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ABC Not-News: VA Governor Bob McDonnell Weighs In, As Does CNN’s John King

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Drudge exposes ABC Not-News as sitting on a story that could impact the South Carolina primary. The leak of the story of the interview of Marianne Gingrich without details may actually do more damage to Newt than the interview itself, but it is amazing that a network news operation is sitting on a big story three days before an election.

George W. Bush has to be wondering why ABC ran with the drunk driving story when it did (along with the other networks) in 2000.

It is astonishing that journalists sit on stories. Will anyone at ABC quit over the suppression of the news? All of the free-speech sites that are dark today…wonder if they will be denouncing ABC’s self-censorship tomorrow?UPDATE: Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell weighed in on the ABC Not News self-censorship on today’s program, as did CNN’s John King, who will be moderating tomorrow night’s debate on CNN. The transcripts of both interviews will be posted here later.

The King transcript:


HH: Joined now by CNN anchor, John King. John, it’s great to talk to you on a night when big media is big news. ABC News sitting on an interview of Newt Gingrich’s ex-wife. What do you make of the ethics of ABC suppressing the news?

JK: Hugh, I don’t know anything about it, so I don’t know what she said. I don’t know what they have. I don’t know the circumstances of the interview, so I’m going to probably disappoint you and be very careful in saying I can’t speak for ABC, and so we’ll have to, if they release it, we’ll see what it is. If they don’t, that’s a question for them, not for me.

HH: You haven’t read the Drudge Report yet on this thing?

JK: I’ve looked at some of the speculation about it. Yes, I have. But I’m not in the speculation business.

HH: Okay, second question. Why aren’t you out interviewing Marianne Gingrich? I would think everyone would be looking for Marianne Gingrich tonight.

JK: I’m in South Carolina. We’re talking to Republican voters here, and we’re getting ready for a debate with the five candidates for president tomorrow night.

HH: John, are you going to be asking some of the questions tomorrow night?

JK: I’ll be asking the majority of the questions tomorrow night. We’re going to take some questions from the audience. We’ve got members of the Southern Republican Leadership Conference, Hugh. We have the Tea Party Patriots here. They’ll get to ask some of the questions. We’ll also take some questions, of course, as we have in some of the prior debates, from folks who send them in via Twitter, Facebook, But I’m your traffic cop, if you will, Hugh.

HH: All right, three areas. Do you think you will bring up the President’s decision to kill 20,000 plus jobs on the XL pipeline?

JK: I know that jobs will be a major topic. I don’t want to help any of the candidates prepare at the last minute, but big jobs decisions are in the news, and the Keystone pipeline is one of them. It is a very possible topic of debate. How about that?

HH: How about Iran and their threats to the American military, and the threat to close the Straits of Hormuz? I’m trying to influence the influencers, John King, because this, I have been disappointed by…Wolf did a good job at the CNN debate in Constitution Hall. Some of the Fox debates have gotten to the foreign affairs stuff. But generally, these life and death war and peace issues have not gotten much time. Do you think they’ll get time tomorrow night?

JK: Well, they will get some time tomorrow night, and the one you just mentioned just happens to be, in my view, the two greatest long term national security challenges facing the next president, whether he be named Barack Obama, or whether he be one of these Republican candidates. I think if you look globally at the next generational challenge for the next 25 years or so, it’s the China challenge. The most immediate challenge the next president might face is right there in the Persian Gulf with Tehran as the center of attention. And there’s no doubt about it that that controversy at the moment, the saber rattling at the moment, the potential of a military conflict, a potential of a diplomatic standoff, the potential of $5 dollar a gallon or higher oil, it’s a big deal. These guys want to be commander-in-chief, absolutely it’s about to get attention.

HH: So John King, since you’re moderating tomorrow night, if a candidate tries to defer a tough question, like you did about the ABC News interview that hasn’t aired, will you let them off the hook? Or would you, if you were in my shoes, come back and say John, come on, everybody in D.C. knows about this story, what should ABC News do?

JK: I would say to the candidate that didn’t seem to be a very direct answer to me. If they say, if they can make a case to me that I find credible that I don’t have that material, that I don’t know what it is, and it’s not my decision whether or not to release it, I think that would be an acceptable answer.

HH: Are hypotheticals in order?

JK: (laughing) Are hypotheticals in order? You know, it’s a tough one, because when candidates often think hypotheticals, and you know this, because you talk to them on the program. Candidates often think hypotheticals are gotcha questions, or too far fetched. I would put it this way. I think some hypotheticals, unfortunately, aren’t as hypothetical as we once thought. You know, the last presidential cycle, a hypothetical question would be if Iran has a nuclear weapon that is so small it can attach to a small missile, and its missiles now have a longer range, and they could strike not only Israel but, and extend that range out, that used to be a hypothetical question. Is it today?

HH: It’s not, and I hope you ask that.

JK: And will it a year from now? So I think there are some hyptheticals that are fair game, as long as they’re based on reality, and based on what we know what we see just around the corner. A man on the Moon question? That’s…

HH: No, that’s crazy. But the report on Drudge is that the ABC News executives have said the Marianne Gingrich, it would be unethical to run it, it’s too close to the election. A) Is that a good standard if it’s true? And B) where was that standard when the Bush DUI story dropped in 2000?

JK: Without getting into specifics of what they may or may not have, I think that every news organization should have conversations about the timing of things, that that’s important. Your credibility is at stake, how did you get the information, is somebody pushing this information? Is any source giving you information or bringing you information at a certain time to influence an election? I think those are very vital conversations to have. And in the end, then, you make your decision. And the one thing you’re asking me about, and I applaud your persistence, and I completely understand it, I know nothing about it. And one of the things, I’ve been doing this for 26 years. And one of the things I taught myself is if I know nothing about it, then say nothing about it.

HH: 30 seconds, do you think you’ll know something about it my tomorrow night when you’re moderating the debate?

JK: (laughing) I can read the newspapers, and I watch the news. And I consume what’s online. And I think my experience helps me separate rumor from fact. And look, if there’s something out there, again, I’m setting aside the specifics of what you’re asking about, if there is some new piece of information that comes to light, that is relevant about the debate, in the hours before the debate, we will add it to our conversation about what should be in the debate.

HH: Wow. Okay, John King, thanks. Headline tough.

End of interview.

The McDonnell Transcript:

HH: Joined now by Virginia Governor, Bob McDonnell. Governor, it’s great to have you back on, especially on a big news day.

BM: Hey, Hugh, thank you for having me on tonight. I appreciate it.

HH: Well, I want to cover the Scott Walker campaign. I want to cover the XL pipeline. But I want to start with the news media. A big story on Drudge tonight, and I don’t know what it is, and you don’t know what it is, but the ABC News network is sitting on an interview of Marianne Gingrich. They’re not running it. They’re manipulating the news. What do you think about the news media not running stories, Governor?

BM: (laughing) Well, you know, I think unfortunately, the truth gets to be a casualty, sometimes, in the press. I think their people bring biases into the process, and I think what people want is just give us the facts and let us decide. So I’m not aware of that particular story, but I think the American people are generally smart enough and educated enough that you lay out the facts for them, and they can make intelligent decisions. [# More #]

HH: Well, ABC News is allegedly saying that hey, it will impact the election. But as I recall, they waged pretty much open warfare on your candidacy at the Washington Post. And ethics didn’t stop every news network in 2000 from running George Bush’s DUI from 20 years earlier. Is there a double standard here?

BM: (laughing) I think there is. Yeah, I got pretty well torched by some of the more liberal members of the media in and around Washington, D.C. during my race. And yeah, I think, Hugh, you know, you look at the general campaign donations of people in the media, or their general political preference, it’s overwhelmingly to the left. And I think people bring those biases into their reporting. It’s too bad, but certainly as a conservative Republican, it’s something I’ve been dealing with for 20 years, and others have, too.

HH: Governor, let’s draw back from the specifics of that story…your general opinion of how the 2012 race is unfolding. You haven’t endorsed. Will you endorse? And do you think it’s going to be over sooner rather than later?

BM: Well, let me go in reverse order. I think yes, it’ll be over sooner rather than later if Mitt Romney is able to win South Carolina. He’s got the only, it sounds like, the only real organization in place right now in Florida. And so if I think the polls are accurate in South Carolina, and he’s able to show that in a conservative Southern state he can win, especially if it’s a decent margin, I think this is heading towards a conclusion. In my own personal, view, if I want the best conservative candidate that can beat a Barack Obama, and that means somebody that can stick to their conservative guns, but appeal to independents, and that was my formula in winning a couple of years ago. I’ve also got a preference, I have to say, Hugh, for a governor. When I look at what’s wrong with this administration and the lack of leadership out of the White House, and look at the problems facing our country, we need somebody who knows how to balance the budget, create jobs, who’ll stop making excuses, who will take responsibility, and who will get our budget back on track. That’s what governors do, and so I’m being partial to somebody who’s been a current or former governor who can make these decisive judgments about how to save our country.

HH: Is that an endorsement of Mitt Romney?

BM: (laughing) Not yet. It’s simply a statement that we have a gross lack of leadership in Washington that’s taken the greatest country on the Earth towards a path of major debt, major deficits, no plan on jobs and energy. And I look at what Romney or Huntsman or Perry have done in their states that have brought them to the top of the list when it’s coming to job creation, I’m just saying governors know how to do those things. And so I’ve been partial to the skill set that governors have.

HH: All right let me ask you about another governor. Scott Walker was on this program for a full hour a week ago, and he’s led, and he’s getting attacked by the public employees unions. And I think you’ve started an organization to help him, haven’t you?

BM: Well, I’m the chairman of the Republican Governors Association. I asked Scott to serve on our executive committee a couple of months ago, because I think he is a first class leader. He’s got metal of steel. He’s standing up for what is right for his state, and that is how do we structurally balance the budget, and how do we make Wisconsin more competitive. In the process of doing that, he’s stood up for the free enterprise system, and made tough decisions. That hasn’t made everyone happy. But you know, when you’re leading, you have to do the right thing, and not always worried about who you please. So he’s going to have a recall. The Republican Governors Association will be 110% behind Scott. I communicated that to him yesterday. And he’s won some battles already with the legislative elections, with the judge elections. And I’m pretty confident the people of Wisconsin are going to keep him in office.

HH: The RGA site is Governor, less than a minute, the President killed 20,000 jobs today by vetoing the XL pipeline. Are you surprised? And should the Republicans in Congress led by in part, your friend, Eric Cantor, overturn that decision?

BM: I hope so. I mean, Hugh, this is another capitulation to the left, and another abysmal decision that sacrifices American jobs, sacrifices American energy security so he can appease his base, and appease the environmentalists, because he knows he’s got a very tough election. I mean, it’s no wonder we have had almost 30 months at 9% unemployment rate, and why this president has no plan for jobs other than stimulus and spending more money. It’s a terrible decision, and he’s done nothing but attack oil and coal and natural gas, and that’s why we’re in trouble.

HH: Governor Bob McDonnell, thanks. I hope to talk to you often in 2012.

End of interview.



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