A pedestrian, wearing a mask, walks near the apartment building of Doctor Craig Spencer on October 24, 2014 in New York. Spencer, a member of Doctors Without Borders, who recently returned from treating Ebola patients in Guinea, the epicenter of the world's worst outbreak of the disease, tested positive for Ebola on October 23, making him the city's first Ebola patient.

A pedestrian, wearing a mask, walks near the apartment building of Doctor Craig Spencer on October 24, 2014 in New York. Spencer, a member of Doctors Without Borders, who recently returned from treating Ebola patients in Guinea, the epicenter of the world's worst outbreak of the disease, tested positive for Ebola on October 23, making him the city's first Ebola patient.

A doctor in New York City has been diagnosed with Ebola after returning from treating patients in Guinea. Federal health officials announce they will begin monitoring travelers from West Africa for 21 days after their arrival in the U.S. for signs of the virus. A massive airbag recall that could affect nearly eight million U.S. cars is announced this week, with at least two deaths blamed on the defect. This year is projected to have the most expensive midterm election ever, set to cost nearly $4 billion. And legendary Washington post editor Ben Bradlee dies at age 93. The domestic hour of the Friday news roundup.


  • Susan Page Washington bureau chief, USA Today.
  • John Dickerson Chief political correspondent for Slate.com and CBS political analyst and contributor. Author of "On Her Trail: My Mother, Nancy Dickerson, TV News' First Woman Star."
  • Ron Elving Senior Washington editor, NPR.

Featured Video Clip: Do Political Attack Ads Work?

Analysts have said in recent years that political attack ads, and negative campaigning, don’t work.

But they seem to be working “better than ever,” Diane Rehm said during her domestic news hour Friday, particularly in states with Democratic candidates who have aligned themselves with President Barack Obama.

“[Attacks] stick with voters, a lot of whom aren’t researching things,” says John Dickerson, a chief political correspondent for Slate.com and a CBS political analyst and contributor.

“That’s the kind of regrettable state we’re at right now.”

The strategy could also affect voter turnout for those burned out on the attack cycle, the show’s panelists said.

Watch the full discussion.

Watch Full Video

Watch video of our panel as they discuss the week’s top headlines in studio.


  • 10:06:53

    MS. DIANE REHMThanks for joining us. I'm Diane Rehm. A doctor just back from West Africa tests positive for the ebola virus in New York City. A new report says the approaching midterm elections will be the most expensive in history and the new airbag recall affects nearly 8 million cars. Here with me for the domestic hour of the Friday News Roundup, Ron Elving of NPR, Susan Page of USA Today and John Dickerson of Slate.com and CBS.

  • 10:07:32

    MS. DIANE REHMAnd since it's Friday, you can watch a live video stream of the program at our website, drshow.org and do join us, 800-433-8850. Send an email to drshow@wamu.org. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter. Happy Friday, everybody.

  • 10:07:56

    MS. SUSAN PAGEHappy Friday.

  • 10:07:57

    MR. RON ELVINGHappy Friday.

  • 10:07:58

    MR. JOHN DICKERSONThanks, Diane.

  • 10:07:58

    REHMGood to see you all. I understand the full House Oversight Committee is going to convene a rare recess hearing this morning at 9:30 on the ebola crisis. We have another case in New York City. Tell us about Craig Spencer, Susan.

  • 10:08:20

    PAGEWell, he's a doctor. He had been serving in Guinea with Doctors Without Borders, a great organization and one that's really taken the lead in treatment of ebola victims in West Africa. He had come back a couple days ago. He had been monitoring himself, taking his temperature twice a day. His temperature went up to 100.3. It has previously been reported as 103, that's inaccurate. It was 100.3. He immediately did exactly what you're supposed to do.

  • 10:08:48

    PAGEHe isolated himself in his apartment. He called the appropriate authorities that came and took him to the hospital with appropriate hazardous material, protection and he's now being treated. This is obviously going to ignite this House hearing. The House hearing, of course, had been scheduled before we knew there was this new case. I would just point out something I have said before, which is more people have played quarterback for the Redskins this year than have contracted ebola in the United States.

  • 10:09:18

    PAGEOnly two people have contracted ebola in the United States. This is another example of someone, like the man in Dallas, who contracted it in West Africa. We should keep this in some perspective, but obviously, a lot of concern in a crowded metropolitan area like New York City.

  • 10:09:32

    REHMRon Elving.

  • 10:09:33

    ELVINGThis is a classic challenge to journalism because on the one hand, we don't want to inflame panic. We don't want to make people to more concerned than they need to be. At the same time, it's obviously our obligation to talk about what's going on, where the disease comes from, how it is contracted, what needs to be done by those who do discover that they have been exposed or that they have the virus.

  • 10:09:55

    ELVINGSo I think that in the weeks passed, after the Duncan case in Dallas, there was a great deal of reporting that was driving a certain degree of fear in the country, but I think that people are handling this a little bit better now. We've been through one wave. People understand why Duncan died, that he had contracted the disease in Liberia. They do understand, I think, in this case, that Dr. Spencer has contracted the disease in West Africa and as long as it can be established that he was not in the kind of contact, the bodily fluids contact, that would actually endanger someone else, this could probably be controlled in New York as well, but we'll just have to see.

  • 10:10:38

    REHMJohn Dickerson, do you think that his House Oversight hearing is going to mean changes to the way we handle or invite people who are returning from that area to deal with themselves.

  • 10:11:01

    DICKERSONI don't know. There's been a lot of pressure, for example, for a travel ban. You have a lot of politicians putting pressure on the administration to issue a travel ban. Three-fourths of the country, in one of the recent polls, supports such a plan. But this week, the administration put in place not a travel ban, but a new set of processes to monitor anybody coming from these three countries through the five airports that they mostly come through.

  • 10:11:27

    DICKERSONI think the challenge here is the responses. So you have this doctor who was self-monitoring, doing all the things the medical community understands you're supposed to do, but then, in the aftermath of the announcement of his case, there's a lot of scrambling for all the people that he had contact with, the kind of closing the barn door after the horse is out process creates this sense of panic also because while was the doctor was saying I am not symptomatic and therefore nothing's wrong, the response afterward suggests, well, maybe something was possibly wrong while he was going around. And that sends a mixed message.

  • 10:12:04

    REHMAnd you've got his fiance now in quarantine. You've got the bowling alley he visited closed for complete cleaning. They claim that at Bellevue Hospital, they are totally prepared to deal with it.

  • 10:12:22

    PAGEWell, this is a very sophisticated hospital and a good place, I think, to be if you've got a serious disease like this. I mean, one thing we've learned from this experience is that Dallas hospital, obviously -- apparently, I guess I shouldn't say obviously, apparently didn't have the proper procedures in case, in that two of their nurses became sick afterwards. We do have some designated centers that are very sophisticated in handling infectious disease and we have some other -- a network of other larger hospitals that, I think, they administration's moving towards designating them as being the places that will receive any future ebola cases.

  • 10:12:54

    PAGEAnd we may have some additional cases. This is possible that it will happen. The question is, does it become the kind of concern where people -- where you can't calculate how people are getting it, that somehow you went on a subway and somebody down the car ended up having the infection and you got it. We haven't seen that. That would change the calculation.

  • 10:13:14

    REHMOkay. I have a very intimate question to pose. Suppose Dr. Spencer had sexual intercourse with his fiancé when he got back, before he was symptomatic? Are we going to now be worried about people who come back and whether they should be quarantined for a certain number of days before they come into close contact?

  • 10:13:53

    DICKERSONWell, I think we'll know soon enough. I think in the case of Thomas...

  • 10:13:56

    REHMBecause she is quarantined mow.

  • 10:13:58

    DICKERSONRight. In the case of Thomas Eric Duncan, back to Susan's initial point, he came into contact with lots and lots of people, including his fiance and his family and he was even more symptomatic than the doctor in New York and none of those people got it. Sixty people, I think, were released on the watch list this week in Dallas, another 121 are being watched. So to the extent that we have any evidence that shows this is what might happen in New York, the possibility -- or the signs are good that unless you're kind of a healthcare worker dealing with a heavily symptomatic patient that you're not at risk and we'll just have to watch.

  • 10:14:36

    PAGEIt seems to me, we should try to be rational about this. I know it's hard for us, right? But if a situation develops where it seems wise to have a travel ban, then we should put on a travel ban. That's not the situation we have now. And, in fact, we had a report from the African Union yesterday that the travel bans in place in Africa are making it hard to get doctors and nurses who are willing to volunteer to treat victims in West Africa into West Africa.

  • 10:14:59

    PAGEThat's obviously not a good thing because we don’t have a crisis here, at this point, they have a terrible crisis in West Africa.

  • 10:15:04

    REHMWhat's the latest on the two ebola patients being treated at NIH and Emory, Ron?

  • 10:15:12

    ELVINGWe're being told that they're making good progress. The situation does not appear to dire in either of those instances and, of course, that's what everyone devoutly hopes. But that is why they were taken to these super sophisticated centers that Susan mentioned and that is why we need to keep an eye on those kinds of case intensely. Of course, these are the people who would be the next point of contact, if the disease were to spread.

  • 10:15:37

    ELVINGBut you know, I think we have to bear in mind in all of this, we are 10 days away, roughly, less than two weeks away from a national election, from a midterm election when people are being elected to Congress, people are being elected who have been critics of the administration across a broad range of issues. And so certainly, we're going to hear aired many, what seem to be apparently obvious suggestions, such as a travel ban, such as quarantining everyone from that part of the world.

  • 10:16:05

    REHMJohn Dickerson, we saw Ron Klain begin his work this week as the new ebola czar. Interesting that the president didn't even introduce him and there is some talk on Politico, in fact, that he took the job because he's been promised John Podesta's job.

  • 10:16:31

    DICKERSONThe job. For him to -- and he's getting his first challenge with New York, which is just basically to coordinate all of these agencies that are involved and also to manage the federal versus the state response. And so he's getting his first taste. As you mentioned, the president did not do what we're accustomed to, which is have a big ceremony, put a person forward and sort of take all of the negative energy that's coming at the administration and stick it on that person and say they will solve it.

  • 10:17:02

    DICKERSONThis is a different situation in which Ron Klain is not going to be the public face of this, but he will hopefully do a little bit of what Jeffrey Zients did when he fixed healthcare.gov after its collapse on launch, which is basically cut through the bureaucracy, make sure that everybody's working off of the same set of facts and get the right information to the president when he goes out and speaks about it so that he's playing his role as communicator. And so it's a very inside job and that's why he was rolled out in that kind of low key way.

  • 10:17:35

    REHMSo what about the rumor regarding placing him in Podesta's job?

  • 10:17:42

    DICKERSONI don't know. I don't know what to say about that. Susan?

  • 10:17:44

    PAGEWell, to be fair, Ron Klain was on the short list to replace Denis McDonough as chief of staff or to get the Podesta job. We know John Podesta has always planned to serve just for a year so he'd be leaving at the end of the year maybe to go run Hillary Clinton's campaign. So I'm not sure this is like a payoff. I think it might be like, okay, you're gonna come to the White House at the end of the year. Just come a little early and handle this media crisis.

  • 10:18:06

    ELVINGAnd it would be a perfectly natural segue if he is successful in damping down some of the political consequences of all of this, which is really his portfolio. He's not here as medical professional, as everyone has observed. If he can damp down the political panic around this, then it would be a natural segue into the Podesta job.

  • 10:18:25

    REHMRon Elving, Susan Page, John Dickerson, they're here to respond to your questions, comments. Give us a call, 800-433-8850. And stay with us.

  • 10:19:59

    REHMAnd as a postscript lady and gentlemen on the ebola issues, here's an email from Ian who says he's just read an article about NYPD officers who visited the infected doctor's apartment with little gear and threw their masks and gloves into a public trashcan. So many people say not to be concerned, yet these are the things that make it more likely to spread.

  • 10:20:38

    ELVINGI did see some video tape last night of some police officers collecting the police tape from the apartment building and also some other things of that nature and their gloves and so on and throwing them in what looked like just a public trash receptacle. That seemed a little disturbing. On the other hand, there is no reason to think that any of these things has been in direct contact with the doctor himself or with anything else that would carry bodily fluids.

  • 10:21:01

    ELVINGSo again, there are many reasons to be concerned. It is perfectly rational to be concerned and to be fearful. But there are also lots of reasons to delimit that and to keep it in a certain perspective.

  • 10:21:15

    REHMAll right. Let's talk about the elections. Less than two weeks until midterms. And there's one key race in Georgia that seems to be changing this morning, John.

  • 10:21:32

    DICKERSONWell, it's funny, they're all key races. I mean, so what's happening Georgia is Michelle Nunn seems to be...

  • 10:21:40

    REHMSam Nunn's daughter, by the way.

  • 10:21:42

    DICKERSONThat's right. And this is a race in which you have two non-politicians running against each other, the only race in which that's the case, which adds a little interesting flare to it. But she's running against David Perdue who's a businessman. And this is one of the opportunities that Democrats have to take a seat away from Republicans that's currently in Republican hands. Most of the rest of the races we'll talk about are seats that the Democrats control that Republicans are likely to take away from them.

  • 10:22:09

    DICKERSONAnd just to remind everybody that the Republicans need to net six seats to take over the Senate again. And so there's been some -- the polls in all these races have been jumping around. In Georgia it's one of those races, like North Carolina, where the Democrats have a little bit of an edge in the average of the polls. In many of those other races there are about a dozen Democrats that are on the wrong side of the polling.

  • 10:22:32

    REHMTell me about Colorado, Susan.

  • 10:22:34

    PAGEWell, Colorado is another interesting place we've been watching. Of course it's a big swing state. President Obama carried it twice. But both of the statewide Democrats running for office are in some trouble. Senator Mark Udall is behind seven points in the USA Today/Suffolk poll. There's a new poll out this morning by Quinnipiac that has him down five. So he is clearly behind. That's a race that Democrats a couple months ago would've said they were going to win. So that's been something of a surprise.

  • 10:23:03

    PAGEIn the governor's race too we thought that John Hickenlooper was in good shape to be reelected. He's running just about even with Bob Beauprez who is the Republican challenger. So Colorado and Iowa are both states that were states President Obama carried twice, but they're states where Democratic-held Senate seats are in real trouble.

  • 10:23:22

    REHMAnd Louisiana.

  • 10:23:24

    ELVINGLouisiana is a state that President Obama did not carry twice. This is one of the republican trending states in the country. And there Mary Landrieu has survived through several terms more or less by the skin of her teeth really. And she is now in a race with Bill Cassidy who's a member of congress from Baton Rouge, a physician, who is probably going to lead in the long run but whom probably will need a runoff in order to finish off Mary Landrieu.

  • 10:23:55

    ELVINGNow it's a three-way, four-way, five-way, six-way race because Louisiana kind of makes it own rules. And they don't have an election in November. They have a primary. And if somebody gets 51 percent of the vote, that person is elected. But if no one gets 51 percent of the vote, and at this point it doesn't really look like anyone's going to, although it's possible someone could, then they have a runoff. And the runoff comes along weeks later. And so we'll still be waiting on the Louisiana result.

  • 10:24:18

    REHMI see

  • 10:24:18

    ELVINGBut in the long run, Senator Cassidy looks like a real possibility.

  • 10:24:21

    PAGEIt looks like it will be Senator Cassidy. Louisiana runoff in December -- if there's a Georgia runoff, also a real possibility, that wouldn't be until January. It would be after congress gets organized.

  • 10:24:30

    REHMOh my.

  • 10:24:30

    PAGEAnd it is conceivable. I mean, unlikely but conceivable that control of the Senate will hang on this election that takes place next January.

  • 10:24:37

    REHMAnd of course Kansas, your home state.

  • 10:24:39

    PAGEOne of the -- you know, it's so much fun 11 days before the election to look at the races we didn't know we'd be watching. If there's a race we didn't think we'd be watching at this point it would be running for reelection as a Republican senator from Kansas. Because, you know, no Democrat has been elected senator from Kansas since the 1930s.

  • 10:24:58

    PAGEBut Pat Roberts is clearly in trouble. He's got -- the Democratic candidates pulled out. There's an independent Greg Orman running against him. And I think that it's hard to bet against Republicans in Kansas, it's such a red state, but that's not a cooked race yet.

  • 10:25:11

    DICKERSONAnd South Dakota would be number two in that list of improbable races. I was in Louisiana this week. And Mary Landrieu who's been in the Senate 18 years is running as an unabashed incumbent. I mean, we, for a long time in politics, talked about the power of incumbency. That is waning a little bit but Mary Landrieu's saying, I'm chairman of the Energy Committee. And some of the people supporting her boast that she's gotten the most contributions from oil and gas interests. It used to be something you kind of tried to play down that you were getting a lot of money from people who expected something in return. No. This is a sign that she can deliver for oil and gas.

  • 10:25:45

    DICKERSONKatrina is mentioned almost by every person who speaks on her behalf and essentially says another hurricane's coming. Think of what she did to help us out after the last hurricane. Don't throw away your insurance now essentially. And then, you know, finally she is a pretty good campaigner out there in her family has a rich tradition in Louisiana. But as Ron said, she is now the last statewide Democrat in that state, in a state that President Obama lost by 18 points I think. And so the power of incumbency may be strong but there's some mountains that's just too hard to climb.

  • 10:26:22

    REHMAnd speaking of incumbency, what about Mitch McConnell, Susan.

  • 10:26:27

    PAGEWell, Mitch McConnell has been in a competitive race against Alison Grimes. There's some signs that that race, that he's pulled a little bit ahead in that race. Republicans feel a little better about it. But the Democrats continue to advertise there and she's campaigning. And it's one of those races that I don't think you can feel confident about until you see the returns.

  • 10:26:47

    PAGETalking about races we didn't expect to be watching, the New Hampshire Senate race looks very competitive. You know, we thought Jeanne Shaheen would be reelected pretty easily. She's been elected statewide there as governor and senator. Scott Brown had to move to the state to run. That's not usually a healthy -- you know, not a helpful thing when you're running for office. But there are some late polls there that show that extremely close. And if we have a kind of wave election, that would be one of the races that would be at risk of being -- or an incumbent would risk being washed away by a wave.

  • 10:27:14

    REHMWhat about the big guns? What about President Obama, Vice-President Biden, Hillary Clinton? Who are they out there campaigning for?

  • 10:27:24

    ELVINGInterestingly Joe Biden this week has been campaigning for a Democrat in northern Minnesota. He was in the town of Hibbing, Bob Dylan's home town. So he's out there kind of, let us say, on a rifle shot basis. How about that? President Obama is really not welcome to most of these states where incumbent Democrats are trying to hold on to Senate seats.

  • 10:27:45

    ELVINGJeanne Shaheen was asked about this in a debate last night in New Hampshire. And she was asked, you know, whether the president was going to come up to New Hampshire to campaign for her. And she says, you know, the president's got a lot on his plate. There's ISIS, there's Ebola. I think he should probably stay right there in Washington and work on these big problems.

  • 10:28:01

    ELVINGAnd of course that's partly because the campaign that Scott Brown that moved over from Massachusetts is running against her, is really not a campaign about Jeanne Shaheen. It's a campaign totally about Barack Obama. And then he says, Jeanne Shaheen supports him. She votes with him. So if you want to cast a vote against Obama this November, do it by voting against Jeanne.

  • 10:28:21

    DICKERSONI was in North Carolina yesterday and Kay Hagan, the incumbent Democratic senator was asked, where has the president shown leadership? And her answer was, I disagreed with him on ISIS and Ebola. Then when pressed further she finally said, well, he showed some leadership eventually in dealing with the BP oil spill. It was very painful to see her try to come up with an answer to that question.

  • 10:28:43

    DICKERSONIn Louisiana, Bill Clinton was there campaigning for Mary Landrieu. And his speech was thrilling to the audience there. He really -- you know, we all talk about his ability as a politician. What he does that's different than almost any other candidate I've seen this cycle, and it's true of most candidates, he makes an argument. He tells a story. And so there is a building sense when he gives a speech this is purely just the stagecraft of speechmaking but it is quite different than what we see.

  • 10:29:10

    DICKERSONI saw Paul Ryan in North Carolina this week and he gave what was the equivalent of like a Power Bar of a speech. It was about eight minutes long and it was just bullet point, bullet point. There was no -- it was just talking points strung together as opposed to Bill Clinton who engages in a kind of theatrical performance that leaves everyone delighted at the end.

  • 10:29:29

    DICKERSONAnd that's quite important in Louisiana where he has a connection with the African American community. They're 30 percent of the electorate in Louisiana. And if Mary Landrieu's going to survive, she'll need a lot of those votes from that community.

  • 10:29:41

    REHMWhat about money on these campaigns? We've not seen anything like this.

  • 10:29:48

    PAGESenate for Responsive Politics put out a report this week that said $4 billion is being spent on these midterm elections. That's an unprecedented amount of money. It doesn't even include all the money because there's some spending that doesn't have to be reported to the FEC. So that is a pretty big number...

  • 10:30:05

    REHMYeah, so where's it coming from, Susan?

  • 10:30:07

    PAGEWell, most of it comes from campaigns and political parties but a big share comes from these outside advocacy groups that have really unleashed forces. And if you think this is a lot of money, a lot of ads, $20 million a day at this point is being spent on politics in these last two weeks of the election. Just wait for 2016.

  • 10:30:29

    ELVINGThe things that bother people here I think it's not so much the number, although the number is gaudy and of course it gets our attention, but it's the way the money is being raised. The groups that can now give without disclosing who the donors are who are giving the money. The degree to which people can participate disproportionately by giving tens of millions, perhaps a hundred million dollars in terms of a single individual giving it or at least saying he's interested in giving it.

  • 10:30:55

    ELVINGAnd then how the money gets spent. Not just how it's raised and the obligations therein but also how the money gets spent, which is so heavily invested in television advertising that inundates the airwaves, makes it impossible to watch television, angers people, turns people off and ultimately is anti-democratic, small D, because it makes people less interested in participating in civic affairs, not more.

  • 10:31:19

    REHMAnd meanwhile Republicans are sort of laying out their own plans if they do take over both Houses of congress. What's the plan and the reaction?

  • 10:31:35

    PAGEWell, the House and Senate Republicans have talked about what they'd do if they -- after the election. There's been sort of less talk about what people would do after the election than maybe usual. It doesn't seem like we've had a very substantive issue-laden kind of election.

  • 10:31:49

    PAGEWe know that Republicans would want to do things like approve -- force approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline. They'd want to do what they could to repeal the Affordable Care Act or change some of its provisions. House Republicans are keener on repeal at this point than Senate are. They want to reduce regulation. They'd like to cut some taxes. But it's a reasonably modest agenda.

  • 10:32:10

    PAGEAnd you'd also -- you know, you look at what's going to happen after this election. We know that Republicans are very likely to control the House. We know that the Senate is likely to be closely divided. It's hard to see in that combination the ingredients that would lead us to have a more successful, more active congress than we've had these past two years.

  • 10:32:26

    REHMSusan Page of USA Today and you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." Boy, I'll bet lots of folks this week have been checking websites because of their automobiles. I, for one, have a 2002 Toyota Avalon and was relieved to know mine wasn't on the list. And by the way, we do have a link to that list on our own website drshow.org. You can also see all of our wonderful guests by video streaming at drshow.org. Eight million cars affected?

  • 10:33:17

    ELVINGAnd -- well, I have a '95 Honda which I think was made before airbags so I think I'm fine.

  • 10:33:24

    PAGEI think that's kind of sweet that you drive a '95 Honda.

  • 10:33:27

    ELVINGYeah, it's like the car the guy delivers the pizza comes in.

  • 10:33:30


  • 10:33:30

    ELVINGYou know, it's barely -- at least it doesn't have -- it's green but it doesn't have, like, a brown door which is -- anyway it's -- whatever airbag is in there is not a Takata airbag, which are the ones that people are worried about here. And what's -- we have another situation here where you have bad information leading to panic. So what happens is that in some cases these airbags deploy and the propellant which allows them to deploy in the case of an accident, the canister it's in explodes and shoots shrapnel. It explodes, I should say, not in an accident. So just on its own when...

  • 10:34:08

    REHMIt just does it on its own in warmer temperatures.

  • 10:34:12

    ELVINGRight. And they think warmth and humidity may play some role there in the passenger side. So the alarm was sounded and then people went to try to get more information. And there -- the information was not forthcoming. It was not up on the website. So it was the worst of both worlds, high panic, low information. So now the lists are getting out there but it's still unclear exactly sort of what one should do.

  • 10:34:41

    REHMYeah, it's also not clear about Takata and what they informed the government as to how they made these airbags, John.

  • 10:34:53

    DICKERSONThat's right. And what they knew when. And they -- there was a little problem and they said, oh well, it's not as big a problem as it is. And now it seems quite extensive.

  • 10:34:59

    PAGEBut, you know, I think questions also about how the government agency responded and this kind of fits in a pattern where government agencies do not seem to be working the way they're supposed to. It doesn't just seem that competent. You know, for instance they did a recall for people who registered their cars in warm humid places. Well, just because you registered your car in Wisconsin doesn't mean you're going to spend the rest of your life in Wisconsin. You just might drive to Florida and spent the winter there.

  • 10:35:23

    PAGEYou know, it reminds me of the early reaction to ebola, which was clearly too limited. The government clearly didn't do enough. Even the secret service scandal. This is a -- government agencies are not working the way Americans think they ought to be working.

  • 10:35:34

    REHMAnother guy over the fence.

  • 10:35:38

    DICKERSONYou're talking about the White House.

  • 10:35:39

    REHMThe White House, yeah.

  • 10:35:41

    ELVINGAnd here I was all set to talk about Takata and national highway safety traffic...

  • 10:35:43

    REHMDo talk about Takata, yeah.

  • 10:35:46

    ELVINGYes. Well, I -- we do need to talk about the leaper too. Dominic Adesanya, who's a 23-year-old, clearly a person with a history of arrests and mental problems. His parents have been trying very hard to get him more care, to get him more medical treatment. He wasn't cooperating in that. He got away from home, got a car, drove downtown and immediately went over the White House fence. He tried to break in before.

  • 10:36:09

    ELVINGIn this particular case instead of holding back the dogs, as happened in the earlier Omar Gonzalez intrusion, in this case the secret service personnel on the grounds let the dogs go right away. And Hurricane and Jordan who are a couple of Belgian attack dogs -- and there's a phrase we didn't really expect we'd be adding to our vocabularies -- Belgian attack dogs run very fast. And they got the guy immediately, knocked him down. He battled with the dogs. He punched them, kicked them. But they also go in their licks. He went to the hospital. They went to the vet.

  • 10:36:43

    ELVINGThey're back and apparently in fine shape. He is, I believe, still in the hospital and incarcerated. But, you know, this was at least the way one expects things to go if somebody jumps over the fence at the White House at 7:00 at night.

  • 10:36:57

    REHMThey're going to have to do something new about those fences.

  • 10:37:01

    PAGEClearly because each of these incidents seems to spur other incidents. But, you know, we look at -- the dogs did their job, right, and they let the dogs go so thank goodness for that. But they still have repeated contacts with this man before he went over the fence.

  • 10:37:12


  • 10:37:13

    PAGEAnd the question is, why wasn't more done because clearly this man was on a path to causing trouble?

  • 10:37:19

    REHMSusan Page of USA Today, Ron Elving of NPR, John Dickerson of Slate.com and a CBS political analyst. More to come, stay with us.

  • 10:39:57

    REHMWelcome back to the domestic hour of our Friday news roundup this week with John Dickerson at Slate.com and CBS, Susan Page of USA Today, and Ron Elving of NPR. I wanna go back to the airbag question because we really did not talk about the question of how these airbags are going to be replaced if at all. They seem apparently not to have the equipment to replace them.

  • 10:40:37

    ELVINGWe said earlier 8 million vehicles were involved.

  • 10:40:39


  • 10:40:39

    ELVINGEight million vehicles have been recalled so far. But there are some 30 million cars and trucks nationwide that are equipped with these bags. Now that covers 10 different manufacturers, including Honda, Toyota, General Motors, Chryslers. People, you know, these are companies you've heard of. Several others as well. And this -- from 2002 to 2007, this was the airbag that was being used in many, many models. Now, the information is out there as to what is covered and what is applied to.

  • 10:41:07

    ELVINGBut not all those vehicles have been recalled, which means not all of them can have the repair made by the manufacturer at their expense. So all that needs to be straightened out. And that difference between 30 million and 8 million is substantial. So people need to get some information. As you mentioned earlier, the focus thus far for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, NHTSA, has been on more humid states, because apparently the temperature and the humidity is a factor in why these canisters go off in that fashion.

  • 10:41:39

    ELVINGBut as Susan said earlier and as a couple of senators from Connecticut and Massachusetts are eager to point out, not every vehicle bought in the north is exclusively driven there. And...

  • 10:41:50


  • 10:41:51

    ELVINGBesides that certain amount of heat and humidity happens pretty much all over the country.

  • 10:41:55


  • 10:41:56

    ELVINGSo even though some parts of the country may not have been included thus far, many parts may be affected.

  • 10:42:02

    REHMAll right, let's open the phones. We'll go first to Tom in Durham, NH. Hi, you're on the air.

  • 10:42:11

    TOMGood morning, Diane.

  • 10:42:12


  • 10:42:13

    TOMI just wanted to speak to Susan's point about various government agencies and some seemingly confused or even weak responses in some of these problems. And I'd like the panel to discuss how much budgetary problems have affected all these agencies' ability to do their job.

  • 10:42:36

    REHMYou know, that was the exact question I posed to our panel during the break, so I'm glad you brought it up. Susan?

  • 10:42:45

    PAGEYou know, Tom, I think that in some cases, it's a contributing factor. We know, for instance, when it comes to seeking an Ebola vaccine, that Francis Collins, the head of the NIH, has said that if he hadn't faced budget cutbacks that we could have a vaccine now ready to go. But the budget cutbacks made that impossible. And the Secret Service situation as well. There's been talk that the cutbacks -- that budgetary pressures there reduced the -- reduced kind of their cushion when it comes...

  • 10:43:10

    REHMAnd transferring them to Homeland Security...

  • 10:43:13


  • 10:43:14

    REHM...instead of Treasury.

  • 10:43:15

    REHMAlso a factor. So I think it's fair to say that's one factor. On the other hand, you really need -- any organization, whether it's a government regulatory agency or a radio station or whatever, you need leadership that keeps you doing the job that you're supposed to be doing.

  • 10:43:29

    REHMYou bet. John?

  • 10:43:30

    DICKERSONBut then I also part of the challenge has been the response after the problems were discovered. And so, that's been part of what's been at fault here, too. In the Secret Service case, there were a couple of incidents that weren't about -- they weren't about the lack of resources, they were about just management making bad calls, not informing the president when he had been in an elevator with a convicted person who's carrying a firearm. That doesn't have anything to do with budget, that's just a bad judgment call.

  • 10:44:01

    REHMTrue, true.

  • 10:44:02

    DICKERSONAnd in the case of these airbags, you know, it was -- it was partially the government but also when Takata didn't notify NHTSA that it had known since 2004 with Honda that it was having some of these problem. That seems to be, you know, no matter how many staffers you have...

  • 10:44:19

    REHMPrivate responsibility.

  • 10:44:20

    DICKERSON...if they're not -- that's right.

  • 10:44:22

    REHMOkay. Let's go to Cindy in Kirby, AR. Hi, you're on the air.

  • 10:44:29

    CINDYHi there. I'm happy to be on.

  • 10:44:31


  • 10:44:33

    CINDYHere's my question. We've spent a phenomenal amount of money this year on campaign ads. And I can watch a campaign ad and it'll say X. And then the one right after it completely says no, X is wrong. This is what happens. So with my mathematical mind, at least on those is a lie. So with all the money that's being spent, is anybody checking the veracity of any of the information that's coming out?

  • 10:45:02


  • 10:45:03

    DICKERSONYou know, Cindy, and I'm not challenging your math, but it turns out they're both lies. The -- and basically that's -- the way campaign ads are run now, if you're not being called out by a fact-checking organization for being thoroughly dishonest, then you're not -- then you're not doing it right. The state of political ads is really drastic and dire and it's why in some these states that have seen ads running from over a year and a half the electorate is so fed up with things.

  • 10:45:31

    DICKERSONBut your -- so what do you do when you see these ads? Well, you can go online, you can go to these fact-checking organizations. It comes up pretty fast in the search of whatever the terms are that are being debated. What the campaigns and candidates are relying on, though, is not everybody will be so interested as you are and that they will take away whatever they hear kind of when they're in the next room.

  • 10:45:54

    DICKERSONAnd there were focus groups this week, part of the Wal-Mart Moms Research, where these moms in New Orleans were talking about what they'd heard in the campaign and what filtered through was the attack ads stuff. And that, turns out, it sticks with voters, a lot of whom aren't, you know, researching things the way you are, Cindy. And so that's the kind of regrettable state we're at right now.

  • 10:46:17

    REHMA while back it was said attack ads no longer work and negative campaigning no longer works. It seems to be working better than ever.

  • 10:46:28

    DICKERSONThe message has not gotten through the actual campaigns, but it's why, you know, we may see the lowest turnout midterm election.

  • 10:46:34

    REHMDeclining turnout, absolutely.

  • 10:46:35

    PAGEAnd, of course, both our first two callers are from states with really fierce Senate races. In Arkansas, you've got Senator Pryor with a tough challenger, Congressman Tom Cotton. That's one of the races we're going to be watching closely on election night. You know, there is a candidate this year who's made his signature not running negative ads and running positive ads. That's Governor Hickenlooper from Colorado. That served him well four years ago. It's not serving him as well this time around.

  • 10:47:01

    REHMAnd now you've got three young women from Colorado apparently joining the...

  • 10:47:11

    PAGEGoing to Syria.

  • 10:47:12


  • 10:47:12

    PAGEYes, trying to join ISIS.

  • 10:47:13


  • 10:47:14

    PAGEReally, really shocking.

  • 10:47:15

    REHMHe spoke this morning.

  • 10:47:17

    ELVINGYes. They were interested in going either to join ISIS or to be wives of ISIS fighters. Two of these women, I believe, were originally from Somali -- they're Somali women and the third was Sudanese. They were Muslim immigrants to the country and they were trying to get into the fray either as spouses...

  • 10:47:36


  • 10:47:38

    ELVING...for the fighters or perhaps as fighters themselves. And there have been others, and women included.

  • 10:47:41

    REHMAnd stopped in Frankfurt.

  • 10:47:43

    ELVINGThat's right. They were monitored and stopped along the way.

  • 10:47:47

    PAGEYou know, I would just say that both the ISIS story, this particular one and just generally the threat of ISIS and Ebola have really figured in to our midterm politics, as Ron said earlier. And it's been, I think, generally helpful to Republicans. I mean, it's...

  • 10:47:59

    REHMAll right, let's go to...

  • 10:48:00

    PAGE...reinforced a Republican message.

  • 10:48:01

    REHM...Peter in Hartford, CT. Hi there, you're on the air.

  • 10:48:08

    PETERHi, Diane. The more listen here, the more questions I have. But my initial call was prompted by -- I'm a physician and I am wondering why Dr. Spencer is being treated at Bellevue Hospital? My recollection is that we had four biocontainment units announced by CDC, which were at Emory University, which essentially is the CDC home. At the NIH and two, most people have probably never heard of, in Missoula, MT and somewhere in Nebraska. So why is this physician now being harbored at Bellevue?

  • 10:48:44

    PETERThe very fact that he himself is infected having worked in one of the West African countries demonstrates the ineffectiveness of the garb they're wearing there.

  • 10:48:56

    REHMAll right, anybody want to take that on?

  • 10:48:59

    PAGEWell, there had been initially some speculation that the administration might move to have all Ebola patients in the United States at one of those four centers. But I think that was found to be -- I think the conclusion was that wasn't realistic and it was more realistic to develop a network of perhaps 20 big hospitals across the country that had the expertise to handle a situation like this. And in New York, I believe, Bellville -- Bellevue is the one.

  • 10:49:22

    DICKERSONIt was one of the eight that was designated by the governor to handle as part of the Ebola response. But this is, again, for Ron Klain in his job, if his is to merge the kind of federal response and the state response.

  • 10:49:35


  • 10:49:35

    DICKERSONThis is what he has to do, figure out whether the eight in New York can handle or if in this case you take them from Bellevue and then take them to one of those four you mentioned.

  • 10:49:46

    REHMJohn, Ben Bradlee, the legendary Washington Post editor died this week. Tell us what legacy he leaves.

  • 10:49:59

    DICKERSONWell, he leaves a broad and exciting legacy. He died at the age of 93 at home. And obviously, I think, when people think of Ben Bradlee, the first thing they think about is Watergate. He was the executive editor who not only was there when the story was breaking, but who set the tone for a newsroom in which so many people have written and talked about this week where he hired good reporters and then let them run.

  • 10:50:24

    DICKERSONAnd didn't let them run and print whatever they had in the paper, although that's also a complicated part of his legacy. And it would be later when -- but, you know, he let them run and then press them and made sure that they -- that they had the story. But then there are other -- another crucial part of his legacy is the Pentagon papers, deciding to publish them.

  • 10:50:42

    REHMI think it's important, and I hope this doesn't upset people, but I think it's important to say that at the end, Ben Bradlee did have Alzheimer's and it is a disease that is killing many, many, many people. And you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." Ron Elving, weigh in on Ben Bradlee.

  • 10:51:14

    ELVINGBen Bradlee represented the kind of journalism that perhaps has never been adequate supply but seems in far less adequate supply in his wake. We have not seen the likes of him, may not see the likes of him again. It's also possible that we should say here that the kind of news organizations that would hire a Ben Bradlee may not be the news organizations of the future. He had a visionary publisher. He had a publisher in Katharine Graham who was willing to allow him to allow the journalism that he encourages, that he fostered, that he led...

  • 10:51:48

    REHMAnd believed in.

  • 10:51:49

    ELVINGAbsolutely. And so, what he did was courageous, no question, what his reporters did and not just in the Watergate case, but in many others, was courageous. Did they bat a thousand? No, they didn't. They made mistakes. They had regrettable moments, but they pursued an agenda of involvement in civic affairs and an aggressive role in questioning authority, the likes of which we will find difficult to find.

  • 10:52:11

    REHMThe ups and downs, Susan, the Janet Cooke affair.

  • 10:52:15

    PAGERight. You have to mention that one as well. This was a story that the Washington Post published about a kid who was given heroin by his mother. This turned out not to be true. It was made up. They put it in the paper. They backed it up. The won a Pulitzer Prize. They had to give the Pulitzer Prize back. I'm sure that was an incredibly painful episode for Ben Bradlee after all the highs he had had as well in his career.

  • 10:52:37

    PAGELet me just disagree with Ron about we'll never see his like again. You know, the qualities that Ben Bradlee brought to journalism are exactly the qualities we continue to need. I mean, we experiment with new ways of delivering information. Obviously that's changed tremendously for the Washington Post and every news organization represented around this table. But the qualities, a kind of energy and innovation and ambition are exactly what we need to have every day in our industry.

  • 10:53:01

    ELVINGI don't disagree about the need, only disagree about the supply.

  • 10:53:05

    DICKERSONOne other element of the Bradlee story is his relationship with John Kennedy in his book, "Conversations with Kennedy," which came out 10 years after Kennedy had died. And it's a glowing portrait of Kennedy. But there was something in their relationship that was unique and we don't see a lot, which was that he was on the inside. He met Kennedy when he was covering the Hill for Newsweek. And they became friends. I mean, they spent the weekends together. They spent a lot of private time together.

  • 10:53:29

    DICKERSONAnd as Bradlee wrote in the introduction to that book, it was only a strand of the Kennedy story, but it was the kind of thing we don't see much, which is the kind of irascible confidant who is both inside and has view of the presidency, but also has at least enough attachment that they can kind of as they see it. So it was a favorable account, but also gave us some insight that we don't really ever get anymore about presidents because everything has gotten so clammed up and so kind of scripted and messaged. And that's a shame. We should see that again.

  • 10:54:02

    REHMAnd you know back in 1995, I had the pleasure of talking with Ben Bradlee after his book came out. We rebroadcast that interview Wednesday night and if that's something you'd like to hear, you can hear it online. I specially want to express condolences to both Sally Quinn his wife and their son Quinn. And I'm sure there's going to be a huge turnout at the cathedral. The family has opened the funeral to the public.

  • 10:54:50

    REHMSo I'm sure lots of people are going to want to pay their respects. And there are going to be lots of people telling stories about Ben Bradlee and what he did. Did your mother know him well, John?

  • 10:55:11

    DICKERSONShe did. And she knew a lot of the people in that circle.

  • 10:55:14


  • 10:55:14

    DICKERSONYou know, that period of the Kennedy years was when -- you had a glamorous president who turned government and the White House into a glamour show and you had these characters and Bradlee was, you know, top among them who were just great fun to be around. They were good company. They were, you know, constantly tossing cat amongst the pigeons. Just in private affairs and public affairs, there were a lot of downsides to the behavior of this generation.

  • 10:55:44

    DICKERSONBut it also was a time that a lot of people who are still living from that generation reflect back on as a period of excitement and promise and kind of (word?) in Washington that kind of hasn't been seen since with the exception perhaps of a period during the Reagan years.

  • 10:56:04

    REHMJohn Dickerson, he's chief political correspondent for Slate.com, a political analyst for CBS and author of "On Her Trail: My Mother, Nancy Dickerson, TV News' First Woman Star." Susan Page of USA Today, Ron Elving of NPR. Thank you all.

  • 10:56:31

    PAGEThank you.

  • 10:56:31

    ELVINGThank you.

  • 10:56:31

    DICKERSONThanks, Diane.

  • 10:56:32

    REHMAnd thanks for listening, all. I'm Diane Rehm.

Related Links

Topics + Tags

Most Recent Shows