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Transcript

Friday, February 09, 2007

BOB GARFIELD:
Another week, another presidential hopeful nearly says he's in.
CORRESPONDENT:
He's inching closer.
CORRESPONDENT:
Tonight Rudolph Giuliani takes a new step on the road he hopes stretches from New York to the White House.
BOB GARFIELD:
A little further into the story, NBC's Brian Williams pops the big question.
BRIAN WILLIAMS (TAPE):
Can he convert his popularity in the wake of national disaster to attempt to carry him all the way to the White House?
BOB GARFIELD:
Williams is a national newsman but, more significantly, he's a national newsman based in New York, the site of the national disaster that made Giuliani's run for the presidency possible. Fact is, once it was not possible. As "America's Mayor," he is a media darling. As New York City's mayor, he was a media – brat. Jason Horowitz covers politics for The New York Observer.
JASON HOROWITZ:
It's fair to say he had a rather antagonistic relationship with New York's press corps, and he was known as somebody who would push back and like to, you know, give and take with the reporters and didn't take much from them.

And since September 11th, he hasn't really encountered that again. So I guess the question is when his campaign really goes into full gear, what type of New York press is he going to be facing? Is he going to be facing the pre-September 11th or the post-September 11th? And my inclination is to guess that being that this is a race for the president, he's going to be facing serious questions, and these people know him very well and have covered him for a very long time.
BOB GARFIELD:
New York is still a newspaper town, and there is no shortage of pre-9/11 reporters who still have a lot of string on the pre-9/11 mayor. Ellis Henican is a longtime columnist for Newsday. He agrees the relationship between Giuliani and the local press was combative, but he says it was also – fun.
ELLIS HENICAN:
He didn't like us. I mean, let's just start with that. He didn't like to be criticized. He took it all very personally. He was quick to anger, and he lashed out very quickly, all of which made things fun for the media who had to cover him.
BOB GARFIELD:
Lashed out how?
ELLIS HENICAN:
Well, he would complain. He would heckle you. He would question the intellectual honesty of your questions. In fact, the Room Nine press conferences in his era, the most frequent beginning of a sentence was, if you were going to be intellectually honest about that question, you would, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

Yeah. It was a combative relationship. But in that combat, I think you learned a lot about who the guy was. He was someone who was very headstrong, who was not too big on nuance, who was smart and was a good arguer. And he might not be right, but he was never uncertain.
BOB GARFIELD:
I'm just curious - most of America knows Rudy Giuliani as the sainted hero of 9/11. But the New York press, you know, had a very different take on him, at least through September 10th, 2001. What was the book on Giuliani?
ELLIS HENICAN:
In the early years, I think people appreciated the fact that he brought a sense of civic order to the city, and he rode that a while. But when he went to bed on September the 10th, 2001, he was just another tired mayor with a bad marriage. He had run out his string of charm in New York, and he had succeeded in his years in office in alienating, one by one, an awful lot of the constituencies that add up to this place called New York.
BOB GARFIELD:
Is it your sense that the New York media as a group is sort of chmping at the bit to let the outside world know about their Rudy?
ELLIS HENICAN:
I think we think we had some insights that the rest of the world maybe hasn't tuned into yet. When you're with Rudy outside of New York, he's treated like a rock star. They show up in huge crowds and they ask very respectful questions. You know, 16 years into this relationship with the guy that has kind of worn off in New York.
BOB GARFIELD:
Part of running for office is managing the media. Now, Giuliani has taken some unorthodox steps in that direction in the past. [LAUGHS]
ELLIS HENICAN:
If you had to point to one symbol of the Rudy/media relationship when he was in City Hall, it was the crime scene media police pen. The cops would come immediately after something really bad had happened and put up these blue sawhorses. And it wouldn't be right outside the building where the guy was killed. They would be like four blocks away from the building where the guy was killed.

And they would do their best to hustle the media into that pen where you would have no connection to the story at all. It was especially maddening because you would see the delivery guy from the deli down the block coming back and forth at will-
[LAUGHTER]
- while the famously aggressive and demanding New York press corps is sitting inside this little cattle pen halfway across the borough of Brooklyn.

The trick, of course, was to start out at least by not taking out a press pass. Once you had that badge around your neck, some guy from DCPI, the Public Affairs Office at the Police Department, was sure to hustle you into the pen, and you were going to get nothing until you finally found a way out of there.
BOB GARFIELD:
[LAUGHS] This is going to be a colorful race, I gather. Are you just tingling with anticipation about, putting aside everything else, just the tabloid headlines ?
ELLIS HENICAN:
God has never been kinder to New York newspaper columnists -
BOB GARFIELD:
[LAUGHS]
ELLIS HENICAN:
- than it looks like he might be. And it's not just that Rudy and Hillary come from New York. I mean, that would be nice if that's all they were. But these are two large, divisive, almost cartoonish characters that you can't help but have a strong opinion about either one of them.

My goodness, if we wake up in the morning sometime in the summer of next year and this race is between Rudy and Hillary, I truly will think I have died and gone to heaven. Savor the moment. Never let it end.
BOB GARFIELD:
[LAUGHS]
ELLIS HENICAN:
Let them just beat up on each other for the next 30 years. I won't have to worry about anything else for the rest of my career.
BOB GARFIELD:
Okay, Ellis. Thank you so much.
ELLIS HENICAN:
Sure, great to be with you.
BOB GARFIELD:
Ellis Henican is a columnist for Newsday. Wayne Barrett is a senior editor at The Village Voice. His most recent book is Grand Illusion: The Untold Story of Rudy Giuliani and 9/11. Barrett has been reporting on His Honor for the mayor's entire career, so I asked him what advice he would give the Washington press corps if, in 2008, they find themselves covering President Giuliani.
WAYNE BARRETT:
Never write a critical word, first thing I'd say.
[LAUGHTER]
Never write a critical word. And Rudy is surrounded by what they call the "Yes, Rudys." And so the press corps should see how well they pronounce the word "yes."
BOB GARFIELD:
[LAUGHS]
WAYNE BARRETT:
Right on, Rudy! Amen, brother! These are the terms that should just roll off the tongue.
BOB GARFIELD:
[LAUGHS] Okay. Now, do you harbor personal animus to His Honor, and do you think the rest of the press corps harbors any such bad feelings?
WAYNE BARRETT:
You know, I was once quite friendly with him when he was a United States attorney. I probably had 20 meals with him, and in many ways I identified with him and loved him in some ways. As a federal prosecutor, the guy I knew had extraordinary antenna for unethical conduct. It bothered him deeply. And then he ran an administration that had all kinds of ethical problems itself, and now he's built a multimillion-dollar corporation on the marketing of 9/11.

So I don't know what happened to those antenna but, you know, I certainly don't think I have a personal problem with him. He's somebody who's on my beat, that I've watched transform himself over time, so I report about him. But in many ways, I have a kind of feeling of fondness about him based on those years that we knew each other so well.
BOB GARFIELD:
Now, that's kind of an "ouch" remark, the idea that Giuliani has exploited the memory of 9/11 for his personal gain. Do you suspect that will be an issue in the race?
WAYNE BARRETT:
I think in some ways it will. I mean, we already know that some of the families have said that they're going to go out to Iowa and New Hampshire and follow him and try to raise some of the issues about his conduct. So I think it could be an issue.

Look, this is the first time we've ever had a serious candidate for president who's essentially running on the basis of what he did in a single day in his life. I think the other question is this: is the media really going to deal with the rationale for this candidacy? I know the media's ready to deal with Rudy, even in a critical way, on the questions of abortion, the gay issues, how they will float with the Republican constituency. But I've seen no interest on the part of the national media in examining Rudy's 9/11 record; it almost seems to be willing to accept it as a given.
BOB GARFIELD:
The current administration may be the most secretive in U.S. history, and it's certainly as suspicious as any previous White House about the press. Knowing what you know about Rudolph Giuliani, should he find himself in the White House, do you think transparency in the White House will improve or what?
WAYNE BARRETT:
He thinks all information that government has is only to be given out in the press in a deal with a reporter where he gets a positive story as feedback. That's the way he's become, really, over time.

It is going to be extremely difficult for the public to know anything about what's going on in a Giuliani administration, except that human sources may leak it. That's what we can hope for.
BOB GARFIELD:
Okay. So the citizen in you does not want this man to be in the White House, but I wonder about the reporter in you. For professional reasons, are you interested in seeing him in this race, or aren't you?
WAYNE BARRETT:
Well, I teach a course up at Columbia Journalism School, and the dean introduced me as the only man in America who has more at stake in Rudy Giuliani's presidential campaign than Rudy himself.
[LAUGHTER]
I certainly intend to be a player in the sense that I intend to say what I have to say, write what I have to write as he runs for president.
BOB GARFIELD:
All right, Wayne. Thank you.
WAYNE BARRETT:
Thank you.
BOB GARFIELD:
Wayne Barrett is a senior editor at The Village Voice.
(TAPE):
Sean Hannity :
Mayor Giuliani joins us now for -
[LAUGHTER]
- a Hannity and Colmes exclusive. Shall I say congratulations or condolences?
RUDY GIULIANI:
A little of both, but mostly congratulations. This is a wonderful, it's a wonderful thing to be, you know, organizing and putting together, and it's a little, very humbling to think that running for President of the United States is – for a kid from Brooklyn, it's quite a step.