Return to Transcripts main page
PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT
Queen Noor on Crisis in Egypt; Journalist's Point of View on Egypt
Aired February 7, 2011 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PIERS MORGAN, HOST: Tonight witnesses to revolution.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What do you call this? Do you have a name for this?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Revolution.
WATSON: It's a revolution.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Will Egypt's revolt spread across the Middle East? Who will be next? What does it mean for America? My primetime exclusive with Queen Noor of Jordan.
A daring report that covers one of the most dangerous of his life and lives to tell the tale. He's here tonight.
And you've got Arianna, the big deal that could change the way you get news online.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Your boardroom just got 20 times sexier.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: This is a special edition of PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT.
Good evening. Egypt's new Cabinet met for the first time today and the government has begun talking to the opposition. But Egypt's neighbors are watching and wondering where the wave of rebellion may strike next. Is the entire Middle East a risk?
Here to talk about that, I'm delighted to say, is Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan. Majesty, thank you for coming.
HER MAJESTY QUEEN NOOR, CHAIR, KING HUSSEIN FOUNDATION: Thank you so much.
MORGAN: You are the first queen to be in my studio so I feel very honored. Thank you.
QUEEN NOOR: My privilege.
MORGAN: Obviously you're in a great position really to talk about this. Everyone I've spoken to so far on the last week seems to not really know what was going on.
From your point of view, what do you think is happening? And should we be encouraging this? Should we be celebrating it? What do you feel?
QUEEN NOOR: Well, I think that there are -- we are passing through very interesting times. And they're very challenging times, but they also present, I think, enormous opportunities. And I think that's what we should be focusing on. And I think and hope and pray that's what will be the focus of different governments and people and parties in our region as a whole.
How can they expand or develop dialogue in the first instance, for example, in Egypt, we're seeing the first dialogue with various political parties that may have ever occurred, or certainly hasn't -- a long time. And I think that these -- this moment presents enormous, as I said, challenges but opportunities that should perhaps excite and mobilize all our resources.
MORGAN: Should somebody who lives in America and has never left the country, maybe, should they be worried about what's happening? Should they be scared? Are there going to be repercussions, do you think, for the west which are going to be damaging? Or do you feel as an American that, you know, this is actually going to be quite good for the world? We're seeing revolution from the bottom up, is not being done through military means?
QUEEN NOOR: I think what's happening in Egypt, Tunisia today, and perhaps elsewhere, these can be models for peaceful transition to more open, more accountable governance, and towards societies that offer more opportunities. Social, economic, and political for a cross-section of their people.
And I truly believe, and I have for 30 years, I used to argue this in Jordan as well, that to achieve true national security, which is the issue in the debate that has always predominated in Egypt and many of these other countries and has justified a multitude of policies, that you can't divorce that from human security.
And if you see your national security and your human security as one and the same thing, your people engaged, free and feeling a sense of investment in their own country, that is the way you achieve true national security. And that is where America will find her strongest and most reliable allies.
MORGAN: What do you think are the greatest misconceptions in America to the Middle East?
QUEEN NOOR: Oh, how long do you have?
MORGAN: I've got all evening, your majesty.
QUEEN NOOR: I doubt that. I doubt that. I think this one, there is a -- there is a -- well, the United States is extremely polarized, not unlike some of the societies in the Middle East that we're talking about right now. And so you're looking -- depending on who you're watching on television or which cable news channel, you're getting very different kinds of analysis and perhaps projections of what this means for the future and for the United States.
So I would say that the first and most important thing for people in this country to do is to really look for thoughtful analysis of what is taking place and to look for the areas in the center rather than listening to the extremes and allowing them to --
MORGAN: But in terms of misconceptions, I mean, some things must really annoy you.
QUEEN NOOR: Well --
MORGAN: When you watch TV here, in particular, you might think you just don't get these people. So what annoys you most given your knowledge of that area?
QUEEN NOOR: Well, I think there's a great deal of emphasis being placed by some who are perhaps don't have as nuanced an understanding and maybe lack a great deal of understanding on the religious component in what is taking place in Egypt today.
And they -- so there's been some very interesting polling from the region that has shown among Arab youth a great -- very interesting polls on their approach to their confidence in governance, in the media, in a free judiciary, in elections held in their countries. And those rates are fairly low from 50 percent down to 30 percent or 45 percent confidence in the media and even 31 percent confidence in ever having access to affordable housing.
So these are the indicators that indicate -- that reflect the poverty and the unemployment in some of those factors that are at play here. On the other hand, some of the positive indicators are that in the 80-something percent of these young people feel that they have support from friends and from family, and this is due to our strong family structure in the region.
And they also feel that they have support from religious organizations. And this is an indication of religion being an important part of their lives. And not religion as a political force that is seeking to take over and co-opt --
MORGAN: I mean I heard -- QUEEN NOOR: -- this process, which is people yearning for freedom and for a say in their futures.
MORGAN: I heard Newt Gingrich tonight on CNN with John King saying some pretty alarming things about the Muslim Brotherhood. You know (INAUDIBLE), but he was saying that they are very dangerous, they want to kill Americans. And if they get into power, this is going to be extremely bad news.
QUEEN NOOR: Yes. Well, I think that that is this very polarizing approach to what is taking place in the Middle East that has dominated for a very long time, that assumes that anyone who -- that any religious group is somehow dangerous and extreme, whereas in fact most Arabs -- religion is important to most Arabs and most Arabs actually are moderate, peaceful centrists, and wanting what these people are wanting on the streets of Cairo.
MORGAN: So do you think it's unhelpful when American politicians --
QUEEN NOOR: So the Muslim Brotherhood are one of the many groups in -- throughout the region that have points of view that need to come to the table, need to be part of the dialogue and the governance building process, if you will, but they're only one of a multitude of other groups.
And you see those on the streets of -- you see the images of Christians protecting Muslims at prayer. One of the most moving sights, and one that has done more to help, I think, promote what is a real in our region in terms of interfaith dialogue and relations than any of the efforts that so many of us make in our daily lives to promote a more accurate understanding of the role of religion.
MORGAN: Do you think -- do you think it's unhelpful when senior politicians here say such inflammatory things?
QUEEN NOOR: It's terribly -- it's unhelpful. The extremes on both sides are very unhelpful. And I think that there are enough people actually -- in this particular case, there seems to be people on both sides in this country, on all sides, including independents, that are actually providing very nuanced and thoughtful analysis.
I'm seeing it on most of the networks. And then that's not usually the case when something this -- a crisis like this erupts in the Middle East. They are pausing, they are taking a moment to think it through, and they're supporting the president. They're supporting his --
MORGAN: Do you know the president?
QUEEN NOOR: I have met him on a number of occasions.
MORGAN: What do you think of him?
QUEEN NOOR: I think that he brought a new and fresh and open spirit to Washington, and I hope and pray that he's able to negotiate this very difficult town and all that it represents as a country.
MORGAN: You mean the -- I was talking about President Mubarak. You're talking about President Obama.
QUEEN NOOR: I'm talking about President Obama.
MORGAN: We got a president (INAUDIBLE). So let's put President Obama to one side because he's not as fascinating to me in terms of your view as what you think of President Mubarak.
QUEEN NOOR: Right. Well, I -- I know the Mubaraks. I've known him ever since he became president, obviously, and their family. And in this particular case, I -- when talking about a crisis in our region, I try to avoid talking about personalities.
I don't think it's about the personalities. I think it's about the approach to governance. And I think it's about the principles of an open, healthy, accountable state apparatus that can draw in people from all points of view, and in this case create a movement going forward. Egypt can be a model of a peaceful transition, I think.
MORGAN: Do you believe that any peaceful transition in a country like Egypt can actually happen in reality if you simply turf out leaders after 30 years. He's been in many people's eyes, you know, pretty good to the west and pretty good allies.
Is that a sensible way to proceed? Or do you think the sensible way is the way that President Obama seems to prefer, which is a gradual transition, where Mubarak is allowed to stay for a while, everything calms down and then he leaves with some dignity and honor, which a lot of people in America thinks he's earned, even though he may have repressed some of his people.
QUEEN NOOR: I personally think it's up to the Egyptians. This is a relationship between the governing party and its head, and the people of Egypt who represent a multitude of points of view.
And I think that what is absolutely critical here is that they all work for what is best for Egypt. And I think that if this is a long, protracted struggle, no one will benefit, the country won't benefit and only the extremes will benefit, but I think if we see some concrete reform -- steps leading towards reform and the kind of restructuring that is necessary, that in fact in Egypt only the president in Egypt can initiate, then I think perhaps the relationship between the president and the people and whenever the transition, however the transition takes place will actually -- that process will be less tense.
But there's going to have to be some concrete steps, not cosmetic steps and not just rhetoric. They're going to have to give some form to this as soon as possible.
MORGAN: When we come back, I want to talk to you about royal weddings. You had a great one.
And later, I'll be interviewing one of this country's most prominent astronauts, asking him what he thinks of Mark Kelly's return to space as his wife Gabby Giffords makes her miraculous recovery from an assassination attempt.
MORGAN: I'm back now with Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan.
We were just talking then, I didn't realize and I should have done with this, it's the 12th anniversary of your husband's death, a great king.
QUEEN NOOR: That's right. That's right. I choose actually -- well, there's a special memory attached to today, but I choose to celebrate his life every day, including today.
MORGAN: He was an extraordinary man.
QUEEN NOOR: He was. He was a dedicated and compassionate, humble, as I tweeted today, champion of human security and peace and justice, and remains an inspiration for all of us in the family, as well as in our country and elsewhere.
MORGAN: What would he have made of what's going on now, do you think?
QUEEN NOOR: I would like to think that had he lived longer that our region would not be in quite the state it is today. And I know that sounds -- that might sound absurd to many, but there were certain developments in the Arab/Israeli peace process that he, with all of his years, could have brought because he had a special relationship with all the players -- the U.S. administration, the Palestinians, Israelis and others -- where perhaps things might not have gone off the rails as they did in the end of the '99 and the early naughts.
And things went so terribly off the rails so today we have a situation that there is no real peace process. And it takes all the hope and all the optimism and all the faith that we can muster in our region to continue to imagine how we might reverse the deterioration and move back to something like the Arab peace plan, which provides the outlines for a real -- a real settlement that could be enduring for -- and mutually beneficial for all parties.
MORGAN: Your wedding to the king, I recently read with --
QUEEN NOOR: That's a happier memory.
MORGAN: Yes. And I think we should remember it because it was voted one of the top five most glamorous weddings of all time.
QUEEN NOOR: It was hardly glamorous. It was one of the simplest weddings ever. And --
MORGAN: I think they were talking about you and your dress actually.
QUEEN NOOR: Yes. And my dress was the simplest imaginable dress. We -- he only gave me a month, an engagement period of a month. And so I had a --
MORGAN: That's pressure.
QUEEN NOOR: And I had -- I was -- you know, had been traveling around the world and working in the Middle East. I worked in Iran, I worked in the Far East. And I traveled with a suit and a pair of jeans and a blazer, and I had a two-piece dress, which I gave to someone to copy. And that basically was my wedding dress.
It's very, very -- and I said, let's keep it simple. Our country was struggling, it's a poor country, it was the late '70s, and a challenging period, and it was a very simple wedding, but the world's press descended on this tiny little -- not so tiny, but not so large room in my mother-in-law's home where we exchanged our vows.
So one darkened of the room was all the press and popping bulbs. And all the rest -- and the rest was my husband and myself, and my father and his family.
MORGAN: Well, it was very similar. It reminded me --
QUEEN NOOR: It was just for me. It was overwhelming.
MORGAN: Amazing day. I mean they reminded me of Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier, obviously, and then I knew Princess Diana quite well and she had this -- it was a very different wedding.
QUEEN NOOR: Very different wedding. It was very different.
MORGAN: It's like this spectacular thing.
QUEEN NOOR: Yes. Absolutely.
MORGAN: And obviously in Britain now, back in my home country, we're all preparing for this huge event, the royal wedding, Prince William and Kate. What do you make of that?
QUEEN NOOR: I think that they're having found each other and having obviously already worked so hard to build a loving relationship is one of the happiest and most wonderful developments, you know, in a long time. I'm delighted.
MORGAN: You actually took over a lot of the work that Diana was doing in relation to landmines.
QUEEN NOOR: I got very involved in landmines, had been in Jordan, which would been an issue for us for many years because landmines still proliferate in the Middle East, and some going as far back as World War II, and killing innocent people, and destroying livestock and holding agricultural land hostage, but we've done a very good job in Jordan in demining. But I then took it on a global level with a group that had worked with her Landmine Survivors Network.
MORGAN: You knew Diana quite well? QUEEN NOOR: I knew her. I -- I wouldn't claimed to have known her very well, but they visited us in Jordan. And we spent a little time in --
MORGAN: What did you make of her?
QUEEN NOOR: I thought what she did in terms of bringing a focus to two issues, in particular, and this is not all, but AIDS and helping to break through the taboo that existed at that time in the '80s, '90s where people really didn't -- felt that they weren't safe in the presence of someone who might have contracted HIV, and the landmine issue that she made two key visits to landmine-infected countries.
MORGAN: That I remember well.
QUEEN NOOR: And that had profound impact in getting some more -- in enhancing the momentum that led to the passing ultimately of the Ottawa Treaty, which was ratified while my husband was fighting cancer in the Mayo Clinic. I write in my book, "Leap of Faith," that we were driving through the Minnesota countryside in this little VW bug I'd given him for his birthday that year.
When the news came on the radio about the landmine treaty having finally come into full force. And there were these yippees.
QUEEN NOOR: These shouts that echoed through out the Minnesota countryside.
MORGAN: What advice -- I mean, having been through this media frenzy, royal wedding, where you married a king, what advice would you give to young Kate Middleton, as she's about to marry the future king of England?
QUEEN NOOR: I wouldn't presume to give her any advice. She seems to be a very grounded young woman. I think the most important thing for both of them is to follow their own instincts, not let anyone else tell them what they should or shouldn't do, and to remember that the best of what people say of you and the worst of what they say of you neither is the truth, it's somewhere in between. And just remain true to yourself. And you can't go wrong.
MORGAN: Have you enjoyed being a queen?
QUEEN NOOR: I -- as a young girl growing up during the Kennedy admission, my father was his FAA administrator. I dreamt of joining the Peace Corps. I was enthused with the spirit of that administration and Sargent Shriver, who passed away recently, was one of the my heroes with Martin Luther King.
And I found -- my husband offered me in our marriage the opportunity to do what I'd hoped to do as a Peace Corps volunteer, which is to take what I had been privileged to have as I was growing up, and I could have grown up in any country, but I -- the privilege of education, of optimism, of a sense of possibility that are the privileges of growing up in the western world, if you will, and try to work with people in another part of the world, learn from them, and give to them the best of what I had to offer. And try to promote understanding of both worlds.
MORGAN: So in a funny way becoming a queen enabled you to live your dream?
QUEEN NOOR: It did. It enabled --
MORGAN: On a great scale.
QUEEN NOOR: Basically -- I don't know if I articulated it very well, because I work with a lot of the Peace Corps people who come to Jordan. And it's not like in marrying him I became a volunteer in Jordan, but I became a public servant. And what I wanted to do in the Peace Corps as a young woman, what I wanted most of all was to be a public servant.
And I felt being a public servant in parts of the world that were not as fortunate as the one I'd grown up in would be a way of making me a meaningful life.
MORGAN: Your Majesty, it's been a real pleasure. Thank you so much for coming in.
QUEEN NOOR: Thank you.
MORGAN: Much appreciated.
When we come back, he risked it all to get the story of a lifetime. Now he's here to tell us all about it.
And later a former astronaut's words of wisdom for Gabby Giffords's husband as he prepares to return to space.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WAEL GHONIM, GOOGLE EXECUTIVE (Through Translator): I was kidnapped Thursday night, about 1:00 a.m. at night. I was with one of my friends, he was my colleague at work and he was coming to visit Egypt. Then after I finished visiting him, I left the place.
I was going to get a taxi. So I went one way, and I was walking down a straight road, and I found all of a sudden four people surrounding me. They were kidnapping me. And I yelled, help me. But of course I knew these were security forces.
I'm not a hero. I slept for 12 days. The heroes were in the streets. The heroes are the ones who went to the demonstrations. The heroes are the ones who 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.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: That was a marketing executive for Google speaking on Egyptian TV. He was released today after being held captive in Egypt for nearly two weeks.
The situation in Cairo is calmer tonight, but what comes next?
Joining me now is "New York Times" columnist Nick Kristof and CNN's Fareed Zakaria.
Nick, first of all, welcome back.
NICHOLAS KRISTOF, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Thank you.
MORGAN: It's great to see you. Thank you so much for your outstanding reporting all last week. It was pretty a joy for us to hear you right at the scene, telling us what was really going on.
It was pretty dangerous there, wasn't it? For all journalists. I mean what was it really like? Now that you're back, what can you tell us that perhaps you couldn't at the time?
KRISTOF: Well, I mean it was pretty intimidating to go out there and to see these thugs sent from, you know, central casting carrying these clubs with nails embedded in them, but I also frankly felt a little embarrassed about all the sympathy that we western journalists were getting.
Because at the end of the day it was the Egyptians out there, those who were helping us and those who were simply pushing for democracy, who are getting none of the glory and take all of the risks. And, you know, Human Rights Watch actually just a couple of hours ago put out a report saying that they had counted 297 deaths in Egypt from the democracy movement.
That is three times as many that died in the Iranian democracy movement, almost as many that died in Tiananmen. There's a lot of bloodshed there. And I think, you know, we have to remember that.
MORGAN: So the focus on the media are getting a few whacks for being overdone, do you think?
KRISTOF: Yes. I mean I have to say it was, and especially because the real -- if you have a blue passport, if you're a foreigner there with your blue passport, you really do have a certain element of protection. And by and large, when we were detained, we were not being tortured.
Egyptians were, nonstop. And those Egyptians who helped me in and out of Tahrir Square, who helped me get the story, they were taking far greater risks than I ever was.
FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN'S FAREED ZAKARIA GPS: Look at the Google executive you just had on, Piers. This is a guy who disappeared for nine days, I think. How often does that happen? Even in a dictatorship, this is a guy who literally disappeared, nobody knew where he was. And you talk to westerners, they'd all say, we're not sure where he is.
Every Egyptian knew exactly what had happened. The security services had picked him up, and he was locked -- he was incarcerated in some jail with no trial, no habeas corpus rights, nothing. That is the reality of Egypt even today. Even after all these protests that the government can simply pick somebody up as high-profile as that and just disappear them.
MORGAN: I found extraordinary, in the modern age, they thought they could get away with just clubbing every journalist around until they all left the square. Even more extraordinary, it worked. They managed to get this sort of black out. I wasn't sure what was coming.
I think most journalists feared a lot worst was coming. And then there was this kind of oddly calm day where not much really happened, in the end.
Fareed, let me ask you, in simple terms -- everyone has got all sorts of opinions here -- what is your gut feeling about what is actually happening now?
ZAKARIA: I think what's happening now -- it's fascinating. The Egyptian military, which runs the country -- this is a military dictatorship in civilian garb -- have decided they're going to sacrifice Mubarak. In the next few months, he will be let go. But they're going to out-wait the protesters. They're going to outlast them.
At the end of the day, people have to get back to work. They have to make a livelihood. They have to put food on the table. They will try to offer some set of cosmetic changes, a little bit of openness, and hope that it all passes, hope that that allows for enough of a sham democracy that they can maintain power.
And against that is the street, the Egyptian people, and, to a certain extent, the international community, led by the United States. And it is going to be a fascinating tussle, because nobody gives up that much power that easily. The Egyptian military has been in power since 1952, and they have enormous privileges that come from it. But the street is very tired of that. That's the clash you're watching.
MORGAN: Talking to Queen Noor was fascinating, because, obviously, she's been steeped in the history of that area for a long time through her marriage to the king. She was sort of hinting we ought to really almost be excited by what's happening, not threatened by it. But this is actually -- this is like a great revolution of young people saying we want something better in our lives. We should be applauding it.
KRISTOF: Frankly, I've been troubled with the way -- I've had so many comments on Facebook and Twitter from people saying democracy is great for Americans; it's great for Israel. But it would be dangerous for Egyptians. If Egypt, the most populist country in the Arab world, can move toward a democracy, it's going to be messy. There are going to be real implications for Israel, for Middle East peace.
But it is so much better than having an autocracy there. It's a real step forward. And we should be rejoining in it.
MORGAN: Fareed, how is President Mubarak actually going to be remembered, do you think? In 50 years time, are we going to look back on him as a dictator, a benevolent dictator, a pretty good guy who was managing a very difficult situation? How do you think history will judge him?
ZAKARIA: I think he'll probably be seen as a care taker. He was somebody who looked after the shop pretty well, maintained security, maintained stability. In the last few years, he did something very interesting. Partly pushed by the IMF and the World Bank, because he needed loans, he started opening up the economy.
Tocqueville once said the worst moment for a bad regime is when it starts to reform. Once you start doing that, you open up people's eyes. You open up their expectations. One of the things we all talk about is how Facebook and Twister were so important.
But why were they? Because the Internet was not censored in Egypt. That was a decision Mubarak made, one I'm sure he rues now. And the Syrians have not made that mistake. And the North Koreans have not made that mistake. So in the last few years, I think if history would have given his due, he began a process of reform that ultimately overwhelmed him.
MORGAN: Nick, one of the most fascinating things to come out tonight I thought, potentially very inflammatory, was Newt Gingrich has come out very strongly tonight against the Muslim Brotherhood. He said there's a total absolute misreading going on. "The Muslim Brotherhood is a mortal enemy of our civilization. They say so openly."
What do you make of that?
KRISTOF: Well, I mean, I think that people here misunderstand the Muslim Brotherhood to some extent. People often kind of lump it with al Qaeda. Al Qaeda and Muslim Brotherhood are enemies. They hate each other. They despise each other. I tend to think that it would be a disaster if the Muslim Brotherhood were actually running Egypt, but there's no indication whatsoever that Egyptians want it to run the country.
There's every indication that it would get make 20 percent of the vote, maybe 25. But that's democracy. And if it can compete and if it is -- if you will let the mayor of Aswan, and he's a Muslim Brother, then he'll have to get water through the pipes. He'll have to make things work. My bet is he won't and then the party will do worse.
MORGAN: Fareed, the key question that is being raised now is has President Obama made the right moves here? Are we right to keep Mubarak in place for this as orderly as it can be transition? Is that the way to make this work best for everybody? Or as some senators are now breaking ranks -- and I speak to Senator Nelson on the show later. He makes the point very forcefully that Mubarak should go right now and his number two should take over. What do you think?
ZAKARIA: I think, at the end of the day, the administration is handling it roughly right. They made a few mistakes on the tactical issues. But what they're trying to do is push a process of changes, but not one that's so fast or so chaotic that it produces results we don't want.
Look, if Mubarak were to resign, there is a fair point which is the vice president doesn't take over under the Egyptian constitution. The speaker of parliament takes over, who's a real loser. Elections are triggered in two months. If in two months you have elections, the only organized group are the Muslim brotherhood. The liberal parties don't have time to organize.
All the parties that were banned by Mubarak, which are non- religious ones, don't have time. So there's some case to be made for a somewhat more systematic orderly process.
It's messy, and it leaves you in the unpalatable position of supporting Mubarak temporarily. But I think any administration would be wary of a complete hectic move to open elections tomorrow.
MORGAN: I've got to leave it there. Sorry. Nick, thank you so much for coming back. We really appreciate. You were in Egypt this last week. It's great to see you back in one piece.
KRISTOF: Considering the alternative, it's great to be here.
MORGAN: Good to be back, right. And Fareed, thank you very much.
Coming up, the senator who says the White House is not going far enough to push out President Mubarak. And later, can a liberal blogger save the future of news?
MORGAN: Senator Bill Nelson is a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. He says that President Mubarak should step down immediately, and that his vice president take over, at least until elections in September. The senator joins me now.
Your position is markedly different to that of the White House. They believe, from all that what we're now hearing, that Mubarak should hang around until the election. Do you believe he should go now? Why is that?
SEN. BILL NELSON (D), FLORIDA: The Arab street, especially in Cairo, I think you're finding that, no, they are not going to negotiate until Mubarak steps down. But whatever happens, it's clearly in the interest that Mubarak signal that, in effect, power is transferred, so that we can keep the situation stabilized. Because if it erupted, that's the worst of all possible worlds. MORGAN: But giving that Omar Suleiman, who is the vice president that you I think believe would be best placed to take over -- given he's been pretty much at the right hand of Mubarak for years now -- some would argue that using a wacky races terminology, he's just motley to dastardly, isn't he?
NELSON: No, but he's respected in the Arab world. He's respected in Israel. He's respected in the U.S. And clearly he's respected in the Egyptian military. If we're looking for a care taker that can keep things in order, as opposed to chaos, I think Suleiman is the person.
Then whether or not he would win in the elections in September, that's a different thing. He would be a good person in the interim.
MORGAN: Tell me this: obviously America at the moment is spending 3.5 million dollars a day on aid to Egypt. Should we carry on paying that? What is your position on that? Also in relation to Israel, what is your view of how we protect Israel, given this political void we have in Egypt?
NELSON: Well, that's two separate questions. The answer to the first one is yes, we need to continue the aid, because to yank the aid is to just invite chaos. And that is not in anybody's interesting.
And your second question, with regard to Israel, it's very important that now and a future government of Egypt honor the 1977 peace treaty. That's one of the most important things to the security of Israel, because that's all of Israel's southern border.
MORGAN: Now, you're on the Senate Intelligence Committee. I've got to put it to you, I think, that there seems to have a massive breakdown in the intelligence of all this. No one seemed to see this crisis in Egypt coming. Why was that?
NELSON: Well, they knew that problems were brewing. They just didn't know what was going to be the catalyst, the spark to cause the reaction. And that turned out to be Tunisia. And nobody saw that was going to be the catalyst.
MORGAN: In terms of the way that this revolution is unfurling, both in Tunisia and now in Egypt, what do you think in terms of regime change going forward, senator? Are we now seeing a newer, better way of revolution, driven from the bottom up through the people, than perhaps, you know, a revolution driven by the Americans taking military into these countries?
NELSON: From North Africa all the across the world of Islam, it's a new day. It's not 30 years ago when Mubarak took over, when Sadat was assassinated. The people with all of the instant communication are going to demand some kind of reform. In the Muslim world, it's been a bunch of autocratic governments. So we are seeing change happen in front of our very eyes.
MORGAN: Finally, senator, can I ask you something completely different, but given that you're a former astronaut, and we were talking before we went live there about how you once crossed the Atlantic in 17 minutes in a spacecraft -- I was going to ask you about your thoughts of Mark Kelly, the husband of Congresswoman Giffords, who has decided to go on with the mission, in hopes that his wife will be there for the launch. What was your reaction as a fellow astronaut to that?
NELSON: Well, I'm very proud that he made the decision that he did. I think it's the right decision. I know that he made that decision only after he saw his wife improving considerably, and feels like that she encourages him to do this.
He's trained for this mission. The alpha magnetic spectrometer, which is going to help us determine the origins of the universe -- he's trained for this mission for a year and a half. He's a consummate professional, and when your colleague John King told me the other night he had said he fully expects Gabby to be there at the Kennedy Space Center for the launch, I think that's incredible. And if she recovers that quickly, then all I can say is Hallelujah.
MORGAN: I would second that. It would be a remarkable end to an extraordinary story. Senator Nelson, thanks for your time.
NELSON: Thanks, Piers.
MORGAN: Next, how much would you pay to read "The Huffington Post?" How about 315 million dollars. We'll show you what it means to you.
MORGAN: The big breaking business news today is that AOL is paying 315 million dollars for "The Huffington Post." Appropriately, this news broke with a Tweet from Arianna Huffington herself. "So thrilled to announce," she said, "that today's 'Huffington Post' joins forces with @AOL. Same Huff Post team, same goal, but now at lightning speed."
Here for more on the deal, editor in chief of "Huffington Post," Arianna Huffington, and AOL CEO Tim Armstrong.
Arianna, when you wrote that Tweet, what you failed to add to it was and I've become absolutely stinking rich today.
ARIANNA HUFFINGTON, "THE HUFFINGTON POST": Well, first of all, obviously it's fantastic to have this valuation. It's great to see something that we started five and a half years ago be valued at this price. But the most important thing for me is this baby is now actually going to grow at an exponential rate. It's the partnership. It's a measure of the visions.
MORGAN: I have one word for both of you, MySpace. I used to work at News Corporation a long time ago. When a big beast in the media jungle comes and swallows up this free, independent, online blog-based site, like MySpace and now your site, it didn't work for them. What happens is it kind of loses its sexy core cache, doesn't it? Tim, what would you say to that? TIM ARMSTRONG, AOL CEO: I'd say a couple things.
MORGAN: How are you going to keep Arianna sexy?
ARMSTRONG: Arianna is very sexy.
MORGAN: Apart from the obvious. I mean, in a business sense.
ARMSTRONG: The transaction is sexy, because AOL already went through a tough transition inside a large media company for a decade, over the last ten years. A year and a half ago, we basically spun it out of Time Warner to be a separate public company. Since that standpoint, what we've done is reenergized the culture, reenergized the brand.
We've gotten rid of assets that don't fit into the future vision. We've added new assets. And we've organically changed our traffic and our interaction with advertisers and with consumers.
MORGAN: But you remain, in most people's eyes, a big corporate Internet beast.
MORGAN: Just quoting the figures here, a decade ago, when you began this process, very quickly AOL became the hottest thing on the Internet. You were valued at 240 billion dollars. Currently, you're valued at under three billion I think. Catastrophic meltdown in your valuation, not when you were there, I know, but still a fact.
Whereas in your case, you took something that was five years ago worth nothing, and you made it worth today 315 million dollars. So you seem to be on different trajectories here.
Why, if I'm a "Huffington Post" fan, who buys into the Arianna thing, where it's cool, it's sexy, it's vibrant, it's independent -- the one great thing it isn't is controlled by a corporate beast. Along comes Mr. Corporate.
ARMSTRONG: I think, first of all, we may be corporate in some degree, but I think we're actually the anti-corporation right now. We're getting the best entrepreneurs in the world to come to this company.
I think just to pause for a minute, I think Arianna is not just selling her company at this point. Arianna represents what the future of Internet looks like for social news. And she's also the most successful female entrepreneur in the history of the Internet for news at this point, this moment today.
HUFFINGTON: And the key here is the way the team thought of this, from the first moment -- he said I want to buy "the Huffington Post." I want you to be editor in chief of "the Huffington Post" and AOL content. So he was very clear from the beginning that this was not just buying the company.
MORGAN: You both believe fundamentally this should remain a free site? Is that the business model.
HUFFINGTON: Actually, both teams' model and the "Huffington Post" model has been advertising based.
MORGAN: And it will stay that way?
ARMSTRONG: I think --
MORGAN: Rupert Murdoch -- this is no surprise to you two -- my old boss, he is fundamentally of the belief that the way forward for all these sites has to be that you charge. That's why he's brought in these pay walls in Britain. He's brining them in here. Daily he's bring out -- Everything is geared to monetizing it just through advertising, but through charging for content.
HUFFINGTON: It didn't exactly work with "The Times of London," did it?
MORGAN: Well, interesting point. I think the jury's probably still out. But it's certainly been a very controversial move.
HUFFINGTON: The jury has been in for a long time. Consumer habits have changed. People are used to getting their news for free. Actually, the only things people are willing to pay for on the Internet are specific financial information that they can monetize. And don't ask me why, but they're willing to pay for weird --
MORGAN: Are you too?
ARMSTRONG: One of the future things we're looking at, though, now is I think the model has really been fueled by free content and will be for some period of time. I think one of the things that we see that's exciting in this, also, is how do you create content, whether it's free or paid for, delivers magical experiences.
MORGAN: how Much does it make at the moment, profit?
HUFFINGTON: "The Huffington Post?"
HUFFINGTON: "The Huffington Post" made about 30 million in revenue last year. We're projected to make 60 this year.
MORGAN: Is any of that actual profit?
HUFFINGTON: Yes, and there was profit there. This is the first time that we reached the milestone and become profitable.
MORGAN: It seems a big bet to me. The big bet to me is that you've got Rupert Murdoch on one side, who is one of the smartest guys ever to work in the media. He basically would sit here listening to you two saying, this can't work in the long term. You cannot make money on a site like this, which is based around advertising revenue only.
ARMSTRONG: The Internet is about having open models. Right now, we're saying it's free. We could say, two years from now, it's going to be paid. My guess is we're going to throw the ball to whatever the open receiver is in this business model.
My guess is that the amount of value that Arianna's creating, the amount of value creating, it's possible to charge for it in the future. What we're saying is right now, for trafficking, for advertiser gain, that's our strategy.
MORGAN: Here's the deal: today you made 350 million dollars. Your share price fell, on current levels, three percent on the news, which is probably not a dissimilar amount of cash. It looks like you've won and you've lost, haven't you?
ARMSTRONG: Piers, let me tell you something right now -- and I've said this to our investors -- if you believe in the future of content and you believe in the future of the Internet, AOL's the best buy. If you don't, it's not. I think you're going to see a rotation of shareholders into our stock, basically, for people who have long term investment horizons. My guess is, a year from now, we're going to look back on this conversation and this is going to be the most successful deal that was done on the Internet this year.
HUFFINGTON: We're actually going to save this video and play it a year from now.
MORGAN: We'll do it. At the very least, your boardroom just got 20 times sexier. For that alone, I congratulate you.
ARMSTRONG: Thank you.
MORGAN: Thank you both very much.
HUFFINGTON: Thank you, Piers.
MORGAN: My colleague Anderson Cooper has just got back from Egypt. Next, his take on what's happening there.
MORGAN: Tomorrow night, the twins who say that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg stole their idea.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: When you see Mark Zuckerberg, or any guy -- whether it's the actor playing him or you see pictures of him on the cover of magazines and stuff -- what do you actually think of him right now? Honestly?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's so many things to think. But we sort of stay focused on what we have to do, which is to right the wrong. MORGAN: When you see their, do you think monster, vile, greedy, horrible?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We certainly see a person who is where he is today absolutely because we approached him with our idea, our business plan and two years worth of work. So he's very much where he is because he interacted with myself and Tyler.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: My pretty controversial interview with the Winklevoss twins tomorrow night at 9:00. And now here's Anderson Cooper with "AC 360." Anderson, how are you?
COOPER: I'm doing all right, Piers. Did you call them Winklevii, by the way?
MORGAN: Well, I did call them that, but they take exception to that. They are sort of - they are very precious about it. But they are uniquely similar and they're completely identical. I couldn't work out one from the other.
COOPER: It's such an amazing story. I look forward to that interview, Piers. Thanks.
MORGAN: So, Anderson, can I just ask, how are you?
COOPER: I'm OK. I'm OK. It was a bizarre, extraordinary situation, and -- but I'm getting checked out medically tomorrow, and we think we're fine -- I'm fine, and I'm glad to be back.
MORGAN: The one thing -- I know you've got to get on with your show, but the one thing everyone was asking me on Twitter when I asked for questions for you is just -- you said in your tweet you were coming back with a heavy heart. What did you mean by that?
COOPER: Well, I think I feel guilty leaving, frankly. Any of us who were reporting there want to stay there, and -- but it was a difficult situation to continue reporting the way I would like to. So I would like to go back soon, and hope I can. And hope -- we are going to be covering it tonight for the full hour, because we want to keep devoting time to it, because it's a matter of life and death, and it's still happening.
MORGAN: Well, it's great to have you back, Anderson. You did an amazing job out there for us. And we all really appreciate it.
COOPER: Piers, thanks very much.