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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Journalists Get Scrutinized

Aired May 28, 2003 - 19:49   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: All right. What's the buzz? Everyone wants to know about the buzz.
It's time to take stock of what folks from coast to coast are talking about when they gather around the water cooler. Joining me from Los Angeles is "Extra" correspondent -- weekend anchor Dayna Devon. With me here in New York "New Yorker" magazine's intelligencer columnist, Mark Malkin. And in D.C., "Washington Post" columnist Lloyd Grove, otherwise known as the Reliable Source.

All of you, appreciate you joining us. Mark, want to start off with you right here in the Big Apple. What are people talking about here?

MARK MALKIN, COLUMNIST, "NEW YORKER": The big buzz is "The New York Times" and the Blair witch, you know, hunt. What's going on at "The New York Times."

COOPER: The Blair witch hunt?

MALKIN: The Blair witch hunt.

COOPER: Which has now moved on to Maureen Dowd.

MALKIN: The Maureen Dowd hunt, the Rick Bragg hunt. "The New York Times" is trying to find everyone who did maybe something wrong at "The New York Times." It's getting ridiculous.

COOPER: It's certainly a major story here in New York. I want to show you what the controversy regarding Maureen Dowd sort of centers around.

This is from Maureen Dowd's column. I'm going to show it on the screen. What she wrote -- she said -- she was quoting President Bush, quote, "al Qaeda is on the run. That group of terrorists who attacked our country is slowly but surely being decimated ... they're not a problem anymore." End quote.

The actual quote from President Bush was "al Qaeda is on the run. That group of terrorists who attacked our country is slowly but surely being decimated. Right now, about half of all the top al Qaeda operatives are being either jailed or dead. In either case, they're not a problem anymore."

Much ado about nothing, you say?

Much to do about nothing. I mean, what President Bush was trying to tell the American public was we have nothing to worry about. In either case, we have nothing to worry about. Maureen did nothing wrong. It's ridiculous.

Lloyd Grove down in Washington, a lot of people talking about1?

LLOYD GROVE, COLUMNIST, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Not really. I thought I was going to have to defend Maureen against Mark, but I'm glad he agrees with me.

COOPER: You agree with him because?

GROVE: Well, because this is nonsense. I mean, we're in daily journalism, and mistakes are always made. That's the nature of the beast -- to make mistakes every so often. In this case, it wasn't even that. I think she fairly excerpted quotes from the president.

MALKIN: I mean, this is simply a conservative guy who's going after her, who's saying ...

COOPER: A columnist for the "Daily News."

A columnist for the "Daily News," where I used to work. Who is claiming she distorted the truth. I mean, the liberals say the conservatives distort the truth. The conservatives say the liberals. I mean, it's ridiculous. And she didn't distort the truth.

COOPER: Dayna, let's go to you in L.A. What's the big buzz there? I have a feeling the Maureen Dowd story is not quite as big in L.A. as it is in New York.

DAYNA DEVON, "EXTRA" CORRESPONDENT: Not scoring so big. We tend to be a little bit more trivial out here in L.A. No, I'm just kidding.

But we're talking about, I think, some of the big age differences in some of these celebrity relationships. And you know, we've been talking about Jack Nicholson and Lara Flynn Boyle with a 33-year age difference, which they've kind of cooled off a little bit.

We've also talked about Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones with the 25-year age difference. And Harrison Ford and Calista Flockhart with the 22-year age difference. And you guys just mentioned Paul McCartney and Heather Mills. She's now pregnant, and they have a 26-year age difference. So that's ...

COOPER: But it's largely older men with much younger women.

DEVON: Ah, yes. But not always. Actually, we're seeing a growing trend, I think, with some older women and younger men. You look at Madonna and her fiancee, or actually, husband, Guy Ritchie. And they have a ten-year age difference.

COOPER: She's 44, he's like 34, I think.

DEVON: That's right. And Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins with a 12-year age difference. And I think because age is not so much of an important thing anymore. Because these women are health conscious, they look good, they're well preserved, and they're earning their own money.

COOPER: They're well preserved. What are they, pickles?

DEVON: No, but you know what? Demi Moore, 40 years old. She is hot. She looks great.

COOPER: Lloyd, is this a buzz at all in Washington? Anyone care about this sort of thing?

GROVE: Well, yes. I mean, and there are a lot of well-preserved women in Washington. Let me tell you. In the best sense of the word.

But what people might be talking about tomorrow -- it's in my column tomorrow -- is that Richard Perle, the Prince of Darkness, of neo-conservative foreign policy hard liner, has paid what he thought -- I would assume -- was a wonderful compliment to President Bush in an upcoming "Vanity Fair" article, in which he says, "What's great about Bush is he doesn't know very much and he admits he doesn't know very much and is eager to learn."

COOPER: Yes, I think we have this actual quote. We'll put it on the screen and just read it out. It hasn't come out yet.

This is what he said. The first time I met Bush, 43, I knew he was different. Two things became clear. One -- he didn't know very much. The other was he had the confidence to ask questions that revealed he didn't know very much. Most people are reluctant to say when they don't know something. A word or a term they haven't heard before. Not him. He'd raise a point. He'd say 'I didn't realize that. Can you explain that.' He was eager to learn."

Do you think he was trying to make a compliment and it somehow came out the wrong way?

MALKIN: One of those backhanded compliments. I mean, we're all eager to be instructed by Professor Perle.

Another thing that's going on is Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the House, is coming out with a new novel. He wrote one about World War II in which the Nazis won. This time, he's writing about the Civil War in which Robert E. Lee wins the Battle of Gettysburg. And I think Newt's next novel might be about the 20-year reign of Newt Gingrich as speaker of the House and as America's first emperor. I'm waiting for that one.

COOPER: I don't know if you happened to catch Newt Gingrich on "Da Ali G Show" on HBO. You actually should get a tape of it. I don't know if you know about Ali G, but he actually sat through an entire interview with this guy. It was really painful to watch. I felt bad for Newt Gingrich in this interview.

Mark, also, here a lot of people talking about -- I guess -- commercials that are being shot overseas but using American stars. Ben Affleck has, you know, jumped ship. He's doing ads in Europe for men's grooming products. This coming on the heels of J. Lo. making him over. His first commercial is going to be for shampoo.

COOPER: But these are ads which are not going to be shown in The United States.

MALKIN: Yes, the contracts say no North America, no Canada, no Mexico. South America and Europe and Asia.

COOPER: Because he's afraid it will hurt his acting credentials, I guess?

MALKIN: I mean, the celebrities who have done it -- Harrison Ford, Leonardo Dicaprio, Sylvester Stallone, Sharon Stone -- do you think of them really doing that many ads here in the U.S.? They want to say, "I'm too good for that." But, you know, Ben's getting a million point six to do some shampoo and men's grooming products, as they call them.

COOPER: Wow. That's a lot of shampoo. Dayna, any celebrities you know in L.A. with -- I guess -- I mean, I've never heard of celebrities who shy away from doing commercials.

DEVON: You know what we're seeing a big trend of, actually, is voice work. A lot of celebrities necessarily won't use their face, but they'll use their voice.

Kiefer Sutherland isn't just in that sniper movie but also in just a lot of commercials now.

We're going to have to go with this. Daynah Devon, appreciate it. Lloyd Grove. Mark Malkin. As always, good to talk to you all.

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