Anita McBride C-SPAN Interview

16 04 2011

Anita McBride said that the American public has expected the First Lady of the United States to play certain roles, and those roles changed over time. “We expect them to use voice and comment on social issues,” McBride stated. When it comes to the role of the First Lady, nobody seems to understand better than Anita McBride, who has not only worked with former President George W. Bush, but also with his wife Laura Bush.

McBride, who served as Assistant to President George W. Bush and as Chief of Staff to First Lady Laura Bush from 2005-2009, joined students participating from the George Mason University Video Studio along with Steve Scully, the political editor for the C-SPAN networks, and students from the Georgetown University and  Purdue University.

The distance learning course, which is produced by C-Span, is a unique opportunity for students to interview guests via video conference. The course airs on C-SPAN3 on Fridays at 5 pm and also streams online (

A First Lady has been most effective when they bring their own experiences,” stated McBride. The First Lady “humanizes the president,” explained McBride, “she acts as a window to see the president.”

She explained how Laura Bush was typecasted by the media as the “shy, retiring librarian,” but managed to break through that with a voice of her own. McBride illustrated that we, the public, expect our First Lady to be deeply engaged. For example, Laura Bush did this by focusing on global health awareness and the Emergency AIDS plan.

Now, First Lady Michelle Obama has focused on the issues of school bullying, obesity and military families. This raised the question of whether a First Lady do too many issues and lose focus, but the answer according to McBride is “Michelle Obama has been very strategic, and so far she’s only focused on how to become more engaged with your children’s life.”  I think these issues presented by Michelle Obama are perfect for today’s nation, and for her, as she has two emerging teen daughters of her own.

As for the Obama Administration, she said “No other leader faces what the United States President has to face,” so she is very happy to hear that the Obama’s seem like a normal family with a dad, mom, kids, homework and even a dog.

Great questions that were asked during the C-SPAN interview by fellow students:

  • What if there was to be a First Man if a woman president was elected? McBride says it would simply stay the same job, to support the wife and for the man to have a voice of his own.
  • Excluding the thee First Lady’s she has worked for, which First Lady in history would she have liked to work for? McBride: Abigail Adams and Dolly Madison.

Mrs. McBride is also a member of the U.S.-Afghan Women’s Council, a historic public-private partnership between the U.S. and Afghan governments, Georgetown University and private sector institutions to help Afghanistan women find their place in a post-Taliban society. “They [the Afghan women] don’t want a hand out, they want a hand up, they don’t want to be perceived as victims,” McBride explained.

Andy Card C-SPAN Interview

9 04 2011

Andy Card knew more information than the President of the United States. Each day he would get up and receive official reports and then he would decide what was the most important information out of it all and tell it to the POTUS ( aka President of the United States), and that is what the Chief of Staff to the president would do.

Card, who was George W. Bush’s Chief of Staff from 2000 to 2006, joined students participating from the George Mason University Video Studio along with Steve Scully, the political editor for the C-SPAN networks, and students from the Georgetown University and  Purdue University.

The distance learning course, which is produced by C-Span, is a unique opportunity for students to interview guests via video conference. The course airs on C-SPAN3 on Fridays at 5 pm and also streams online (

Card’s job entitled him to have more knowledge than our own President, which is astounding because you would think the President would have to know everything. This heavy flow of daily information, called the President’s Daily Brief (one of the most secret documents in Washington), is what Andy Card said he missed the most about working in the White House. That brings us to a point though, a point that one student asked Mr. Card in the form of a question: What don’t we as normal citizens know?

“It’s scary,” said Card about the information that he received, “the enemy really wants to get us.” Card was not only the Chief of Staff to W but was also appointed head of George W. Bush’s White House Iraq Group, and talked greatly about the ‘War on Terror’ and what the country was going through during his time at the White House.

Card was the man who infamously had to tell the president during his talk at a Florida elementary school that the country was attacked on September 11, 2001. He recounted the moment when he heard that a private plane had hit the first tower, and then the stunning news that a second plane had hit as well. Hearing that it wasn’t a private plane after all, but two commercial planes, Card had to break protocol and interrupt the president by whispering in his ear “a second plane hit the second tower. America is under attack.”

Card said that September 14, 2001, just three days after the 9/11 attacks, was his most memorable day at the White House when Bush made his speech and spoke the words “our country was attacked with deliberate and massive cruelty…You are not alone.” Card recalled how they couldn’t allow emotion of 9/11 cloud the decision making process that was going on in the White House at that time.

Card’s detailed recounting of 9/11 was extremely fascinating, as the students got a first hand account of someone who was right in the middle of it, someone who got the information first. Now, I will always think of Chief of Staff’s and know that they are probably the most knowledgable person in the country when it comes to what issues are facing our country and national security.

A Spine Transplant- Dan Rather C-SPAN Interview

8 03 2011

American journalism needs a spine transplant. We need guts and courage to come back into journalism,” announced Dan Rather to the C-Span viewers on February 24, 2010. Throughout the interview, Rather emphasized the point that journalism is different than it used to be, no longer do we have the checks and balance system that the media used to utilize on politicians and companies. Investigative journalism seems to be scarce nowadays, and Rather says that in order for journalism to really be journalism, we need to have the passion and courage to dig deep and uncover the truth.

The Watergate scandal is still considered as the most famous investigative journalism example.

Dan Rather, who is an American journalist and former CBS News anchor, joined students participating from George Mason University Video Studio along with Steve Scully, the political editor for the C-SPAN networks, and students from Georgetown, Purdue and University of Denver. Also joining the conversation was Tucker Carlson, who is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Daily Caller.

Carlson also agreed with Rather, journalists nowadays are “unwilling to take on powerful figures and authorities.”

Rather also discussed how technology and onilne journalism has shaped media today. “Obama is our first Internet President.” 1963 Was the Age of Television but as soon as 2001 hit, the Internet Age began and has been in full force ever since.

Some key points by Carlson and Rather about onilne journalism today:

  • Carlson said that  the Internet is young, and for a smooth transition to online press, there needs to be more money. The media today is better and is worse than it was last century.
  • Dan Rather made the point that right now the public is somewhat confused as to where they should get their news. I completely agree because we have this flood of information from all sorts of platforms, and social media’s job is to figure out what is the best way to present it to us.
  • Rather talked about how social media has been one of the greatest tools against great power, for example a student brought up the crisis that happened a couple of weeks ago in Egpyt, and how Twitter and Facebook played such a huge role. (A sidenote, an Egyptian man was so grateful for Facebook during the crisis that he named he named his newborn daughter Facebook, check out the article here.)

One of the most fascinating parts of the interview was when Rather recounted his reporting on historical events such as the Vietnam War, the 1968 Presidential election (where Rather was punched in the stomach at a Democratic Convention) and the JFK assassination.

Rather during his report on the 1963 JFK assasination

The JFK assasination was “a hammer to the heart, these things don’t happen in America,” recounted Rather. This was a perfect example of when Rather had to ignore his emotions completely when reporting the news to the nation. The most moving part of the interview for me was when they replayed Rather’s report of the assassination, as we seemed to be  transported to that very moment Rather had to announce  that the President was dead. Another amazing point of the report was that Rather adlibed everything, after seeing the video footage just once, while he was describing the sequence of the assassination.
When asked about the lack of coverage on the Afghanistan war, Rather explained how the focus was moved from Afghanistan to Iraq by the government: a perfect example of “herd journalism,” and how more reporters should have a backbone.

What makes a good reporter? A golden question asked by Steve Scully at the beginning of the interview. Rather’s answer? Curiosity, determination and of course, the ability to write.

*One of my favorite quotes from the C-SPAN interview was when Rather was describing how they reported 9/11: “Get zoned, lets get the facts, as many as we can. Lets get as close to the truth as we can, that’s how journalists roll.

The distance learning course, which is produced by C-SPAN, is a unique opportunity for students to interview guests via video conference The course airs on C-SPAN3 on Fridays at 5 pm and also streams online at:

*Dan Rather is now anchor and managing editor of a television news magazine, Dan Rather Reports, that is on the cable channel HDNet. You can also check Rather out on Twitter here! See, even after decades in the journalism business, he keeps up with it by using the latest social media. Take note aspiring journalists…