Return to Transcripts main page
CNN NEWSNIGHT AARON BROWN
Debate Over FCC Guidelines; Iranian Group Points To New Possible Nuclear Site, Government Denies Charges; U.S. Continues Sweep Through Falluja
Aired November 17, 2004 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
AARON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening again.
So, here's the problem. It's pretty simple actually, though I'm not sure there is an answer. A group hoping for an end to the regime in Iran offers up some secret information about Iran's nuclear program. Now, Iran with nuclear weapons is scary stuff, sort of like Iraq with nuclear weapons and that's the problem.
In the post Iraq era where intelligence provided by groups with an agenda proved false, what do we believe and what do we reject? How do we know this group or that is not simply bating the U.S. government to topple the Iranian government?
We're not saying this group is making anything up. We're simply saying that in the post Iraq era selling their case is likely to be harder, the whip first, and then the facts as we know them, with that our National Security Correspondent David Ensor, David a headline.
DAVID ENSOR, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Aaron the Iranian opposition group that first revealed Iran's secret nuclear programs says it has found another clandestine nuclear site. Iran's government says the charge is completely false. Washington is calling on Iran to let international inspectors take a look -- Aaron.
On to the immediate problem, which is Iraq and not Iran, CNN's Jane Arraf is with us on the videophone from a war zone so, Jane, a headline from you.
JANE ARRAF, CNN BAGHDAD BUREAU CHIEF (by videophone): Aaron, the intense combat here in Falluja appears to be over but American soldiers looking for hidden weapons and gunmen are finding that this city remains a dangerous place.
BROWN: Jane, thank you.
And finally a story that just might have it all, a desperate housewife, show business, race, celebrity and CNN's David Mattingly, David a headline.
DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Aaron, the "Monday Night Football" game pre-game skit had a racy punch line, but now 48 hours after the game, some are saying it had some racially insensitive undertones as well -- Aaron. BROWN: David, thank you. We'll get back to you and the rest shortly.
We'll broaden out that "Monday Night Football" conversation as well tonight with a look at whether we're all going to you know where in a hand basket or just complaining like we are.
Also, another player in the culture wars, Bill Clinton, his library opening and with it debate about his life and times.
And a look at the life of "LIFE" the magazine through the eyes of some of the best still photographers ever to pick up a camera.
And, as always, the best the rooster can provide us, morning papers will put the program to bed tonight, all that and more in the hour ahead.
We begin tonight with Iran, not Iraq, Iran, a country three times the size of Iraq with the means for and possibly the making of nuclear weapons. The Iranians dispute this, of course, but the evidence is growing and so too the nightmare scenarios.
Today in Brazil, Secretary of State Powell said he's seen information suggesting that Iran is working on the technology to put a nuclear warhead on a ballistic missile.
Separately, an Iranian exile group says that Iran obtained weapons grade uranium from the father of Pakistan's nuclear program. They said that today and more.
We begin tonight with CNN's David Ensor.
ENSOR (voice-over): In Paris, an Iranian opposition group known for its sources inside the Iranian military and science elite said it has new evidence of nuclear weapons related activity at a previously unknown Defense Department site in Tehran, shown in this satellite photo taken Tuesday.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This intelligence, this information is 100 percent correct.
ENSOR: The group, the People Mujahaddin or National Council of Resistance of Iran, says the site now houses nuclear operations previously carried out at another site that was destroyed earlier this year before inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency could visit it.
ADAM ERELI, STATE DEPT. SPOKESMAN: It is the responsibility of the IAEA to follow up on reports like this to determine whether Iran is conducting covert nuclear activity.
JOSEPH CIRINCIONE, CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT: There's a lot at stake here for Tehran. These are serious allegations. If they somehow delay or obstruct the inspections it's going to cast grave doubt on the declarations they've already made and enhance the U.S. case that Iran cannot be trusted.
ENSOR: In Tehran, Iran's top nuclear negotiator said the charge is flat wrong that Iran has no undeclared nuclear activities. He said Tehran will honor a suspension of uranium enrichment promised to three European governments though it will not stop it forever.
HUSSEIN MOUSSAVIAN, IRANIAN NUCLEAR NEGOTIATOR: We hope we would reach to a mechanism which Europeans, IAEA and the world community would be satisfied that Iranian enrichment activities forever would remain peaceful.
ENSOR: As part of the proposed deal with Iran, the Europeans agree to continue calling the Peoples Mujahaddin a terrorist group, as the U.S. does, though the group's supporters insist the label is unfair.
(on camera): The Iranian opposition group makes no secret of its wish to hurt the regime in Tehran and not all of its assertions about Iranian nuclear activity have been corroborated. But the group was the first to correctly reveal that Iran had for years pursued nuclear activities at its secret facilities near Natanz and Iraq.
David Ensor, CNN, Washington.
BROWN: So, clearly a chill in the air tonight.
Russia's President Vladimir Putin today said his country is working on a new type of nuclear missile that could evade missile defense systems. Experts say there's little of strategic significance to this, however. Both Russian and American forces are large enough to numerically swamp any defensive measures. The remark, they say, may have been intended more for internal consumption than anything else.
Another sobering day in Iraq for many reasons in many places, Iraqis of all stripes today mourned the death of Margaret Hassan and Mosul, the third largest city, calmed down a bit.
But the insurgency by and large did not. In the oil rich city of Baji, north of Baghdad, a suicide car bombing rammed a U.S. convoy. The Associated Press reporting three American soldiers hurt, ten Iraqis killed.
And, in Falluja, another hellish day of clearing streets, of bodies and weapons and insurgents who either stood their ground or have returned to cause additional mayhem.
We have two reports on this tonight beginning first with CNN's Jane Arraf.
ARRAF (voice-over): The abandoned industrial heart of Falluja, streets and streets of locked doors. After a week of intense fighting, the Army's 1st Infantry Division is going through these streets a second time to make sure they've been cleared of gunmen and weapons.
CAPT. KIRK MAYFIELD, U.S. ARMY: When we sweep through we miss something then the insurgents are able to come back in, have a cache of arms or ammunition that they're able to use against coalition forces or the Iraqi provincial forces later.
ARRAF: With no people left here there's almost no intelligence on where weapons might be hidden. The soldiers spend hours forcing open doors to hundreds of buildings. The more resistant doors get pulled apart by armored vehicles. When they can't shoot off the locks they use a power saw.
Task Force 22's brigade combat troop has to go through this sector street by street checking literally every building that isn't a mosque. Those they leave for Iraqi security forces.
It's tedious and terrifying work. They don't know what could be hiding behind these locked shutters. After a week of high intensity combat one of the biggest dangers in this silent neighborhood is complacency.
MARGARITO RAMIREZ, U.S. ARMY: You just don't ever know what could happen, you know, and you got to stay vigilant and stay alert out here.
ARRAF: In this field they find unexploded white phosphorus mortars designed to break apart in a rain of caustic fire. The soldiers wrap them with plastic explosives and take cover when they're detonated.
This day they find no live gunmen and for hours few weapons. But at the end of the day in this ordinary looking building, they discover a treasure trove of weapons and ammunition.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I probably got about 2,500 rounds of 14.5mm.
ARRAF: Inside are aging antiaircraft guns, artillery and mortars, cases of usable ammunition and bags of armor-piercing heavy machinegun rounds. The Army believes it might be a bomb making factory. In this neighborhood, in this city, it's certainly a reason for checking behind every door.
ARRAF: And, Aaron, as the sun comes up, this is the sound of aerial spy planes overhead there are Humvees and tanks going by, soldiers waking up and getting ready to go and look behind doors again. There are an awful lot of doors in the city (UNINTELLIGIBLE) -- Aaron.
BROWN: Jane, thank you. It's tough to compete with the noise of tanks and planes flying overhead, Jane Arraf in Falluja.
In a moment, Correspondent Lindsey Hilsum will utter a phrase that takes us back to another war and reminds us of a sad fact of all wars like it. Once an insurgency works its way into homes and mosques and back alleyways of a town, you can't kill it without a cost. There's a price to be paid in buildings and homes and lives, which is the story Ms. Hilsum filed today.
LINDSEY HILSUM, ITN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A family who somehow survived the battle of Falluja emerges from the rubble. They say the front of their apartment block was bombed so they hid in the back.
The Americans are still taking people out of town. They drop them north of Falluja where they can go to the village of (UNINTELLIGIBLE) now housing 4,000 extra families.
Only a little aid has got through there. It's still hostile territory for the Americans and most Falluja families are dependent on friends and relatives. The refugees are given some water, a little food and money and sent on their way. Father and daughter are alone now. His other two children were killed.
The people aren't being allowed back into Falluja, only teams of Iraqi men, supervised by Marines, going to collect bodies. Rotting corpses spread disease so the refugees can't return until the streets have been cleared. So far, they've collected only 50 bodies but there are thought to be at least 1,000 more in the streets, the houses and hidden under rubble.
The devastation of Falluja is immense. Houses reduced to rubble by aerial bombs, streets where each building has been hit by a tank round. The Americans are going to offer compensation and help rebuild but it will take years and millions and livelihoods, family heirlooms and memories can't be so easily restored.
(on camera): This is the road from Baghdad to the Jordanian border, now littered with the debris of war. The shops on either side have been trashed. The Americans say that they've liberated Falluja for its people but we've yet to see what the people of Falluja think about that.
(voice-over): No question the people suffered under the insurgent groups which ran Falluja before the Americans came in but that doesn't mean they'll thank those who destroyed much of their city in order to save it.
Lindsey Hilsum, Channel 4 News, Falluja.
BROWN: Ahead on the program tonight, it was racy to be sure but was it racial as well? And what does it say about the bigger picture of it all? The towel drops. We'll pick it up from there.
And, no, it's not what you're thinking. His library is finished. We'll look at the place and the career that built it. From NEWSNIGHT -- no, from New York this is NEWSNIGHT.
BROWN: We find ourselves yet again at a moment when the country, or at least a vocal part of the country, is outraged. In this case, it has to do with a pretty tasteless skit that preceded this week's Monday night football game.
In and of itself, it was one bad moment for TV but these days these things are not in and of themselves. They are part of a larger hole, a pretty raunchy one at that.
We have two reports tonight, first CNN's Howard Kurtz.
TERRELL OWENS: All of Philadelphia is counting on me.
HOWARD KURTZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's tempting to call ABC desperate, desperate that is to promote its raunchy sex- drenched soap opera "Desperate Housewives," desperate enough that it staged this locker room scene before "Monday Night Football" with housewife star Nicolette Sheridan and the Philadelphia Eagles Terrell Owens.
This was no wardrobe malfunction, as Janet Jackson termed her breast bearing during the Super Bowl halftime show. Sheridan didn't have much of a wardrobe to begin with.
But have ABC executives forgotten the national firestorm that followed the Jackson stunt, not to mention the FCC's $550,000 fine against CBS-owned stations, or the anger of many parents who didn't want their sports happy kids watching a bump and grind routine?
ABC Sports says it's sorry. The NFL is ticked off. The Eagles say they were just playing along with the network, which helps pay those multimillion dollar salaries.
And the public, most folks seem rather tolerant of some of the naughty affair on the tube. Why do you think "Friends" and "Sex in the City" were so popular, but draw the line at polluting mass entertainment watched by children, entertainment like football for example?
Producers and programmers have to be wondering what's OK on television these days anyway with FCC Chairman Michael Powell and his commission cracking down. Bono blurting out the "F" word during an award ceremony, indecent says the FCC. Whipped cream covered strippers in Fox's "Married by America" that drew a $1 million fine from the commission despite relative few complaints.
Station owners have grown so skittish that dozens of ABC affiliates refused to air "Saving Private Ryan" on Veterans Day last week, not because they didn't like the Oscar-winning movie but because they feared the FCC might retaliate over its profanity and violence. The World War II film, which had aired twice before, drew few complaints.
Powell took a swipe at Disney-owned ABC in an interview with CNBC.
MICHAEL POWELL, FCC COMMISSIONER: It's very disappointing. I wonder if Walt Disney would be proud. It would seem to me that while we get a lot of broadcasting companies complaining about indecency enforcement they seem to be continuing to be willing to keep the issue at the forefront, keep it hot and steamy in order to get financial gain from the free advertising it provides.
KURTZ (on camera): The truth is ABC's locker room scene was tamer than some of the seemy stuff that appears in sitcoms and dramas but kicking off a football game with millions of young fans by having a player seduced by a woman in a towel, maybe we don't need the FCC to blow the whistle on this one. The public already has.
Howard Kurtz, CNN, Washington.
BROWN: Now there is an interesting subplot here. Is it possible, just possible, that while much of the outrage over the "Monday Night Football" has to do with protecting children from indecency, some of it has to do with something quite different?
Here's CNN's David Mattingly.
DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Philadelphia Eagles star Terrell Owens scored three touchdowns on "Monday Night Football" but this is the pass everyone keeps talking about.
NICOLETTE SHERIDAN: I'm going to get him into play.
MATTINGLY: A "Desperate Housewives" pre-game spoof some critics say delivered more than a racy punch line.
OWENS: The team's going to have to win this one without me.
MATTINGLY: Some complain of a subtext that was also racially charged.
TONY DUNGY, INDIANAPOLIS COLTS HEAD COACH: I thought it hit at a lot of stereotypes towards athletes, black athletes in particular.
MATTINGLY: Indianapolis Colts head coach Tony Dungy called the skit insensitive to players in the aftermath of the Kobe Bryant incident. The basketball star is currently being sued after he was accused of sexually assaulting a white woman in his hotel room last year.
A write for the "Philadelphia Daily News" also wrote that Owens' tongue-in-cheek performance played into some of the usual stereotypes about black men, that they're hyper sexed, irresponsible, bucks even. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'll tell you what it has to do with.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Terrell Owens is a big, black mandingo and this (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in this locker room jumped in his arms and he said the heck with the game. I'm going with her. That's the problem, dog.
MATTINGLY: Sports talk radio in Atlanta added social commentary to the usual Xs and Os. The reaction to call in shows in Washington, D.C. was mixed.
LORNA, WHUR D.J.: A lot of our listeners seem to think it's overblown.
MATTINGLY: And on the streets of New York the issues seem to be the amount of skin, not skin color.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know with Janet Jackson, now this. What's going on with TV?
MATTINGLY: And while the event has generated regrets and apologies from the team, the NFL and ABC, there has been no specific mention of racially motivated complaints.
MATTINGLY: ABC has not described the nature of the complaints it has received or the number but, Aaron, they say they do have them and that opens the door to a possible investigation.
BROWN: David, thank you, good to see you, David Mattingly down in Atlanta tonight.
A discussion in a moment about what this all means and what, if anything, should be done about it. We'll be joined by the creator of "Entertainment Weekly" and a vice president of the Heritage Foundation.
Later in the program, "LIFE" in still photos the best of "LIFE" magazine which was the best, a break first.
This is NEWSNIGHT on CNN.
BROWN: The FCC hasn't said how many calls it has received from people upset about the pre-game skit on "Monday Night Football." Did it get hundreds like the Super Bowl? Did it get just a few? Perhaps people need to see it a few hundred more times to be sure. It's received plenty of play these last few days.
Joining us to talk about this new moral battleground Rebecca Hagelin, who is the vice president of the Heritage Foundation. She joins us from Washington. And, Jeff Jarvis with us in New York, the creator of "Entertainment Weekly" and also writes for buzzmachine.com and we're pleased to have you both.
Rebecca, I think we all can agree that the "Monday Night Football" thing was pretty raunchy but the debate I think is broader than that. When stations start pulling a movie like "Saving Private Ryan" because they fear the government, isn't that unhealthy?
REBECCA HAGELIN, THE HERITAGE FOUNDATION: Well, the American people really have to rely on the FCC to be a part of the solution to this problem that we've come to in our country.
We're really suffering from a home invasion. You know it. I know it and the American people watching tonight know that our culture represents the face of America and right now that face doesn't look so good to the world and to our kids. The face that the American is presenting is really, it's really one outside of the bounds of where most American parents want television and programming to go.
BROWN: Let me interrupt you there. I don't want Jeff to weigh in on that. But I want to make, I want to bring you back to the question. When TV stations start pulling a movie like "Saving Private Ryan" because they do not know whether the FCC will fine them, will hold it against them at license renewal time, don't you think we have a problem?
HAGELIN: I think we have a problem that the FCC hasn't made its voice very clear over the last few years definitely. I certainly agree with you there, Aaron. I think it's part of the problem of why we have this cultural home invasion today with a lot of the indecency that parents are having to endure.
It's because the FCC has failed to act. Right now there are a lot of local networks that are uncertain or local stations that are uncertain as to what they will be fined for. It's time for the FCC to step up to the plate and define what's acceptable and not but that's only one part of the solution, Aaron.
BROWN: All right.
HAGELIN: It's also up to parents to let their voices be heard too.
BROWN: I couldn't agree with you more.
Let me get Jeff into this. Let me pause it that the society, the culture has gotten pretty raunchy when a 16 -- let me finish.
JEFF JARVIS, BUZZMACHINE.COM: All right.
BROWN: When a 16-year-old I know quite well said to me the other day, "Sometimes I feel like they're taking my childhood away." This is a 16-year-old saying that. That says to me that there's something a little uncomfortable out there, even for kids.
JARVIS: And always has been, Aaron, and I don't think it's government's job, and I'm surprised to hear the Heritage Foundation want more government regulation. It is not government's job to regulate speech and what we say.
When Fox was fined $1.2 million for "Married by America," I filed a freedom of information request to find out about the 159 complaints they said were filed, 159 people is nothing. But what I found out was only three people actually sat down and wrote letters, 20 more Xerox'd (ph) them.
On that basis, the FCC steps in, record fine, knee caps the First Amendment and says what we all should watch. Well there are millions more who want to watch what they want to watch. Use your "off" button. Use your remote control. Government must not control our speech.
BROWN: OK. But just there is -- the broadcast airwaves are owned by...
JARVIS: Yes, they're owned by me too.
BROWN: ...by all of us.
JARVIS: And so three people should not determine what we see. Only 11 percent of America now sees TV over rabbit ears. Everybody else sees it over cable. Your kids won't know the difference.
BROWN: And thank goodness for that.
JARVIS: And they don't know the difference between broadcast and cable. These are artificial restrictions that were put on that are unconstitutional and wrong and should be gone. The marketplace, well the marketplace got rid of "Married by America" already.
JARVIS: There was no need for the FCC to step in.
BROWN: And, Rebecca, why not -- it's an interesting conundrum in some respects for conservatives I think. Why not simply let the marketplace regulate as the marketplace does pretty well almost all the time?
HAGELIN: Well, number one the public airwaves are in the public domain. They're not only owned by your guest tonight but they're owned by the moms driving down the streets that want to find a decent radio station for the kids to listen to.
They're owned by the families that are sitting in their living room who are trying to take in a family program and all of a sudden their kid's sensibilities and innocence is attacked.
Sometimes the networks behave appropriately. Sometimes they don't because all they care about is the bottom dollar. So, it's a multi-pronged approach that we're going to have to take in this country to really bring our television programming in the family viewing hours to a place where families can sit down and enjoy a football game for crying out loud.
BROWN: I couldn't agree, I mean I absolutely agree with you. The skit was tasteless and raunchy and shouldn't have been there. But the problem isn't simply that. It's that a former member of Congress about to take a seat in the U.S. Senate complained about "Schindler's List" being shown on television because there's nudity in "Schindler's List" and there has to be some, I argue here gently, there has to be some context to all of this.
HAGELIN: Absolutely. Context is critical and also the FCC putting down clear guidelines is very critical. There's another element here which it is part of this important debate and I've written a book called "Home Invasion" which encourages parents to step up to the plate when the government doesn't and when the marketers don't and to follow that mother instinct or father instinct inside of you and to protect your children from what goes on, on the airwaves. But there has to be a time when families can sit down and be comfortable with the programming.
And the only way that's going to happen is if there's this multipronged approach, the FCC stating clearly its rules, parents stating their standards for their families.
BROWN: Well, we -- I think we agree that parents, Jeff, need to be ultimately responsible.
JARVIS: It's the parents' job. And I think it's important to say that we all have moral values. They're just different.
And the problem is, after the election, I think we jumped to a lot of conclusions, Aaron, that there was this moral values army taking over America. Well, I go to church every Sunday and I listen to Howard Stern. That's not incompatible. We all have different values. We all have different tastes. There's room for all of us. This is America. We don't need the government stepping in.
Neither should we assume that, on the basis of three people writing letters to the FCC, that there's some outrage, as you called the thing about the ABC earlier. I don't know that there was an outrage. I don't think there was. I think that's an assumption.
HAGELIN: I think there was, actually, or we wouldn't be talking about it tonight.
BROWN: In truth, sometimes, I actually don't know what is sort of genuine outrage and what is what I sometimes refer to as talk radio outrage. Things sort of happen out there and then they become part of the language. It's not always clear how many people are upset. I'm mindful -- I assume you are too, Rebecca -- the most TiVo-ed moment in the history of television was the Janet Jackson moment.
BROWN: People were so outraged, they had to see it 10 times.
HAGELIN: Well, they couldn't believe their eyes.
BROWN: That's one explanation.
HAGELIN: I sat down to watch it with my 12-year-old daughter. And I'll tell you what. It was a shocking experience for my 12-year- old daughter. I work hard as a mom to protect my kids from a culture that's gone stark-raving mad.
JARVIS: I'm sorry. But this is our American culture. And I will not have you tear down the whole country and our culture. This is our culture, too. And it's not corrupt. It's not evil.
BROWN: One at a time. Jeff...
HAGELIN: A football game with somebody stripping at a football game, are you saying our American culture is?
BROWN: Jeff, go ahead.
JARVIS: It's not an evil culture. It's not a right-wing, crazy culture. It's not a sexy culture. It's just us Americans.
HAGELIN: You're wrong.
JARVIS: The problem is, this sensationalism that is occurring is -- the fact that you show that ABC thing, which was just a lame joke, 25 times tonight, is part of the sensationalism of it. It's not outrage in America.
BROWN: I'll give you all of that.
BROWN: Look, I can't believe that you're going to sit here and tell me that you don't look at the culture these days and find it a little bit raunchy. Come on. JARVIS: No, I don't. No, I don't, Aaron.
JARVIS: No, I don't. I have a lot of faith in the people.
BROWN: I do, too. That's a different question.
BROWN: That's a question, do you have faith in the people?
JARVIS: Same thing. Hey, it's the people, the culture.
BROWN: I'm just a -- I'm -- and if people want to have a raunchy culture, God bless them.
JARVIS: They watch HBO and love it. And it's darn good, isn't it?
BROWN: I'm suggesting to you that the culture is a little raunchy.
JARVIS: For your tastes, perhaps, not mine.
BROWN: And that makes a lot of parents, and indeed, some children, but a lot of parents, uncomfortable. And the question becomes...
BROWN: And the question becomes, how do we....
JARVIS: Hey, "The 700 Club" makes me uncomfortable with homophobia. But I don't say take it off the air. I say I change the channel.
Rebecca, you get last word.
HAGELIN: Thank you.
There are parents out today that have thrown their arms up in the air because they don't know what to do. Their kids are being assaulted on every side by our culture. And it's time for us to remake the face of America to the world and for our kids by putting forth the best in life that our kids can strive for, putting forth strong examples. Parents know in their guts when something's wrong.
And, Jeff, I'm just afraid that you just don't have it. You just don't get it.
JARVIS: We disagree.
BROWN: And do so respectfully.
It's good to see you both. Thank you.
JARVIS: Good to see you.
HAGELIN: Thank you so much.
BROWN: Come back and visit us again.
Still to come, his library and his life. We look back at Bill Clinton's legacy.
And morning papers are never raunchy. Well, I wouldn't say never.
Around the world, this is NEWSNIGHT.
BROWN: The presidential library of Bill Clinton formally opens tomorrow in Little Rock, Arkansas, and just like his tenure, not without some controversy.
It includes a section on impeachment and Whitewater, but frames them as a fight for power and the politics of persecution. Naturally, some critics disagree. What can't be argued, at least not fairly, is that the Clinton presidency is a complicated piece of business, accomplishments and failures. History gets the last word.
Jeff Greenfield weighs in first.
JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SR. ANALYST (voice-over): The Clinton Library is his physical legacy, the open architecture, the symbolic bridge to the 21st century, the exhibits that highlight the highs and lows of his eight years in office.
(on camera): But the real legacy can't be measured by a building or by what is inside it. It has to be measured by what Bill Clinton did and did not do to change his party, this country, its politics. And the debate on that legacy has just begun.
(voice-over): Bill Clinton is by one measure his party's most successful president in more than half a century, the only Democrat elected to two terms since FDR, the candidate who broke the Republicans' electoral lock on the White House, a compelling communicator who won over the Reagan Democrats and who presided over one of the best economic years in history.
He is, by another measure, the president who helped undermine his party, whose disastrous health care proposal, shaped by his wife, helped put both houses of Congress into Republican hands in 1994, where they have remained for the better part of a decade, a president whose personal behavior led to public humiliation, to impeachment, and helped give George W. Bush a way to run against peace and prosperity four years ago.
GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They're looking for somebody who can lift the spirits of America and bring honor and integrity back to the White House.
GREENFIELD: Another way to measure Clinton's legacy, more specifically its limits, is to contrast him with two other leaders. Ronald Reagan also won two terms, but he also changed his party permanently. The one-time balanced budget Republican Party now scoffs at huge deficits and champions tax cuts with near biblical faith.
BUSH: He may win Washington, D.C., but he's not going to bin Tennessee.
GREENFIELD: Its embrace of cultural conservatism has won over big chunks of the Democratic base, Southerners, church-going rural and small-town voters, Catholics. In Great Britain, Prime Minister Tony Blair has remade the Labor Party, moving it away from its socialist roots and anti-war policies. But while Clinton proclaimed a new kind of Democratic politics...
WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The era of big government is over.
GREENFIELD: ... the party, at root, still remains a party whose policies reflect a core belief rooted in New Deal/Great Society notions that government is the tool to better the lives of the less well-off.
As a political figure, Clinton remains the most successful of candidates, fusing an astonishing grasp of complex policy ideas with rare personal magnetism. The peace and prosperity of the '90s helped him survive as serious a wound as any president has inflicted on himself. But that same wound also helped pave the way for the Republican triumphs that make it, for now, the permanent governing party.
(on camera): So, when will we have fully measured Bill Clinton's legacy? Well, remember, historians are still measuring the tenure of JFK, FDR, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, for that matter. Would suggest that historians will be digging in to the records down in Little Rock for decades, even centuries to come.
Jeff Greenfield, CNN, New York.
BROWN: A quick look now at some other stories that made news today.
House Republicans made sure today that their majority leader, Tom DeLay, will stay in power, even if he gets indicted. They changed a rule that used to require a leader to give up his leadership post if he or she was charged with a felony. The new rule says a leader must step down only if he or she is convicted. Seems reasonable, that part.
A Texas grand jury is investigating Mr. DeLay on possible corruption charges. DeLay has been admonished three times by the House Ethics Committee.
There will be a recount of the governor's race in the state of Washington. Out of 2.8 million votes cast, the Republican candidate, Dino Rossi, holds a slim lead of just under 300 votes over Democratic opponent Christine Gregoire. The state law mandates a recount if there's less than a 2,000-vote margin between the two candidates, so they will start all over again.
And Condoleezza Rice will reportedly have minor surgery on Friday. She will undergo a surgery over uterine fibroids. Doctors say the procedure is minimally invasive and does not involve cancer. Expected back at work on Monday. Yesterday, she was nominated, you'll recall, by the president to be the next secretary of state.
And the big business of the day, Kmart and Sears are merging. The deal, if it goes through, was priced at $11 billion, creates the third largest retailer in the United States. The new company will be called Sears Holding.
In a moment, the images that captured the world and captivated millions of readers every week, "LIFE" magazine, a story told in stills. How else?
And later, the stories told in headlines. How else? Morning papers.
This is NEWSNIGHT.
BROWN: If this program has a love of still photos -- and it does -- it may be because the managing editor grew up with copies of "LIFE" magazine on the coffee table his whole life. For about 40 years, from the '30s to the '70s, "LIFE" the magazine told stories in pictures. There were words, of course, but the magazine was about the stills, and continues to be when it's published these days.
Recently, the International Center For Photography in New York received a gift of 1,000 photographs from the TIME/LIFE archives. So here is a sample of some of the best work of "LIFE."
VANESSA ROCCO, ASSISTANT CURATOR, "LOOKING AT LIFE": "LIFE" magazine was begun in 1936. It was published by Henry Luce, who wanted a picture magazine that would show life, show the world, show everything, from women in love to great wars of our time.
CAROL SQUIERS, CURATOR, "LOOKING AT LIFE": It really found its legs during World War II. It passionately covered the war. And when it came out of World War II into postwar America, it was raring to go. And, certainly, one of the big stories in the postwar years was school integration.
These all appeared in the magazine. Here's the opening spread. And you can see how, in a magazine, you can make a very energetic juxtaposition of images.
JOHN LOENGARD, "LIFE" PHOTOGRAPHER: It's one thing to take a good photograph. It's another thing to take a good photograph that tells you something. And I think that demand, that challenge, seemed like a wonderful challenge to photographers all over the world.
SQUIERS: Probably the best-known essay that we have in the show is W. Eugene Smith's "Spanish Village." He shot it in about a month, before Franco's national police, the Guardia Civil, got on to him. And he fled literally under darkness of night.
He was interested in showing what he felt was the oppression and poverty that was brought on by the Francoist regime.
It looks like a very relaxed, candid photograph. In fact, it is a completely set-up photograph.
ROCCO: The primary readership was really educated, middle-class readership. And Nina Leen was particularly adept at photographing postwar women from this demographic.
And, for example, this image here is from 1947. And this is a suburban housewife. And she's posing in front of a week's worth of work.
The Vietnam War was one of the first wars that people really also got television coverage of. "LIFE" magazine printing these images in color really brought home all of the details of the violence that was taking place there in an incredibly vivid way. And I think Burrows, particularly through the color, really captures this idea of, war is hell. You can see the dirt, the grime, the blood.
LOENGARD: There's always this terrific balance, a very important balance, to go from whatever is right on people's mind, the forefront, hard news, what's happening, exciting, to something that is frivolous, possibly is fashion or just interesting to the arts, to how human beings behave, what human beings do. It's something that the camera can define in ways that words just can't.
BROWN: "LIFE" magazine.
Morning papers after the break.
(ROOSTER CROWING) BROWN: Okeydoke, time to check morning papers from around the country and around the world. There are so many good ones tonight. I don't know how to do it all, but I'll try my hardest and stay late if I have to.
"The International Herald Tribune," published by "The New York Times" in Paris. I expect this story will appear in "The New York Times" tomorrow. We don't get "The New York Times" here. I should explain that some day. "Report By Marines is Gloomy on Falluja. Rebels Could Thwart Victory If Troop Level Falls, Memo Warns," a story reported by Eric Schmidt of "The Times." And we'll take a look at that when we wake up tomorrow morning. Pretty good picture there as well. I don't know if you can get a good shot of that. That's "The International Herald Tribune." If you're traveling abroad or if you are abroad, you pick it up tomorrow.
"Stars and Stripes." This is one of those duh stories to me. "Active-Duty Soldiers Joining Guard in Fewer Numbers. Retention High, But Recruiting Rate Worries Guard Commanders." I wonder why they're refusing to do that? Do you think it has something to do with the war? Maybe.
"Inflation Surge, Is It Here to Stay?" says "The Christian Science Monitor" in its lead for tomorrow. "Consumer Price Index Hit Six-Month High in October, Seen in Cost of Items From Bell Peppers to FedEx Packages," which reminds me -- I don't know why -- there's a tomato shortage. Did you know that?
"The Washington Times" down here. "Whitewashing Whitewater. Clinton Library Presents Its Own Slant." I must have missed the day that the president was indicted in the Whitewater case.
"The Philadelphia Inquirer." I mentioned -- well, let me do their paper here, the debate over who profits from slots. "Lawmakers Appear to Agree on Ownership Ban. More Controversial, Should All Work Go to Pennsylvania Distributors?" Beats me what that's about.
But, anyway, a friend of mine who works at the paper at Philadelphia said I was too harsh of them yesterday for putting the NFL story on the front page. So, I apologize now. I never want those people mad at me, those newspaper people. They can write crazy stuff about you if you're not careful.
"Time Herald Record." "U.S. Deaths Top 1,200." I think this 12- day period, the last 12 days in Iraq has been the deadliest for Americans. It's been a miserable time. Hopefully, it will get better before long.
Forget that one.
"The Boston Herald." "Bouncers Gone Wild. No Holds Barred For Violent Hub Doormen." That's the most important story there in Boston tomorrow, the bouncers gone while.
Most important story in Burt County, Nebraska, "The Plaindealer, "Candle Glow Set Mood for the Holidays. Museum's Annual Tour to Be Sunday Evening." Want to stop by for that. And I do believe this is our first picture of Santa Claus for this year.
How are we doing on time? Ten? Oh, my goodness.
"The Atlantic Journal Constitution." "Cosby's Tough Love Tour Hit Atlanta." I love this story. God bless Mr. Cosby for saying what he believes and saying it in a way that people are hearing it and they can react to it.
"The Chicago Tribune" -- no, the "Chicago Sun-Times." We also don't get "The Chicago Tribune." The weather tomorrow in Chicago, Chris (ph)...
BROWN: Thank you -- is "fleeting."
We'll wrap it up in a moment.
BROWN: A reminder. If you're up early tomorrow -- most of you actually are up early tomorrow -- 7:00 a.m. Eastern time, all the gang at "AMERICAN MORNING" have a good show planned or even a good program planned.
For most of you, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT" is next.
We'll see you all tomorrow night, 10:00 Eastern time. Until then, good night for all of us at NEWSNIGHT.
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com