government, a call to arms. But it's okay if you say that if you're in the mainstream. But can you imagine what would happen if you had a Muslim in the mainstream saying, well, if you hate the government, call to arms? It...
VINCENTThe whole world would fall down. It's a double standard. And to, also, vilify Muslims is just terrible like this. I...
REHMThanks for calling, Vincent. Shailagh.
MURRAYWell, that's the danger zone that you enter...
REHMPutting it very vividly.
MURRAYYes, very well put, Vincent. And when you wade into this sort of territory, you're going to have to deal with -- Peter King -- I mean, the caller is right -- has a long history of association with IRA leaders. He's close friends with Gerry Adams. I've seen them together at many events and...
REHMWhat Gerry Adams did, become part of the government.
MURRAYThat's right. Exactly. And Peter King would argue that, you know, he supports the Sinn Fein cause in Northern Ireland, independents from Great Britain and all that, and that's totally legitimate. But you open the door to criticism when you start training your focus on other groups that have similar ambiguities within them and trying to separate the vast mainstream, especially -- I mean, Irish Americans have been dealing with this sort of issue for decades, where you're stereotyped and...
MURRAYSo he's learned his lesson now.
SWEETWell, I think Shailagh put it quite well. King exposed himself by having these hearings, by focusing on one ethnic minority in the United States, and he said he wasn't going to. As I've said before, he wasn't going to be a captive of political correctness. So, certainly, he didn't get any benefit of the doubt from people looking at his own past. One of the things you do when you raise your profile like this is to get more scrutiny on your own life, on your own record.
REHMAll right. To Decanti in Laurel, Md. Good morning. You're on the air.
DECANTIYeah, hi. Hello?
DECANTIYes. You know, I'm calling about, you know, the NPR CEO, you know, that was forced, you know, to resign. I think that NPR did that exact wrong thing because Fox News and Washington Times, you know, are not listening to what the House -- White House has to say, you know, how they influence, how they run their corporations. And, you know, I think, sometimes, you know, NPR try to please people that will never support NPR and its policies.
REHMAll right. Thanks for calling. Shailagh.
MURRAYI think the problem here for NPR is the word public. Fox News doesn't present itself as a mainstream news organization, certainly, does not rely on taxpayer funding or even viewer funding, for that matter. The -- where NPR is -- has got itself into trouble is the fact that it has this government funding overlay. And I think that it's going to be held to a different standard as a result of that.
REHMAll right. Let's read an e-mail here from Stephie (sp?) who says, "People who don't want their small percentage of tax money going to NPR don't seem to realize that there are as many of us who object to a large amount of our tax money going to support two wars in which we don't believe. I think they need to be reminded we can't always get what we want." Interesting point. Let's go to Dallas, Texas. Good morning, Karen. You're on the air.
KARENThank you. Good morning. I just wanted to say that I believe Scott Walker will come out okay, even if he were to be successfully recalled, because I would think that the Koch brothers will take care of him financially and compensate him if he's, you know, the -- a sacrificial lamb. And I feel he'll do like Ms. Palin. He can write a book, go on speech to which -- where he can paint himself as being victimized by liberals and those on the left.
REHMAll right, Karen. Talk about the Koch brothers, Lisa Lerer.
LERERWell, first of all, Scott Walker -- I think it's important to point out that he can't be recalled till 2012. So he has some time to sort of see how this all plays out. But the Koch brothers came into the front of this debate. They had given him a decent amount of money during his reelection campaign, and then he was spoofed, similar to the NPR executives. Someone called him. A reporter -- a liberal reporter from New York called him and pretended to be one of the Koch brothers and had a whole long 20-minute conversation with him.
REHMSame kind of duping that NPR experienced.
MURRAYIt makes you want to not answer the phone.
REHMWell, exactly. I mean, there is -- let's face it. There's a lot of it out there on all sides, and we need to acknowledge that.
MURRAYYou do. And I just want to point to your listeners, too, that deception is not how real journalists -- it's not a tool real journalists often use. I mean, I'm excluding some undercover probes where people are doing serious undercover work. But just...
REHMWell, you know, "60 minutes" used to go in with hidden cameras. ABC goes in...
MURRAYBut hidden cameras are different than deception. If I -- you know, you're...
MURRAYWhy? Because you don't -- in this case, they're saying that they're somebody who they're not, as opposed to just observing.
REHMWell, but they -- that's the same thing.
LERERAlso there's a decent amount of baiting, I think...
LERER...that goes on in these calls. Particularly, the Scott Walker call...
LERER...you know, the journalist talking to him kept saying, well, don't you -- oh, don't you want me to give you more money, things like this, like trying to -- we'll look out for you, trying to get him to say something inflammatory. So I think the baiting is also very problematic.
REHMAll right. To Kentucky -- I think it's Cadiz, Ky. and to Gaye. Good morning.
GAYEGood morning, Diane. I wanted to comment on the Peter King hearing that they're having.
GAYEHe's targeting Muslims, which I don't have a big problem with that. But why not the other hate groups like the Kansas Westboro Baptist Church that is targeting our military, over 1,000 funerals that they have put up their hate speech? And yet -- and then our Supreme Court condones it. It's just unbelievable. They -- this James O'Keefe, he's also illegally recording conversations, and I believe he's using a cell phone. And, in many states, you can't record somebody on a phone without telling them they're being recorded.
MURRAYOn the small issue of surreptitious recording, nowadays, people have so many recording devices on them. You know, I have in my hand, listeners, a BlackBerry. I could take a picture. I could take a video. I can make a phone call on it. Even if you -- people walking around as walking...
REHMPrivacy is gone.
MURRAYRight. And so -- and I just think a lot of people might not be aware of the law. Certainly, many states, it is. Maybe people don't know this out there that you just cannot record over a phone line, a conversation. But if we're sitting at a restaurant and somebody can hear us, and they turn on a device or video device, you know, this is a warning for people. This is outside of any news context, just to be careful.
LERERWe see it all the time. We saw it in the 2008 campaigns, where reports came out of closed fundraisers, live mics being left on and all sorts of television pundits getting in trouble. It seems like technology has definitely enabled more of these private -- nothing's private anymore. E-mails get forwarded.
REHMYou may hit reply to all as opposed to reply to one. To Independence, Mo. Good morning, David. Good morning, David.
DAVIDDiane has been there 32 years, NPR has been there for 40 years. I think you can cut the umbilical cord and go out there like Fox and the other news agencies without any problems.
REHMWhen you say cut the umbilical cord, you mean to the government contribution. Just to be clear about what WAMU gets in the way of federal money, it's something like $975,000. Now, we, in order to make up that money, would have to recruit some 8,000 new donors who would -- and have to do that in a single year -- who would then give continuously at least $135 over a number of years. We'll see what happens. I, myself, do not believe that the cut will be to zero. I don't think that the Democrats in the Senate or the House are going to flatten public broadcasting down to zero. To Susanville, Calif. Hi, Brian.
BRIANHello. I have -- I just wanted to make a -- you know, a comment on, you know, the -- and I work for the federal government, and I just -- it's kind of unstable for the federal workers because we're working in an environment that we're not sure if we're going to be furloughed. Or we're not even sure what type of projects that we're going to be able to actually do because we don't know what the funding is going to be like.
LERERThat's a really good -- oh, sorry. That's a really good...
LERER...point that Brian makes. And that's what's at stake here for the unions. Public sector employees have become the backbone of unions. As union enrollment has dropped for private sector employees, you know, the public sector employees have stayed stable. And so how this plays out in Wisconsin, and whether we see similar moves to ban collective bargaining across the country will definitely, you know, play a huge part in what the future of unionization is.
MURRAYBut you can't -- to Brian's point -- you can't fund the government at two-week intervals. And it is -- it's not just the workers who don't know whether they're going to be furloughed. It's all the student loan checks and all the many tentacles of government that are just totally at lose ends right now. And, I think, both parties want to bring some certainty to this...
REHMDo you think...
MURRAY...even if they can't agree with the terms.
REHMYeah, that's the question.
REHMWill they be able to?
MURRAYI think so, but it will take -- I think it'll take a while to draw out.
REHMShailagh Murray, she's a reporter for The Washington Post. And you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." To Liverpool, N.Y. Good morning, Tom.
TOMGood morning. I have a question on Wisconsin -- on the situation in Wisconsin.
TOMI understand that the police and the fire unions were excluded from this legislation. And I was wondering if that is legal, that -- you know, that they can just exclude them and not, you know, have that go all together with all the rest of them. The other -- and one of the reasons I ask is because I read somewhere or heard that those were the only two unions that backed the governor and the Republican Party in the fall elections. But...
REHMAnd that is absolutely the case, that the police and fire unions did back the governor. Whether it's legal to exclude them from this, I have no idea. But nobody challenged the governor on that particular point. So let's go back to the phones. To Jim in Reston, Va. Good morning, you're on the air. Jim.
JIMHi. Can you hear me?
REHMI certainly can. Go right ahead, sir.
JIMHi, Ms. Rehm. I'll be quick because I know there isn't much time. I love your show. I just wanted to say that I think that NPR definitely makes a very sincere effort to cover all sides of an issue. I can see that, and I immensely respect the network. And, at the same time, I think that more could be done. For example, a lot of the discussion today has focused on, you know, why the sting occurred, in other words, how the entrapment was able to occur and what people can look for in the future to avoid being recorded without their consent. But, I think, that's really the wrong kind of soul-searching to ask. The fact that the recording occurred and some inappropriate things were recorded, that's the real issue. And, you know, I think that -- you know, I'm not a conservative person myself.
JIMI tend to be very liberal leaning, but I have some colleagues who are conservative. And I found that a lot of their issues are very legitimate and very valid.
REHMAll right, sir. Thanks for calling. I don't think we have focused exclusively on how to make sure you avoid such a sting. Obviously, the wrong things were said.
SWEETRight. And, in all due respect to your caller, I think the action of NPR and the fact that these key people are not with the organization anymore speaks to your point. We were just moving on from there.
REHMAll right. And just to let our listeners know, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has signed the bill, taking away public collective bargaining rights. And the first waves from the tsunami caused by a Japanese earthquake have reached the U.S. mainland along the Oregon coast. Geophysicist Gerard Fryer at the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Honolulu says high water reached Portland, Ore., around 7:30 Pacific time on Friday. So lots of weather news out there, lots of other news as well and the death of David Broder. Lynn Sweet.
SWEETDavid Broder, who I was privileged to know, a fellow Illinoisan, is often called -- had been often called the dean of the Washington Press Corps for his shoe-leather reporting and his ability to write both columns and news. He will be missed. And he was just a tough reporter and a very decent guy.
REHMSuperman. We ran a rebroadcast of a conversation I did with him back in 2000 last night. Thank you all. Lisa Lerer, Shailagh Murray, Lynn Sweet. Thanks for listening. Have a great weekend, everybody. I'm Diane Rehm.
ANNOUNCER"The Diane Rehm Show" is produced by Sandra Pinkard, Nancy Robertson, Susan Nabors, Denise Couture, Monique Nazareth and Sarah Ashworth. The engineer is Tobey Schreiner. Dorie Anisman answers the phones. Visit drshow.org for audio archives, transcripts, podcasts and CD sales. Call 202-885-1200 for more information.
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