This Week, January 31, 2010: The Roundtable with Paul Krugman, Barbara Walters, George Will, Roger Ailes, and Arianna Huffington

Watch this broadcast on Video: Part 1, Part 2, Green Room (not transcribed)


BARBARA WALTERS (ABC NEWS): Well now lets bring in our "Roundtable." George Will, Arianna Huffington, from "The Huffington Post," Paul Krugman, Nobel Prize-winning economist and columnist for "The New York Times" and Roger Ailes. And this is rather unusual for us, and I think for him, because Mr Ailes is the CEO and president of Fox News. And this is his first visit with ABC News on "This Week" so...

ROGER AILES (CHAIRMAN AND CEO): I was waiting for HD. I look so much better in HD. I look really good.

BARBARA WALTERS (ABC NEWS): I also - you just said that when Scott Brown got $1,000 for the "Cosmopolitan" nude photograph, you would have done it for less?

ROGER AILES (CHAIRMAN AND CEO): 1982, the guy's getting out of college, somebody gives him $1,000, and he can cover himself up. I don't know, 100 bucks, I'd do it.

BARBARA WALTERS (ABC NEWS): Well we're not going to, we're not going to ask you today. Okay, so here we go, George, Scott Brown, what do you think of him? Hw influential do you think he is going to be?

GEORGE WILL (ABC NEWS): He is 1% of one half of one of our three branches of our government. That is, he's one senator in an institution in which like most institutions, 80% of the work is done by about 20% of the people. Most of them senior senators. Furthermore, as he said in his interview, every Republican senator is the 41st senator. Therefore, every one is a potential obstructionist or extortionist. Depending on what you say. So in that sense I think he's - he will be of modest historic import.

BARBARA WALTERS (ABC NEWS): So why the fuss, Paul?

PAUL KRUGMAN (ABC NEWS): Well because we have a supermajority system. Because we have a system in which you cannot, at this point, get anything done without 60 votes in the Senate. I mean, you know, I - what I've been thinking about right now is at this point, the House of Representatives has passed a health care bill. It has passed a strong financial reform bill. It has passed a strong climate change bill. In any other advanced democracy, that would mean that all these things would have happened. But in the US system, it takes 60 votes in the Senate to accomplish anything. And because the Democrats nominated somebody in Massachusetts who didn't know her Red Sox that entire agenda has run aground. It's incredible.

BARBARA WALTERS (ABC NEWS): And that's - yeah that's, that was his opponent who was...

PAUL KRUGMAN (ABC NEWS): Right. And it's, it's, it's incredible, right? On - let me just say, on health care that was the most evasive answer. If you think this is a straightforward guy, that was not - that was an incredibly evasive answer on health care. Because the Senate bill which is now stalled is identical to the Massachusetts health care plan. It's same thing you know. No, no - only in the finest of fine print is there any difference. He voted for the Massachusetts plan. A majority of voters in Massachusetts who voted for him approve of the Massachusetts health care plan. Nonetheless, that plan is dead.

BARBARA WALTERS (ABC NEWS): And he's going to kill this.


ARIANNA HUFFINGTON (HUFFINGTON POST): But there were many symbolic reasons why his election was important. You know, he's a manifestation of the mistrust of both political parties. He ran as an outsider. He ran as a Scott Brown Republican. As he told you. Of course, as Paul said, he's already morphing into a cautious politician. Both in his answers to health care and his answer to "don't ask, don't tell" when he wouldn't tell you...

BARBARA WALTERS (ABC NEWS): He wouldn't tell.

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON (HUFFINGTON POST): ...which way he would go. So what is fascinating is to see really how much distrust there is. The President called it a deficit of trust in his State of the Union. And he really capitalized on that. And now, when he comes to Washington, let's see how quickly he becomes an insider. It happened to Obama. Remember he was the fresh face, was going to change things. And the special interests have won, at least for round one.

PAUL KRUGMAN (ABC NEWS): Can I say just one more thing? Voters still think they're voting for individuals. They voted for Scott Brown because they thought they liked Scott Brown. But in fact they're voting for parties. The only thing that matters about a candidate right now is whether it's a "d" or an "r" after, after his or her name. But voters haven't caught on to that yet. And that's, that's part of what just happened.

BARBARA WALTERS (ABC NEWS): That's why he's also saying I'm a Scott Brown Republican kind of...

PAUL KRUGMAN (ABC NEWS): Yeah, but he isn't, he's a Republican Republican.

ROGER AILES (CHAIRMAN AND CEO): Well that that's partly true, but, you know, I think people are misinterpreting elections. I think President Obama misinterpreted his election. I think people could misinterpret this election. Conservatives could get too excited about this guy being with them and find out he's really a moderate. People tend to misinterpret elections. The President thought that radical change to the United States was what it was about and it was actually about we're tired of watching George Bush on television for eight years. He hasn't gotten a positive article in seven years. And we got two wars on, it's time to fix it. And I think that Obama ran very carefully against George Bush and the beach was already softened up with those old World War II movies. The Navy goes in, softens up the beach, and then somebody comes along and lands. So, I, I, I think there's - we tend to over interpret these things. I think he's a very soft spoken interesting guy. Let's see what he does.

GEORGE WILL (ABC NEWS): Let me respond a bit to Paul's disapproval of the 60-vote supermajority. The Republicans didn't invent it. The Democrats have used it with great vigor and will probably want to do so again when the Republicans control the Senate. Yes, the Senate is different from the House. The founders planned it that way. I know of nothing, Paul, that the American people have wanted intensely and protractedly that they didn't eventually get. What the Senate does is slow things down. And we have more to fear from government haste than from government tardiness.

PAUL KRUGMAN (ABC NEWS): Well I would just say if you look at the charts, it's just not true. The, the filibuster has vastly increased in importance. It was not always thus. What you think of as a time immemorial institution is actually something that came into exist only in the last 15 years or so and it was never as intense as it is now.

GEORGE WILL (ABC NEWS): It came into existence in the 90s.

BARBARA WALTERS (ABC NEWS): We're, we're going to come back and we have much more time the talk about, about this but we're going to have to pause. But before we do, in the interest of full disclosure. That "Cosmopolitan" picture that you saw of Scott Brown, well, to my amazement in this same issue is...



BARBARA WALTERS (ABC NEWS): But more fully dressed. There we go. There we are. Okay, so much for that. Now, when we come back, back to more serious subjects with all of you. We'll be right back.

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BARBARA WALTERS (ABC NEWS): Coming up next, more of "The Roundtable" and "The Sunday Funnies".


ANNOUNCER: "This Week" live from the Newseum on Pennsylvania Avenue will continue after this from our ABC stations.



PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA (UNITED STATES): They didn't send us to Washington to fight each other in some sort of political steel cage match.

REPUBLICAN (HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES): From your administration there have come statements that Republicans have no ideas and no solutions.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA (UNITED STATES): If you were to listen to the debate, you would think that this thing was some Bolshevik plot.

REPUBLICAN (HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES): Will that new budget, like your old budget, triple the national debt?

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA (UNITED STATES): It's very hard to have the kind of bipartisan work that we're going to do. Because the, the whole question was structured as a talking point for running, running a campaign.

BARBARA WALTERS (ABC NEWS): Well that was President Obama appearing before House Republicans at their annual retreat on Friday. An unusually open and honest back and forth. And we'll talk more about that with our "Roundtable," George Will, Arianna Huffington, Paul Krugman and Roger Ailes, who is chairman and CEO of Fox News. Roger, just let me begin with you. You have had your own back and forth with the White House. They were not very happy with you, banned you for awhile. Have you kissed and made up? Is it hunky dory?

ROGER AILES (CHAIRMAN AND CEO): Well they tried to ban us. They tried to break the pool but the other networks stepped up and protected Fox on it because it was tortuous interference with the contractual relationship and sort of tromping around on the Constitution.

BARBARA WALTERS (ABC NEWS): But now you're, now you're okay?

ROGER AILES (CHAIRMAN AND CEO): We're fine. I mean we were - it was not as bad as it was played. And things are not as good as they should be. But we have a good dialogue, and I saw the President and his wife at the media Christmas party. They were very gracious, very nice, both of them. And we have a dialogue every day with them and it's fine.

BARBARA WALTERS (ABC NEWS): Oh shucks, it was more fun the other way.

ROGER AILES (CHAIRMAN AND CEO): Well I'll pick a fight if you want. I mean I'll be happy to get into one. But I think there will be others. We have differences but...

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON (HUFFINGTON POST): But Roger, it's not a question of picking a fight. And aren't you concerned about the language that Glenn Beck is using, which is after all, is inciting the American people? There's a lot of suffering out there, as you know, and when he talks about people being slaughtered, about who is going to be the next in the killing spree...

ROGER AILES (CHAIRMAN AND CEO): Well he was talking about Hitler and Stalin slaughtering people, so I think he was probably accurate. Also, I'm a little...

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON (HUFFINGTON POST): No, no, he was talking about this administration.

ROGER AILES (CHAIRMAN AND CEO): ...I don't - I think he speaks English. I don't know, but I mean I don't misinterpret any of his words. He did say one unfortunate thing which he apologized for but that happens in live television. So I don't think it's - I think if we start going around as the word police in this business it will be...

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON (HUFFINGTON POST): It's not about the word police. It's about something deeper. It's about the fact that there is a tradition as the historian Richard Hofstetter said, in American politics, of the paranoid style. And the paranoid style is dangerous when there is real pain out there. I mean with...

ROGER AILES (CHAIRMAN AND CEO): I agree with you. I read something on your blog that said I looked like J Edgar Hoover, I had a face like a fist and I was essentially a malignant tumor.


ROGER AILES (CHAIRMAN AND CEO): And I thought - and then it got nasty after that.

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON (HUFFINGTON POST): ...that was never by anybody that we had...

ROGER AILES (CHAIRMAN AND CEO): Then it really went nasty. And I thought, gee, maybe Arianna ought to cut this out. But you don't, you don't do that.

BARBARA WALTERS (ABC NEWS): While, while we are talking about that, the President - I was going to talk to about this a little later but just while we're on it, the President has said both in the State of the Union and when he was talking to that Republicans that there's a cynicism about the media. That he calls it slash and burn and that we're to blame for a lot of the discontent and the rage in this country. Are you to blame?

GEORGE WILL (ABC NEWS): I don't think so. There is cynicism and there is rage, but the vast swath of the American people are temperate, good natured people who aren't actually thinking about us in Washington as much as we wish they were. But the President himself, when he gets up in front of the Congress and delivers a sermonette on the deficit of trust in Washington should not, A, fragrantly mischaracterize a Supreme Court decision. I don't know why he thought it was in his interest to pick a fight with the most prestigious institution in Washington. He should not in the same sermon on trust say he has proposed a freeze on government spending when he has proposed a selective freeze on one-sixth of the federal budget. He should not say I'm all for expanding trade with South Korea, Panama and Colombia when he won't move the existing agreements to ratify trade with them. So I, I, I don't think that when a man gets up and gives a speech full of cognitive dissonance saying Washington is corrupt, Washington is annoying, Washington is tiresome, Washington is dysfunctional, and Washington should have a much bigger role in American life. I think that, that breeds, you might say, a kind of distrust and cynicism.

BARBARA WALTERS (ABC NEWS): More than slash and burn.

PAUL KRUGMAN (ABC NEWS): If I can just weigh in. You know, what bothers me is not the, not the nasty language. And Glenn Beck doesn't - you know is not - what, what bothers me is, is the fact that people are not getting informed. That we are going through major debates on crucial policy issue and the public is not learning about them. And, and, you know, you can say, well, you know, they can read "The New York Times," which will tell them what they need to know. But, you know most people don't. They don't read it thoroughly. They get - on this health care thing, I'm a little obsessed with it, because it's a key issue for me. People did not know what was in the plan and some of that was just poor reporting. Some of it was deliberate misinformation. I have here in front of me, when President Obama said you know why - he's asked rhetorically, why aren't we going to do a health care plan like the Europeans have with a government run program and then proceeded to explain why it's different. On Fox News what appeared was a clipped quote, why don't we have a European style health care plan. Right, deliberate misinformation. All of that has contributed to a situation...

ROGER AILES (CHAIRMAN AND CEO): Wait a minute. Wait a minute.

PAUL KRUGMAN (ABC NEWS): ..where the public - I can show you the clip on YouTube if you want to see it.

ROGER AILES (CHAIRMAN AND CEO): The American people are not stupid. If you say...

PAUL KRUGMAN (ABC NEWS): No, they're not stupid. They're ill informed.

ROGER AILES (CHAIRMAN AND CEO): How many words were in the Constitution? The founding fathers managed, they didn't need 2,000 pages of lawyers to hide things.

PAUL KRUGMAN (ABC NEWS): Oh, come on, that's not...

ROGER AILES (CHAIRMAN AND CEO): Then tell, then tell people...

PAUL KRUGMAN (ABC NEWS): Legislation always is long.

ROGER AILES (CHAIRMAN AND CEO): Then tell people it's an emergency that we get it but it won't go into effect for three years. So you don't have time to read it. I would suggest that...

PAUL KRUGMAN (ABC NEWS): It was deliberate misinformation. People, again, this was a plan that is - actually it's a Republican plan. It's Mitt Romney's health care plan. People were led to believe that it was socialism and that was deliberate.


PAUL KRUGMAN (ABC NEWS): That wasn't just poor reporting. That was deliberate.

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON (HUFFINGTON POST): There are two separate problems.

ROGER AILES (CHAIRMAN AND CEO): Well let me ask you a question just as an executive.

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON (HUFFINGTON POST): Let me just answer because there is a problem in the fact that there wasn't a plan, there wasn't a plan that people could understand. There were multiple plans with a lot of differences. But there is also a problem when it comes to the words being used. Words matter. And words that are actually being used by people we hire are different than words that are being used by commenters on our sites, like you mentioned. Because we make the choice.

ROGER AILES (CHAIRMAN AND CEO): These numbers are rough but there are 300 million people who have a health care plan they're happy with. There are about 30 million people who don't have a health care plan. So as an executive, what do you do? You go fix the 30 million. You don't go over here and upset the apple cart and tear apart the 300 million.

PAUL KRUGMAN (ABC NEWS): That's exactly what the plan was. It was going to leave employer-based health care plan as it is.

ROGER AILES (CHAIRMAN AND CEO): No, no, no, no, no, no, no. You take $500 billion away from old people.

BARBARA WALTERS (ABC NEWS): Okay, so let me ask you something.

PAUL KRUGMAN (ABC NEWS): Oh my god, here we go.

BARBARA WALTERS (ABC NEWS): Because we saw Scott Brown. Is it - is the health plan, it took the President 34 minutes to get to the issue he spent all his past year on. He says he's not giving up on health care.

GEORGE WILL (ABC NEWS): Well he may...


GEORGE WILL (ABC NEWS): Well, Chuck Schumer, who is a legitimate representative of the mainstream of the Democratic Caucus in the Senate says his three priorities and the Democratic Party's three priorities this year are jobs, jobs, and jobs. Rahm Emanuel who is not always quoted accurately is quoted however as saying the top three priorities are jobs, deficit reduction and financial regulation. What don't we hear? We don't hear health care.

PAUL KRUGMAN (ABC NEWS): Yet, it could have been. I mean remember both houses of Congress have passed quite similar health care plans. There are ways to make this thing happen. We know there's a legislative strategy but it doesn't work unless Obama gets behind it. The, the ten days after the Massachusetts election were totally disheartening. That was the moment when we needed some leadership from Obama and he just seemed to wander off.


PAUL KRUGMAN (ABC NEWS): You know, it's just possible. It's not completely dead. It could be saved if, if, if the President, you know, wakes up. If just possibly Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid can make a way for this to happen. But it's not very likely at this point.

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON (HUFFINGTON POST): The only way it can be saved is if Democrats decide to follow Senator Harkin with his reconciliation side car.

PAUL KRUGMAN (ABC NEWS): That's right.

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON (HUFFINGTON POST): That's the only way that it could be saved. But to George's point. You know, they're all saying it's jobs, jobs, jobs. But when it comes to the State of the Union, the proposals are not serious in terms of dealing with the jobs crisis. I mean all these little initiatives, ala Bill Clinton in the 90s, are not going to work because this is not the '90s. This is a 17.5% real unemployment.

BARBARA WALTERS (ABC NEWS): And the small business $5,000 if you hire someone new and a tax cut.

PAUL KRUGMAN (ABC NEWS): I mean that's a good plan. It's a good plan.

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON (HUFFINGTON POST): Yes, they are good but not sufficient.

PAUL KRUGMAN (ABC NEWS): But it's a $30 billion plan and it might create a couple of hundred thousand jobs in a situation where we have an 8 million, 10 million job deficit. It's a very small plan. It is a micro policy.


GEORGE WILL (ABC NEWS): It's also easily gamed, as you know, by people who will hire people they wouldn't have hired otherwise and get rid of them as soon as the tax credit is gone.

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON (HUFFINGTON POST): But most important, people have not really focused on the crisis in the middle class. You know, when Lehman Brothers collapsed, everybody focused and they did unprecedented things. The middle class is in real trouble. I mean if you look at the latest Brookings report about the rise of poverty in the suburbs. About the fact now that we have 1 in 8 people whose mortgages are under water who can't pay their credit card bills. These are major, major problems and the administration is not seriously addressing that.

BARBARA WALTERS (ABC NEWS): I want to ask you something, Roger. Because you - when you worked with President Nixon, you helped to get him in the White House. You're credited with doing that.

ROGER AILES (CHAIRMAN AND CEO): Well I was a television producer not a politician, but yes. The back light was in the right place.

BARBARA WALTERS (ABC NEWS): Well what advice would you give to Barack Obama?

ROGER AILES (CHAIRMAN AND CEO): I think he's in a very tough spot. He is enormously likable. And I think, despite what everybody says, people would like him to succeed. But he came in with a belief that the radical change he wanted or what some people say is the radical change that he wanted would be widely accepted.

BARBARA WALTERS (ABC NEWS): But give him some advice, boom, boom, boom, now.

ROGER AILES (CHAIRMAN AND CEO): Well first, the first advice I would give him is listen to everybody and then go in a dark room by yourself, because in the end, it's all going to happen in your brain. If you actually believe all these things that you're for, and Richard Neustadt in "Presidential Power" explained that the only real presidential power is the power to persuade the people, to be open, to go out to them, say this is the reason I believe this. This is the direction I believe the American people should go. He doesn't do that. And, and, and I don't think he can sell some of his programs. I think he has to become president of all the people. And I think he's got to go to transparency. And I think he'd be surprised. People are willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. But you can't do this in back rooms surrounded entirely by political consultants.

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON (HUFFINGTON POST): Can I give him some advice, too? He should go back and listen to his speeches during the campaign. Because in Denver, he said, the greatest risk you can take is to play the same game surrounded by the same people and he's doing that. Surrounded by Larry Summers and Tim Geithner and the same people who basically were part of the problem before.

BARBARA WALTERS (ABC NEWS): You want Geithner out?

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON (HUFFINGTON POST): Definitely. Geithner should be out and I would...

PAUL KRUGMAN (ABC NEWS): I don't think Tim Geithner is the problem. The problem is that Tim Geithner, going back to something earlier, he and, and the President are soul mates. They both have the view of essentially incrementalist tinkering at the edges. And Obama needs to have a view that he's really going take on things. I think financial reform could be an issue where he can recapture some of the sense of being an outsider, some of the sense of running against business as usual. The Republicans will make that easy for him because they are going to be dead set against any kind of financial reform. They will vote not a single vote for anything, any realistic curbs on Wall Street. But he has to find that fire in himself. It's not a question of replacing Tim Geithner. It's a question of replacing his own tendency to think, well, you know, let's just stabilize things a little bit.

BARBARA WALTERS (ABC NEWS): What about the freeze? The, the, the three-year freeze, and yet $20 billion in budget cuts. Is that going to work?

PAUL KRUGMAN (ABC NEWS): It's junk, it's junk fiscal policy. It's junk economics. We all know that. It's not that important.

ROGER AILES (CHAIRMAN AND CEO): It's like cancelling a kid's allowance.

PAUL KRUGMAN (ABC NEWS): It's - you know, it's 15% of the federal budget and you're going to - it's - the Center for American Progress, which is a think tank that's very closely tied to the administration, one week before the State of the Union had an article about how you can tell people who are phony deficit hawks, what they call deficit peacocks. And they, they advocate things like a freeze on non-defense discretionary spending.

BARBARA WALTERS (ABC NEWS): And you called him a deficit peacock?

PAUL KRUGMAN (ABC NEWS): And there comes the President. No, it's pure stunt and he - and worse, it's a Republican talking point. It's a Republican, it's Republican junk fiscal policy.

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON (HUFFINGTON POST): This is actually, this is actually the one point on which everybody agrees. I just came back from Davos and everybody, including Neil Ferguson who doesn't agree with Paul on anything, called it a joke. I mean it - and talking about breeding cynicism. It's these kind of measures that breed cynicism. That make people feel that politicians are just reading focus group tests and acting on them.

GEORGE WILL (ABC NEWS): Paul has been consistent here and elsewhere for many months saying the big danger is 1937 when we got a recession within the depression, because in Paul's judgment and some others, the government flinched. That it declared victory prematurely. Now, Paul would like a bigger, better stimulus program. Paul's administration won't even use the "s" word. Stimulus is so out of favor.

PAUL KRUGMAN (ABC NEWS): There is only, there's only so much politically that Obama can do to create jobs because he doesn't have the political capital now. This is, you know, early on in the administration I was frantic saying, you have to go big because you're going to get one shot at this, and they didn't. And so that's, that's where we are now. But, but now to buy into the notion that we're gonna start reducing the deficit when the unemployment rate is still at 10% is a, is a very bad thing.

ROGER AILES (CHAIRMAN AND CEO): Jobs is the second issue in my view.

BARBARA WALTERS (ABC NEWS): What's the first?

ROGER AILES (CHAIRMAN AND CEO): Safety and sovereignty of the United States. And I think people, when they see a guy get all the way over Detroit, he's too dumb to blow up his underpants, but he could have. And now we're in a situation where we're going to have to either - we took everybody's shoes off, now we're going to have to take everybody's underpants off. But the fact is that's not going to stop it. We got to get much tougher. We've cut the hands off the CIA. We can't - it's not the Norwegians that are doing this. We know who it is. We can't seem to say it. So sooner or later, we're going to have to toughen up on all this stuff. And the American people know it, they feel it and they're worried about it.

BARBARA WALTERS (ABC NEWS): Let me just go around for our, our the last moments. The State of the Union. Did the President - people seem to think in general that it was a good speech. Did he get his footing back? Did it make a difference? Yes, no?

GEORGE WILL (ABC NEWS): State of the Union addresses rarely make a great difference. They have a captive audience but the audience is usually unmoved.


ARIANNA HUFFINGTON (HUFFINGTON POST): It is focus group tested to within an inch of its life. You know there was an applause line for every constituency. And his grand vision, what got him elected was really missing. As "The New York Times" called it, it was the opposite of bald.

PAUL KRUGMAN (ABC NEWS): The give and take with the Republicans was what the State of the Union should have been. That was where the President...

BARBARA WALTERS (ABC NEWS): Did that make a big difference?

PAUL KRUGMAN (ABC NEWS): It made some difference. The President said the Republicans were the party of no ideas. And they demonstrated it on the spot that they are in fact the party of no ideas. That's where he needs to go.

BARBARA WALTERS (ABC NEWS): What'd you think?

ROGER AILES (CHAIRMAN AND CEO): I thought he did a pretty good job of delivering a speech. He seemed to get a little bit of his energy back. He had fallen away over the last few months. You know, he did some dumb things like take on the Supreme Court. But the media saved him and blamed it all on Alito. But you know that speech, he's got to follow it up with his - there's an easy way to get it done. I went to the White House one night because I had to meet with Ronald Reagan and there was a lot of laughter down at the end of the hallway. I waited about ten minutes and out came Reagan and Tip O'Neill, arm in arm, with a drink in their hand, telling Irish jokes. I looked at the paper the next day, they kind of trashed each other's ideas but they had obviously cut some kind of a deal. And that's - you know there are ways. If he wants to invite four Republicans and four Democrats over to the Super Bowl, and say, come on, guys, we got to get some jobs.

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON (HUFFINGTON POST): But Roger, he tried, he tried to do that.

ROGER AILES (CHAIRMAN AND CEO): No, he didn't do it.

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON (HUFFINGTON POST): He wasted, he wasted three months...

PAUL KRUGMAN (ABC NEWS): There are real issues here.


ROGER AILES (CHAIRMAN AND CEO): No, that's the way it gets done.

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON (HUFFINGTON POST): He wasted three months trying get Chuck Grassley to agree to what Max Baucus was trying to do. So he's tried that again and again.

ROGER AILES (CHAIRMAN AND CEO): He's tried to get Republicans to agree with him. There's no question. And the media will report that a - what they say is a Republican is evolving, as if he's a caveman if he leans toward the President on something.

GEORGE WILL (ABC NEWS): In, in Baltimore at the meeting that Paul liked, the President said, I read your bills. To most Americans, it was news that the Republicans had bills. But in fact he got engaged in a dialogue with Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. If you met Paul Ryan halfway, you'd have health care soon.


BARBARA WALTERS (ABC NEWS): I just want to ask in the few seconds we have left, Sarah Palin is now on your payroll. Okay? 2012, presidential candidate?

ROGER AILES (CHAIRMAN AND CEO): I have no, no idea and no idea whether she even wants to. I don't think she, she, she knows. I mean everybody hates her who has ever written a book because they didn't sell many. She wrote a book and it sold 2 million in two weeks and so now they have a new reason to hate her. I don't know.

BARBARA WALTERS (ABC NEWS): But you've hired her to be a commentator. Do you think - so you must think she has some qualifications. And she seems to be very popular with certain groups. Do you think she has the qualifications to be president?

ROGER AILES (CHAIRMAN AND CEO): Fox News is fair and balanced. We had Geraldine Ferraro on for ten years. As the only woman the Democrats ever nominated. Now we have the only woman that the Republicans nominated. I'm not in politics, I'm in ratings. We're winning.

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON (HUFFINGTON POST): Roger, you clearly are in ratings. But if you are in ratings, can you explain to me why Fox went away from the meeting the President was having with the Republicans...

BARBARA WALTERS (ABC NEWS): We're going to have to save that...

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON (HUFFINGTON POST): Why did, why did it go away?

ROGER AILES (CHAIRMAN AND CEO): Because we're the most...

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON (HUFFINGTON POST): ...20 minutes before the end.

ROGER AILES (CHAIRMAN AND CEO): Because we're the most, because we're the most trusted name in news and we believe...

BARBARA WALTERS (ABC NEWS): Oh, okay. On that note. I thought you people were the most trusted name in news.

ROGER AILES (CHAIRMAN AND CEO): Two liberal polls have now proven it. And the reason is we cover...

BARBARA WALTERS (ABC NEWS): Okay, I got to go. I got to go.

BARBARA WALTERS (ABC NEWS) (Voiceover): But "The Roundtable" as are listening here, continues in the green room on I know you're going to want to hear it. And you can get political updates all week long by signing up for our newsletter also on And coming up here, "The Sunday Funnies". Thank you all.

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Originally broadcast, 1.31.10