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President Obama's Inner Circle; First Swine Flu Vaccine Released
Aired October 5, 2009 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Tonight, here are the questions we want answered. What advice is the president really getting from his inner circle? A rare interview with both Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.
ROBERT GATES, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Most of my career, secretaries of state and defense weren't speaking to one another. And it could get pretty ugly, actually. And it's terrific to have the kind of relationship where we can talk together.
BROWN: Tough questions with CNN's Christiane Amanpour and two of the president's most important advisers.
Plus, is this a turning point that goes beyond pop culture? "Saturday Night Live" takes on the president.
FRED ARMISEN, ACTOR: Almost one year and nothing to show for it. So, looking at this list, I'm seeing two big accomplishments, jack and squat.
BROWN: If the president has now lost "SNL," has he lost the country, too? "SNL" alum Joe Piscopo is here tonight.
Also, the first doses of swine flu vaccine being given today to health care workers. But where can you get it? And is it safe for everyone? Dr. Oz is here, the facts to help you avoid the flu and the fear.
And how did an alleged stalker get video of an ESPN reporter in her hotel room? Disturbing new details tonight.
ANNOUNCER: This is your only source for news. CNN prime time begins now. Here's Campbell Brown.
BROWN: Hi, everybody. Those are the big questions tonight. But we start as always with the "Mash-Up." It is our look at the stories making an impact right now, the moments you may have missed. We're watching it all, so you don't have to.
And, tonight, a firm commitment from the White House that the United States will not walk away from the war in Afghanistan -- the pledge coming as the president's strategy is being severely tested. Tomorrow, he convenes a bipartisan group of lawmakers to discuss the challenges lying ahead, among them, Senator John McCain who has been calling for a troop surge.
On the front lines meantime, more American lives are being lost.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: On the battlefield, we have seen the deadliest attack on U.S. forces in more than a year near the Pakistan border.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Eight American and two Afghan soldiers were killed in the fierce fight. Medevac helicopters had to wait for hours to evacuate the wounded.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: U.S. forces have suffered some of their worst casualties in this isolated province where they're trying to control the high mountain passes that insurgents use to cross the border.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A spokesman for the Taliban claimed complete responsibility for the attacks and said, if the U.S. increases its forces, we will increase ours as well.
ED HENRY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The president has already shot down the possibility of the U.S. pulling out of the war.
ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president was exceedingly clear that no part of the conversation involved was leaving Afghanistan.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: General Stanley McChrystal, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, says he needs more troops or the war will fail, and making his case, perhaps a bit too publicly for the White House. Yesterday, National Security Adviser Jim Jones went on "Face the Nation' and CNN's "State of the Union" basically telling General McChrystal to zip it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEN. JIM JONES (RET), NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER-DESIGNATE: It would be, I think, unfortunate if we let the discussion just be about troop strength. Troops are a portion of the answer, but not the -- not the total answer.
We do have a strategy. We have agreed on a strategy decided on in march. The McChrystal report is his initial assessment on how best to support that strategy, his opinion of what he thinks his role within that strategy is. Ideally, it's better for military advice to come up through the chain of command. The president should be presented with options, not just one fait accompli.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BROWN: We are going to have a lot more on the situation in Afghanistan coming up tonight, including exclusive interviews with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Bob Gates.
Moving now to tonight's other big story, the first doses of the swine flu vaccine released today by the Centers for Disease Control.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The plan is to start vaccinating health care workers because they're the most likely to come in contact with the H1N1 virus. Some states have other protocols. Alaska will give its first doses to preschoolers. Pennsylvania will target grade school students.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Six hundred those doses of nasal spray, six million to seven million shots, have been shipped out in the U.S. Another 40 million to 50 million will come in the coming weeks.
And among the first to get in line, health care workers, young people six months to 24 years old, and pregnant women.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The one that is being in a shot, that one doesn't have the live virus, which is why that...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Correct. Correct.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... others can use it. Is it less effective?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, they're both effective. They're just different ways of getting the vaccine into your body.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: So many questions remaining about the swine flu vaccine. In just a little bit, Dr. Mehmet Oz Is going to join me to help answer some of your questions.
Moving now to Japan and a story that caught my eye over the weekend. This is Akio Toyoda, the president of Toyota, the world's biggest automaker. Toyota is in trouble. And Friday its president did something pretty remarkable by today's standards. He took responsibility. Mr. Toyoda apologized for a deadly crash that prompted the company to recall nearly four million cars.
He apologized that Toyota's first American factory is closing down. He apologized that the company is losing money. Most significantly, he said, Toyota was wholly unprepared for the economic crisis that has crippled the entire car industry.
Now, can you imagine an American executive or elected official being that honest and that straightforward? Something to think about.
Moving from one high-profile mea culpa to another, David Letterman apologizing tonight to his wife and his staff for carrying on sexual relationships with co-workers. The late-night host said his wife, Regina Lasko, has been -- quote -- "horribly hurt" and that when it comes to preparing his marriage, he has his work cut out for him.
Once again, Letterman made his statement in front of his audience, but not before throwing out a few jokes at his own expense.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN")
DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, "THE LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN": Did your weekend just fly by?
LETTERMAN: I mean...
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
LETTERMAN: I will be honest with you, folks. Right now, I would give anything to be hiking on the Appalachian Trail.
LETTERMAN: I got into the car this morning and the navigation lady wasn't speaking to me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: Meanwhile, the lawyer defending the man accused of blackmailing Letterman made the rounds of the morning shows. Gerald Shargel says his client, Robert Halderman, is getting a bum rap.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GERALD SHARGEL, ATTORNEY FOR ROBERT JOE HALDERMAN: If you simply accept at sake value what the prosecutors say and can say, that's enough for us, I think that's wrong. In the history of extortion...
In the history of extortion...
In the history of extortions, I don't think there's ever been a case where someone was paid by check.
The case that's been described by the prosecution makes absolutely no sense.
It just doesn't make any sense.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, are you saying he didn't take the check?
SHARGEL: No, I'm not saying he didn't take the check.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He deposited that check.
SHARGEL: He deposited that check. All I'm saying is, don't rush to judgment.
The public should not rush to judgment.
I'm here to say, not so fast.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: Shargel there, not Shargel. Excuse me. He said he plans to put forth evidence that Letterman engaged in sexual harassment.
And moving now from sordid tale to another, the strange case of Erin Andrews, the ESPN reporter, remember, who was videotaped naked in a hotel room without her knowledge?
Well, tonight, prosecutors are charging an insurance executive with interstate stalking.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BETTY NGUYEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The man accused of stalking an ESPN reporter has been released on bond. Michael David Barrett is accused of taping ESPN reporter Erin Andrews in the nude and posting videos of her on the Internet.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Authorities say Barrett stalked Andrews in Milwaukee and Nashville, calling numerous hotels to learn her whereabouts, requesting rooms next to hers, and tampering with peepholes to see inside her room.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The 33-page criminal complaint says Barrett posted the videos on the Internet after celebrity Web site TMZ.com rejected his attempt to sell them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: Barrett faces five years behind bars if convicted.
And now, because we leave no note unsung in the balled of Jon and Kate, the latest salvo in the escalating war of the Gosselins. This morning, it was Kate's move on "The Today Show" firing back at Jon for trying to prevent their kids from appearing on television.
Basically, she's accused him of stealing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KATE GOSSELIN, MOTHER: I'm sorry. The last thing I wanted was to do this show and end up not being able to pay my bills. He took $230,000 of the $231,000 that we have liquid. And I have a stack of bills in my purse I can't drop in the mail.
When you have left your children and their mother unable to pay for the roof over our head, it is not acceptable. We were in the position after our sextuplets were born that we could not pay our bills. We did the show to provide a better life for them. Never did I think I would be back in the same position worried about providing for the them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: Jon, of course, not one to let a news cycle pass him by, fired back tonight on "The Insider." No big shock. He says his wife is lying.
And that brings us to the "Punchline." This is courtesy of, yes, David Letterman. But, tonight, he's not the jokester. He is the target.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE JAY LENO SHOW")
JAY LENO, HOST, "THE JAY LENO SHOW": If you came here for sex with a talk show host, you have got the wrong studio. I'm sorry.
DREW CAREY, COMEDIAN: Man, I would hate to be on opposite "Letterman" with all that sex stuff going on. That has got to be tough.
CONAN O'BRIEN, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH CONAN O'BRIEN": No comment.
BILL MAHER, HOST, "REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER": I was shocked that Letterman has been having affairs. I had no idea he was even running for office.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When you're the boss, though, Barbara, you just have to keep your friend in your pants.
JIMMY FALLON, HOST, "LATE NIGHT WITH JIMMY FALLON": There's a new book out called "Why Women Have Sex" that has a list of 237 reasons why women have sex. And Letterman knows the top 10.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The blackmailer, Joe Halderman, was threatening to reveal embarrassing details of Letterman's personal life.
For example, after sex, he would always, stay tuned for Craig Ferguson.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: David Letterman roasted. And that is the "Mash-Up."
Tonight's newsmakers, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Bob Gates. We have them both in a rare interview together with Christiane Amanpour. You will see it only here on CNN.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GATES: From the time I took this job, I have tried both in Iraq and Afghanistan to avoid terms like winning and losing, because they become very loaded.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: Just moments ago, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates wrapped up an exclusive and first-of- its-kind joint interview with CNN's chief international correspondent, Christiane Amanpour, and CNN's special correspondent, Frank Sesno, on the war in Afghanistan.
Tomorrow, President Obama meets with top congressional leaders from both parties to brief them on the war as he moves closer to a decision on whether to send it more U.S. troops. Tonight's interview of course comes in the shadow of this weekend's attack on a remote outpost along the Afghanistan/Pakistan border that left eight U.S. troops dead.
It is the largest loss of American life in a single day in Afghanistan in more than a year. And I want you to hear part of tonight's roundtable for yourself. This was taped for a special edition of the new program "AMANPOUR" airing tomorrow afternoon right here on CNN.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Do you think you can win there, both of you? I would like to know whether you think you can win.
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, I think, Christiane, what we're looking at as we meet to advise the president is, what do we need to do in Afghanistan and Pakistan? Because we see the region as the area of concern that will promote American interests and values, protect our country, as well as the allies and other interests that we have around the world.
So, I think it's a very thoughtful analysis about what is it we need to do. And we're trying to look at it from ground up and make sure that we're examining every assumption, because what's important is that at the end of the day, the president makes a decision that he believes in, that he thinks is going to further our core objectives of protecting our country, preventing attacks on us, trying to protect our interests and our allies.
And that's what we're attempting to do.
AMANPOUR: Secretary Gates, the majority of the American people believe that America can win in Afghanistan. Do you think America can win in Afghanistan? GATES: From the time I took this job, I have tried both in Iraq and Afghanistan to avoid terms like winning and losing, because they become very loaded in our domestic debate, but they also become loaded around the world.
I think the key thing is to establish what our objectives are and can we achieve our objectives? And the answer to that question is, absolutely.
FRANK SESNO, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, let me ask you about our objectives, because back in March, President Obama said several things. He said our clear and focused goal -- that was his term -- was to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al Qaeda. He said, for the American people, the Afghanistan/Pakistan border was the most dangerous place in the world, that Afghanistan was an international security issue of the highest order, and that, if the Afghan government were to fall to the Taliban, the country will -- and I'm quoting him here -- "be again a base for terrorists who want to kill as many of our people as they possibly can."
Has any of that changed from then until now in this review?
GATES: I don't think so.
SESNO: So, staying the course and having this government survive and not fall to the Taliban and disrupting and dismantling al Qaeda is the objective, is the goal of this review that you're going through?
CLINTON: Well, Frank, the goal remains, as the president said last spring.
What we are, I think rightfully, doing is examining the strategies and tactics to achieve our goal. And I happen to think that's a good thing. You know, it -- it is difficult enough to deal with the -- the challenges emanating from Afghanistan and Pakistan and the continuing threat from al Qaeda.
But to do it when there is so much pressure to make a snap decision, never to ask the hard questions, is really counterproductive. And I admire the president for saying, as he did last spring, we're going to reassess this.
He appointed a new commander. That new commander was asked to assess it. He has a special representative based in the State Department with a whole government team constantly being asked, are we making progress?
So, I think what we're going through in asking ourselves, OK, we know what the goal is, is what we're doing most likely to achieve that goal, is what a very decisive and intelligent commander in chief would do.
So, we're going to come up with what we think is the best approach, but the goal remains the same.
AMANPOUR: Do you believe should, not next week or next month, but should Afghanistan fall to the Taliban again, that it would again become a base for al Qaeda to have its operations there?
GATES: I think the thing to remember about Afghanistan is that that country and particularly the Afghan/Pakistan border is the modern epicenter of jihad.
It is where the mujahedeen defeated the other superpower. And their view is, in my opinion, that they now have the opportunity to defeat a second superpower, which more than anything would empower their message and the opportunity to recruit, to fund-raise and to plan operations.
So, I think you have to see this area in a historical context in terms of what happened in the 1980s and the meaning of the victory over the Soviet Union in order to understand the importance of this symbiotic relationship between al Qaeda and the Taliban and the other extremists, frankly.
AMANPOUR: So, you think they would come back if Afghanistan fell?
GATES: I don't know whether the -- whether al Qaeda would sort of move their headquarters from the Fatah to -- back into Afghanistan, but there's no question in my mind that if the Taliban took large -- took control of significant portions of Afghanistan, that that would be added space for al Qaeda to strengthen its cell and more recruitment, more fund-raising.
But what's more important than that in my view is the message that it sends that empowers al Qaeda.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: Christiane Amanpour just wrapped up this exclusive interview with Clinton and Gates. And she will join us live coming up next.
Plus, the H1N1 flu vaccine available for the first time today for some health care workers, but where can you find it and is it really safe enough to take? Dr. Oz here to answer those questions.
BROWN: Just a short time ago, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates sat down for an exclusive interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour and CNN special correspondent Frank Sesno.
They covered a wide range of issues, but the top priority and you can imagine the focus was on the war in Afghanistan. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) AMANPOUR: There has been some talk over the weekend about how the United States believes that perhaps al Qaeda has been diminished, the threat from the Taliban is not as great as one might have thought.
So, I want to know what you think about the momentum of the Taliban, their long-term prospects, given the fact that today 80 percent of Afghanistan has a permanent Taliban presence, compared to 72 percent a year ago and 54 percent the year before that. They seem to be winning territory, rather than losing.
GATES: I can't improve on General McChrystal's assessment that the situation in Afghanistan is serious and deteriorating. And there are a lot of reasons for it.
You have to go back to 2003, 2004 in terms of the Taliban beginning to reconstitute themselves in Pakistan and so on. That's a historian's debate. We are where we are. And this -- it kind of goes back to General McChrystal's quote that you aired.
You have to start where you are, not where you wish you were. And the reality is that, because of our inability and the inability, frankly, of our allies to put enough troops into Afghanistan, the Taliban do have the momentum right now, it seems.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: The roundtable is part of a special edition of CNN's "AMANPOUR" that is airing tomorrow at 3:00 p.m. Eastern time right here on CNN.
Christiane Amanpour, Frank Sesno joining me now from George Washington University, where Frank heads up the School of Media and Public Affairs.
Hey, guys, let me ask you both the same question and get your take on this.
Christiane, you start.
What's going to be the headline coming out of this that we're all talking about tomorrow?
AMANPOUR: Well, I think what you just heard Secretary Gates say, that, over the last several years, the inability to put enough troops in has given the Taliban the momentum, I think that's a big headline, particularly when you consider the debate that is going on right now is precisely about whether to put more troops in, as General McChrystal has assessed he needs in order to push the Taliban back, or whether to scale back and do a more sort of bombing from the air campaign, less nation-building, and special forces.
SESNO: And I think something that's going to get a lot of attention is an affirmation that he made, which is the United States is not going to be leaving, his words, Afghanistan or Pakistan. Now, that is not to say what presence or what troop level it's going to have. But I think he wanted to convey, the secretary of defense, very clearly, and the secretary of state agreed with this, that the American commitment to the broad policy objectives that Barack Obama, President Obama, laid out back in March to defeat and disrupt the Taliban, to -- al Qaeda, to support the government in Kabul against any kind of Taliban takeover, is very much still in place.
AMANPOUR: And why is that important? Because both of them referred back to right after the Soviet Union was defeated, when, in fact, the U.S. and Pakistan supported mujahedeen, who defeated the Soviet forces in Afghanistan. After that happened, then the U.S. moved away, took its eye off the ball.
And the rest is history, culminating with 9/11. So, they wanted to send that message, because the Pakistanis, particularly, have been very anxious about this debate going on in the United States right now, saying that it sends all the wrong signals and potentially shows the U.S. as a short-timer.
And one final -- one final point on this, Campbell. You asked what will make the headlines. I think what's disturbed people and these principals, especially, is that the debate has sort of taken on an either/or context. Either they're going to go with McChrystal and put all these additional troops in or they're somehow going to leave.
And that's not what they want to convey. That's not what they say is going to happen. And I get a very strong sense that this dynamic, this debate is a sort of ongoing process and they are going to come down someplace that allows them to stick to those presidential principles that were laid out some months ago.
BROWN: But, to that point, how, ultimately, then do they define the endgame? How do you define success if it's somewhere in the middle and it's a little more gray than people want, frankly?
AMANPOUR: Well, you know, they didn't say it was gray. We read them portions of President Obama's speech that he made in March, when he clearly set out the objectives about, as Frank mentioned, in making sure that Afghanistan can never be a haven again, saying back in March that they had active intelligence that the al Qaeda are plotting again against the United States and that if the Taliban came back it would be terrible for the people of Afghanistan and terrible for the people of the world, including the United States, because it could become a safe haven again.
So, they reaffirmed that, no matter this assessment, and no matter some of the changes, including obviously concerns about the post-election dynamic in Afghanistan, that the objectives haven't changed.
SESNO: And that's what Gates said. Gates said the election changed things. And there are issues and complicated things. He has said that before. And I think that what they're not doing is they're not showing their hand as to specifically what they're recommending to the president, how many more troops are going to go in, whether they are going to go with this counterinsurgency or counterterrorism strategy.
But I got the clear impression from this, Christiane -- and I think we both did -- that they wanted it to be well-known and well- recognized that the American commitment, broadly speaking, to Afghanistan, Pakistan is not going to change. And Secretary Gates mentioned more than once that, in the past, the United States and its allies have turned their back on these countries.
And I think he was sending a strong signal that that's not going to happen this time.
AMANPOUR: Yes, go ahead.
BROWN: Well, I wanted to shift gears, if I could, just before we run out of time, and ask you about Iran, too, because, obviously, the fear of nuclear Iran is front and center right now. And it looks like international inspections could be coming soon. Secretary Clinton sounding optimistic tonight. Do you think they have a real reason to be optimistic?
AMANPOUR: Well, she did sound -- and, actually, that's why we pressed her on that because of the some sort of mixed messages that may be going on, suggesting at least by one Iranian diplomat that, no, they hadn't signed on the dotted line about shipping out the bulk of their low-enriched uranium.
And that's what -- those who are optimistic about what happened in Geneva at the end of the week point to that agreement in principle. So, Secretary Clinton said that is an agreement in principle and we hope that in our next meeting and in the next meeting with various experts that they will sign on the dotted line.
But she did point to the notion that they have agreed to the inspections of the Qom facility, that hitherto undisclosed facility, and that will come I believe the date is October 25, and that there will be more meetings.
So, really, they are -- the United States is sounding a much more optimistic note about what they can possibly achieve on Iran than in fact the European allies at the moment.
SESNO: There are plenty of skeptics out there, of course, and who are saying diplomacy, coercive diplomacy, sanctions, haven't worked in the past. But this level of engagement that the United States is trying here, that they talked about here, is very significant.
And one thing they didn't talk about which they are doing very much behind the scenes is working with a lot of other countries, not just China and Russia, but countries like Turkey and even Syria, to bring additional pressure to bear.
So, this is a very interesting and -- and fluid situation. But you're right. I thought she was sounding a very...
SESNO: ... cautiously optimistic note here tonight.
BROWN: All right. Christiane Amanpour for us and Frank Sesno. Guys, appreciate it. Looking forward to the special.
We should tell everyone, the interview, of course, will be making headlines around the world tomorrow. You can watch all of it on a special edition of "Amanpour." Tune in 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time, noon Pacific right here on CNN.
"Saturday Night Live" turns on President Obama saying he's done nothing in his first term. Tonight's big question is, is this a turning point that goes beyond pop culture? Joe Piscopo, one of our guests. Stay with us.
BROWN: "Saturday Night Live" may not have Sarah Palin to kick around anymore, but this weekend the cast found fresh political, a fresh political target right at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRED ARMISEN, PLAYING PRESIDENT OBAMA: When you look at my record, it's very clear what I've done so far. And that is nothing. Nada. Almost one year and nothing to show for it.
You don't believe me? You think I'm making it up? Take a look at this checklist.
Now on my first day in office -- on my first day in office, I said I'd close Guantanamo Bay. Is it closed yet? Nope.
I said we'd be out of Iraq. Are we? Not the last time I checked.
I said I'd make improvements in the war in Afghanistan. Is it better? No. I think it's actually worse.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: "SNL" has been around for 35 years. And sometimes you may wonder if they've actually changed how the nation thinks about politicians. Check it out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, excuse me. I'm sorry. I really have to say something here. First of all that wasn't even a question. Second, she was lip syncing. Third, I really find it difficult to believe this particular questioner was chosen at random.
TINA FEY, PLAYING SARAH PALIN: Katie, I'd like to use one of my life lines.
AMY POEHLER, PLAYING KATIE COURIC: I'm sorry?
FEY: I want to phone a friend.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: So is Obama just the latest easy target for a punch line or is this a turning point that goes well beyond pop culture? Joe Piscopo is one of the best known "SNL" alumni. He's joining us from his home in New Jersey. In Los Angeles, former "SNL" writer Spike Feresten. He's now the host of "Talk Show With Spike Feresten" on the FOX network. And in Washington, CNN senior political analyst Gloria Borger with us as well.
Welcome to everybody. Spike, before I bring the politicos into this, let me talk to you a little bit about the "SNL" effect and how it can be a tipping point...
SPIKE FERESTEN, "TALK SHOW WITH SPIKE FERESTEN": OK.
BROWN: ... when it comes to public perception of political figures. It's a pretty unique phenomenon. Explain how "SNL" has had this kind impact.
FERESTEN: Well, first of all I need to get the record straight. I was the receptionist on "Saturday Night Live." I wasn't really a writer on that show.
FERESTEN: I wanted to say that out of the gate. I'm not joking. Yes, that's where I started my career.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Oh, my God.
FERESTEN: I went on to David Letterman.
BROWN: You've come a long way, Spike.
FERESTEN: I have. Thank you very much. The job of "Saturday Night Live" over the years is to -- is to poke fun at people in the news and it's always the president who seems to be the butt of the jokes. And I thought the sketch was great. I thought it was very funny.
BROWN: And this is one of the few times, though, I will say that we have seen Obama the target of a comedy sketch on "SNL." They've been pretty favorable to him overall. Is he in your view as a comedian a more difficult comedic target compared to previous presidents.
FERESTEN: Definitely. He's a tough guy to get an angle --
BROWN: Why? Get at that.
FERESTEN: Well, I mean, he hasn't thrown up on the Japanese prime minister, for example.
FERESTEN: He doesn't have a thing for the ladies that we know of, you know. And I think, you know, what you're seeing now is guys like Fred or different shows looking for that angle on him. And I'm not quite sure they found it just yet. You know, he hasn't really -- he hasn't really screwed up for lack of a better word.
BROWN: Joe, give me your take on this as an "SNL" alum.
JOE PISCOPO, FORMER "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE" PERFORMER: Well, I think it was hysterical. I love what Fred's doing on the show, and it was right on the money. And I think it's a warning to the Obama administration that when the left starts feeding on itself, you know there's trouble.
And it was refreshing to see. I mean, after they had a field day with Sarah Palin which was just as brilliant as it gets on "Saturday Night Live," what Tina Fey did, what Fred has done, he nailed the way the country is feeling right now. I thought it was great. And indeed, it could sway public opinion.
BROWN: OK. So, Gloria, go a little deeper on the politics of this. Another sign of the blooming of the rose? How big of a problem is this for the president when there is sort of this, you know, broad or conventional wisdom accepting that he may be having real problems right now?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: First of all, you know, as long as the president is not regarded as a joke, I think he's OK. But what happens here is that you start establishing a kind of a narrative. And the narrative in this sketch was that "A," this is an indecisive president. This is a president who's overreaching, who has promised everything and delivered little. And I think once you establish a narrative, just ask Sarah Palin, just ask Bill Clinton, just, you know, and you saw what "Saturday Night Live" did with poor Gerald Ford who was actually quite a good athlete in real life, once you establish a narrative of somebody, sometimes it's hard to get away from that.
So clearly this is really early. He's been a hard guy to joke about. But I think you might see the beginning of something here that the White House probably doesn't like.
BROWN: So what's the buzz --
FERESTEN: I don't know -- I would --
BROWN: Go ahead -- go ahead.
FERESTEN: I wouldn't say that, Gloria. It's a comedy sketch. "Saturday Night Live" writes jokes and their goal is to entertain people and that's what they were doing here.
BORGER: Right. But they're not used to it.
FERESTEN: I think what we saw with Sarah Palin -- well, I think if people are -- if you're letting the -- and I say this lovingly, the derelict comedy writers in the writer's room, they're not exactly the best at analyzing what's going on in the country.
FERESTEN: I don't think anybody is really drawing conclusion from that.
FERESTEN: There's no narrative going on here. It's comedy going on.
BROWN: So hold on a second, I want to get at this. But, Spike, I think it seems like it can often be a tipping point. As you know, as a comedian, there's often a kernel of truth in great comedy. And that when it sort of plays out on something like "SNL" in a way, it signals that something broader is going on here that we've reached a moment where it becomes part of pop culture. Do you disagree with that?
FERENSTEN: That can happen. But I don't think that happened here. I think when you had someone like Sarah Palin who is out there saying the sketch in real life and Tina Fey is just writing it down and repeating what she's saying, I think that's a moment where we're all thinking at home and "Saturday Night Live" is putting the sketch, we're reflecting a sentiment out there.
I didn't wake -- I didn't wake up Sunday morning or Monday morning and see the sketch all over the place and go, well, finally, someone wrote what I was thinking. I saw Fred doing a very funny sketch and "Saturday Night Live" looking for an angle that they may or may not have found.
BROWN: Joe, you've been pretty supportive of the president thus far. But I know you are starting to express some frustration or feeling some frustration about what's going on. You're not the only one who was originally supportive of him on the left. What's behind sort of this growing disillusionment?
PISCOPO: I think it's just a misguided mission of where America is going. No one knows. Spike, by the way, you were the prettiest receptionist at "SNL." I just wanted to say that.
FERESTEN: Thank you. PISCOPO: But, I tell you -- but you know what? And to that point, Campbell, if I may, because you had great writers on "SNL" through the years like Michael Donahue, Allen Swibel (ph). And then you had great, great performers like Chevy Chase with Gerald Ford. And what Dan Aykroyd did with Nixon, and John Belushi did with Henry Kissinger, you can Google this and YouTube this and see brilliant work.
And I don't know, I didn't think at first when I talked to your producers this morning, I said, no, maybe "SNL" doesn't have the that political power. But I'm thinking that it does sway opinion a little bit. And I tell you what, I've been frustrated, and it was great the way Lauren and the team and all of "SNL" just kind of culminated on the weekend and just said what a lot of us, millions of Americans are feeling that we just -- we have a mission to nowhere with this president at this point.
BORGER: And I -- I think it's also very reflective of the culture. I remember, you know, during the campaign you'd hear a lot of people say to the media, oh, you're being so soft on Barack Obama. You're too soft on Barack Obama.
BORGER: But until "Saturday Night Live" did that sketch that you showed about a debate between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, we didn't really get in trouble for it. But once -- once they did that sketch, it became part of the national conversation. And I think that that's what's happening right now in fact.
BROWN: All right. Interesting. We'll see how it plays out. Spike, Joe and Gloria, thanks for your time tonight. Appreciate it, everybody.
BORGER: Sure. Thanks, Campbell.
PISCOPO: Thanks, Campbell.
BROWN: And when we come back, TV's Dr. Oz with us tonight, and with good reason. The first doses of swine flu vaccine are being given to health care workers. You're going to get it soon if you want it. Dr. Oz is going to answer your all-important questions on H1N1 when we come back.
And also, we're getting word tonight North Korea may be ready to come back to the negotiating table for talks about its nuclear program. It could be just what the U.S. is hoping for. We'll have more details on this in just a moment. Stay with us.
BROWN: Tonight, TV's Dr. Oz is with us with the truth about the H1N1 vaccine out for some people this week. We're going to talk about that. But first, must -- or more, rather, must-see news happening at this hour. Mike Galanos here with tonight's "Download."
MIKE GALANOS, HLN PRIME NEWS: Hey, Campbell. IT could be a big breakthrough for U.S. relations with North Korea. China's news agency says Kim Jong-il is open to returning to Six-nation talks aimed at ending his country's nuclear ambitions. Now the reclusive dictator has been hosting China's premiere this week. North Korea walked away from Six-party talks last April and conducted a second nuclear test in May.
A suicide attack on the United Nations office in Pakistan left five people dead and several others wounded. All of those killed were employees of the World Food Bank in Islamabad. The bomber reportedly got into the heavily guarded building by dressing as a security guard and asking to use the bathroom. No claim of responsibility yet.
Well, two murders on Ohio's death row have been granted temporary reprieve amid serious questions about the state's lethal injection procedures. A story we covered. The failed execution of Romell (ph) Broom last month touched of a legal battle that appeared headed to the U.S. Supreme Court before Governor Ted Strickland stepped in.
Now, Strickland delayed Broom's execution after technicians tried for two hours but couldn't find a suitable vein for a needle.
Finally this one. How about this pairing? McDonald's -- a McDonald's restaurant in the Louvre? What are they saying in France about that one?
Here's what we have. Now it's not going to be right next to the Mona Lisa or anything. This is in the food court in the underground mall, but still some folks are not happy about this one.
Here's one quote I checked out here, Campbell. "Rendezvous in December for a Mona Lisa extra value meal." There it is. We've got the picture right there.
BROWN: Oh, no.
GALANOS: A Big Mac taking the Mona Lisa.
BROWN: That's terrible!
GALANOS: Could open up in December. That's what we're hearing.
BROWN: It is a bit sacrilegious. All right. Mike Galanos for us tonight. Mike, thanks. We'll see you in a bit.
GALANOS: Thanks, Campbell.
BROWN: We'll be back. A quick break right after this. Stay with us.
BROWN: A national campaign to vaccinate tens of millions of Americans against the H1N1 or swine flu, as you know it, kicked off today. It will be given by nasal spray and eventually by shots. Pregnant women and children who are at higher risk are to be given the first doses. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hospitals in Memphis and Indianapolis among the first to get batches of the swine flu vaccine today.
KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): The health departments are getting the shipments first. But other states are going to start receiving their shipments soon as well.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The first batch of the vaccine is going to be in a nasal spray form and then in about a week or so, swine flu shots will be ready.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Forty million flu shot doses will be available by midmonth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: A lot of people, though, still split over whether or not to get the vaccine. Some people want it, some people don't. So we have asked Dr. Mehmet Oz, of course, of "The Dr. Oz Show" to help us break down some of the concerns that are out there.
Welcome to you. Good to see you.
DR. MEHMET OZ, HOST, "THE DR. OZ SHOW": Thanks, Campbell. Good to see you.
BROWN: So, doctors' offices, as you know, are being swamped with calls right now because people are hearing that the vaccine is starting to become available. What do we know about when and where the average person can actually get it?
OZ: I still think we're probably three weeks away from the average person being able to easily get the vaccine. And for many Americans that's not a crazy amount of time to wait because it has already started and we are seeing swine flu cases. It really hasn't built up the kind of (INAUDIBLE). I know we'll see over the next few weeks.
There is a Web site, flu.gov, which actually gives you information about your local community about where they will be giving the flu shot. But you actually have to call to see if they have what's needed yet. And this is especially important for the high-risk populations, the pregnant women, the kids under 2 years of age, people who have chronic illnesses. They're the ones and probably me, health care providers.
BROWN: Health care providers.
OZ: We have to get. In fact, (INAUDIBLE) we're at practice it is mandated we all get vaccinated by the end of this month. BROWN: Now, schools are going to give the vaccines in some cases we're hearing, pediatrician's offices, especially when we're talking about kids, maybe getting them. Do you know whether -- like if you're a parent, you're trying to decide, do I let my kid do it at school, do I take them to the pediatrician?
OZ: Well, the fairest way the government thought was to distribute the vaccines to the individual states. And let states do what they usually do pretty well, which is administer public health. So it's very possible to be available in your school, but depending on which school system you're in, they may have preferred to have supermarkets delivered, or, you know, pharmacies...
OZ: ... you know, large public areas. Oftentimes hospitals will have a full facility to be able to administer vaccines. So there are many places you can go.
But, Campbell, I think the big story which you mentioned earlier, I would bet half the population is watching the show right now and saying, you know, I'm not sure I want that. And they're saying, oh, I can always treat myself if I get infected. I won't get infected anyway. And, you know, would it be that big of an illness if I did get it?
And I think we're actually wandering into a very interesting dilemma, which is that the government and health care providers are saying we advice this. It makes sense to you. But if we push too hard, we actually build up more resistance.
We've got to be very fair about saying listen, this is just the government warning a population about an oncoming hurricane. Right? It was a class for hurricane coming towards New Orleans before Katrina. You've got to tell people it might be a problem. Sometimes the hurricane misses. But if it does hit, people should at least be knowledgeable that they made their own choices.
BROWN: But you say that. And to your point, we looked into this. There's a new poll out from the Harvard School of Public Health that only 40 percent of adults say they are absolutely certain they're going to get the vaccine. That means most of the country is not -- is either on the fence or they're not going to do it. The reasons they're giving is they're concerned about possible side effects from the vaccine. They don't think they're at risk of serious illness, and they think that if they do get it, that they're going to be able to get Tamiflu or Relenza or one of these medicines.
I mean, aren't those valid reasons to maybe skip it?
OZ: Some of them are valid reasons. But remember, part of the desire that you have in getting the population immunized is to prevent the virus from spreading to those who aren't protected, people who are more at risk, young kids I mentioned, pregnant women. And so, you might weather the storm but from a population's perspective it may not be best for us. And, by the way, when you get the flu, you're sick for a week. Yes, the vast majority of the time you'll be fine unless you're one of those high-risk groups. And although Relenza does work well, Tamiflu is already building up resistance.
I think it would be wise for to us prevent the illness if it's possible. And with regard to risk, there is no question, Campbell, it would be dishonest to say that we knew for sure the vaccine is going to be safe for everybody. You give a vaccine to a couple of hundred million people, there are going to be problems. And we won't even know if those problems are related to the vaccine. But to be fair to many Americans who are concerned, there's probably going to be some issues that will arise from the vaccine but we think they're going to be exceedingly rare. Even if they're as bad as they were in 1976 with the immunization given for the swine flu that resulted in Guillain- Barre, the incidence of getting that wasn't that much different from getting hit by lightning, the proverbial risk factor most of us --
BROWN: I know. But what you are telling a mother who is trying to decide myself, whether to get my kids vaccinated when the time comes. And I'm reading this. Fifty one percent of parents -- only 51 percent are absolutely certain.
I'll be honest, I'm in that 50 percent. But isn't absolutely certain. So how do you convince me, how do you convince the other parents out there that we need to do this.
OZ: Campbell, I'm going to get it.
OZ: ... if that helps at all. But I'll tell you, my wife is not getting immunize our kids. Because I've got four of them, and when I go home I'm not Dr. Oz, I'm Mr. Oz. And so, you are just like most Americans.
All I can say is that they're going to be two extremes of the population. Some folks who say, you know what? I'm going to do this. It's right for all of us. I'm going to make it happen. And some of us are going to say, no, I just don't like that. I don't like the idea of government being involved. I feel pressured. It's not that big of deal. It's all a hoax. It's hysteria, et cetera.
Most folks are in the middle and my hope from programs like this and others that you'll provide a rationale outlook and say, you know what? For most of us it's the right thing to do. But the most important groups, pregnant women, young children, they're absolutely the groups we fear immunizing the most. But they're the ones that have a much higher complication rate from the swine flu.
BROWN: It's true. To your point, I know we're out of time here, but pregnant women six times more likely to die from swine flu. The numbers are really frightening.
OZ: I don't want anybody who's pregnant or has young kids who watched this program and think, you know what? I should be on the fence. Those are the groups that I really want to make the message clear to. If we all of us in the health care field, you know, what the risks are, we're immunizing ourselves, at least has influenced you a little bit.
BROWN: All right. Good advice. Dr. Mehmet Oz, always good to talk to you. Really appreciate it you here.
Congratulations with the show. I know it's a huge hit. Very excited for you.
OZ: It's very gratifying. Thanks, Campbell.
BROWN: All right. Coming up next, tonight's "Guilty Pleasure," the video we just can't resist.
BROWN: Mike Galanos back now with tonight's "Guilty Pleasure," the video we just couldn't resist. Mike, what have you got?
GALANOS: Campbell, you know, I'm a little bit of a sports fan. We've got some high school football, Friday night under the lights in Oregon, Hillsboro High down one, playing the rivals from Glencoe (ph).
Listen to this announcer go nuts on the last play of the game. Check it out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: This is it from the Hillsboro 39 yard line. (INAUDIBLE) Shotgun. (INAUDIBLE) now to the right side of the formation. He will sprint down the field. Mince (ph) will roll right. Now has to unload. Deep down the field. It is caught.
It is in. He's in. He's in. It's a touchdown. It's a touchdown. They scored the field. Mince (ph) threw that ball from his 35 yard line all the way inside the --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GALANOS: The kid is unbelievable. He scored all the team's touchdowns. He had to make the catch, Campbell. He said they mobbed him in that end zone. He said he couldn't breathe for a minute or two. But he's 6'5". Big kid on his way to big time college football, taking pictures with him after the game.
Quite a scene. The game, pure high school football fun there for you to wrap up our "Guilty Pleasure," video we couldn't resist.
BROWN: Yes, he's good. He gets to excite that announcer. All right.
BROWN: Appreciate it, Mike. Thanks very much.
GALANOS: All right, Campbell.
BROWN: "LARRY KING LIVE" starting in just a few moments. Tonight, the very latest on that bizarre David Letterman blackmail scandal.
BROWN: Be sure and tune in tomorrow at 3:00 p.m. Eastern for a CNN special event, Christiane Amanpour's interview with Gates and Hillary Clinton.
"LARRY KING LIVE" right now.