Cong. Joe Wilson: the Interview

Our big newsmaker today was Congressman Joe Wilson--the man who shouted "You lie!" at the President during his speech to Congress this week. And he didn't disappoint. The way we got the interview was interesting. As soon as he said it--I knew he would be a big story. The problem was that his office was so deluged with phone calls, that we couldn't invite him to come on the show. So I sent producer Alex Finland to Capitol Hill to go to his office and talk with an aide. Finally, I was able to get on the phone personally with Congressman Wilson and invite him on the show. I've got to say--for a "bomb-thrower," you never met a more humble, nicer man. As we prepared the show Saturday, the story got even better. House Democrats reversed course, and announced that despite the fact Wilson had already apologized--and the President had accepted it--they were now demanding the Congressman apologize again on the House floor to his colleagues. We called Wilson's staff and said--it would be pretty great if the Congressman announced on our show whether he was going to apologize--or not. But they refused to say whether he would. So when he came in Sunday--I had no idea whether he would say yes, no, or maybe. Obviously, part of the point of a Sunday show is to make news. And thankfully, Joe Wilson made alot of news on FOX News Sunday. Finally, I have gotten some emails since the interview complaining that I was too tough on Wilson. I respectfully disagree. I come at all my interviews believing that you don't do your guest any favor throwing softballs. I think an interviewer should put those questions on the table--respectfully--and let the guest answer them. I can tell you that the Congressman appreciated that approach--and felt afterwards that he had gotten a fair shake. Anyway, that's a little behind-the-scenes look at the Wilson interview. Let us know what you think. Chris

"The Death Book"?

We did something different on Fox News Sunday today. Instead of discussing the week's news--we brought something up that I suspect most people have never heard about. It is a 51-page end-of-life counseling bookthe Department of Veterans Affairs is now using--called "Your Life, Your Choices." I learned about it on Wednesday--in an articlein the Wall Street Journal--under the title "Death Book for Veterans." ToweyWebAs of July 2nd, the VA is referring veterans to the book. That's interesting in itself, because the Bush Administration ended use of the book in 2007. And it has now been reinstated. What makes the book controversial is that--according to critics--it seems to push veterans in the direction of "pulling the plug." For instance--page 21 is a worksheet in which the veteran is asked to consider various situations and then check--whether in each case, life would be "difficult, but acceptable"--"worth living, but just barely"--or "not worth living." Youmight think that the scenarios would involve irreversible comas and the like. But no--they include: "I can no longer walk but get around in a wheelchair"--"I live in a nursing home"--"I am a severe financial burden on my family"--and "I cannot seem to 'shake the blues'". We had a fascinating segment on FNS today about the workbook. First--we talked with Jim Towey--the man who broke the story.He helpedend use of the book under President Bush,and was shocked to see it has now been reinstated. He says the message of the work book is clear: hurry up and die. And he says--when government can steer vulnerable individuals to conclude that life is not worth living--"who needs death panels?" TDuckworthWebThen--we talked with VA Assistant Secretary Tammy Duckworth--who insisted on being interviewed separately. She said the workbook is just one of many reference tools the VA makes available--and that it is currently being revised. However, as we pointed out, it is still up on the VA website. I hope you will watch the FNS segment and check out the link to the workbook on the blog--so you can read it for yourself. And we will stay on this story. Chris Wallace

Fact-Checking Health Care Reform

We did something different on Fox News Sunday today. With all the charges and counter-charges flying at those town halls about health care reform--we decided to do a "Fact Check" about what's really in the various Democratic plans--and what isn't. We invited some of the key players in the debate--in and out of government:Democratic Senator Kent Conrad, a member of the so-called "Gang of 6" that is trying to negotiate a bipartisan compromise--Republican Senator Richard Shelby, a leading critic of the President's plan--Dr. J. James Rohack, head of the AMA--and John Rother, one of the leaders of the AARP. I had heard from a lot of you (yes, we read your emails), who felt the panel was stacked in favor of the Democratic objectives. So, I was carefultoraise more skeptical questions--to make sure we had a fair and balanced discussion. The most interesting part was about the central issue:--does the Democratic plan mean a government takeover of health care reform? President Obama's Health Secretarynow says--the public option is not essential--and that the White House might consider non-profit cooperatives instead. And that's what drove our conversation. Senator Shelby said--coopssound a lot better than a government-run public option-and he would consider it. Senator Conrad--who has been pushing coops for some time--said the public option won't pass the Senate--and the President would be wise to drop it now--and get behind something that will pass. I thought the other notable part of our "Fact Check" was when we asked:--will health care reform lead to rationing?John Rother of AARP said seniors shouldn't be concerned--because Medicare savings will come out of waste and inefficiencies--not treatment. Senator Shelby wasn't so confident about that. As for all the talk about "death panels" deciding to "pull the plug on Grandma"--Dr. Rohack said it is already law for hospitals to give patients information about living wills and "do not resuscitate" orders--and that the House bill's "end of life counseling" is voluntary--and in no way coercive. But again, Senator Shelby thought when you mix this counseling with government looking to cut costs--it runs the danger of turning into advocacy. And Democratic Senator Shelby confirmed that the Gang of 6 has dropped any talk about end of life counseling--because it is too politically explosive. I thought it was a useful discussion. It certainly won't end all the arguments. But we hope it provided more information for both sides of the debate. Chris Wallace

My Private Concert...from Paul McCartney

Talk about your Mr. Sunday moment. I spent Saturday afternoon being personally serenaded by Paul McCartney. More than a dozen songs over an hour and a half. Michelle, Yesterday, and a bunch of his other hits. And it was all for me.

Well, not quite. But it certainly felt that way. My wife and I got to watch his sound checkbefore a big concert here in Washington. And what a treat it wasas he and his band ran through a number of songs in a huge stadium--for a crowd of about 20 people.

The reason I got to sit in on the sound check is kind of interesting. A couple of years ago, my wife and I were staying at a hotel in Jamaicaand we saw Sir Paul on the beach with his young daughter Beatrice. Like a lot of you, I grew up loving the Beatles. And when I met my favorite of the Fab 4, my wife says she thought I was going to have a heart attack.

Anyway, Paul was going through a messy divorce at that time. And he was down there with his nephewand top New York City lawyerLee Eastman. But although Paul was clearly hurting, he couldnt have been nicertelling us stories about his music and his extraordinary career. At one point, he noted the line in Yesterdayabout Im not half the man I used to be. He said he wrote it when he was 22which meant that not half the man put him around 11.

Which brings us to this week. When I heard Paul was giving a concert in Washington, I called Lee Eastman. The show didnt start till 9 pmand I have to be up at 5 on Sunday mornings. So I knew that was out. But I had heard performers do what amounts to a mini-concert the afternoon of the showto check out all the systems. So I asked if we could attend the sound check.

Pauls publicistSteve Martinwho runs a company called nastylittlemanmet us behind the scenes at Fedex Fieldand took us in. By the way, Steve represents bands like Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails, and Beck, in addition to McCartney. I asked him why he gave his company its unusual name. He said he got into a fight with someone in the music business one timeafter saying a band stunk. She told him he was a nasty little man. And the name stuck--although he is anything but.

So, we ended up in an almost empty stadium while Paul and his very tight band played. It was fascinating to watch Paul at work. He was thoroughly professionalplaying at least one song with the band in every different configurationPaul on various guitars, a mandolin, and piano. His keyboardist playing various instrumentsand the same with his 2 sideman guitarists.

mccartneyperformance

It was a typically hot, humid DC afternoon. But Paul approached each song as if he were playing for thousands, not 20. After he finished, we would applaud. At one point, a father and his young daughter started dancing. And everytime, Paul would thank us and seemed genuinely delighted by our response.

The other thing that struck me was how serene he was. Whenever there was a technical glitch, he would stand quietlymake agentle commentand wait for it to be fixed. The other thing that just shined through was how musical he is. In between every songhe would whistleor tap his guitaror just make soundsas if the music, the beat were just pouring out. If you ever questioned why this multi-millionaire icon is still touring at age 67the answer was right in front of you. He loves to sing and play music.

On the gossip frontat one point his girlfriendNancy Shevellwalked onto the wing of the stage. And he stopped the sound check to give her a long kiss. Up close, she is an exotic-looking beauty.

Paul played some of his newer songslike Dance Tonight and Calico Skies. And his voice is still warm and rich. But it was the Beatles songs that made my day. He sang Ringos Honey, Dontand Georges Something. And my favorite single moment was when he launched into All My Lovingsetting his feet wide apart and rockingjust like back in the 60swhile scenes from the movie A Hard Days Night played on the screen behind him.

For a few minutesPaul was young again. And so were the rest of us.

Chris Wallace

"Mr. Sunday"

I want to introduce you to my alter ego: "Mr. Sunday." I had been doing Fox News Sunday for a couple of months when we went to Iowa in January of 2004 to cover the Presidential caucuses there. We were having dinner Saturday night at a great steak house in Des Moines--the 801 Club. And as we were walking to our table, someone looked upand said, "Hey, it's Mr. Sunday!" We all thought it was pretty funny. And that's been my office nickname ever since. But I view it differently. There's poor, old Chris who comes to work every day. And then, there's Mr. Sunday--who OCCASIONALLY gets to do something exciting. I want to share the Mr. Sunday moments with you. Senator Bunning Last night,I was invited by the owners of the Washington Nationals baseball team--the Lerners and the Cohens--tosit in the Owner's Box and watch them play the Chicago Cubs. The Nationals lost--again. But I got to spend about a half hour talking with Jim Bunning. Bunning is now a Republican Senator from Kentucky. But what made this special is that back in the 50's and 60's--he was a Hall of Fame pitcher for the Detroit Tigers and the Philadelphia Phillies. He pitched a perfect game against the Mets in1964--and a no-hitter against the Red Sox before that. As you can tell, I was pretty excited. Someone asked him--which great hitters used to pound him? He said the 2 Williamses. Who? Ted Williams--and Billy Williams of the Cubs--bo th Hall of Famers. What about Hank Aaron? Bunning said he handled Hank pretty well. Same with Mantle and Mays. I asked about Stan Musial--who is now 89 and made an appearance at the All-StarGame this week. Bunning said he pitched against Musial inStan the Man's 24th and last All-Star Game appearance. He said--Mus ial hit a rocket off him, that fortunately went straight to the right fielder. And he said, even though he was pitching for the American League in the American League town of Cleveland, the crowd booed him for getting Musial out. Bunning Pitching It was great to watch a game with Bunning. From up in the box, he could still tell you what pitch had just been thrown--whether the pitcher had good stuff or not--and generally provide you insights into the game that even as a big fan, Ihad no clue were there. It was a true "Mr. Sunday moment." Chris Wallace

"Fluke News Sunday"--July 12th

I decided to put this picture at the top to get your attention. It is my son Remick--who had just caught a huge striper in Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts. The reason I gave this post the title I did--is that Remick and his pal Nelson Sigelman are in a fluke tournament this weekend. Each team had to come up with a name. Remick and Nelson decided to call their team--"Fluke News Sunday." Unfortunately, of the 11 teams in the contest, they are currently in 10th place. But we are all hoping for a big Sunday. Now--on to today's show. We had Senators Dianne Feinstein and John Cornyn--both members of the Senate Judiciary Committee--to preview this week's confirmation hearings for Sonia Sotomayor. Feinstein said the Judge is a "sure thing" to be confirmed--and talked about her as a living embodiment of the American Dream. Cornyn said all that wasnice, and true--but that the Committee has to examine her ability to be a responsible Supreme Court Justice. Cornyn raised questions about her "wise Latina" comments--and her ruling in the Ricci case--that the city of New Haven had the right to throw out a firefighters promotion exam--because whites did well on it, and blacks did not. Having said all that, I sensethere is not much fightamong Republicans on this. They are going to make their case against judicial activism, and dust her up on a few issues. But they don't think they can defeat her nomination. And they are concerned about blocking the first Hispanic Justice--and further alienating an important voting bloc. But there was other news for the Senators: stories out today that Vice President Cheney ordered the CIA not to brief Congress on an intelligence program--and that Attorney General Holder is leaning toward naming a criminal prosecutor to investigate whetherCIA operatives tortured terror suspects after 9/11. Feinstein--who is chair of Senate Intelligence--was outraged about Cheney's decision to keep Congress in the dark. Cornyn was against one Administration investigating its predecessor--saying the next President will find things to prosecute that the Obama team did. Cornyn and Feinstein are good guests--sharp and to the point. I always give guests a pep talk beforehand to keep their remarks "succinct." Often--they ignore me. Cornyn and Feinstein did not--and there were some sparks. Thanks for your interest. Keep watching our show. And root for Fluke News Sunday to win the fishing tournament. Chris Wallace Remick

Help us book the show.

I am going to put you in the role of the booker of a Sunday talk show and see what you come up with. And since this is your first time, we will give you an easy challenge. As soon as the show finishes on Sunday morning, we start discussing who we are going to book for the next week. This is one of the most challenging parts of the show--to figure out--days in advance--what people will be interested in--and who they will want to see the next Sunday morning. I say this is a relatively easy week because we booked our lead segment a few days ago. We knew that the Sonia Sotomayor Supreme Court hearing would start on Monday, July 13th. So it was a no-brainer that we would want 2 members of the Senate Judiciary Committee to preview the hearings. All our competition had the same idea--so there was a scramble to book our 2 Senators. We ended up with Democrat Dianne Feinstein and Republican John Cornyn. And I am delighted. Feinstein is a veteran of Senate Judiciary--and she is a reliably feisty and newsmaking guest. Cornynis a former Texas Supreme court Justice--the head of the Republican Senate Campaign Committee--and a straight-talker who also makes news. I look forsparks to fly from these 2. The question is--what to do with the second segment. We are pursuing top White House guests--especially with growing questions about the economy and the President's stimulus package. We are also looking at another segment of our "Right Now" series--where we sit down with rising stars in the conservative movement. And there is always whatever happens in the newsthe next few days. So--play along. Give us your ideas for a good guest--or a good segment. And if we like it--we will be all too happy to steal it. I look forward to seeing your suggestions. Chris Wallace

Today's Show--July 5th

This is our first Fox News Sunday in the blog era. And I want to take you behind the scenes. July 4th weekend is always tough to book. So we were thrilled when we were able to get the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs--Admiral Mullen--as well as the House Majority and Minority leaders--all in studio. But then Friday afternoon came--and Sarah Palin's stunner of an announcement. We knew we had to cover that--so we added another guest segment. I thought Lt. Governor Parnell--Karl Rove--and Mike Huckabee were all interesting--trying to figure out what Palin is thinking--and what her future is. Parnell--who was called into Palin's office Wednesday and told about her decision--gave the most concrete explanation so far for why she's stepping down: she is tired of all the ethics investigatiosn and charges--and feels they are preventing her from doing her job. Parnell also thinks she has a real shot at a brightfuture in national politics. While trying to be polite--Rove and Huckabee were much more skeptical. Both thought the "quitter" label will be tough for her to shed. And Rove has an interesting "take" about the idea that stepping down will ease the pressure on her. He said--before she had an excuse: I'm too busy in Alaska to come speak at your event. Now, that excuse is gone. Second segment: Admiral Mike Mullen--who strikes me as a straight-shooter and a very impressive guy.We did a tour of the horizon--from the summit in Moscow on Monday--to North Korea--the new offensive in Afghanistan--and the situation in Iran. I was especially struck by his comments on Iran:--that a military strike against Iran's nuclear facilities would cause enormous and bloody blowback against US interests around the world--but that an Iranian nuclear weapons would also be very "destabilizing." Which would be worse? The Admiral said it's a close call. Finally--our segment with the 2 House leaders--Hoyer and Boehner. They were almost a vaudeville act--the Sunshine Boys--2 savvy politicians who disagree on everything--but seem to have respect for each other. I thought I heard in Boehner's comments the most coherent Republican argument yet against President Obama: he's spending too much money--making government too big--and the stimulus isn't working. Those 2 issues--big deficits and "where are the jobs"--may be the best thing the GOP has going for it right now. Please watch the show if you haven't already. It's on the Fox News Channel at 2 and 6 pm Eastern. And please let us know what you think about our new blog--and FNS. Have a great Sunday. Chris Wallace

My first time

Well, folks, so it begins. We are entering the brave new world of blogging here at Fox News Sunday. I know for most of you--this is so 2006. But we are going to add new dimensions to FNS--giving you our personal "takes" on the news--bringing you behind the scenes to how we plan and put together the program--and offering you a peek to what we are doing the rest of the week--when we are not on the air. You will also get to meet our great staff--many of whom have much more interesting things to say than I do. And I hope we can engage in conversations with you. Tell us what we're doing right--and wrong. All comments welcome.
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