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PARKER SPITZER

Revolution in the Arab World; How the White House Is Handling Egypt

Aired February 7, 2011 - 20:00   ET

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


KATHLEEN PARKER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. I'm Kathleen Parker.

ELIOT SPITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Eliot Spitzer.

Tonight the live picture from Tahrir Square shows that revolution has become a way of life, literally. Take a look at that picture. People still there at all hours of the day. It's 3:00 in the morning there, but the protesters still there saying they will stay until Hosni Mubarak leaves office.

Thousands of people living their lives in that square now, eating and sleeping, going about the rituals that are part of a life. Like marriage. For one young couple a life together begins. They choose to be married in front of what they call their new family, their fellow protesters, in Tahrir Square.

But for journalist, Ahmed Mohamed Mahmud, a life ends. He has died from wounds he suffered at the beginning of the protest. Mahmud was standing on his balcony on January 28th, photographing the fighting between protesters and security forces when he was shot by an unidentified sniper.

Today angry demonstrator staged a mock funeral for the fallen photographer.

PARKER: Meanwhile, the man many look to as a hero of the protest movement is free tonight. Just hours ago, Google executive Wael Ghonim was released after 10 days in government custody. He did an interview with an Egyptian reporter that we're hearing is the talk of Egypt tonight. Ghonim told the reporter he has mixed feelings about being called a hero.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WAEL GHONIM, GOOGLE EXECUTIVE (Through Translator): I'm not a hero. I slept for 12 days. The heroes were in the streets. The heroes are the ones that went to the demonstrations. The heroes are the ones that sacrificed their lives. The heroes are the ones that were beaten and the heroes are the ones that were arrested and exposed to dangers.

I wasn't a hero.

I want to say to every mother and every father that lost their child, I'm sorry, but this is not our fault. I swear to God this is not our fault. It's the fault of everyone who is holding on to power greedily. I would not let it go. I want to leave.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

PARKER: Some have suggested Ghonim might become the leader the protest movement has been looking for.

SPITZER: CNN senior international correspondent Ben Wedeman went looking for that leader today. He spent all day in the square digging into exactly what the protesters want from a leader and from the government.

Ben joins us now live from Cairo.

Ben, what's going on in the square, and do you think Ghonim could emerge as that hero that the protesters have desperately been looking for?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, what we have behind me just is a 24-hour operation. People are up the whole time. I can hear a loudspeaker. Somebody is addressing the crowd. The barricades are manned around the clock, out of the fear that some of these pro-government, quote-unquote, "supporters," might come to attack them.

And of course, yes, the whole question is, what's being discussed? There is a group of -- sort of self-appointed opposition leaders and other prominent Egyptians who are engaged in a dialogue with the government, but there is a huge gap between what is being discussed and what these people in the square behind me are demanding.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WEDEMAN (voice-over): It's unique in Arab history. The center of a capital city occupied by a movement bent on the fall of a decades-old regime. The sights and sounds distinctly revolutionary.

"We are a great and civilized people," goes the chant, "and we reject all criminals."

They want President Hosni Mubarak to step down now, but that's just the beginning.

MOHAMED SHAMA, TAHRIR PROTESTER: Where's Mubarak now? How old is Mubarak?

WEDEMAN (on camera): Eighty-two.

SHAMA: Eighty-two? He's a big man. He not do what he do. Just he is a name. We want the regime. The demand these people demand removal (ph) of the regime. Of the bad system.

WEDEMAN (voice-over): Actor Khalid Abdalla, who stared in "The Kite Runner," lists the demands. KHALID ABDALLA, PROTESTER/ACTIVIST: Tahrir Square wants Mubarak to go as soon as possible, but it also wants the dismantling of its regime. It wants the dismantling of the police state, it wants the dismantling of emergency law, it wants the dismantling -- it wants the dissolution of the parliament that was corruptly elected.

WEDEMAN: All this and more is being avidly discussed and debated here.

(On camera): There's a dramatic disconnect going on here. Here in the people's republic of Tahrir, democracy, in its purist form is the name of the game. But in the halls of power, opposition leaders and others self-appointed representatives of the Egyptian people are talking deals with the government.

(Voice-over): Sunday Vice President Omar Suleiman met with representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood and other opposition figures. Also present was multibillionaire businessman Naguib Sawiris. I asked him about the calls from Tahrir Square.

(On camera): The one single that one hears time and time again is Mubarak must go.

NAGUIB SAWIRIS, BUSINESSMAN: OK. We don't agree. I don't agree. Now what? These young people believe in democracy or not, OK? I don't agree. There is many things they don't -- maybe they don't calculate certain dangers, maybe a sophisticated businessmen like me have some worries. Maybe I have some information they don't have.

WEDEMAN (voice-over): His worry that the anti-Mubarak movement will be hijacked by the Muslim Brotherhood.

Disagreements could well play into the hands of the regime, warns analyst Issandr Amrani.

ISSANDR AMRANI, ANALYST: The danger I feel right now is that the position is -- which only a few days ago seems to unite is now being divided. The regime is trying its -- you know tried-and-true tactic of divide and conquer.

WEDEMAN: And it's up against the suddenly energized opposition long on idealism but perilously short on experience.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WEDEMAN: And Tuesday there is another massive gathering planned in this square. The people in the square trying to keep up the momentum that has shaken this regime.

SPITZER: You know, Ben, one of the fascinating things, it seems, to anybody who goes in to negotiate almost by the mere fact of negotiating with Suleiman begins to lose credibility with people in the street.

Is it possible that somebody like Ghonim who has been taken hostage by the government, that he could emerge as the leader that this movement has been looking for, somebody who has the credibility and apparently the technological skills to emerge as the voice of the street?

WEDEMAN: He's -- I watched his interview on Dream TV and it was highly emotional. People really were riveted by it. He didn't express any desire, however, to play a leadership role. In fact, you know, this interview I think may be a game changer in Egypt, because it was run on one of the most popular channels in Egypt.

Many Egyptians I know were in tears throughout the entire interview. People may be reenergized by all of this. He did something very interesting. He put paid to a lot of the propaganda that the officials channels, Egyptian television channels, are putting out, that the people involved in these protests are somehow not Egyptians, they're disloyal to the country, that they're paid by foreign forces, that they simply aren't real Egyptians.

What we saw and what many Egyptians saw vividly was that this young man, who's a Google executive, was sincere, and that he -- his arguments were very emotional, but very well made. I think this interview is going to have ripple effects that are going to change the situation here dramatically.

PARKER: Ben, how -- Kathleen Parker. How would you describe the demographics of the crowd at this point? In the early days it seemed to be a very diverse group. All ages, men and women. Is it still that or is it becoming more of a youth oriented movement? How would you describe it?

WEDEMAN: Well, what's interesting, I was in the square yesterday, or rather day before yesterday, and what you see is there's a continued real mix. And people are coming. What -- I saw -- I had met an Egyptian woman who had come with her daughter and her nephews.

People are coming with their families, Christians, Muslims. I mean you still see an incredible diversity among the crowd that certainly does reflect the diversity of Egyptian society. So you do see a certain larger number of what appeared to be members of the Muslim Brotherhood, but they still aren't the dominant force.

So that the predominant number is young people, fairly well educated, by and large, I would say sort of solidly middle class, so it's a fascinating group people who are down in that square.

PARKER: All right. Ben Wedeman, thank you so much. Once again, excellent reporting.

SPITZER: Our next guest says the protesters in the streets of Egypt and across the Middle East have revealed the great lie of the Arab dictators that there are only two choices in the Arab world -- dictatorship or Islamic fundamentalism. He says the crowds in the streets are demanding a third option, democracy.

Rashid Khalidi is professor of Modern Arab Studies at Columbia University, author of numerous books on the Middle East including "Sowing Crisis: American Dominance in the Cold War in the Middle East."

Professor, thank you for being here. Your insights are so fascinating. I want to ask you this question. Do you think that the public, the Egyptian citizens, actually believed that great lie, that their choice was either Mubarak and stability or Islamic fundamentalism?

RASHID KHALIDI, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: I think what the regime was trying to do is just scare the middle classes. I think people, ordinary people, knew that the Muslim Brotherhood wasn't as strong as they were making it out to be.

But people in the middle classes, these people in the upper classes were scared. What has happened in the last two weeks is that people have gone down to the streets and they've seen that the Muslim Brotherhood does not have that weight, that valance, that strength, but it was also intended for us, it was intended for foreign consumption, and they ate it up in Washington.

SPITZER: OK. There's just no question there were two completely different constituencies for that lie. One was the United States, and we'll get to that in a minute. We completely bought into it and hence our devotion for 30 years to Mubarak as our colleague in everything we sought to do and we ignored unfortunately everybody else.

But do you think that now somebody used the phrase the barrier of fear has been broken across the Middle East, starting in Tunisia and now in Egypt.

KHALIDI: It seems like it has. It seems also like the cloud of despair that held people back is also lifting and people realize that people power can actually change these frozen, immobile regimes.

SPITZER: Once that barrier is broken, once the middle class -- and again we're not literally there.

KHALIDI: Middle class, working class, students, women, I mean, it's multiple groups.

SPITZER: So everybody, it's inclusive, it is varied, it's not limited to an Islamic fundamentalist group. Once --

KHALIDI: Quite the contrary.

SPITZER: -- that mixture comes together this way, can you ever put that genie back in the bottle?

KHALIDI: I don't think you can. It may be in this country or that country, and perhaps in Egypt, perhaps in Yemen, perhaps elsewhere they'll be able to hold it back. But I think people have lost, as I say, that sense of hopelessness and despair and they realize that they can do it.

They've seen it work in Tunis, it seems to be working up to a point in Egypt, and I think they've realized in Jordan and in Yemen that the people actually have power, and that -- you know the desire for a better life and for democracy is something that they actually might be able to achieve.

SPITZER: OK. Now the impact of this great lie that was propagated was to permit essentially dictatorships to hold down and clamp down in society for 30 years. Why were dictators so successful at selling us this false notion of what the Arab public was all about?

KHALIDI: We wanted to believe it. It fit a narrative in this country. It made it seemed like weak regimes that we'd do what we wanted in places -- support us over Iraq, support us over Iran, support us vis-a-vis Israel. We're in fact the only alternative.

It justified staying away from Arab democracy which would have meant governments that might have given us a little more trouble the way a democratic Turkish government would say to us no, I won't allow let you to use my territory to invade Iraq, no, I won't go along with you exactly as you want in Iran. No, I have my independent policy on Israel.

Arab democracies are going to be more independent of Washington. And that's probably a good thing, because this repression has produced what we see in the streets. Instability and revolution.

SPITZER: For the sake of argument, let me push you a little. The United States did in fact get what it wanted for 30 years.

KHALIDI: It did.

SPITZER: It may have been at the ultimate price of this revolution where that takes us, but we did get a country that made peace with Israel, that generated domestically economic growth that helped build the middle class that is now leading this revolution.

So how do you respond to the critique that maybe 30 years ago that was a choice that was more real than it is today?

KHALIDI: Several things. The peace with Israel is hugely unpopular inside Egypt because it's seen as an unfair peace. It's not that people are against peace, they're against the terms that were imposed on Egypt.

The Egyptians can't send their army into the Sinai. Israel can send its army anywhere it wants in the (INAUDIBLE) or anywhere else. The Egyptian army's size is controlled by the treaty. Things like that that are seen as humiliating.

Moreover, what is the cost that we have paid? Look at the Pew polls. The United States has 80 percent negatives in Egypt. That's a result of 30 years of oppression that we've supported.

SPITZER: Let me come at it from another perspective. You have to acknowledge that the record of some of the other countries that pushed back against dictatorship such as Iran has not been very positive.

KHALIDI: That's true.

SPITZER: In other words, the image of an Iranian-style theocracy is not what many people want.

KHALIDI: That's true.

SPITZER: So there is some pretty solid evidence that the choices were not ever as pure as we're getting Jeffersonian democracy in Egypt --

KHALIDI: Let me just -- let me just put it this way. Iran is as much like Egypt as Mexico is like the United States. They're such different cases. I mean I think we have to realize Iran has a specific industry -- Shia religion, the role of the mullahs in Iran, going back to the 19th century. I mean there is so many different things between a Sunni country and a Shia country, between Iran, which is not an Arab country, and Egypt..

The second thing is part of that is an effect of the United States pushing on Iran back since 1953 when we overthrew a democratic regime there.

SPITZER: No question about it there are -- but the United States is not the first country to lack the subtlety of understandings and nuance to appreciate what was going on within Egypt or any of the Middle Eastern states.

KHALIDI: It's partly because neither our government nor -- with all due respect -- our media really listens to experts. There are experts in our government. There are experts in our universities. Thank god you guys are bringing people -- I'm not talking about myself.

SPITZER: Because we'll have you back on a regular basis.

KHALIDI: Day in, day out, on TV, I'm seeing voices and faces I have never seen, instead of the same people who comment on every single thing and know nothing about anything.

SPITZER: Well, look, Professor, if nothing else, we now know that those responders three weeks ago clearly did not understand what was going on.

KHALIDI: They certainly didn't.

SPITZER: Nor was the president getting terribly getting good advice. Let's switch gears.

KHALIDI: I'm afraid he may not be even now.

SPITZER: Well, that maybe we'll get to if we have time. Let's go to the street in Egypt. Who can emerge as a leader? I mean the problem with a leader -- the beautiful thing about a leader in this revolution is it's organic, it's real. The problem is who then negotiates for it to move the ball forward?

KHALIDI: You have a point there. And I saw Ben's piece, and he's right. It's not clear who's going to be the leader of this. But I can tell you a couple of things. There are unions and women's groups that have leaders. There are youth groups that have leaders.

The people who organized this are leaders. Six of them came out the other day. I saw them in a-- in a little piece on YouTube. So there are leaders there. The question is do we want multibillionaire businessmen like Sawiris to be the leaders? Do we want a general who's tortured and done thing that make him quite unpopular in Israel -- sorry, in Egypt -- as the leader? Or are we going to let this movement throw up its own leaders?

SPITZER: Hey, look, time winds down. Is there any merit to the position now being taken by former Ambassador Wisner, and even to a certain extent, by Hillary Clinton, secretary of state obviously, that we need this transition to be gradual and Mubarak's immediate departure would be a negative -- have a negative impact on the ability to get democracy?

KHALIDI: The important things are there are things that must be done. These emergency laws must be done away with. And the police must be brought under the control of a civil authority. There must be a dissolution of this corruptly elected parliament, whether he goes or doesn't is not as important as those kinds of things.

Things that have actually begun to happen in Tunisia, by the way.

SPITZER: Right.

KHALIDI: Anything that there has actually been the beginning of a change towards a democratic transition there.

SPITZER: And I think in fact that may be the point that Secretary of State Clinton is making, to invest everything in the emotional question of his departure is to miss the more fundamental changes that you just articulated.

KHALIDI: Some of those things he should do before he goes, actually.

SPITZER: OK. Her point as well. All right. Professor, thank so much for being with us. And you are right that we need to get the wiser experts, and you're on that list. We thank you so much for being here.

KHALIDI: Thank you.

SPITZER: All right. Up next, some of the Middle East protests have resulted in a most unexpected dividend -- cold, hard cash. We'll explain when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SPITZER: Samuel Johnson once said nothing focuses the mind like a hanging. He could have been talking about Egypt. What's happening to President Mubarak has definitely focused the minds of other Middle Eastern leaders.

According to Thomas Friedman in the Sunday "New York Times," and I quote, "Every government is now rushing to increase subsidies and boost wages, even without knowing how to pay for it."

As an example Friedman points to Kuwait. The Kuwaiti government has decided to give $3500 to everyone of its million citizens. In addition the emir in the parliament have ordered a free distribution of essential food items for the next 14 months.

And even in Iraq, they can hear footsteps. Maybe that's why Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki announced on Friday that he was cutting his annual salary in half. A day later he went even further, saying he would not seek reelection for a third term.

Same goes for the president of Yemen, Ali Abdullah Saleh. Last week he announced that he would step down in 2013. Of course, he made the same promise in 2005, but later changed his mind. That can happen when you've been in power for 32 years.

And in Egypt today, a case of too little too late. The new Cabinet announced a 15 percent pay raise to the country's six million public-sector workers.

The pattern is clear. Many leaders in the Middle East are desperately buying time, but the clock is ticking. And without real reforms, sooner or later time will run out.

PARKER: Tonight we'll show you someone rarely seen, Gamal Mubarak. The son of Hosni Mubarak is one of the key reasons for the Egyptian uprising. As hated and reviled as his father, it was assumed that Gamal would become Egypt's next president.

This past weekend, under intense demands from the protesters, Gamal was forced to resign his leadership post, which puts that widespread assumption to rest.

In 2009 Gamal Mubarak gave one of the few interviews he has ever done with a western journalist, to our own Fareed Zakaria. We want you to hear Gamal Mubarak on why bringing the Muslim Brother into the political system would be, in his words, dangerous.

The Islamist group was the target of crackdowns and random arrests by the Egyptian government and was banned from participating in elections until now. Like his father, Gamal Mubarak holds the Muslim Brotherhood up as a bogeyman. To preserve his family's power. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GAMAL MUBARAK, HOSNI MUBARAK'S SON: We'll have to ask also the question. What kind of future do you want for Egyptian and Egyptian politics? Do we want the future of consistent based on religious strife, religious parties? You know, and a deep division within society? Do we want a political future for Egypt based on sectarian strife?

I mean let's have a look around us within the region. I mean there are many cases and examples that have proven that going down that road is divisive and in fact is very dangerous. FAREED ZAKARIA, HOST, FAREED ZAKARIA GPS: There are a lot of people who say, look, if you allow the Muslim Brotherhood to run around, maybe they'll win some elections, they'll win local elections. But over time, people would -- they will be discredited because they won't be that good at governing, they will expose themselves.

Now they are this mystical force in Egypt that everybody wonders about because they are behind the --

MUBARAK: I don't think it's mystical. It's easy, you know, sitting from a distance here thinking about it theoretically, in a very benign fashion, you know. Why didn't we let those religious parties, you know, be accepted and eventually people understand, this is nice for, you know, political science and sort of idealistic talking about it, but when you're on the ground, dealing with a society -- and again I'm speaking of Egypt -- where religion is a very, very important part of our society, of our value system, you know, of our culture, and also of our legislation.

The last thing we want as we are trying to chart our course for the future is to have our society and our political system, you know, locked down into a struggle and sort of tension, and of sectarianism, of political activity based on religion.

As I said, within the NDP or within any of the other opposition forces, religion is an important tenet. It is, as I said, in the constitution and we respect this. It doesn't make me, as part of that party or any other political force, as part of any other party, having the right to speak in the name of Islam or in the name of religion.

Let's keep religion where it belongs. Obviously we sort of -- as I said, it is part of our value system, our legislation, but let's keep politics where politics should be.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

PARKER: It's fascinating to hear him speak after only hearing about him for so many days now.

With the revolution brewing in the street, the Egyptian government yesterday did something unprecedented. They brought in the Muslim Brotherhood to the negotiating table. Yesterday the group was among opposition leaders to meet with Vice President Omar Suleiman to chart out Egyptian -- Egypt's future.

SPITZER: Coming up, grading the president's response to the crisis in Egypt. Was the White House caught flat-footed by the protests? We'll ask James Carville coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: As events in Egypt dramatically change, so has the White House's response over the past two weeks. At first Secretary Clinton called the Egyptian government stable, then as tens of thousands defied the government's ban on protests, President Obama said Mubarak should act, and I quote, "To meet the aspirations of the Egyptian people."

Now with the Mubarak regime teetering the administration is calling for an orderly transition now. One official even said yesterday. So has all of this been well managed? How is President Obama handling this major foreign policy crisis?

Joining us now is CNN contributor James Carville.

James, thanks for joining us tonight.

JAMES CARVILLE, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Good to be here. But you know, I've been watching everything, you guys, Egypt, and everybody has done a great job. It was a fascinating story.

SPITZER: Yes, amazing as it evolves, but here's the question. Let's turn our attention now to the White House for a minute. Seems that every day there is a different sort of take on the situation from the White House, from this regime. A stable to transition and now to get rid of Mubarak quickly. What is going on inside the White House that they've needed to take so many positions over the course of these, you know, brief two weeks?

CARVILLE: Well, I think, you know, they keep trying to reassess the situation and reassess the situation, and, you know, respond as events happened. They problem, as so often the case, that as George -- President Bush would have said misunderestimated the ferocity of this thing when it started.

And you know they happened to catch up a little bit, but you know on the whole -- yes, I think they're trying to edge Mubarak out, at the same time not have the country fall into chaos which is, you know, a little bit of a balancing act there. They've got of be kind of careful in doing it.

PARKER: Robert Gibbs said today this thing changes hour to hour. So that's got to be a huge challenge to respond in appropriate ways, and of course everybody is watching to see how President Obama treats his ally. How do you think he's doing? And how do you think he's being perceived?

CARVILLE: You know he's doing as well as -- as well as he can under the circumstances. And I think he's not done anything rash. He's not done anything like really stupid. And as it became increasingly clear that Egypt wanted a change and Mubarak, you know, wasn't going to be able to hold on for very long, they sent Frank Wisner over there and they're trying to expedite his departure. But you know these things are -- this is a long way from over and there are a lot of different directions that this can go in and it's not settled that it's just going to all be, you know, a happy ending for everybody at all.

SPITZER: Look, I think you mentioned former Ambassador Wisner who went to deliver the harsh mechanic to President Mubarak that the White House really wanted Mubarak to be gone.

SPITZER: Then of course there's the tension between what can be said privately and what is said publicly and that's where the White House seems to be caught. That very delicate balancing act they had to distance themselves from Ambassador Wisner even over the weekend. Shouldn't they just sometimes say nothing? Isn't less better at times like this is it.

CARVILLE: Well, they should, but boy, would we be all over them, saying, you know, people have the right to know, and they're not telling us what's going on there. It's a bit, you know, damned if you do, damned if you don't kind of situation.

I just think they have done pretty well, given a change in circumstances. We could say intelligence should have been better. They should have been more on top of this, but man, that's true of every story that's come up here for the last ten years or so.

SPITZER: I think you have it absolutely exactly right. The White House is in an impossible situation, but to focus in and it's always easy to second-guess, but the intelligence clearly was not on the mark.

I mean, the vice president was supportive of Mubarak two weeks ago. The White House was saying he was stable. Clearly we did not understand the dynamic within that society. I'm sure the president is looking at the CIA and DOD guys every morning saying, you know what, you give me these information when are you going to get it right?

They haven't been right in Afghanistan. They haven't been right in Egypt. Isn't that a real crisis in terms of our capacity to make good decisions?

CARVILLE: Yes, and I remember when President Clinton was in there, it wasn't right about Pakistan having a firecracker. I mean, at some point, we pay on lot for this, and I think these people are conscientious, but the results don't seem to be all that great, at least the ones we know about.

Maybe they're getting things right that we don't know about. Look, second-guessing, if you don't want to be second-guessed, stay out of politics and sports.

PARKER: So one of the big developments is that the Muslim Brotherhood, which has been marginalized and technically illegal the last 50 or 60 years is now sitting at the table and has a voice and is negotiating what will evolve over these next few days and weeks. You know, when you were in the Clinton White House, were you aware of the Muslim Brotherhood? Is that something that came up?

CARVILLE: Yes, to be clear, I did not work in the White House, but I'm sure people are aware of that. I'm very excited, I got Lawrence Wright, who wrote the "Looming Tower," which is probably the book -- you actually should have him on, coming to my class at Tulane. He knows more about this than anybody else in the world.

Look, they're a substantial part of that country and there's no doubt that the government that's going to replace Mubarak is going to be more Islamic in nature. Mubarak was, you know, really against these people. You know, they have a significant following over there, from everything I read, not a majority following, not close to a majority.

But they're going to be part of the equation, and that's -- that's what happens when you have democracy. Everything gets a seat at the table. There's a communist party in Italy. It happens. It could be avoided.

SPITZER: The reality that we are beginning to come to grips with is democracy always give us the outcome we want. Look at Hamas winning elections in Gaza. It has created enormous problems, but it's democratic.

So we have to come to a grips, I think, as a nation, the choice we've been doing with, you either side with autocratic dictators, or you think you're going to have something easy and sort of religious fundamentalism is not always the choice.

You're going to have democracy that's not always going to be pretty, also. That may be where we're heading with a lot of these countries.

CARVILLE: I've worked in 23 different countries all around the world, and I'm all always stunned when people say democracy, let's have an election. You know, you have a House? A Senate? A parliament? Member districts? Will parties have slice? How do you allocate? Who can raise money how?

You just don't -- it's absurd to thinking let's have a democracy, throw a switch, wonderful. Sure, it can be done, it's going to be done, but it's going to take a little bit, and I think if the administration doesn't want the country -- obviously nobody wants the country to fall into chaos.

That's a possibility. This is a sticky wicket we've got going on right now, and they're going to have to adjust as they go along.

PARKER: OK, James Carville, thanks so much for being with us.

CARVILLE: Thank you very so much. Always a delight to do it.

PARKER: Coming up next, a media game changer with a $315 million price tag. We talk to Arianna Huffington about the AOL buyout of "Huffington Post" and what it really means, but first another live look at Tahrir Square at 3:35 in the morning.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SPITZER: A brand-new media universe, that's the claim of the "Huffington Post" this morning in a move that's been described in such varying terms as a bold bet, a win/win. AOL has agreed to buy the "Huffington Post" for $315 million.

PARKER: Arianna Huffington will be the president and editor-in- chief of the newly formed "Huffington Post" media group and will be in charge of all "Huffington Post" and AOL content and she joins us. Arianna, congratulations.

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON, FOUNDER AND EDITOR OF THE HUFFINGTON POST: Great to be here. It's a great day.

PARKER: We are all in awe of this deal that you have brokered. Congratulations.

HUFFINGTON: And a marginal date for a Greek immigrant girl.

PARKER: All right.

SPITZER: The American dream is still alive.

HUFFINGTON: The American dream is still alive.

SPITZER: Here's the question. For the past couple years, the question has been what is the value of content? The dispute is between the pipeline like the cable networks that actually carry the stuff or the content providers like you who generate the stuff.

AOL is making a huge bet a content that you're giving them, and you're giving them a product that clearly millions and millions have loved and been drawn to. The question mark is AOL did the same thing with this company, Time Warner, in a couple years back and what has been called the most disastrous merger in history. It didn't work out.

So why is this different? Your content is a bit different, but explain why this time it will work?

HUFFINGTON: I think the difference is here we have what has been called a merger of vision, the fact that he and I want to do the same thing. We want to do real journalism that puts flesh and blood on the data. We feel that journalism has become too much about numbers, polls data, and we've lost the story.

SPITZER: The sense of that AOL is that it didn't have a brand image. When I want to go to the "Huffington Post" a month from now, will I have to go to the AOL site first or straight to the "Huffington Post?"

HUFFINGTON: No, straight to the "Huffington Post."

SPITZER: So here's my question, how will it help brand AOL? If the people who love "Huffington Post" still go to Huff Po directly rather than through AOL, why will they make that connection between "Huffington Post" and AOL?

HUFFINGTON: Well, first of all our traffic is now combined. You know, Huff has 26 million. AOL has 110 million. That's really a pretty big platform. Now you should write for us. It's worst it. The more traffic we have the more we can monetize, the more advertising we can sell against it. Also, the AOL home page will have a lot of "Huffington Post" content.

SPITZER: So you're hoping people migrate over to the AOL home page --

HUFFINGTON: No, not at all. You know, the "Huffington Post" home page will remain. There will be two -- even now the "Huffington Post" has 26 sections, a lot of people go to the business section directly. The more we can succeed at making these all sections destination sites. The less people need to go to them through the homepage.

PARKER: The "Huffington Post" is known as a liberal web site and I think it has been spoken of as having been created as sort of an antidote or sort of the liberal version of the drudge report as a way of giving voice for people who have a different political view. How do you see it merging with AOL? To me it seems like yet another sign that journalism is no longer going to be occupied that neutralism, but it will have more of a political partisan bent. Do you see that happening?

HUFFINGTON: Not at all. Actually one of the most exciting things for me about this deal is what I have been repeating endlessly over the last two, three years, about the need for journalism to move beyond a left and right space.

I actually now have a bigger platform to get the message through because I think it's really debilitating in terms of our conversation. Look at your positions, look at the number of people who -- whether it's Pat Buchanan or Joe Scarborough, or -- and yet journalists keep referring to that position as left wing.

We know many card-carrying capitalists who sleep with copies of Ann Rand books under their pillows who think the way we bailed out Wall Street is not good capitalism. Are they left wing?

SPITZER: Let's ask about where the president is right now. He went to the Chamber of Commerce. He is my sense was he did bring much more than a fruit cake, a huge, huge sacks of money, did he do the right thing in his speech? Is he doing the right thing reaching to the Chamber of Commerce in particular?

HUFFINGTON: Well, unfortunately what's happened right now is that the president is in re-election mode so I feel that the decisions being made at the White House are really driven a lot by politics. Here's my concern. We saw the latest employment numbers. There was a statistical improvement. More and more people are leaving the labor market. That is a real emergency, and we don't have that sense of urgency about addressing that problem.

SPITZER: I don't even think it's even a statistical improvement because you haven't met job creation of 36,000.

HUFFINGTON: It ended up being 9 percent.

SPITZER: But 36,000 is the real measure.

HUFFINGTON: Exactly, but they --

PARKER: All right, and Huffington media czarina. Thank you for being with us.

HUFFINGTON: Thank you.

PARKER: When we come back, we'll go back to Cairo. It's the middle of the night there and just hours before another big protest.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PARKER: The revolution in Egypt is now in its third week, and CNN's senior international correspondent Ben Wedeman has been there from the very start. He joins us again from Cairo. Ben, what do you expect to see from the protesters tomorrow? Do you think the release of Wael Ghonim will change the tenure of those protests?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's not the release necessarily. It was the interview he did with Dream TV, a private Egyptian satellite channel that's very popular in this country. That really electrified people.

What I'm hearing is that many who had sort of stood on the sidelines or wavering have decided to go to Tahrir Square tomorrow to participate in what was planned as -- they're calling them marching, but they're not marching. Basically people are marching to the square and rally there.

But I think we can expect larger numbers, simply because this interview really kind of changed the landscape in putting pay to a lot of the - sort of the lies, the allegations, the smears that the official media has been putting out about the antigovernment movement.

SPITZER: You know, Ben, the government must think the same thing because what we're hearing is that the state TV is ratcheting up its attacks on the protesters and beginning to repeat the old line that they are foreign emissaries and trying to bring down the government. Is that what you're seeing and hearing on state TV?

WEDEMAN: Yes, I mean, this has been a disturbing development really since the beginning of these protests. The state-funded media, especially the television, is putting out allegations that his people in the Square are funded by the United States, by Hezbollah, by Hamas and Israel, a rather absurd combination of funders if you take that seriously.

They sort of call into doubt the motivations of the people in the Square. They put out one story who are down there are doing it in exchange for a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken and $100. This is a rumor that's gained a fair amount of currency among sort of ordinary Egyptians who aren't politically motivated, who sort of watch the state TV and scratch their heads about all of these uproar is about.

SPITZER: You know, the other thing that will happen because of this, the protesters when they see state TV carrying that message, they know of course that it's false. It makes them less willing, I would imagine, to enter negotiations with Suleiman and the existing government, because they're not going to trust them. If the government is trying to build some sort of confident, what they're doing on state TV is undercutting that very strategy.

WEDEMAN: Yes, many Egyptians have actually called state TV Goebbels TV, after the Nazis propaganda minister. The feeling is the government is playing it both ways. On the one hand they're willing to engage in dialogue with certain opposition leaders.

On the other, the state media churning out these absurd stories about Israeli training of the activists in the Square, and that sort of thing, but I have to tell you, the level of trust in the government among the people in Tahrir is just about zero.

People don't believe a word the government has to say. They have very little faith in the promises being made by Omar Suleiman and President Mubarak that there will be real reform. That's the real problem. There's such a gap of credibility between the two sides that it's different to imagine or perceived that there's going to be some sort of a commendation.

What may be worked out is these council of wise men who are dealing with the government, who have encouraged the people in the Square, but have a very different position may come to some sort of a commendation.

SPITZER: All right, thanks, Ben. Coming up, we go to Nic Robertson in Alexandria where a murder was captured on video, an unarmed man is shot by Egyptian police.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PARKER: Now the chilling inside story of the shooting of an unarmed demonstrator, an awful moment caught on tape by two young women. Nic Robertson reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's 2:28 in the afternoon, January 28th. This man is walking to his death. The video went viral, but we wanted to know more. Who was he is it and who recorded his last moments.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We were like, what the hell is he doing? He shouldn't be doing this. The situation doesn't look that good.

ROBERTSON: Speaking out for the first time, two young women who videoed the killing. They're afraid to be identified.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He did nothing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nothing. He was like -- I had nothing in my hands.

ROBERTSON (on camera): He had nothing in his hands.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was doing that in the video.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They had stones not like the other protesters.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is when they started shooting the tear gas.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): They showed me photographs they took from the same balcony.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can see an injured man. They were putting him on a lorrie or truck to go to the hospital.

ROBERTSON: In the hour before the man was shot, the streets around that building become a battleground, rock throwing protesters facing off with police.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: These are the police.

ROBERTSON (on camera): Here with riot shields.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think he's throwing the rocks.

ROBERTSON: In fact, the policeman is bending down to pick up a rock. That's a policeman with a teargas --

(voice-over): The situation deteriorates. Police arrive with rifles.

(on camera): No, that is a proper gun.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it is a proper gun.

ROBERTSON: Yes, a rifle. And he's pointing it at the protesters.

(voice-over): Not long after, the man begins his walk up the street.

(on camera): It appears on the videotape that he's standing on one corner and the gunman literally across the road. So they were, just, what, a few yards away from him?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not that far.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The man saw him first, but they didn't get through him. But the second one, I think he -- he zoomed, in his face, because he was standing like that.

ROBERTSON: So the man who shot him took very careful aim?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I'm sure.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): When we go to the same street corner today, it's still tense, so we use a tiny camera.

(on camera): This is where the man was standing when he was shot. The gunman was just across -- our hidden camera breaks up as I count the paces across the road. 7, 8, 9, 10, 11. About 12 paces away, about 12 yards away he had clear line of sight, an unobstructed view of his target just over there.

(voice-over): What the women's cell phone camera doesn't show so well is the crowd cheering him on.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The protesters got encouraged, because he was taunting right there, and they didn't do anything, the police, so they were about to go there, to him, and protest. That's why they shot him.

ROBERTSON: They tell me they hold President Mubarak and the police responsible. They want justice for the man whose name they still don't know.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PARKER: A powerful report from Nic Robertson in Alexandria. That's it for tonight. Good night from New York. "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT" starts right now.