Return to Transcripts main page


Interview with Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani; Inside the Obama White House; Interview With Jessica Lynch

Aired January 12, 2012 - 21:00   ET


PIERS MORGAN, CNN HOST: Tonight, inside the Obama White House.


MORGAN: The Obamas, the primetime exclusive. Is Jodi Kantor's book the real story on what goes on behind closed doors? She's here tonight. Piers Morgan interview.

And you know the Republicans are trying to kill each other on the road to South Carolina.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If I'm president of the United States, I'll worry about your jobs, not my jobs.

RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If South Carolina gets it wrong, the country may get stuck with four more years of Barack Obama.

NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I will become the Republican nominee because of you so you can literally change history.

MORGAN: But why does Rudy Giuliani say he's shocked and outraged by Newt Gingrich? He also may surprise you.

And the shocking incident that's spread outrage around the world. The video that appears to show American Marines urinating on dead bodies in Afghanistan. I'll ask this country's best-known prisoner of war Jessica Lynch what she thinks.


Good evening. Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney being hammered today by the rest of the GOP field hoping to gain some momentum ahead of the South Carolina primary. If you thought there was infighting in the GOP before, you ain't seen nothing yet.

Today Rudy Giuliani, a former presidential candidate himself, took aim at Newt Gingrich, with not just both barrels, but with every barrel in his possession. He said if he were to call Newt Gingrich right now he'd ask him, and I quote, "What the hell are you doing, Newt?"

And Rudy is here right now to tell me why he's so outraged by Mr. Gingrich and by Rick Perry.

Rudy, you seemed calm now, but you were -- you were exploding this morning.

RUDY GIULIANI (R), FORMER NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: I don't think I was. But I mean both Newt and Rick are good friends of mine. They are two people that I would have a kind of inclination to support. I think their positions are closer to mine than even Mitt Romney's. Same thing with Rick Santorum. But I think the attack that they are leveling against Romney is not only an unfair attack, I think it's an attack that hurts what Republicans stand for, which is a free market economy.

MORGAN: And you're talking specifically about both of them coming out about this Bain --

GIULIANI: Oh, yes. Absolutely.

MORGAN: His Bain work.

GIULIANI: The issue -- the issue is about Romneycare, perfectly fair, the issues about Romney was pro-choice -- I see one of the ads -- now he's pro-life, and then, you know, can you believe that. Those are all fair game. You can agree with him or disagree with them.

But this idea that he was doing something wrong at Bain Capital by investing in companies that were in trouble trying to save those companies, and some of them work and some of them didn't work, is totally crazy. This is what we want in our economy. This is precisely what's not going on now in our economy that's keeping jobs down.

MORGAN: Hasn't Mitt Romney slight brought this on himself with his rather clumsily worded "I like firing people." We all know what he really meant, we all know that probably instinctively most people would agree with what he was saying about insurance and so on.

When you got -- I think it's 8.5 percent is the current unemployment rate. When you've got so many people out of work and they hear that sound bite, it's damaging, isn't it, to him? It doesn't sound --

GIULIANI: Sure. That's not a -- that is not a good quote. And I'm sure he'd like to walk that back if he could. But that does not justify totally distorting the way our economy works for people like me and Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney and I, all agree on the value of a free-market economy.

And what Mitt Romney was doing with Bain, there is absolutely nothing illegal about it. I don't believe there's anything immoral about it. In fact, I think there's a certain morality to it. I mean you have to downsize companies that are in trouble. I mean that's just has to be done. That's the way you save -- that's the way you save jobs. And the net result with Bain is many more jobs were saved than were lost. And those jobs would not have been saved --

MORGAN: Do we know that for a fact?

GIULIANI: I know it because I know the market pretty well. I don't know the exact numbers, but I know the companies that we're talking about. And I know that he saved an awful lot of jobs, even in the companies where he saved jobs, he had to maybe take out 1,000, 2,000 jobs in order to save 8,000 jobs.

MORGAN: Let's move on to the general atmosphere going into South Carolina because it's getting nasty. My guess is it always gets nasty at this stage. Doesn't it? I mean you --


MORGAN: The warm-up in Iowa, all very nice, South Carolina, boom. (INAUDIBLE) crack.

GIULIANI: Particularly in South Carolina. Yes, it gets very, very --

MORGAN: Why is that?

GIULIANI: I guess maybe they've gotten into it for a while in -- they sort of begin in Iowa, then they go to New Hampshire, it's a little bit restrained there, and they get to South Carolina. This is the last time you can make a real statement and really slow somebody down.

MORGAN: Let me play you a clip from my interview with Newt Gingrich last night where he used an extraordinary word to describe what may be coming in South Carolina.



GINGRICH: Well, this is going to be Armageddon. I mean they will come in here with everything they've got. Every surrogate, every ad, every negative attack. At the same time, we're going to be basically drawing a sharp contrast between a Georgia-Reagan conservative and a Massachusetts moderate.

He's pro-gun control, pro-choice, pro-tax increase, pro-liberal judge. And the voters of South Carolina are going to decide.


MORGAN: Armageddon really?

GIULIANI: That may be overstated a little. But everything Newt said there is perfectly appropriate, fair game for him to make those points. He is clearly more conservative than Mitt is, more consistently conservative. Although there are a couple of contradictions in Newt's record, as well, as there are in all of ours. But that's -- that is very legitimate point and they should fight the campaign out on that. What they shouldn't be doing is trying to take Romney's record in private equity and trying to make it into some kind of evil -- some kind of evil thing. I mean, we have an administration now --

MORGAN: Last time I spoke to you --

GIULIANI: We have an administration now that is virulently anti- business. It is holding back the recovery of our economy. We're not going to grow this economy by having these false notions of how business operates just kind of hanging out there.

MORGAN: The way you're talking, and correct me if I'm wrong, but I spoke to you in December about this. You strongly suggested that Newt Gingrich might be the guy that you could support in this nomination.

GIULIANI: He still might be.


MORGAN: He still might be or --

GIULIANI: He still might be.

MORGAN: Are you moving towards Mitt Romney?

GIULIANI: I'm not moving at any direction at all. I'm reacting to an argument that I think is a very counterproductive argument for Republicans to be making who have a set of core values about how the American economy works. And about what has been productive for us in the past.

Private equity is an enormously important part of the growth of our economy and it's an enormously important part of how you grow jobs. One of the reasons we don't have jobs right now in America is that private equity money is sitting on the side. I can give you 10 examples of this. They're not putting any money in because they're afraid of what Obama will do to them.

Now they're not going to -- they're not going to revive that economy with promoting these stupid ideas that are being promoted as part of these -- part of these ads. Stick with the pro-choice, stick with the liberal judges, stick with Romneycare, perfect area of attack. But don't do this. This is a mistake for Republicans.

MORGAN: Newt Gingrich, having tried to play nice Newt, didn't last very long, it wasn't very effective, has gone back to nasty Newt. He's going to unleash through the super PAC $3.5 million worth of bile all over Mitt Romney, he said, in South Carolina.

Can this make a difference in the way that Mitt Romney's super PACs really hammered Newt Gingrich's popularity?

GIULIANI: You can -- you can emphasize and sympathize with Newt. I think what was done to him in Iowa was horrible.

MORGAN: Was it unfair? Or was it all fair in love and electoral war?

GIULIANI: It was -- some of it was unfair. Some of it went too far. Most of it was all fair in love and war. But some of it was unfair. And the sheer amount of it and the fact that it's being done by a PAC and then Mitt Romney is sort of separating himself from it. I mean a lot of that can get you very angry. But Newt should contain that anger and he should stick with intellectually honest attacks.


MORGAN: Could he still --

GIULIANI: On Romney.

MORGAN: Let me paint a picture to you. Two scenarios. One is that Mitt Romney emboldened by two big wins, whichever -- however many votes he wins by, two wins, two for two, he goes to South Carolina, and he has a big win there, many people will say pretty much it's all over.

GIULIANI: Well, it's probably all over when you -- when you get through Florida. If Mitt can win --

MORGAN: He wins all four, he's there, right?


MORGAN: You would assume so?

GIULIANI: I would say, and then practically --

MORGAN: Paint me a scenario, Rudy, because you know this better than most people. Paint me a scenario where it's not all over and where somebody else could still challenge him properly.

GIULIANI: Either he loses South Carolina or somebody like Newt or Rick Santorum or maybe even Perry, although I think that's a little bit remote because of where Rick is starting in the polls. But if one of them gets really close to him, three points, four points --

MORGAN: Who's the most likely? Is it Gingrich simply on (INAUDIBLE) money?

GIULIANI: Gingrich or Santorum. I mean Santorum -- you consider -- you consider that South Carolina is a pretty strong conservative state.

MORGAN: Very evangelical.

GIULIANI: Probably the guy with the most -- the most consistent conservative credentials is Rick Santorum. He could possibly do as well in South Carolina as he ultimately did in Iowa.

MORGAN: But he hasn't gotten the money, has he, or the infrastructure? Newt Gingrich now has money. He has a lot of money.


MORGAN: And as we've seen from what happened in Iowa and New Hampshire, if you've got the money to get on television to hammer your opponents, you can really damage them.

GIULIANI: You can, and it can also backfire on you. It's hard -- it's hard to tell. I mean here's why I think Rick Santorum has a chance. You have Newt attacking Romney. Some fair, some unfair. You have Romney's people attacking Newt. Some fair, some unfair. And you have Santorum sort of sitting on the sideline. He might get -- he might get the benefit of that. He might get the benefit of it because at this point he's pretty well known, television will help, but it's not going to mean everything.

So I wouldn't count Santorum out of this. I think one of the two of them, Santorum or Gingrich, could run close in South Carolina. Then you go to Florida and Florida is much more of a Tea Party state than the other ones that we've been in. Florida since 2008 -- I just had lunch with John McCain and we've kind of talked this over. It's done more right than it was in 2008 --

MORGAN: So that again could help Santorum.

GIULIANI: -- they elected Scott, the more conservative choice for governor. They elected Marco Rubio, the Tea Party candidate for the Senate. So Florida could be a place where if either Gingrich or Santorum can come in with momentum, they would have a chance.

MORGAN: Let's take a break and come back and talk about what happens once Republicans have got their nominee. How are they going to beat Obama because I think it's going to be a pretty tough challenge.


MORGAN: Back with my special guest former New York mayor, Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Rudy, we've discussed the Republican race. Let's get to the stage where there's a winner, and that winner has to take on Barack Obama. The economy is definitely strengthening. Jobless figures are improving. The stock market feels more confident.

If you're in the White House, this is all pretty good news, isn't it? Because the one winning position for them is surely to stand back in a few month's time in November and say, we said we would improve things and now we can demonstrably show that we have.

GIULIANI: If in fact, three or four months from now, the economy has materially improved, it's going to be very hard to defeat Barack Obama. On the other hand, if the economy does what it did last year, a month of improvement, a month of decline. A month of improvement, another month of decline. Job figures go up, job figures go down, then Obama is in a lot of trouble.

MORGAN: How does the Republican candidate best go after Barack Obama? What are his weaknesses?

GIULIANI: I think you go after him on the economy. I mean that has to be the answer. Because even if the economy improves, I seriously doubt we're going to be below 8 percent unemployment next September, October. We're still going to be at a historic high for a president seeking reelection.

MORGAN: Be dispassionate for a moment and be fair-minded. Where are the -- GIULIANI: I have been.

MORGAN: I'm afraid I'm going to (INAUDIBLE). There's a gun to your head metaphorically, Mr. Giuliani. Answer me this. Where are the ticks in the Obama box? Where has he genuinely had success?

GIULIANI: He's had success with terrorism, a success and failures with terrorism, but he's had success in the ones that are quite obvious. I mean catching bin Laden, getting some of the other major terrorists. I think he's had some real weaknesses in dealing with terrorism. I think that his equivocation with regard to Iran has put us in a very, very difficult spot.

This whole first two years where he wanted to talk to Ahmadinejad and Ahmadinejad didn't want to talk to him, I think that's put us in a very weak position. I think his position with regard to Israel frightens me for the security of the state of Israel.

But I think his overall stewardship of the economy, even if it improves somewhat is going to be in negative numbers because we have more debt than we've ever had in our history. He has no plan to really deal with that debt. And he leads by following in that area. He lets the Republicans and the Democrats fight it out. He has no real plan.

He's yet to articulate a financial plan that says to this country, I can lead you to growth. He has an energy plan that's a disaster. His energy plan is basically say no, say no to nuclear power, say no to fracking, say no to the pipeline, say no to coal. Say no to everything but wind and solar which are fine, but they can't get it soon, they're only 1 percent of what produces -- sources of our electrical power.

And he's dealing with countries like China that are building 50 nuclear power plants, buying coal, expanding fracking, buying oil all over the world. And also investing in wind and solar. So I think there are a lot of vulnerabilities.

MORGAN: Final question is this controversial book about the Obamas by Jodi Kantor, she's coming on after you on the show tonight. What do you make of the furor surrounding it?

GIULIANI: Typical. Every White House has this. I mean there was a book quite like about both Bushes. There were several books about Clinton like this and there were several about Reagan like this. So what is the book going to say? The White House is somewhat dysfunctional. So is every White House. They're dysfunctional.


GIULIANI: George Washington White House was dysfunctional.

MORGAN: Are they still --

GIULIANI: Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton hated each other, right? And of course it got so bad between Burr and Hamilton that one killed the other. But not quite that bad.

MORGAN: And final question, is it journalistically valid? Or is it just glorified tittle-tattle?

GIULIANI: Somewhere in between. I think it's journalistically valid because I think people have a right to know what's going on inside the White House. I think it's -- I think it's way beyond gossip when you're talking about the White House. But I think is it going to have an impact on the election?

It's going to be three or four days, maybe three or four weeks of discussion and ultimately then it'll merge into what we've heard about every other president, what we've heard about every other White House. All the unfair or sometimes fair attacks on first ladies. I mean that -- presidents don't get elected and reelected based on, you know, how's their White House functioning in terms of people getting along with each other.

MORGAN: Rudy, as always, a pleasure. It's my anniversary week next week, you are officially --

GIULIANI: Happy anniversary.

MORGAN: Well, thank you. You are officially -- I'm saying it, you're officially now my most regular guest in the first year.

GIULIANI: Very proud of it because you do a good job.

MORGAN: Thank you very much. Good to see you as always.

GIULIANI: Thank you, Piers.

MORGAN: Coming up, the hottest tell-all book of the year, but is it all true? A primetime exclusive with the author, Jodi Kantor, the woman who wrote "The Obamas."


MORGAN: The political tell-all that everyone is talking about is "The Obamas." The book that goes behind closed doors at the White House and paint what some are calling a controversial picture of the first couple. And author Jodi Kantor joins me now.

Welcome, Jodi.

JODI KANTOR, AUTHOR, "THE OBAMAS": Thanks so much for having me.

MORGAN: You're getting a lot of flak for this book. How are you dealing with that? Did you expect it?

KANTOR: Well, actually there's been a lot of praise and excitement for the book. It's gotten some great reviews. You know what's exciting about this book is that it shows how the personal intersects with the political in this White House. And you know, there were some big headlines and scoops that came out of the book. But the real book that exists for people are reading as opposed to the sort of abstract thing that a lot of people have been discussing on TV without reading is this sensitive nuance textured portrayal of the Obamas in the White House.

MORGAN: Well, that's clearly not how they're seeing it. And I can tell from the first lady's reaction in an interview yesterday with Gail King that she's clearly not happy about the way that you've portrayed her.

KANTOR: I was a little bit surprised by her reaction. And I assume that what she's reacting to is the coverage of the book, which has been a little distorted rather than the book itself. Because I never called her an angry black woman in the book. I also never said that she and Rahm Emanuel had cross words with each other.

So, you know, and she did say in the interview that she hasn't actually read the book. So I'm not sure she knows what's in it.

MORGAN: Well, let's just hear the first lady commenting on the book.


MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: It's more interesting to imagine this conflicted situation here and a strong woman and, you know -- but that's been an image that people have tried to paint of me since, you know, the day Barack Obama announced that I'm some angry black woman.


MORGAN: Yes, I mean she makes that feeling pretty clear there. And when you read your book, there's no doubt that if you were Michelle Obama and you read the book from cover-to-cover, which she obviously hasn't but she's had the report filled (INAUDIBLE) to her clearly, you do get an impression of a feisty lady who is trying to put her own opinions into the presidential domain through the West Wing aides and so on.

And that she has other conflict with some of those aides. So is that true, or not? As she says, how do you know what's going on in their head?

KANTOR: Well, I reported on her for about the same way I've been reporting on her for five years in the "New York Times," which is the Obama inner circle really let me in for this book. The interviews in the book come from people like Valerie Jarrett and Susan Sherrod, and David Axelrod, and Robert Gibbs, and the president's -- the first lady's close friends, Marty (INAUDIBLE), Whitaker.

So, for example, if Valerie Jarrett or Susan Sherrod said the first lady was concerned about such and such, and I can write according to aides or according to Jarred and Sherrod the first lady was concerned about such and such. So I followed the same rules I did in the newspaper. And the important thing is that the stories that came out are stories that the Obamas don't usually tell. It's a much more candid portrait of them in the White House.

MORGAN: Let me read you what the White House said. This is White House press secretary, Eric Schultz. "The book,, an overdramatization of old news, is about a relationship between two people whom the author hasn't spoken to in years. The author last interviewed the Obamas in 2009 for a magazine piece, and did not interview them for this book. The emotions, thoughts and private moments described in the book, though, often seemingly ascribed to the president and first lady reflect little more than the author's own thoughts."

So they're saying, look, a lot of this stuff is in your head and is speculative about how Michelle Obama in particular was thinking at various times. How would you know that?

KANTOR: Well, because her -- I was -- her aides gave me access. I spent months interviewing all of her aides in the East Wing.

MORGAN: Yes, but not to her.

KANTOR: Another. Piers, I'll tell you -- give you an example. Do you remember when Michelle Obama went to London very early in the presidency? And they --


KANTOR: She spoke to school kids and she teared up a little bit on stage? One of the things her aides were very intent to describe was the importance of that moment in the formulation of her first lady- hood. And they talked about how when she saw these young girls, and these were not privileged girls, they were from minority backgrounds, a lot of them weren't English speakers.

When she began to see the affect that she had on them, she began to really understand the power of her first lady-hood. The way she stood for access and social mobility. So these are aides who were very close with her.

Also remember, I've been covering these people since 2007. I mean, Eric Schultz' protest to me sounds like some sort of protest against journalism, against the process of trying to understand these figures.


MORGAN: OK, let's have a little --

KANTOR: The lives and believe and -- believes and emotions.

MORGAN: Let's have a little break, come back and continue this debate about whether it is proper journalism or not.


MORGAN: Back now with Jodi Kantor, the controversial author of "The Obamas." I suppose my overview of the book is that I can understand why Michelle Obama would be annoyed, as she clearly is annoyed. And clearly the focus of a lot of the coverage of the book has been about Michelle Obama and her annoyance and the reasons why she may be annoyed. My question to you is prompted by a conversation I had with Rudy Giuliani for the show tonight, in which he says, you know, fair game to go after the president. He expects it. That's the job description really, is if you're president, everything's open season. Don't go after his wife. Don't go after the First Lady.

You must be disappointed, as a "New York Times" journalist, that your book is being characterized as a critical attack in many ways on the First Lady, aren't you?

KANTOR: Well, you know, most people who have read the book think it's a pretty flattering portrait of her.

MORGAN: She doesn't.

KANTOR: And -- and well, readers should make up their minds independently. But also historians and journalists have written about First Ladies for years. My inspiration for this book was "No Ordinary Time" by Doris Kearns Goodwin. And the reason why it's such an unusual presidential book is that it describes Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt in the White House, even though he's obviously the president and she's obviously not.

It really describes them as partners and devotes equal time to Eleanor Roosevelt. And because Michelle Obama is such a ground-breaking First Lady, and also because she does have an influence on her husband's administration, not in the sense of meddling in West Wing affairs, not in the sense of popping --

MORGAN: But let me ask you this --

KANTOR: -- In the Roosevelt --


KANTOR: Her thoughts and beliefs and actions do affect the rest --

MORGAN: Why would they go out of their way, do you think, to discredit you, if as you say, the book is actually an authoritative account of life in the White House and is factually accurate? Why are they doing this?

KANTOR: That is something I think a lot of reporters in Washington don't necessarily understand. I -- I don't know. I've covered them for years. And they have never responded to anything like this.

And I -- you know, the thing that I really wonder about also is why people seem to think that the image of Michelle Obama in the book is negative. She's portrayed as a strong woman who goes through a growth experience as First Lady, who learns a lot in public life, and by the end of the book is -- you know, is bolstering and supporting her husband.

And you know, also the funny thing about some of the points at which she's frustrated in the book, like after the Scott Brown victory, is that her feelings are very similar to Democrats on the outside. When Scott Brown won the Massachusetts race, how many Democrats on the outside were saying how could the White House political team have let this happen?

And the key thing about her is that she has a transformative view of her husband as president. She wants him to do great and lofty things. And so when the Scott Brown Massachusetts loss happens, that's the sort of time when the administration is making some very unpopular health care deals. And the -- the -- there was the Nebraska deal that basically made it look like there was a give away to Nebraska in exchange for a vote.

And that was also very troubling to Michelle Obama, her aides told me, because she had really high hopes for this presidency. And from what she says still does. She's completely all in for 2012.

MORGAN: But you would accept I guess as an overview of this -- although you've claimed to have spoken to 33 aides -- and I don't dispute that at all. And I've followed your stuff in the "New York Times." You've always been to me certainly a competent journalist. I'm not questioning your credentials.

But clearly they are. And they're upset about this and upset about the portrayal. They don't recognize the portrayal that you are now putting forward for the book. They're seeing it as a deliberately negative account of particularly the First Lady, in the sense that you portray her as somebody who is frustrated. You repeat the Carla Bruni my life is hell account --

KANTOR: No, I say that's false.


KANTOR: -- is that that's the occasion for the Robert Gibbs blow up in which he said he used a curse word against the First Lady in a White House meeting. And so the question about that episode is really about the extent to which the Obama team is still unified and is still getting along, which is a really key question going into the 2012 election.

MORGAN: Are you slightly sad that the book is being spun, for whatever reason, in this very negative way against the First Lady?

KANTOR: I do think you're on to an excellent question, because the political culture is so nasty and negative that I think there is a good question about if you work really hard on an honest portrayal of these people, that shows their successes and failures and their strengths and their weaknesses, you are at risk of being attacked for that.

But the great thing is the actual book is out. And readers can find it and they can see these fascinating and illuminating stories for themselves. And there's really no alternative, in a way, Piers, because are we -- are we going to stop writing biographies and character portraits of presidents and First Ladies? Do we want to live in a world where -- where that doesn't exist? MORGAN: No, I guess my only point journalistically is that you are relying on other people to tell you how Michelle Obama, in particular, has been feeling throughout this book. And I'm not sure that's entirely fair to her, particularly if she disputes the speculation about how she's feeling.

You must accept that if that was you -- if that was a book about you and none of it actually was from you -- it was all people that work for you, who may have a particular view about you through the employer/employee relationship, that actually that could very well skew how you're feeling and thinking about things to suit their own agendas.

So you may have well been misled by aides who, for whatever reason, have an ax to grind with her. And actually you don't have any stuff directly from the First Lady to substantiate her feelings, other than through other people. I mean you would accept that, right?

KANTOR: Well, let me tell you about one scene in the book that I find very poignant. And I'll tell you how I reported it. There's a scene in the book where there's a very minor security incident. And it doesn't really amount to anything in the end, but it's a scary moment. And it really shows the isolation of the presidency and First Lady- hood, and the anxiety that comes from living with security incidents.

Michelle Obama is up alone in the residence. And she gets an e-mail saying there's been a minor security incident. But she doesn't know what that means. And the e-mail is from Valerie Jarrett. And it turns out that Jarrett is in a meeting. And Susan Charrett (ph) is exercising. So nobody e-mails her back.

And Jarrett and Charrett told me this story afterwards. And they told me how concerned the First Lady was and how she didn't want to cause a fuss, and she didn't want to know -- she didn't want to cause a stir by expressing too much alarm.

And so she finally picked up the phone and called the White House operator and asked for her husband. So both Jarrett and Charrett told me that story on the record. And to me it was a really illuminating and moving reminder of the restrictions of this kind of life. And also the anxiety that runs through it.

You know, when there was a news story a couple of weeks ago about how a bullet hit the back of the White House, the sort of undertone of the story -- the real importance of it is that, you know, the back of the White House is where Malia and Sasha go out and play, right? There's a swing set out there. And that's where they can go kick and play a soccer ball.

And so part of what the book is showing is -- is what it's like to actually live this life. And by the way, I do think that there is a really important question that hangs over this, which is think about all the difficult things that people have to think about before they run for public office, right? Think about something like that security threat. And that really affects who runs for office in this country, who's willing to go into politics. And so looking at these questions and how the president and First Lady live through them is really important, I think.

MORGAN: If the First Lady's watching this, and I'm sure it's on her nightly viewing schedule, would you express any regret to her in the way this is all being portrayed?

KANTOR: Oh, well, you know, I can't take the responsibility for what people are saying on TV shows, when they haven't read the book and they haven't studied this. I guess -- I mean, I guess I can only express my wishes as an author that the people really absorbed the book and think about it carefully. But all of my journalism has been about understanding her and documenting her in a fair way.

MORGAN: Well, she clearly doesn't think you are. But I appreciate you coming on, Jodi. Thank you very much.

KANTOR: Take care.

MORGAN: When we come back, outrage over a video that seems to show U.S. Marines urinating on corpses. I'll ask the POW who became an icon of the Iraq War, Jessica Lynch, what she thinks.


MORGAN: I want to turn to the story that's spreading outrage around the world. Take a look at this still from a video purporting to show a U.S. Marine Sniper team urinating on dead bodies, possibly in Afghanistan's Helmand Province, where some of the toughest fighting has taken place against the Taliban. Some viewers may find this disturbing.

It's important to hear what these Marines say. We'll get to that in a moment. First, I want to bring you one of the most well-known U.S. veterans of late, Jessica Lynch. She's the author of "I'm A Soldier Too." We'll get her thoughts on this.

Jessica, welcome. You're obviously an iconic person in many ways from the war.


MORGAN: When you saw this video as a soldier first, I guess, what was your reaction to it?

LYNCH: You know, first and foremost, you know, that is not anything that we were ever taught to do as soldiers. That's just a disgrace. That's not anything that we were ever, ever taught in the military. You know, it's important that we're over there to do a job. And that is to protect the United States and fight for the them.

And you know, that's what should be important right now, is doing their job, not whatever they're doing in that video. MORGAN: Do you even comprehend how this kind of situation can happen? Because clearly it's not a one off incident. There have been numerous examples of abuse in various forms, Abu Ghraib being the worst. This is awful, as well. There have been others in Britain and so on.

Are you surprised that sometimes in the heat of battle soldiers, even the finest Marines, go over the top like this?

LYNCH: No, I mean, I don't think that -- again, this isn't appropriate behavior. I don't know why anyone would act in this manner. I mean, you know, I have no idea. I mean, we've been asked if it's, you know, maybe a phase of PTSD. I don't think so. I don't know.

MORGAN: You think it's more callous than that?

LYNCH: No, I have no idea. Obviously it's still under investigation. And as the case continues, I don't think so, I don't know. We'll get more answers of maybe why.

MORGAN: For those who haven't really seen it in context, let's watch the video of this. Because it is -- frankly, I find it disgusting. And I think other people will too. Let's just watch this.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think someone's --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm trying. I'm working on it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah. Yeah. Have a great day, buddy.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Golden like a shower.


MORGAN: The whole thing about that is just vile. The fact that they would do it at all, the fact so many of them seem to be involved, the fact that they are premeditatively videoing this for later gratification, the kind of glee going with this. Because they're there to do a job for their country.

LYNCH: Correct.

MORGAN: For the military, for the Marines. They have all these reputations to uphold. And in that kind of video, they ruin everything, don't they? LYNCH: Yeah, I mean, obviously you can look out and tell that, you know, that's not appropriate behavior in any manner. You know, you've got to think when they were showing the bodies being burnt in Fallujah, U.S. military bodies being burnt, how were we feeling as Americans watching Iraqis burn our own soldiers?

So, I mean, they've got to look at it in the same perspective. That -- we're not trained to go over and do acts like that. That is not the U.S. military.

MORGAN: There's been lots of reaction today. Leon Panetta, secretary of Defense, said "I've seen the footage. I find it utterly deplorable." A sentiment echoed by Hillary Clinton: "I express my total dismay at the (inaudible) Marines. I have the highest respect and admiration for, but I completely endorse Secretary Panetta. And I join him in condemning this deplorable behavior."

You got a reaction from the Taliban saying their religion that follows the holy task would reject such conduct. "This the inhuman act reveals their real face to the world."

Reality check, the Taliban have done appalling things to people for a very long time. So I think that statement needs to be put into that context. But it's very disturbing that post-Abu Ghraib, with all the attention that rained down on the American military for that and all the shame that came down on the perpetrators --

LYNCH: That this happened again.

MORGAN: -- that this kind of thing has been unearthed again, isn't it? It's just incredibly disappointing, isn't it?

LYNCH: It is. It really is. As a former soldier, you know, and as an American, yeah, you never want to see anything like that occur. But, you know, it's sad. And hopefully, you know, we will never have to go through this --

MORGAN: Should they be kicked out?

LYNCH: Again --

MORGAN: The perpetrators?

LYNCH: I think we should find out from the whole entire case of what the actual back story is --

MORGAN: But if that video is entirely an accurate portrayal of what they did, do you think the Marines involved should be --

LYNCH: Well, they should be punished just like the, you know, military servicemen that were associated with the Abu Ghraib. But, you know, I think definitely investigate the whole story. Don't jump to conclusions.

MORGAN: How do you think other Marines would be feeling about the shame that this incident has caused Marines generally? Because it has. And it's an appalling indictment that a few bad apples, apparently, if this video is entirely accurate -- seems to be the case -- have brought shame on everybody.

And 99 percent of these Marines are the finest, most outstanding soldiers in the world. It must be an awful thing for them, isn't it?

LYNCH: Yes, definitely. I think, in any case that would -- in any situation, not just with military, but you put that in any, you know, phase in a news broadcaster was to do anything, you know, it would definitely bring shame. So I think, you know, definitely anything like that.

But, you know, we have to remember that even though there's a handful that are doing wrong, we still have to support the ones that are over there and just continue to pray and support the ones that are actually doing good.

MORGAN: I agree. Let's have a break and talk about you and how you're doing.

LYNCH: Perfect.

MORGAN: Look like you're doing great.

LYNCH: Thank you. I am.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is coalition blackhawk helicopter on the ground, and PFC Lynch on a stretcher being carried to safety.


MORGAN: That was the rescue of Jessica Lynch from an Iraqi hospital on April the 1st, 2003, by joint U.S. special forces operations. She returned a war hero.

But the reality of what happened to her in Iraq was actually very different. It was an incredibly courageous thing that you did. I don't just mean what happened to you on the ground, which is the famous incident that has been told many times. I mean that most people in your position, when they're portrayed as a hero, heroine, the easy thing to do is to just let that mythology ride.

But you didn't. You came back and you told the truth. And you said, I was no hero in the way that you think. Tell me how you summoned up the courage to do that. What was your driving motivation?

LYNCH: Well, I was in a humvee with five other soldiers. And all of them were unfortunately killed except for me. I was the only survivor. So it would have been very easy for me to have taken credit for everything that they were portraying me as.

But that's not the person I am. That's not how I was raised. I knew personally that I wouldn't be able to live with myself, like go on with the rest of my life knowing that this was all a lie. So I wanted to be able to correct it and come out and tell the correct story, the full accuracy of what actually happened.

MORGAN: Did you come under a lot of pressure from people in the military, perhaps, and politically as well, not to do that?

LYNCH: No, no, not at any time was I -- I mean, we had criticism and stuff. But, of course, I felt that I had to do the right thing, and I did. That was what was most important to me.

MORGAN: You entered the Army at 19.

LYNCH: Eighteen.

MORGAN: Eighteen. Why would a nice young girl from West Virginia join the Army?

LYNCH: I couldn't find -- I wanted a better life for myself. There really wasn't a whole lot of jobs. For me, I wanted to have enough money to go to college and become a school teacher.

MORGAN: Did you ever imagine, in your wildest nightmares, that you would one day be on the front line of somewhere like Iraq?

LYNCH: No, never, never. I literally, I joined July of 2001, went to basic training, and then was shipped off to Iraq in 2003. So never at that point -- and I really wasn't into my Army career long enough to even fully comprehend that that was a possibility, let alone to become a prisoner of war.

MORGAN: Well, you ended up with a bronze star and a purple heart. And a limp, right? How is that coming along?

LYNCH: Good. Good. I mean, the medals, I honestly -- I felt bad. I didn't want to accept them, but I knew with the POW medal, obviously, I was a prisoner of war, so I did accept that. The purple heart, every soldier who is over there who is wounded and in action receives the purple heart.

And then the Bronze Star -- or the Bronze Medal.

MORGAN: How are you doing physically? You did sustain pretty bad injuries.

LYNCH: I did. Yes, I have had 21 surgeries over the past eight years to kind of correct all the bones. And I still have a brace on my foot that I still have to wear.

MORGAN: You sprang up here quite sprightly. I was quite surprised, actually, Is it been getting better for you, slowly but surely?

LYNCH: It does, because I make it mentally. I mean, honestly, probably things are deteriorating. And I have to go back and get more surgeries. But it's all the way that you look at it. Mentally, I'm fine. I look at it as, you know what? At least I came home. I survived. And I'm able to sit here.

I get to walk around New York, where most soldiers -- either they don't get to come home or they're in wheelchairs.

MORGAN: And you're also involved in this great project. Tell me quickly about it. It's called the Imagination Library. Dolly Parton Imagination Library.

LYNCH: I brought a few books here. I am the ambassador for the West Virginia Department of Education and Art. And what they do essentially is Dolly Parton has set this up, which she started in 1996, with her own county back in the Smokey mountains. So she's extended it worldwide.

And now every child from birth to five years old receives a book. You go down to your local county and you sign up for it. But they send you a book through the mail every single month for your child.

MORGAN: What's the content? What's the simple idea?

LYNCH: Just to get kids reading. I find that so important, especially since I graduated a few weeks ago with my bachelors in education.

MORGAN: Congratulations.

LYNCH: Thank you. I find it so important that kids are reading and that parents are reading to those kids, because that's your basic fundamental learning. You have to learn how to read. Where do you begin? Your parents.

MORGAN: A great idea. It's a great inspiration to young kids. And you're a great inspiration. So it's been a real pleasure to meet you. Thank you very much.

LYNCH: Thank you so much.

MORGAN. Jessica Lynch, a remarkable young lady. That's all for us tonight. "AC 360" starts now.