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Interview with Adel Al-Jubeir, Mark Regev

Aired May 6, 2002 - 19:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: CROSSFIRE. on the left, James Carville and Paul Begala. On the right, Robert Novak and Tucker Carlson. Tonight, Saudi Arabia says it has a role to play in the hunt for terrorists and the search for peace in the Middle East. Many in the U.S. are asking just what that role is, and are the Saudis a friend or a foe?

Former Clinton adviser George Stephanopoulos could be the choice to take over the anchor chair at ABC's "This Week." Would a conservative Republican ever be given such a job?

Longhorn Lefty and the Prince of Darkness take on each other and the issues of the day ahead on CROSSFIRE. From the George Washington University, Paul Begala and Robert Novak.

ROBERT NOVAK, CO-HOST: Good evening and welcome to CROSSFIRE. We're coming to you live from the George Washington University in downtown Washington, D.C. Tonight, former Clinton operative George Stephanopoulos is on the very short list to become the solo anchor of the ABC Sunday news program "This Week."

Is that a politician finding decent work, or just another blatant example of liberal bias in the media? We'll debate the issue in the Crossfire, but first, Saudi Arabia, friend or foe of the United States?

After meeting today with secretary of state Colin Powell, the Saudi foreign minister said his government could not yet endorse the U.S. call for an international Mideast peace conference. He said it depends on what the meeting would include. Last month that was the blunt warning from the Saudi crown prince to President Bush; temper support for Israel or risk serious consequences. But Secretary Powell indicated today that Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah's plan is a good starting point for peace. So are the Saudis friends or foes? For the answer we'll bring our guests into the crossfire. Adel Al-Jubeir, foreign policy adviser to the Saudi crown prince.


PAUL BEGALA, CO-HOST: Thank you for coming in tonight.


BEGALA: The Israeli prime minister Mr. Sharon is here in Washington today. My president, George W. Bush, called him a man of peace. If the advance news stories are to be believed, he carries with him a peace plan that includes a separation zone. Is this something that the Saudis would support?

AL-JUBEIR: My foreign minister said that Sharon himself doesn't believe he's a man of peace. Sharon is not coming with a peace plan if the outline of what he has described is what in fact is the case. We know what the requirements of peace are, withdrawal from all the occupied territories, a Palestinian state in exchange for normal relations between Israel and the Arab world, an end to the conflict and settlement with everybody else so that we can go on with our lives.

Sharon has been trying ever since he came into office to sabotage the process, to spin it differently every week, and not to put anything serious on the table. And that's not the way to proceed.

BEGALA: So you seem to have already killed this thing in the cradle when certainly the Crown Prince Abdullah I sure partly on your advice offered a peace plan of his own, it seemed to me the Israelis saw that, while it's not what they're going to wind up supporting at the end, they said this was a helpful step, and a positive step.

It seems to me, that while Sharon is like General Patton, a man who is skilled in warfare, sometimes useful when you are in a war, it is the Israelis who have been more open to the Saudi peace proposal than you have seemed to be the Saudi seemed to the Saudis seem to be to the Israeli peace proposal. Why?

AL-JUBEIR: I wouldn't characterize it as open. I think the Saudi peace plan which was adopted by the Arab world, it is now an Arab peace plan, is in line with all the U.N. resolutions, it is in line with the vision of the president, it is in line with most if not all of the world a settlement should be.

The Israelis, we would have thought, would have jump at the opportunity to end the conflict with the Arab world and to live in peace with their neighbors. Prime Minister Sharon did not. Instead he waffled. I went to meet with the Saudis. You problem is not with us, it is with the Palestinians. I want to have a conference. Why? To talk about what? I have my own plan. I want to build walls. This is a time when we should be taking down walls, not building walls.

He wants to put the Palestinians in certain areas as if they're animals, that's not the way to proceed. He says he's fighting terrorism, well, terrorism stems from the occupation. What we need to hear from him is does he accept peace, will he take yes for an answer? Will he give up the territories?

If the answer is yes, then yes, one can have a conference and discuss these things.

NOVAK: Mr. Al-Jubeir, the big Israeli delegation that's here in Washington right now brought more than the peace plan with them, they brought a bunch of documents that they say they captured in the Palestinian territories during their military offensive. And the Israeli cabinet minister Dani Naveh was on CNN yesterday and let's listen to something he said that involves your country.



DANI NAVEH, ISRAELI CABINET MINISTER: Unfortunately with your permission, Wolf, we also have found and located documents that prove that there are a few of the Arab countries, like the Saudis, Syria, Iraq and other elements in the Arab world that also assisted the Palestinian Authority in moving ahead with this terror campaign.


NOVAK: He's claiming that these documents put you in the same category as Syria and Iraq who are not very friendly with the United States. No relations with Iraq of course. What's your response to that?

AL-JUBEIR: Absolute nonsense, totally baseless. We've heard these charges from the Israelis for the past ten years. We haven't seen any proof. They're not documented, they are unsubstantiated. If you took them to a court of law, the judge would throw it out.

What we have here is the example I mentioned earlier. We came to America with a peace plan, we came to America leaning forward, we came to America with a solution to the problem. Sharon comes to America looking for any possible opportunity to avoid having to step up to the plate and deal with the important issues, so he comes throwing charges that are baseless and ridiculous all over the place in order to avoid having to tackle the important issue.

The question that Sharon should be asked while he is here is, is he going to give up the territories? Is he going to end the occupation? Will he take yes for an answer when it comes to peace or not? That is what is important.

NOVAK: If I could just pursue what the Israeli charges are for just one moment. In the document that they have put out, page 72, it says the documents captured indicate direct and systemic Saudi financial support of the families of Palestinian terrorists, including the families of suicide terrorists who carried on lethal attacks inside Israel. Is that untrue?

AL-JUBEIR: Well, they say documents, we don't see the documents, we don't see the transfers. Saudi Arabia has provided hundreds of millions of dollars to the Palestinians over the past few years, and we're frankly very proud of it. The recent Israeli aggression against the Palestinians have caused over 1,600 people to die. The families that they left behind need support. We provide that support, and we're very proud of it.

BEGALA: Are you proud to support the Hamas which is a terrorist organization?

AL-JUBEIR: We don't provide direct support...

BEGALA: The king of Saudi Arabia does not provide money to Hamas? I want you on the record.

AL-JUBEIR: We provide support to Palestinians in need...

BEGALA: Hamas.

AL-JUBEIR: Our opposition with Hamas is very clear. We don't provide support to Hamas.

BEGALA: Hezbollah?

AL-JUBEIR: We don't provide support to Hezbollah.

BEGALA: The Israelis claim and much of the press claims that in fact, for example, a courier was stopped in Gaza carrying $10 million of Saudi cash to Hamas.

AL-JUBEIR: What does Saudi cash mean? The Israelis have been making a lot of charges. They haven't been backing them up. I can give you a list with 50 Israeli names on it that I can tell you, these people provide support to -- name your favorite group. Can you prove to me it's not the case?

BEGALA: You're certainly providing rhetorical support. Your kingdom's ambassador to Great Britain, which I as an American found very offensive, because it called out White House, a place where I used to work, a dark place, and a dirty place essentially, he said. He also praised a young woman who was a mass murderer, a suicide bomber. I'm curious if you can help me understand a country that punishes women for driving a car but then praises a woman for committing mass murder.

AL-JUBEIR: It's not a country. The ambassador is a well-known poet. He has been writing poetry for decades. When he writes poetry he does so in his personal capacity, not as a...

BEGALA: Has he been punished in any way?

AL-JUBEIR: We are more tolerant of our public officials than you are, but the views he expressed...

BEGALA: So now we have free speech in Saudi Arabia.

AL-JUBEIR: In this case I guess, yes.

BEGALA: In this case, I suppose, because he has attacked the United States of America and praised a suicide murderer.

AL-JUBEIR: We have had people in Saudi Arabia who have attacked the government, and there we have people who have attacked our religious scholars and they are still there. We have more leeway when it comes to the views of our government officials.

NOVAK: Mr. Adel Al-Jubeir, Senator Fred Thompson, Republican of Tennessee is considered a moderate voice, not an extremist. I'd like you to watch something he also said also on CNN yesterday.


Instead of going down to Texas and trying to lean on our president, who is doing the best that he can to be fair, he needs to be leaning on Arafat and the Palestinians to try to get them to at least tell us what they want as opposed to the terrorist bombing that they've been engaged in.


NOVAK: He's talking about the Saudis should be leaning on Arafat instead of the president. What do you think of that?

AL-JUBEIR: I think the important statement he said was for the Palestinians to tell us what they want. I have tremendous respect for Senator Thompson. I believe in this case he's misinformed. It's very clear what the Palestinians want. They signed on to the Arab peace initiative which was introduced by the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia.

Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, it's capital in east Jerusalem, a formal end to the conflict with Israel, peace between Israel and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) . Arafat signed onto it. The Palestinian...

NOVAK: You don't think there's any need to put any kind of pressure on Arafat at all?

AL-JUBEIR: We have taken the position that this peace process is so important that we must all work together to find resolution to it. We have taken the position and we weighed in very heavily with the president that unless America steps up to the plate and leads, it's very difficult to bring it to conclusion.

We have said to the United States that should you become engaged in this process, we will work very closely and very diligently with you to do everything we can do in order to move the process to its proper conclusion. That is what our position is.

BEGALA: Adel Al-Jubeir, thank you for coming. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) catch up, but we are out of time. Thank you very much for joining us here on CROSSFIRE.

Coming up next, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, is he a man of peace or a man of war? We'll put that question to an Israeli embassy spokesman. And our quote of the day. Here is your first hint, get your pencils out: He is one of the most powerful men in the United States government, but he sounds like he's ready to throw in the towel.

We'll be back in a minute.


BEGALA: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon arrived here in Washington today for talks with President Bush and other top administration officials. With many in the Arab world claiming the United States is too pro-Israel, the question is, is Mr. Sharon the key to resolving the crisis in the Middle East or an obstacle to peace? Let's discuss that now with our guest. Please welcome Israeli embassy spokesman Mark Regev.

NOVAK: Mr. Regev, in connection with the documents that your delegation brought to Washington, this is what the PLO legal adviser Michael Tarazi had to say, and let's listen him.


MICHAEL TARAZI, PLO LEGAL ADVISER: There's no link to terrorism. It's simply Yasser Arafat approving funds to go to members of his political party, and it could very well be sustenance payments because of the destroyed economy, or salary payments. We're not talking about large numbers here, $300, $600, something to that effect.


NOVAK: Are you going to put out the documents that actually prove these were payments to terrorists, suicide bombers? Because all the report says you are saying what is in the documents, but you don't put out the documents.

MARK REGEV, ISRAELI GOVERNMENT SPOKESMAN: On the contrary. Bob, we gave the files today to CNN. Huge big file of documents, the original Arabic together with English translation so people can check our translation.

NOVAK: So it is not just sustenance payments for...

REGEV: No, there is some very serious stuff there. We see Chairman Arafat in his own handwriting funding organizations that do suicide bombings, encouraging suicide bombing, giving payments to the families of suicide bombings, special payments. This is very damning material and I would suggest look at the material. It was given today to CNN.

BEGALA: Let me ask you to respond to what Mr. Al-Jubeir said, who was gracious enough to come on our program and give us a categorical statement, Mr. Regev, that said the Saudi Arabians do not give financial support to Hamas or Hezbollah, two notorious terrorist organizations.

REGEV: We also had a document today which was also given to CNN, which shows that to be not full truth. We have both Saudi documents and Palestinian documents. We have Chairman Arafat complaining to the Saudis, why are you funding the Hamas instead of funding me?

This is Arafat's own acknowledgement. These aren't Israeli documents. These are original.

BEGALA: Hamas, because it is a terrorist group that is not affiliated directly under Arafat and that is why he was expressing this in these documents, you think?

REGEV: Correct, and I think there is a problem here with the Saudi position, because the Saudis say they want peace and we hope they want peace. But if they are funding a group like Hamas, Hamas, I saw the Hamas spokespeople on the night of the Passover massacre where the whole civilized world just looked and said, who can do this? Who can kill 25 people at a Passover Satyr and say I take credit and I am proud of this?

Most of these people were older people, they were brutally massacred. And the Hamas takes credit and they say we are proud of it. This is a group of murderers.

NOVAK: You were, Mr. Al-Juber said he thought you should have jumped at the chance at the Saudi peace plan, which is now the Arab peace plan to go back to the old borders. You have rejected the plan out of hand, haven't you?

REGEV: No, we think there's a good principle here. When an important Arab country like Saudi Arabia talks about peace and normalization we take it seriously.

NOVAK: But you don't accept it.

REGEV: We want to discuss it with them, it's not an ultimatum, I hope it is not an ultimatum.

NOVAK: No. It's not an ultimatum, but can you go ever go back to the old borders?

REGEV: Two four Two says land for peace. We accept that. But what happens...

NOVAK: I take that as a no, sir.

REGEV: No, no, I answer the question. Land for peace means we give up land and we get peace. Live with the Arabs in peace and harmony not in war. We gave up more than 40 percent of the West Bank to the Arabs, to the Palestinians, we were negotiating under Clinton proposals to give them more than 90 percent, and what happened to that land, Bob? You have bases of terror, you have Hamas, and Hezbollah Islamic Jihad -- wondering why should we give up more land...

NOVAK: Isn't that a turn down of the Saudi plan? It sounds like it to me.

REGEV: If we have, we can move forward in the process if we are convinced that land given over won't be given to terrorists.

BEGALA: When -- the Saudi spokesman who preceded you in that chair seemed categorically dismissive of the Sharon plan before it had even been laid on the table, based he said, in fairness to him, on the press reports that I have seen, and you have seen and we've all seen. Why do you suppose the Saudis seem to be so closed-minded to an Israeli proposal when I think the Israelis have been quite open at least to the offering of the Saudi peace plan?

REGEV: I would hope Saudi Arabia will come up and to the plate and play a positive role, and they can do it through their own steps inside their country, by cutting off funding to terrorist groups. They can do it by playing a positive role in the Arab league.

BEGALA: Are you satisfied that President Bush has pushed them hard enough to do that?

REGEV: I know that President Bush has been the first president of the United States who has come out publicly and said the Arab world has also got a role to play. The Saudis, the Egyptians, they have to their bid for peace. It is not enough, they point their finger at Israel and the United States and say, you have to do more. President Bush says the Arab world has to do more.

NOVAK: Yesterday Secretary of State Colin Powell came out really strongly for a Palestinian state once again. Is the state of Israel ready to accept a sovereign legitimate Palestinian state, a state as much a country as Israel is?

REGEV: I can say Prime Minister Sharon has said we accept the Palestinian state in the framework of peace. We are willing to accept that at the state next to Israel, not instead of Israel. And can I say, Bob, and I think this is true, had you had a more responsible Palestinian leadership, had you had a more moderate and realistic Palestinian leadership you could have had a Palestinian state already today.

NOVAK: Thank you very much for being with us. We appreciated it. Coming up on CROSSFIRE, will we have this man to kick around anymore? Convicted Congressman James Traficant has decided whether he'll seek reelection. We'll tell you all about it in the CROSSFIRE news alert. And our quote of the day, here's another hint: He had one of the toughest job interviews in history, he got the job, but now does he want to keep it? Who is he? Find out when CROSSFIRE returns.


BEGALA: Now it's time for a look at the unusual and interesting stories you might not find anywhere but in our CROSSFIRE news alert. Just when you thought it was safe to go to Ohio, flamboyant Ohio Congressman and convicted Felon James Traficant filed petitions today to run for Congress.

This despite being found guilty of ten counts of bribery and fraud. Possible slogans include: "Put The Con Back In Congress," "Vote Traficant, He is a Man of Convictions," and "Vote Traficant for Pretty Good government." The combative nine-term Congressman and CROSSFIRE favorite will run as an independent. Rumor has it that if running for Congress doesn't succeed, he could always run for the president of the Hair Club For Men.

NOVAK: Rudy Giuliani has been out as mayor of New York City since the first of year, but New York's finest, the police force are still protecting him and his girlfriend and his estranged wife and his two teenage children and his mother. Cost to the city, according to the Associated Press, nearly $1 million. The former mayor's police detail is actually larger than the force protecting the current mayor Michael Bloomberg, but Mayor Bloomberg is a billionaire and he has his own private security guards. BEGALA: Prince Philip of Great Britain, the husband of Queen Elizabeth II was visiting Exetor Cathedral recently when he saw a blind woman with her guide dog waiting for the royal visitors. Ever the royal with the common touch, the prince approached the blind woman and said this: "Do you know they have eating dogs for the anorexic now?" thereby simultaneously insulting both the visually impaired and people with eating disorders.

Prince Philip has a penchant for putting his foot in his mouth. In Australia he asked and aborigines if they still threw spares at each other. When a man described to the prince's visit to New Guinea, his highness replied, "You managed not to get eaten, then." And in China he pronounced Beijing, and I quote, "a ghastly place," and warned British students studying there, "if you stay here much longer you'll all be slitty eyed."

In addition to his duties as a British Royal, Prince Philip has signed a new contract for a new talk show on the Fox network tentatively titled, "The Philip Factor."

Just kidding, O'Reilley. I love you. You are great.

NOVAK: Nearly 40 years ago, the University of California at Berkeley was the center of goofy but intense political agitation. The intensity is long gone, but the goofiness remains. With the forthcoming read aloud "Beowolf" marathon. "Beowolf" is the first known major poem in the European vernacular language, old English. And that language bares no resemblance at all to the English that Paul and I speak here. At the "Beowolf" marathon people read at the top of their voices in a language none of them understand. What's happening? I suspect heavy drinking is involved. And that makes more sense than leftist agitation.

BEGALA: Actually, you know, Carville sounds a lot like old English if you listen very carefully to James. He'll be on tomorrow night. Time now for the CROSSFIRE Quote Of The Day. It comes from the Honorable Clarence Thomas, the U.S. Supreme Court justice who is seen but rarely heard. So, like Garbo, when he speaks we listen. The controversial justice recently spoke out about his job and it's our "Quote Of The Day.

Quote, "I really don't want to be a judge, I don't like it. It's contrary to my personality. I don't want to be judged, I don't like judging other people." Clarence, you can always go back to being an unnamed faceless federal bureaucrat who sexually harasses Anita Hill.

NOVAK: Of course that was a lie by Anita Hill and he was telling the truth, but we don't want to -- what you don't understand, he doesn't like pushing people around and ruling them, but you're stuck with him for many, many decades. He'll probably outlive you, Begala, and I thank God every night that we have Clarence Thomas and Anthony Scalia on the Supreme Court.

BEGALA: I hope he lives forever, but if he hates his job so much, quit.

NOVAK: He'd still be there.

BEGALA: Coming up next on CROSSFIRE, is drinking tea good for your heart? We'll have the results of a new study in the CNN News Alert.

And plus, my pal George Stephanopoulos. Is he a Democratic partisan, or a bona fide journalist? We will bounce that around with some guests. Back in a minute.


BEGALA: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. We are coming to you live from the George Washington University in downtown Washington, D.C. Conservative critics who relish bashing the media as being controlled by liberals are on the attack again. Their target, ABC News man George Stephanopoulos. George and I worked in the Clinton campaign of 1992. He went on to serve as a top White House aide to President Clinton in his first term.

Now George is on the verge of being named solo anchor of the ABC news program "This Week". Conservatives are already whining that the media bosses would never do that with a Republican. But is that true? Let's put our guests in the CROSSFIRE and hear from them. Please welcome Brent Bozell, the president of the Media Research Center, and former Clinton White House press secretary Dee Dee Myers.

NOVAK: Dee Myers, there's a little myth being spread in Washington that George Stephanopoulos went through a magical transformation at ABC. He's now a straight, down the middle news man. And I want to read you some of the things that George Stephanopoulos said not working for Bill Clinton, but working for ABC. On April 6, 1997, talking about the Chemical Test Ban Treaty. It's on the screen. "If we don't ratify it after all of these years of negotiation, what is that going to say to the world, that Jesse Helms runs America?"

And then on December 21, 1997, talking about the Republicans, "The Republican Party will lose their advantage on taxes because they will over-push the flat tax issue and reinforce that they're for the wealthy."

And then on May 24, 1998, this about the Republican Party trying to destroy what little is left of the labor movement in America right now and advance their agenda." Does that sound like an objective reporter?

DEE DEE MYERS, FMR. CLINTON SPOKESWOMAN: That -- actually it does sound pretty objective, pretty straight on point to me. But no, actually Bob, in that incarnation, as you well know, George's job at ABC was not a straight reporter in that setting. It was as an analyst. He was on the left, if you will, and your friend and all of ours...

NOVAK: Bill Kristol.

MYERS: Bill Kristol was on the right.

NOVAK: Whom they fired.

MYERS: That was his job. He's also, over the course of the last five years, as you well know, spent a lot of time out interviewing people, working hard to develop his credentials as a journalist. And he's done a fine job. I think his work as a journalist should speak for itself. In the role of an analyst, he's an analyst. In the role of a journalist, he's a journalist.

NOVAK: Dee Dee, I knew you were going to say that. You were going to say that. That was yesterday, and now is now. Let me read you some of the things he has said this year. "Contrary to what Vice President Cheney said, the long-term decline in the surplus, over 40 percent of that is from the tax cut." That's a straight Democratic line.

MYERS: It's a fact.

NOVAK: And I'll bet that over time, you're going to see more and more Democrats come into the Kennedy position. The Kennedy position is to roll back the tax cut.

MYERS: That is a straight analysis, Bob.

NOVAK: Wait a minute. Let me finish this. I'll be -- and then you can comment. On January 27 of this year, "my guess is" -- this is about the so-called secret contacts with Enron -- "my guess is that what they're trying to keep secret because there was Enron was entangled in this administration." And then on April 28, you know, that's not long ago, he is already -- he is just about to become an objective anchor man.

BEGALA: Do you need me on this show?

NOVAK: He said, "It may have brought deficits back." This is the Republican tax cuts. Tax revenues are down. And now, we see there's probably a deficit of this year of $100 billion. That sounds to me like the Democratic National Committee.

BEGALA: You don't need me.

MYERS: If your point is that George worked as a Democratic operative, and represented the Democratic point of view as an analyst, what's the argument?

NOVAK: He's a reporter now.

MYERS: In that position, he was an analyst. He's obviously making points that are actually straight news reporting points. The larger point is can't somebody go from partisan politics to objective reporting? I think the answer is yes. And you need to look no further than your friend and mine and everyone at this table, Tim Russert, who worked, had a background in partisan politics, and now works as one of the most respected, toughest questioners objective, day in day out, trusted by both sides. OK, what's the difference?

BEGALA: Let me give you an opportunity to show that you're not one of these whiny, wimpy conservatives, that you're a tough guy who can take it conservative. I'll give you a different example from Sunday morning, and that's my friend, Tony Snow. Tony Snow went not five years after Bush was president. He was an aide to President Bush the first. He didn't wait five years the way Stephanopoulos is. As soon as he got out of the White House, pretty much, he went to Fox News and was given the job of hosting Fox News Sunday, Fox's Sunday show, which competes with the show that George appears on.

He came straight out of the White House. And by the way, enwrapped himself in the middle of that vast right wing conspiracy. He was the guy who introduced Linda Tripp to Lucy Anne Goldberg. And you know what? When I worked for President Clinton, I went on Tony's show. And he treated me well, and I thought he was fair.

BRENT BOZELL, PRESIDENT, MEDIA RESEARCH CENTER: See, that's the difference. That's the difference, Paul, because you won't have any liberal coming on on CROSSFIRE with those kind of quotes...

BEGALA: Tony Snow said worse than that.

MYERS: Much worse.

BOZELL: No, no.

BEGALA: Are you kidding me?

BOZELL: No, you name me a liberal who's gone on his show and has complained about the way he was treated.

BEGALA: Name me a conservative who's gone on, or anybody's gone on George's show.

BOZELL: There have been plenty.

NOVAK: Let him answer your question.

BOZELL: The problem with George Stephanopoulos is that he's got a world view that is to the left. I t is your world view, it is your world view. He sees that.

BEGALA: Tony Snow doesn't?

MYERS: You don't?

BOZELL: Tony Snow...

BEGALA: Tony Snow served President Bush aide. Now he hosts a Sunday public affairs show. Same deal.

BOZELL: Let me point this out. George Stephanopoulos, during the campaign in the year 2000, labeled the two Democrats running, Bill Bradley and Al Gore as "basically centrists." To George Stephanopoulos, they are centrists. You know what he labeled George Bush? A kamikaze conservative. And he called him far right. Now only a far left person can say George Bush as been far right. Or you. right. MYERS: Or somebody in the middle of a heated campaign. Come on, Brent.

NOVAK: Let me say one thing.

BOZELL: But that's not a of journalist.

MYERS: You just made my point.

BEGALA: Brit Hume on Fox showed an image of Hillary Clinton being slapped and laughed about it. Tony Snow is an ardent conservative.

NOVAK: I know Tim Russert. Tim Russert is a friend of mine. And George Stephanopoulos is no Tim Russert. I guarantee you. But let me also...

MYERS: But you know what?

NOVAK: ...let me ask you this question.


NOVAK: Tony Snow, Paul doesn't know this, but everybody else in Washington knows it, Tony Snow is a professional journalist. He worked for "The Detroit News." He worked for "The Washington Times." He went to work for George Bush senior as a speech writer very briefly. And he went back through. George Stephanopoulos has never been a journalist.

MYERS: No, wait, wait. So he doesn't have a world view.

BOZELL: George Stephanopolous was a spinmeister and he hasn't stopped spinning.

MYERS: He doesn't have...

BEGALA: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) right wing conspiracy.

MYERS: Tony doesn't have a world view? He wasn't hired by the Bush White House because he has a world view consistent with President Bush? Come on. Of course he has a world view. And you know what else? This...

NOVAK: That's the only example, isn't it? You can find of a conservative going into the media?

MYERS: Well, there are only four talk shows on Sunday morning right now.


MYERS: Yes, good point.

BEGALA: She's a newswoman at ABC. Now she went from the Nixon administration to ABC. Hey let me tell you. As a liberal, I worked for President Clinton in the impeachment crisis. And I called George frequently to complain about his anti-Clinton bias, because I think he was trying so hard to be fair, that he was unfair to President Clinton..

BOZELLA: I'm hearing violins. You complained to Stephanopolous.

BEGALA: He went over backwards to attack Clinton and I thought unfairly at the time.


[ringing bell]

BEGALA: No, one conservative (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

NOVAK: All right, all right, calm down.

BEGALA: President George Bush.

NOVAK: All right. When we return, we keep our guests in the crossfire, try to control Begala to ponder whether George Stephanopoulos is a network anchor. Can you believe that, proves that the liberals control the media. Also, another crazy idea from the Democrats, a bid to kill offshore tax havens. Mr. Begala and I go one on one on that subject in round six. And we'll be right back.


NOVAK: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. Does George Stephanopoulos becoming a network anchor show the media tilting more and more to the left? We'll ask our guests, former press secretary for President Clinton, Dee Dee Myers, and the president of the Media Research Center, Brent Bozell.

BEGALA: Mr. Bozell, before we went out, when I was haranguing you, you suggested that perhaps President Bush, current President Bush has been treated unfairly by Mr. Stephanopoulos. And while I'm a critic of his, I can tell you, W does not stand for whiny, because he's got a lot more guts than most of these conservatives. Here's what his White House said about the prospect of George taking over the ABC show.

Let me put it on the screen for you. "For George to be taken seriously as a journalist, he has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he's unbiased. George is a very smart guy and there's very believable he will do that."

NOVAK:: who said that, Paul?

BEGALA: So sayeth Bush White House.

NOVAK: Who said that? What person said that?

BEGALA: Well, the Bush White House official.

NOVAK: Had to protect his name so the vast right wing conspiracy wouldn't attack him.

MYERS: Run him out at the White House.

BEGALA: Yes, and you'd run him or her out.

BOZELL: On the victor, a ringing endorsement, an anonymous quote. Try another one.

BEGALA: There it is -- he has -- they couldn't cite any examples.

BOZELL: You can't cite a name.

BEGALA: So that's your answer?

BOZELL: Well, I'm saying, who is this person?

BEGALA: The Bush White House says...

BOZELL: No, no, no.

BEGALA: ...that he's going to be fair.

BOZELL: It's some unnamed secretary you found. Who is this person?

BEGALA: I didn't find him. "The Washington Post" found him.

MYERS: They're scared to death. No one in the Bush White House will talk on the record, because they're afraid of being fired.

BOZELL: No, nobody will talk on the record because maybe they're not wrapping themselves around this guy.

BEGALA: SO why would they do it? No, I'm curious, what's the conspiracy?

NOVAK: Can I lower the decibel level here?

MYERS: You can try, Bob.

NOVAK: I gave you all those quotes. I could give a whole bunch more. But the interesting thing is that you and the executives at ABC, and almost everybody in the media who vote Democratic in every election, who have never -- who don't consider themselves conservative, they consider that the conventional wisdom. All this left wing propaganda. Can't you understand that?

MYERS: No, what I understand about institutions like ABC is ABC's owned a giant company, Disney. And they have one interest, and that is in a successful show. If the numbers don't make it, George Stephanopolous is going to lose his job. He's either going to cut it, and the ratings are going to go up on the show, or he's not going to cut it.

NOVAK: That isn't the point, Dee Dee. MYERS: It's absolutely the point. It's not a liberal, conservative bias among news executives, which I would disagree with your premise to begin with. It's all about the people making decisions are interested in one thing.

NOVAK: This is my...

MYERS: Will the show succeed in Washington? And that is the standard by which George should be judge. Week by week, he's not going to get guests if he's not objectives. This is a problem that will take care of itself.

NOVAK: Dee Dee, this is my 45th year in Washington as a correspondent. And I can tell you that there are so few people who vote Republican...

MYERS: I don't how they vote.

NOVAK: ...just immediately. I know how they vote, because I told him. They tell me who they vote for. And they're all tilting to the left. Why can't you be honest and just say that?

MYERS: I do think there are a lot of journalists who happen to be Democratic. And the reason is, is that I think a lot of Democrats are, a lot of journalists are by nature outside the institutions, throwing rocks, asking tough questions. They're not conservative...

NOVAK: They're liberals.

MYERS: instinct, they're not conservative. They're not necessarily liberal, but they're not conservative.

BEGALA: This question though. A moment ago, you were very upset because George...

BOZELL: I'm never upset.

BEGALA: ...called -- you were rather loud, because George called Governor Bush, then a candidate, "a kamikaze conservative." That means he's unqualified.

BOZELL: Called him far right.

BEGALA: By reason of bias.

BOZELL: Called him far right.

MYERS: That's a compliment, where you guys come from.

BEGALA: Brit Hume is an anchor at Fox News. He called President Clinton "the scum bag kid." Does that mean he shouldn't be hosting it?


BEGALA: Brit Hume. He's an anchor at Fox News. BOZELL: I agree with that. But you know what?

BEGALA: No, is he -- does that mean he's unfit to host as an anchor?

BOZELL: Here's the difference. Here's the difference. No. Here's the difference.

BEGALA: He had to be an right anchor.

BOZELL: All you people point to a Brit Hume or a Tony Snow or Fox and say those conservatives. And you know what...


BOZELL: ...Tony Snow doesn't back away from his conservatism. But why is that when the liberals on television, I'm a centrist, I'm not a liberal, with every single one. Look, and if it's numbers, if numbers count, who was the number one draw on this network for years and years and years? Patrick J. Buchanan. Let's make him -- why don't you make him the news anchor for CNN?


BEGALA: We finally had a moment of candor and clarity.

BOZELL: Because he's opinionated.

BEGALA: We finally have a conservative media analyst admit that Fox News is biased and is conservative.

MYERS: Right.

BEGALA: And I want to thank you for your honesty on that, because they are. It's like saying Rush Limbaugh's not biased.

BOZELL: Anything,.


BOZELL: To you it's conservative bias.

BEGALA: You're the one who said that.

NOVAK: Since he has made a concession to you, can you make a concession that ABC, NBC and CBS are all biased to the left and for the Democratic party?

MYERS: I don't think that that's true. Even if -- I don't know how people vote, but I definitely do not think that's true. Let's take Tim Russert as an example again. When people go on that show...

NOVAK: That's the exception.

MYERS: When people go on that show.

NOVAK: You keep going to the exception.

MYERS: I do, because he's someone with a "partisan background," who's worked had to be objective. He has the highest rated show on Sunday morning, bar none. Why? Because he runs the best show.

NOVAK: And do you think ABC "This Week" since David Brinkley left, has been centrist and objective in its question?

MYERS: You know what I think? That the ratings have gone down, which is why they're making a change.

BEGALA: We're going to have to leave it at that. Dee Dee Myers, former Clinton White House, Brent Bozell, Media Research Center, thank you both for joining us. It was a lot of fun.

And coming up later, your one and only chance to fire back at us. Also round six, we're going to pound some head -- some sense into Novak's head on the issue of these offshore tax havens. Metaphorically speaking. I'm not actually going to...


BEGALA: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. Time now for round six. Just Mr. Novak and me here on the set, going head to head on the issue of offshore tax havens. Congressional Democrats are taking steps to prevent American companies from avoiding taxes by reincorporating in places like Bermuda and the Cayman Islands. Just one prime minister example, Enron, the giant oil trader, escaped millions of dollars in taxes by creating subsidiaries in tax haven companies.

Bob, let me show you a few more of these corporate Benedict Arnolds.. They include soon the Stanley Works to leave Connecticut and go to the Bahamas, Ingersoll-Rand, Global Crossings, Tyco, Nabors, Cooper Industries, Foster Wheeler Ltd. and Accenture. These are corporations that make billions of dollars off of the American enterprise system, our educational system, our economic system. And then they walk away from their duty.

NOVAK: First place, not one, they don't evade one dime of money earned in this country. This is only money that is earned overseas. And the reason they have to go overseas, they're breaking no laws. I resent you calling them Benedict Arnolds. They are not traders. They are breaking no laws. And the only reason they have to do that is we have a terrible tax system.

Secretary of Treasury Paul O'Neill says that we should repeal the corporate income tax. He's half right. We should repeal the individual income tax as well. And then, we would have a tremendous economic recovery, relying on a sales tax. And we would have no problem with anybody going overseas. They could stay in this country.

BEGALA: These Benedict Arnolds, and that's what they are. They're not breaking the law, because we haven't passed a law yet. Congress is going to introduce a bill. Democrats in Congress. They're going to see if the Republicans believe in their country first, or their corporate donors. Because look at this, Accenture Corporation, for example, gets a billion dollars in federal contracts from you and me. Tyco gets another billion. Foster Wheeler gets $500 million.

NOVAK: Can I break in here?

BEGALA: They take government money, but they won't pay taxes.

NOVAK: Can I break into your tirade...

[ringing bell]

...for just a minute?

BEGALA: My facts.

NOVAK: Do you understand that any money that is earned in this country, they pay taxes on, no matter where they're incorporated? We are one of the few countries in the world that says if you earn money overseas, we have to tax you. That shouldn't be taxed.

BEGALA: Do you think they should get billions of dollars in taxpayer contracts, when they don't pay taxes?

NOVAK: Well, you're not listening to me as usual.

BEGALA: They're tax dodgers. They're Benedict Arnold.

NOVAK: When CROSSFIRE returns, your chance to fire back at us, and a great chance, we'll fire back at you and you deserve it. We'll be right back.


NOVAK: Welcome back. It's time for fire back, when the viewers fire back at us. Let's start with some e-mails.

Here's one. To me, it says, "You seem to be the only person on this show that can give thoughtful and truthful rebuttals to Carville and Begala when they go on their frequent screaming rampages against anything conservative. Continue the good works and give it back to these two hysterical left wingers and keep them under control." This is from David Beeson of Dallas, Texas.

David, you are extremely perceptive.

BEGALA: Whoa, David, good for you. Here's our next one from Mike Garcia in Fullerton, California. He says, "Bob, unemployment at 6 percent, corporate earnings down, Social Security trashed? Sounds like that great economy you and Bush have been promising us." There it is, Bob. That's the Bush economy, the Bush recession.

NOVAK: Are you in a recession right now? You seem to be doing pretty well.

BEGALA: Well, I'm lucky. I'm an overpaid blowhard on cable.

NOVAK: I think all these people (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

BEGALA: You go out to the Midwest where people work for a living, and Bush is hammering them.

NOVAK: Here's the next one.

BEGALA: He's been great for me though, yes.

NOVAK: The next one. This is from Chris Tobeck of Boston, Massachusetts, spelled wrong, isn't it? "Paul Begala reflects all that is wrong in politics today, pure and utter hatred for another person based on party affiliation. He routinely disrespects the office of the president and he should be ashamed." Are you ashamed, Paul?

BEGALA: I'm ashamed that we let Chris Tobeck's e-mail on the air. I don't know what he's drinking or smoking up in Boston, but I want a case of it.

Let me give you one more here. "Respectfully, Mr. Novak, you have accused the other CROSSFIRE hosts of being rude. I have noticed, however, that you're not above name-calling, which is the rudest, least professional action a debater can take. This is clearly the low road, Mr. Novak, and I hate to see you take it." Doug Decker in Lake Balboa, California.

NOVAK: Do you think he's one of the lotus eaters out in Lake Balboa?

BEGALA: Oh, see, that's a personal attack right there.

NOVAK: That's right. Well, I like that...

BEGALA: Take the low road, Novak.

NOVAK: All right, next question from the audience?

JEFF MORGAN: Yes, I'm Jeff Morgan from Stanford University. My question's for you.

NOVAK: Stanford University?

MORGAN: Yes, sir. My question's for you, Mr. Novak.


MORGAN: Isn't George Stephanopoulos' emergence into TV a drop into the hat compared to the conservative monopoly on the radio?

NOVAK: Well, first place -- I wish you people could understand it, and you're not brainwashed by Begala. The people on the radio, Paul Begala, I, Pat Buchanan, every -- we're labeled. We know where you're coming from. George Stephanopoulos is a fraud because he's being labeled as an objective reporter, an objective anchor man. And he's a left wing ideologue. So that's the problem. It's the labeling that's the problem. BEGALA: Well, if you come out of a right wing administration like Diane Sawyer who worked for President Nixon or Tony Snow worked for President Bush, it's okay.

NOVAK: Next question? Yes, sir?

TIM IRVIN: Good evening, gentlemen. My name's Tim Irvin. I'm from Washington, D.C. And my question is if -- has Mr. Arafat lost the ability to control the actions of his own people? And is he -- is a meaningful solution able to be reached while he's still in power?

BEGALA: I think, Tim, that he's fully able to control. Maybe not every single Palestinian, but I think Arafat has got more guns than anybody else. If he wanted this terrorism to stop, he could stop it. He clearly doesn't want it to stop. And I think that's a heartbreak.

NOVAK:: You know, the Israelis bottled them up, take away his communications. And then they say, gee, you can't stop the terrorism. Does that make any sense, Paul?

BEGALA: It doesn't make any sense for him to be approving terrorism, which is what he's doing over there, Bob. From the left, I'm Paul Begala. Good-night for CROSSFIRE.

NOVAK: From the right, I'm Robert Novak. Join us again next time for another edition of CROSSFIRE.




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