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AMERICAN MORNING WITH PAULA ZAHN

Interview of David Friend, "Vanity Fair" Magazine

Aired January 9, 2002 - 09:45   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, the old cliche is that a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, when the person behind the camera is Annie Leibovitz, the picture will probably be worth a couple thousand dollars.

The famed photographer's latest work is a revealing look at the Bush White House shot exclusively for "Vanity Fair" magazine. David Friend oversees special projects at "Vanity Fair," and he is here to tell us more about these presidential portraits. Good morning, thanks for being with us.

DAVID FRIEND, "VANITY FAIR" MAGAZINE: Thanks for having us.

COOPER: Why do you think the White House granted "Vanity Fair" such great access right now?

FRIEND: I think there is a belief -- it's the information age, and I think that images matter, and Graydon Carter, our editor of the magazine this month writes that -- not just strength, but images of strength are what matter right now, especially during war time.

And so the White House, Karen Hughes especially, the White House communications chief, had remembered a story that Annie had done ten years ago, in 1991, on the heads of the Gulf War at the time, and had approved our request based on remembering that story.

COOPER: What do you think we see in these pictures of the war time White House that we haven't seen before?

FRIEND: I think you see a sense of stature, a sense of -- one of the things Annie had asked when the picture was being taken was the tone of this should be resolve. Just one word, "resolve," and I think you see that dedication and resolve in the images in the magazine this month.

COOPER: You interviewed then President Clinton. How does the Bush White House differ from the Clinton White House?

FRIEND: I think -- I saw this in the Reagan administration, I saw this in the Clinton administration. Meetings just went on, you know, we'll get to this one when we can get to this.

In this administration, the Bush administration, the photo session was done with a military precision. The president showed up at 9:10 precisely. He was scheduled to be there at 9:10.

All the other members of the cabinet who were in that picture in the administration were already assembled in the room, and the president came in, in a sort of flash of red tie, and a sparkle of his belt, from -- he had a presidential seal belt buckle. Came into the room, and immediately the photo session was going to happen. Happened in ten minutes, and then he was out.

COOPER: He just saw a photo of President Bush. This is Tom Ridge.

FRIEND: Yeah, there is a sense that -- there was a quote, someone in the White House had said, "we want to brand Tom Ridge, when people look at him, we want them feel, 'my babies are safe.'"

Well, this image is really about image. Annie Leibovitz had pulled her camera back, and came up with this wonderful picture, I believe.

COOPER: Well, it gets beyond just the image, perhaps, that they want to project. Also a great picture of Laura Bush, the first lady.

FRIEND: You know, we look at the first lady -- very rare to get access to the private quarters, which "Vanity Fair" did here, and Mrs. Bush invited Annie upstairs to the White House, but also you get a sense of a woman engaged. The first lady is spoken out against -- for Afghan women's rights, and she has been involved --

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: She's had a much more prominent role than many people had predicted.

FRIEND: Absolutely.

COOPER: Next, we --

FRIEND: Here is a picture of John Ashcroft. I mean, it is just serendipitous that -- an FBI security man, who is standing by, is there in the image, and you get the sense of protecting the protector.

COOPER: Someone we haven't seen much in the last couple months, Vice President Dick Cheney, who many say is the most powerful vice president in U.S. history.

FRIEND: That's arguable. I think that that could be true. He is here -- you know, we tend to think he is in this undisclosed secure location, but "Vanity Fair" and Annie Leibovitz captured him in his office, and you really do get a sense of the man, and with Scooter Libby, Lewis Libby, who is his chief of staff. Both the president and the vice president insisted that their chiefs of staff be part of this photo package. I think a sense that this was history and that this is what people are going to be saving years from now when they look back at this period in our history.

COOPER: And the media matters to this White House. FRIEND: Oh, I think absolutely, and here is some of the people who look at it that way. The "spin team." This is Mary Matalin, Charlotte Beers, Torie Clark, Ari Fleischer, and Dan Bartlett, all of whom are working with Karen Hughes and Karl Rove and others to bring -- get image across in this day and age.

COOPER: All right, well it is a great photo spread. It is in the new issue "Vanity Fair." David Friend, thanks very much for being here.

FRIEND: Appreciate it, Anderson. Thank you.

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