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updated 8/11/2013 12:19:56 PM ET 2013-08-11T16:19:56

DAVID GREGORY: Our key issues and people this week.

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Spying showdown: President Obama orders changes to U.S. surveillance programs and faces tough questions about the N-S-A leaker.

SOT OBAMA:

No, I don’t think Mr. Snowden was a patriot.

The debate over the future of U.S. spying programs. Only on Meet the Press...Michael McCaul -- the head of hte House Homeland Security Committee. Plus analysis from Ted Koppel of NBC News and the Washington Post’s Barton Gellman.

Then...Presidential orders: Strong words from the commander-in-chief this week about stamping out sexual assault in the military. The Pentagon is preparing new rules but there isn’t agreement on how to end the crisis. I go one on one with one of the lawmakers pushing for change...Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill.

The immigration debate: A critical time for reform as members of Congress head back to their districts to prepare for the fall fight. What are the prospects for passage? We’ll talk to both sides in the fight...including the congressman leading the fight against reform.

And end of an ear -- the venerable Washington Post is sold to Amazon’s Jeff Bezos. What does it say about the future of traditional media and how we as a society get information? We’ll have insight and analysis from the Washington Post’s David Ignatius and David Brooks of the New York Times.

I’m David Gregory. All that ahead on Meet the Press this Sunday morning -- August 11th.

ANNOUNCER:

From NBC News in Washington, the world’s longest running television program, this is Meet the Press.

DAVID GREGORY:

And good morning --

President Obama is on vacation and Congress is out of town...and although we are in the dog days of summer...the battle to win the hearts and minds of the american people is in full force...

The Obama administration is finding tough opposition to its agenda while the GOP is divided on how to move ahead...On Friday, President Obama announced changes to the U-S surveillance program so many people are talking about, including...

A change in how the N-S-A collects phone records, more transparency by the secret foreign intelligence court -- that’s the FISA court -- and the creation of a task force of private citizens.

Joining me this morning Barton Gellman of the Washington Post who has been writing extensively about Edward Snowden and the N-S-A. Special correspondent for NBC News Ted Koppel. And the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Republican Congressman Michael McCaul.

DAVID GREGORY:

Bart Gellman, let me start with you. Has Edward Snowden won? Has he accomplished what he set out to do, which is to not only get a debate going, but force change in these programs?

BART GELLMAN:

He has accomplished far more than anyone in his position could reasonably hope to have accomplished. I mean, he told me that his greatest fear was that he would come out and do this and the whole story would be, you know, rolling around for a day and it would be gone. Now you have President Obama being forced to say that he welcomes the debate, which he welcomed sort of like the CEO who gets a really angry letter and he writes back and says, you know, "Thank you for your interest in our surveillance, you know, programs." But it's top of the agenda now for two months.

DAVID GREGORY:

Uh-huh (AFFIRM). The president spoke out about Snowden during his press conference on Friday and he said the following:

[TAPE]

OBAMA:

No, I don't think Mr. Snowden was a patriot. As I said in my opening remarks, I called for a thorough review of our surveillance operations before Mr. Snowden made these leaks. //

I actually think we would have gotten to the same place, and we would have done so without putting at risk our national security.

DAVID GREGORY:

Chairman McCaul, do you believe that? That this administration really did welcome the debate? That he would have reviewed these surveillance programs, were it not for Edward Snowden?

REP. MIKE MCCAUL:

I see no evidence of that. I think Snowden came out, leaked this information, and the White House has been backtracking ever since. I think when the story initially broke, the president went undercover. He just finally came out last Friday, trying to come up with ways to salvage the program by window dressing. You know, forming a website, for instance, an outside group.

And the problem, fundamentally, is he's failed to explain these programs, which are lawful, which have saved lives, which have stopped terrorist plots. He has not adequately explained them or defended them. And now he's in a bit of a mess, and I'll tell you why. Because on the heels of the I.R.S. scandal, where people don't trust this government, this administration with their tax records, they sure don't trust this administration with their phone records. And I think that's the dilemma the president's in right now.

DAVID GREGORY:

There is a bigger role here, Ted Koppel, in terms of public concerns about government: size of government, intrusiveness of government. But isn't the trump card on national security, what I've talked to intelligence officials about: "Look, if you back away from these programs, people can die. Some of these plots that we can stop with them will get through the filter."

TED KOPPEL:

Look, you've got a couple of problems here. Problem number one was that you've got the almost infinite technical capability these days of finding information by intruding into people's privacy. Once you have that capability, it becomes very difficult to keep it in check. That's what the president is talking about.

He's saying, "Trust us. We're not going to violate your constitutional rights. We're only going to dig just so far." It's unrealistic because, as you say, when lives are at stake, when security is at stake, which politician, which national leader is going to say, "Yeah, we have the capability of getting that information, but let's not do it"?

DAVID GREGORY:

Right. And that, to me, Chairman McCaul, raises another question, and that's the issue of speed. The reason why the F.I.S.A. court was set up, and Bart you can jump in on this as well, is that if you identify a threat, you've got data to run that against to determine if there's a plot against the United States. You need a warrant and you need it fast. Government's got to act fast to apprehend those people who might be responsible. Introducing privacy advocates and others who might dissent in this process, is that realistic? Do you think Congress, your colleagues, are going to vote to make that happen?

REP. MIKE MCCAUL:

Look, I'm in a unique position to talk about this. I actually applied for F.I.S.A. warrants as a counterterrorism prosecutor, and I think the idea of having a public defender -- you know, really what it is is a search warrant to the F.I.S.A. court, which you wouldn't have in a normal criminal case -- would slow down the efficacy and efficiency of our counterterrorism investigation. So I don't think that's the right way to go.

I will tell you again, when I was doing this, we would run the numbers through the private phone carriers. We never really imagined that all this data would be warehoused under the N.S.A. And I think that's what's giving the American people a lot of pause right now, and I think that's what needs to be explained to the American people. And Congress will be reviewing this issue, and Section 215 of the Patriot Act, to see if this has expanded beyond the original intents of the law.

DAVID GREGORY:

What actually changes, Bart? Do you think there's much room here to fundamentally change these programs because all the N.S.A. says is, "Look, maybe we could change who controls this meta data, which is in this virtual vault, and who has access to it, and how it's kept," which may be, you know, not enough for those who think there's a problem.

BART GELLMAN:

Well, Congress may decide not to allow the N.S.A., via the F.B.I., to collect every single call record of every single American for this purpose. That's not what the president's argument sounded like in his news conference. He sounded like he wanted to, as you say, just put a little more oversight on it, internal, within the executive branch. And to sort of be slightly more transparent about how it happens.

His Justice Department put out a long white paper defending exactly the way it works now. And honestly, they put a lot of, you know, good, smart minds to work on it. But I think sort of nine out of ten civil procedure professors would have given that a less-than-A grade.

DAVID GREGORY:

Ted Koppel, let's widen this out a little bit. This is against the backdrop of an ongoing war on terror, an ongoing threat, and it is reflective of a psychology of fear that you wrote about in the Wall Street Journal this week. Put a portion of what you wrote on the screen.

"America's chronic overreaction to terrorism" was the headline. You wrote, "We have created an economy of fear, an industry of fear, a national psychology of fear. Al Qaeda could have never achieved that on its own; we have inflicted it on ourselves."

TED KOPPEL:

Look, fundamentally there are two sets of questions that apply in the war against terrorism. The one set of questions deals with the, "Where is it going to happen? What's going to happen? When is it going to happen?" The other set of questions deals with, "What is it that our enemy, the terrorists, are trying to achieve?" What are they trying to induce us to do?

Take a look at what's been happening over the last week. With a conference call, Al Qaeda has effectively shut down 20 U.S. embassies around north Africa and the Middle East. We just had the president of Yemen here for a meeting with President Obama. He goes back feeling wonderful about his new relationship with the president; next thing the president does is says, in effect, "Sorry, but we don't trust you Yemenis to protect our embassies." So, in effect, we shut down our embassy. We had an emergency evacuation.

What does that do to our relationship in the rest of north Africa? What does that do in our relationship in the Middle East, with all of these governments? The terrorists have achieved more with one phone call than we have achieved with all our response.

DAVID GREGORY:

Chairman McCaul?

REP. MIKE MCCAUL:

You know, well, listen. I think the threat's real. And what I call the narrative of the president, saying that Al Qaeda's on its heels; the struggles over, "Let's go back to a pre-9/11 mentality" -- I think is a very dangerous narrative. I get the same threat briefings that the president of the United States does, and I'm not seeing his rhetoric meeting reality. And the fact of the matter is, there is a spider web. You know, we were just focused on Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq; core Al Qaeda versus non Al Qaeda, Al Qaeda everywhere: distinction without a difference. It's all Al Qaeda.

(OVERTALK)

DAVID GREGORY:

But can I interrupt you, Chairman.

REP. MIKE MCCAUL:

And it's spreading. It's getting worse, not better. And I think the American people need to know that. And I believe it's very deceptive for this president to give a narrative that is pretty much over when, in fact, what I see is a spider web throughout northern Africa into Syria, Egypt, Pakistan, Afghanistan. This threat is getting worse, not better.

DAVID GREGORY:

But the interruption there was that your assertion about a pre-9/11 attitude, where do you see that demonstrated by the president? The most recent example, you had 19 embassies that were closed in the face of a threat, that's what Ted Koppel is criticizing in terms of overreaction. Which is the lack of vigilance that you see that says we're in a different place mentally?

REP. MIKE MCCAUL:

Well, I think it's the hypocrisy that he wants this rhetoric that the war is going to be over. He wants to sculpt a legacy where he is the peacemaker ending Bush's wars when, at the same time, he's ramping up drone strikes. Now, I favor drone strikes, but drone strikes are not going to kill an ideology.

And I think this is a war of ideology. It's going to be a long-term struggle that we all have to be very adult about. And it's going to be around for quite some time, and the threat, again, is not getting less. It's getting worse, and we need to deal with it in a responsible way and not put our head--

DAVID GREGORY:

Ted--

REP. MIKE MCCAUL:

--in the sand. And I think impacting the moderate Muslim community is an effective tool that we have wholly failed to engage in.

DAVID GREGORY:

Ted Koppel, let me come back to this idea. I mean, I think what the president would argue is that there's been a more targeted approach to dealing with terrorists, killing Osama bin Laden. And even this question of Al Qaeda's number two, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and he was written about in Mark Bowden's book The Finish: The Killing of Osama bin Laden.

There was a meeting the president attended where he wanted more vigilance in this fight. As Tom Donilon would tell me, Obama said, "Here's the deal: I want this hunt for Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri to come to the front of the line. I worry that the trail has gone cold. This has to be our top priority, and it needs leadership in the tops of our organizations. You need to ensure that we have expended every effort to take down the top leadership of Al Qaeda, especially these two individuals." In light of your criticism about overreaction, there is still a very specific threat and a very specific operator who is atop these organizations.

TED KOPPEL:

And there will continue to be a specific threat, and there will continue to be terrorism, as there has been for as long as human history exists. Terrorism is simply the weapon by which the weak engage the strong. And what they do is they cause the strong - in this case, us - to overreact.

We are the ones who went into Iraq and spent about $1.5 trillion doing it, losing, what, 4,500 young men and women, God knows how many tens of thousands of injured. We are the ones who have created a bureaucracy. What is T.S.A.? T.S.A. has about 57,000 people operating in T.S.A. Can you imagine a day, David, when we will ever again be without that bureaucracy?

DAVID GREGORY:

Right.

TED KOPPEL:

All imposed upon ourselves.

DAVID GREGORY:

Chairman McCaul, final word on this debate.

REP. MIKE MCCAUL:

I would just say there is a rhetoric, and a reality. And this administration has a rhetoric that's winding down, that's pre-9/11. It's a dangerous rhetoric. I think it's not good for the country. I think we have to-- you know, you can't wish this threat away, as much as we hate Al Qaeda and terrorism.

But the fact of the matter is, the threat briefings I get, it's real. It exists. There's a large plot brewing in the Middle East right now, which is why they have closed these embassies. And it also could directly impact the homeland.

And how irresponsible would that be for us to do nothing? And with all due respect to Mr. Koppel, but I get these briefings, and I would be derelict in my responsibility if, in light of these threat briefings that I get, to do absolutely nothing and just say that this whole thing's over and to deny it.

DAVID GREGORY:

All right, we're--

REP. MIKE MCCAUL:

It is a real thing.

DAVID GREGORY:

We're going to leave it there. Chairman McCaul, thank you very much. Barton Gellman, thank you as well. Ted, you’ll be back a little later on to talk about the future of journalism -- a great voice in that debate. We are back in one minute with an in-depth look on another issue, another crisis -- sexual assault in the military. The President vowed, this week, to use his power to attack the problem.

[Tape]

OBAMA:

We are going to work together all of us to stop these crimes of sexual assault and uphold the honor and the integrity that defines the finest military on earth.

DAVID GREGORY:

While member in both parties agree there is a problem, there’s a disagreement about how to fix it. We’ll talk to one of the lawmakers leading the charge, Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill, after this.

(**Commercial Break**)

DAVID GREGORY:

President Obama had some pointed words this week when he spoke to Marines stationed at Camp Pendleton in California, saying that sexual assaults in the military undermine what the armed forces stand for. The Pentagon is preparing new rules for handling sexual assault cases, and those could come as early as this week.

Here are the numbers, and they're striking. Over 3,300 reported cases of sexual assault last year, up from the year before. But according to the Pentagon's own estimates, that take into account underreporting -- and that's a key issue, that number could be as high as 26,000 just last year. Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill is a member of the Armed Services Committee, and she's with us this morning. Senator, welcome.

SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL:

Thank you.

DAVID GREGORY:

Of those 26,000, this is striking as well, only 302 prosecutions, out of all of those cases, which is why this has gotten so much attention. As I said, the Pentagon is going to have some new rules for how all of this is handled. What do you expect? And will that be enough?

SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL:

Well, I don't know that the Pentagon is going to do enough but I know that, in our reforms, we are going to make major changes. The status quo is not acceptable. I come at this problem as a former courtroom prosecutor who handled hundreds of these cases, and the reforms that we're working on, that will become law before the end of the year, will prioritize protecting the victim. And they're going to lead to more prosecutions. The alternative that's been proposed would have less prosecutions, based on what we know about the current system.

DAVID GREGORY:

So let's get into that a little bit. The big debate here, the core of this is whether it stays within the chain of command. If you are a man or woman, and you are the victim of a sexual assault, do you report it up the chain and then a commander ultimately decides whether that should be followed up on, there should be a prosecution? Or do you have an outside prosecutor, an outside law enforcement and judicial system in effect?

Now, your colleague, Senator Gillibrand, also very active on this, she laid out the case for taking it to the outside of the chain of command, which I believe you disagree with. Let's hear from her, and get your response.

[Tape]

KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND:

What victims tell us, is they don't trust the chain of command. Even those commanders you showed a picture of, they've testified and have said, 'They don't trust us. They don't trust the chain of command.' So the problem is clear. So what we want to create is an objective review by a trained military prosecutor. Someone who is actually a lawyer. Who's trained to weight evidence, and make the fundamental decision: does the case go forward.

DAVID GREGORY:

What is the right answer, according to you?

SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL:

Well, the right answer is making sure these cases do go forward. And here's the problem you have. If you have outside lawyers that are making this decision, sometimes a half a continent away from the unit, if they say no, it's over.

And we know for a fact, David, over the last two years, almost 100 cases the lawyer said no. These are tough cases. A lot of prosecutors get way too focused on the one loss record, and not about getting to the bottom of it. We know that commanders are making these cases go forward, close to 100 times just in the last two years. Under the alternative, that's almost 100 victims that would not have had their day in court.

And the question is, about retaliation: Where are you going to be more protected? Are you going to be more protected in a unit where lawyers, a long way away that nobody knows, have said yes or no? Or are you going to be more protected when the commander has signed off? And one of the narratives that is misleading in this debate is the notion that you have to report to the chain of command. You do not have to report to the chain of command.

This goes outside the chain of command, with outside investigators. But at the end, the commander needs to sign off because if the commander doesn't have any role, we're letting them off the hook. And we cannot let these commanders off the hook.

DAVID GREGORY:

Senator--

SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL:

We have to hold them accountable.

DAVID GREGORY:

Here's what I'm trying to understand, though. If you're dealing with a culture of underreporting, it doesn't seem like you are dealing with the fact that a man or a woman, and there are a lot of men who are subject to sexual assaults here as well, who are still not comfortable for lots of different reasons -- cultural reasons, personal reasons, embarrassment or retaliation -- you know, reporting this up.

Because these are people who have, you know, power of them in an incredibly undemocratic way, which is the nature of the military. That's why it is a chain of command. So I'm not sure, if you're keeping it within that chain of command, how you get past that culture of fear which says, "I should just keep this to myself"?

SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL:

Well, first of all, this is a crime that will always be underreported, no matter where it occurred, because of the nature of the crime. But if we look at our allies who changed their systems to, frankly, not protect victims, but because they were forced to to protect the perpetrators, the accused, reporting has not gone up, David, in any of those countries.

In fact, reporting has gone up much more in the United States than it has in any of the militaries that have taken it out of the chain. So the issue is why aren't victims coming forward? Retaliation? And where are you going to be more protected from retaliation? In our reform, and in the reform that Kirsten agrees with, we also are going to make retaliation a crime.

But it doesn't make any sense. Retaliation is going to magically go away just because a lawyer a long way away has made a decision, as opposed to the commander. And we know commanders are making the decision to go forward more often than the lawyers.

DAVID GREGORY:

Final point on this, Senator. As I speak to women about this issue, including my wife Beth who's a former captain in the Army, they make the point that this is as much culture-- as much as the president calls for change, this is about having more women in senior ranks in the military. That's how you deal with this problem.

As you look back on it, and you're trying to take on this problem, do you think the president missed an opportunity, naming a new secretary of defense, to not name a woman? To really put an accelerator behind causing the kind of change you think is necessary?

SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL:

Listen, there's no question that, as more and more women get into the top ranks, some of the nonsense of all kinds is going to go away within the military, some of the cultural bias against women and some of the cultural bias that has allowed sexual harassment and sexual assault.

But I will tell you, we have seven women on the Armed Services Committee, and we are working together. And believe me, none of us are coddling the Pentagon on this issue, and we're not going away. We're going to stay at this every year. We're going to hold the commanders accountable. We're going to make sure that these victims have their own lawyers, their own sense of protection, and that we absolutely go after retaliation with everything we've got. I actually think that they get it, at this point. And if they don't, there's going to be seven women on the Armed Services Committee that are going to make sure they do.

DAVID GREGORY:

All right. Senator, we'll leave it there for now. A lot more to come, and we'll be staying on this story. I really appreciate your time this morning.

SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL:

Thanks David.

And coming up here...

Grading the president’s performance during these dog days of summer. Our political roundtable is here including the New York Times’ David Brooks as well as former governor of New Mexico and presidential candidate Bill Richardson.

Plus -- back at home -- the future of the immigration debate. We’re going to hear from the leader of the fight against reform.

And later -- the paper that broke the Watergate scandal is sold. And is the era of Woodward and Bernstein over now replaced by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos? We’ll look at the future of how you get your news and information. We’ll be back after this short break.

(***Commercial break***)

DAVID GREGORY:

Welcome back to you all. The president's on vacation; it's looking like the dog days of summer, David Brooks. And it's not only that there are foreign policy issues, war on terror issues that are-- they're not distractions, but they seem to be overtaking what the president would like to be talking about. But he also seems stuck on the big things that he wants to do in his second term. And the fall, with the budget fights coming, don't look very promising.

DAVID BROOKS:

Yeah. I would say the core problem right now he faces is that he used to have a bunch of loud personalities who are hard to work with sometimes, a Larry Summers, somebody like that. Big ideas. He's opted in the second term to have good team players but who don't have as many big ideas.

And so it seems, from the outside, like they're occupied with the normal, daily business of running the government. But there's no sense of urgency about the two or three gigantic things they want to accomplish domestically, or in foreign affairs. And so I think, from the outside, it feels like there's this lack of big projects that they want to do right now.

DAVID GREGORY:

It's interesting, Ana Navarro, the big project that they have to get done is implement Obamacare in a way that meets the legacy moment that the president argues that we're in the middle of the getting Obamacare passed. And he's taking on Republicans. I mean, it's the sign of a new level of fight that I think he'll bring into the fall. In his press conference, he took on Republicans who were trying to de-fund the program, saying this:

[Tape]

OBAMA:

I think the really interesting question is why it is that my friends in the other party have made the idea of preventing these people from getting health care their holy grail, their number-one priority. The one unifying principle in the Republican Party at the moment is making sure that 30 million people don't have health care.

DAVID GREGORY:

You agree with that framing?

ANA NAVARRO:

Well, I think there's nothing unifying right now in the Republican Party, much less a discussion around de-funding Obamacare. As you know, it's been a very contentious topic in recent weeks, and there's many of us who think that it should not be a government shutdown because of de-funding Obamacare. And there's a big spectacle playing out in public about it.

But I also think, you know, it's rather rich for the president to be throwing stones that way when what we've seen is an administration that's been making nothing but exceptions on this Obamacare, whether it's for corporations or for congressional staff. So maybe he should talk about implementing the whole thing he passed, and not doing these exceptions.

But I'm very disappointed Republicans, and Democrats, stayed quiet on the exceptions for the congressional staff that were made this last week. There should be more focus on, "Well, if you passed it, live with it," instead of making these very strategic cutouts.

DAVID GREGORY:

Governor?

BILL RICHARDSON:

Well, I think we should focus on the good things that have happened with Obamacare. Healthcare prices have gone down; those insured with preexisting conditions, that's been resolved. The issue of seniors getting lower prescription drug costs, that's good.

But, you know, a lot of it, David, is up to governors. It's up to the states. The states, the governors have the ultimate decision on, "Do we accept more Medicaid? Do we participate in the healthcare exchanges?" And it's split. But I think eventually, when this Obamacare is implemented, and I think it will be implemented, it will be one of his crowning achievements in the first term.

But right now, short term, a lot of difficulty. There's a lot of politics. And I agree with Ana, I mean, you have the Tea Party basically saying, "We're going to de-fund Obamacare, or we're going to shut down the government." I mean, that's a suicidal mission.

David Ignatius, from the fight over Obamacare and the budget to foreign affairs, which is in part about dealing with the ruptures in Egypt, civil war in Syria, and Russia is a partner. Here, the president this week talking about Vladimir Putin as the bored kid in the back of the classroom. A ruptured relationship with Russia as well, and the debate over N.S.A.

DAVID IGNATIUS:

Here was the president making wisecracks about the leader of a major country, calling him a slouch in his posture and--

DAVID GREGORY:

Is there a strategy, is the question about it all--

DAVID IGNATIUS:

I think the strategy--

DAVID GREGORY:

--is that is there a big strategy?

DAVID IGNATIUS:

--here is, "You disappointed us." The Russians signaled, according to people in the White House, that they were going to find some accommodation that would get Edward Snowden out of Moscow. The U.S. was led to believe that, and then suddenly that changed, and that upset people.

I think that Obama's challenge, because he has some big foreign policy issues coming at him, is to keep momentum. And he's trying to do that through Secretary Kerry's tireless travel. Secretary Kerry's made six trips to the Middle East, and he actually has gotten Arab-Israeli peace negotiations started, contrary to many people's expectations.

Secretary Kerry continues to work with the Russian foreign minister, Lavrov, on making arrangements for what would be a peace conference on Syria in Geneva, maybe in October. So all those things go forward. They're not flashy, they're not loud.

I found in Obama, on Friday at the news conference, this almost endearing naïve faith that if he just keeps plugging away at governing, and the other people keep making noise, that the governing side wins that. That people, Americans, are sick of partisan noise.

DAVID BROOKS:

I sort of liked the smack down of Putin this week. I thought it was good. You know, canceling the summit finally. You know, we've had enough, sir. And--

ANA NAVARRO:

Well, he's got to save some face. I mean--

(OVERTALK)

ANA NAVARRO:

--he has basically been slapped in the face by Putin, the guy who, before the election, he was sending messages to that he was going to have more flexibility.

DAVID BROOKS:

Yes. But the larger--

(OVERTALK)

DAVID BROOKS:

--thing that he has to do is figure out-- Putin's an egomaniac, so there are two ways he can process his ego mania. He can say, "Oh, I stood up to the U.S.," or, "Hey, I'm essential to the world order." So which one are we going to activate? And so activating Putin, "I'm essential to the world order," is the way to go. But the smacking him down, I enjoyed it.

BILL RICHARDSON:

Yes, but at the same time, look, the American/Russian relationship is really important. It's good to smack him down, I agree, on the Snowden issue. But the relationship with Putin is key. The president needs to rebuild the personal relationship with Putin.

Right now, there's bad chemistry. Issues relating to Iran sanctions, North Korea; issues relating to U.N. veto in the security council by Russia; Egypt. You know, David's a foreign policy expert. The whole issue relating to what happens in Syria. I mean, the relationship is too important.

I think the good step-- I served with Lavrov, he was the U.N. ambassador when I was there, and it's good to rebuild them at the cabinet level, with secretaries of defense. And then hopefully, I think after the St. Petersburg meeting, a personal summit where maybe they go off to a deserted island and--

ANA NAVARRO:

Oh, for the love of God, Bill--

BILL RICHARDSON:

--work--

(OVERTALK)

ANA NAVARRO:

If they go off to a desert island, only one of them-- listen, it's hard to have good chemistry with a former K.G.B. guy who's still--

(OVERTALK)

ANA NAVARRO:

--stuck in the cold war.

BILL RICHARDSON:

No, you've got to do-- and Obama's good at personal relations. I mean, this talk that he's done at--

ANA NAVARRO:

You go to the deserted island with Putin, then we can talk.

DAVID GREGORY:

All right, well, this issue of a smack down also applies domestically in terms of the president taking on some of his critics over the issue of immigration. I want to bring in Republican Congressman Steve King of Iowa, who was in Ames yesterday for the Family Leadership Summit, which I'll get to in just a moment. Congressman King, let me start though with immigration. The president's press conference on Friday, here's what he said about Republicans, especially those of you conservatives in the House, when it comes to immigration reform:

[Tape]

OBAMA:

The problem is internal Republican caucus politics. And that's what the American people don't want us to be worrying about. Don't worry about your Washington politics. Solve problems.

DAVID GREGORY:

When the president does that, Congressman, does that put more pressure on you, or less pressure on you, when you're back home?

REP. STEVE KING:

Well, I think it brings support for me when I'm back home. I've spent time at the state fair, at the Family Leadership Summit yesterday; I've been all over my district in Iowa, which is 39 of the 99 counties. It is a universal message that says, "Hold your ground. Keep telling the truth. Defend the rule of law and defend the Constitution."

So that's my message back to the president. I think that's divisive politics if we can't restore the rule of law in this. And then how are we going to enforce immigration law going forward if we accept the Senate's gang of eight amnesty bill?

DAVID GREGORY:

The bill moving forward, but as you say not with a pathway to citizenship for those illegal immigrants here. There is a move toward the Dream Act, which is allowing illegal immigrants who are children of those who came here illegally, and are pursuing lives in America, to get legal status. You spoke out memorably now last month when you made some comparisons about those folks. Here's what you said:

[Tape]

KING:

For everyone who's a valedictorian, there's another 100 out there who weigh 130 pounds - and they've got calves the size of cantaloupes because they're hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert."

DAVID GREGORY:

Those numbers have been debunked. Your leadership has called those remarks hateful. My question to you is, is that a real belief? And do you think it's a constructive belief, that those people who are here, who have grown up here, who go to college, who get jobs, you really think most of them are drug smugglers?

REP. STEVE KING:

I didn't say that, David, and my numbers have not been debunked. I said valedictorians compared to people who would be legalized under the act, that are drug smugglers coming across the border. My characterization was exclusively to drug smugglers, and anybody that understands the language and the culture should be able to watch that tape and know that.

DAVID GREGORY:

Right. But as you know--

REP. STEVE KING:

Valedictorians are rare--

(OVERTALK)

DAVID GREGORY:

--just for the record. As you know--

REP. STEVE KING:

There's one per class, per year, David.

DAVID GREGORY:

But hold on, Congressman, I just want to make sure that people don't think-- they have been debunked. Without getting into the methodology, there's no accurate way to compare those two things in the way that you tried to so neatly do so.

REP. STEVE KING:

Then what's their number? How many valedictorians do they suggest? And I'll tell you, I've seen the drug smugglers. I've spent time on the border, I've ridden with the border patrol. I sit on the fence at night. I sit in a ranch house in the border patrol come to me in civilian clothes and they tell me narrative after narrative.

And so for this to be characterized by Dick Durbin as valedictorians, I'm telling the American people that I recognize that. And part of that quote, before that, was that tugs at my heartstrings too, the valedictorians. But this proposes to legalize a lot of people that will include the people who are drug smugglers. Up to the age of 35, you cannot do a background check on people that don't have a legal existence in their home country. And the people that are advocating for this don't understand the full scope.

So it's time we had a national debate on what really happens with this. My heart goes out to valedictorians who were brought here by their parents; so does everybody's in America. But we cannot put our sympathies for people in that condition greater than our love for the rule of law, or the sovereignty of the United States of America. That is the debate, and that's why it didn't pass back in 2006 and '07. The American people rose up, and I think they'll rise up again and put a stop to this and restore the rule of law, David.

DAVID GREGORY:

Congressman King, thank you very much. Joining us from Iowa this morning. It gets us back to the roundtable and the immigration debate. Ana, what does this say to you about the prospects of real reform coming out of the House?

ANA NAVARRO:

Well, first of all, I think Congressman King should go get himself some therapy for his melon fixation. I think there might be medication for that. I think he's a mediocre congressman who's got no legislative record, and the only time he makes national press is when he comes out and says something offensive about the undocumented or Hispanics.

And frankly, I think he's being helpful to the immigration debate because it is emboldening other Republicans to speak out strongly against him, people like John Boehner, like Eric Cantor, like Paul Ryan, who are not going to stand anymore for the Republican Party being defined by somebody like Steve King. There are other voices who are the adults in the room and who are working hard towards a reform. And I think it's going to happen. I'm more optimistic than most.

DAVID GREGORY:

Let me, before I let him go, he just heard that. Congressman King, do you want to respond to that, in terms of what actually is going to get accomplished?

REP. STEVE KING:

Well, I would say this. First of all, I spoke only of drug smugglers. And if Ana understands the language, she should know that. I didn't insult her, I didn't insult other Republicans, and I didn't violate--

ANA NAVARRO:

I'm not undocumented, Congressman. I vote.

REP. STEVE KING:

--the 11th commandment that Reagan gave to us. And so we should look at this from the big picture. There are people in America who are dying today because of our immigration policy and our open border. They're part of this debate too. Where's your compassion for the families who have lost their children, lost their family members, that are buried today because we didn't enforce the immigration law?

Do you understand that 80-90% of the illegal drugs consumed in America come from or through Mexico? Terrorists infiltrate through that border. We need to secure the border first, restore the rule of law; then we can have this discussion that you want to get to.

DAVID GREGORY:

All right, Congressman--

REP. STEVE KING:

Let's not be insulting people in the process--

ANA NAVARRO:

Oh, you're going to talk--

DAVID GREGORY:

Congressman, thank you.

ANA NAVARRO:

--to me about insulting people, Congressman?

DAVID GREGORY:

All right, Governor Richardson, let me get your comment on this.

BILL RICHARDSON:

Well, I think what the Congressman is advocating is basically shameful. But at the same time, there is a problem in the House of Representatives, and the problem is that the House will not take up the Senate bill the way it is. What needs to happen is a procedural fix, followed by, right now, in the August recess, evangelical groups, law enforcement groups, business groups are focusing on Republicans that are the key.

What I would do if I were the president is I'd ask Vice President Biden to lead an effort to make some procedural deal. Have part of the House bill not just border security but some kind of naturalization be part of a package that goes to the Senate. Make the deal in conference. That's the way to go.

DAVID GREGORY:

David, the larger point here: If immigration doesn't get passed this fall, if it is put off, you're talking about a first year for the president devoid of this major legacy item that he campaigned on--

REP. STEVE KING:

Well, the--

DAVID GREGORY:

--both times, especially this past one.

REP. STEVE KING:

And you're talking about the breakdown of our political institutions. This is a problem that the country wants to see addressed, and to see our institutions fail just would be tragic. I must say, to speak frankly, watching Congressman King, you understand why the Republicans have a problem. That rhetoric may speak well to parts of the Republican Party base but it doesn't speak to the country, especially not to a country that's changing the way ours is. And--

ANA NAVARRO:

But, David, it's unfair. It really is unfair to paint the Republican Party broadly with what Steve King says. He's not--

DAVID IGNATIUS:

You spoke eloquently in criticizing--

ANA NAVARRO:

--stereotypical of the Republicans. This is a man who--

DAVID IGNATIUS:

--him. And I'm really endorsing what you said.

ANA NAVARRO:

--couldn't even get elected senator in Iowa; that's why he's not running there. This is a man whose district has been polled and supports immigration reform in the majority. So, you know, he is--

DAVID GREGORY:

All right, let me--

ANA NAVARRO:

--specifically called to fame. That's his game.

DAVID GREGORY:

All right, let me leave this there for now. Governor Richardson, Ana, thank you both very much. The Davids will stick around after this.

Coming up...The changing of the guard at one of the nation’s most storied newspapers. What the sale of the Washington Post says about the way we are getting our news...Ted Koppel is back on our roundtable.

DAVID GREGORY:

And we're back with a little Sunday inspiration, a reminder that not all news is bad news. You might remember this movie:

[Tape]

Movie character:

Feel the rhythm, feel the rhyme, get on up, it’s bobsled time. Cool runnings.

DAVID GREGORY:

Twenty years ago, Cool Runnings packed theatres with the heartwarming story of the first Jamaican bobsled team. After missing the last two winter Olympics, the island nation's bobsled team hopes to return to the games in Sochi, Russia, thanks to the determination of long-time team member and captain Winston Watt.

At the ripe young age of 46 in a sport what the youngest Olympian ever was 15, and the average U.S. bobsledder is 30, Watt is in the position to qualify as part of a two-man bobsled team. But it's not just qualifying that matters; the team needs money as well, for equipment and travel to different events. If he makes it to the Games, Watts will rank among the oldest bobsledders in Olympic history. We are back with a special look at the sale of The Washington Post and the future of journalism right after this.

(***Commercial break***)

DAVID GREGORY:

And we are back with our roundtable. That image, big this week. I want to welcome Kara Swisher, a former reporter for The Washington Post who left the paper and now covers all things digital as the editor for the site AllThingsD.com; and of course, our own Ted Koppel is back as well. Kara, I want to start with you. We're always monitoring conversation--

KARA SWISHER:

Right. Yes.

DAVID GREGORY:

--online here on the program. You instagram-ed something moments ago from our green room, "Me and a panel of dudes in ties and Bberries will be discussing internet journalism on @meetthepress #godhelpme." I've got my iPhone here.

KARA SWISHER:

Well, the diversity here is huge.

DAVID GREGORY:

Huge, right.

KARA SWISHER:

You know, this represents the modern internet right here.

DAVID GREGORY:

But you do, and what you wrote this week was significant in that you both, you know, mourned the sale of The Washington Post; weren't surprised by it; but it was a big deal. What did it mean?

KARA SWISHER:

Well, I think what's interesting about it is the romance around the idea of it, and that it was also inevitable at the same time. And I think a lot of people, especially in Washington, I'll say, not elsewhere, have this romance with newspapers that has been over for a long time with most everybody else around the country.

And so the issue is that it's the end of newspapers, or it's just the end of print? And I think that was the point I was trying to make is that it's not the end of news. Content is still incredibly powerful, and yet people still focus on the newspaper itself.

DAVID GREGORY:

I want to actually show something that you wrote in your piece on Wednesday. It is about what is the nature of internet journalism? How do we think about that differently than we think about, I don't know what the term is, you know, traditional journalism?

And you wrote this: "To me, the most important trick is to deeply inculcate the joy of internet journalism without losing, actually restoring to some degree after recent cutbacks, the great editorial values and breakthrough journalism of the Post. Fusing the old media storytelling and news integrity values that I learned at the Post with the internet values of speed and personality. And, well, some level of fun at the right times is critical."

KARA SWISHER:

Right.

DAVID GREGORY:

It's a cultural change, partly?

KARA SWISHER:

Not exactly. Because, you know, when you were boring in the old style, it was boring. So I think the issue is why you have to separate them, and why you have to assume that everything on the internet is poorly done, and everything in regular newspapers is well done. It's not the case at all.

DAVID GREGORY:

David Ignatius, you were an editor for Kara years ago. What did this sale mean to you? What did it say to you about where things are headed? And again, when we talk about that, it's not just about us and our business; it's about how all of us are getting information.

DAVID IGNATIUS:

We had a painful week at The Washington Post, I'll be honest. The meeting in which Don Graham and Katharine Weymouth, our publisher, told us this news, it was just a shocked, stunned room. The Grahams love the paper, the staff love the Grahams.

And when we picked ourselves off the floor and began thinking about this, it began to dawn on people that having someone with $25 billion of net worth acquire your paper, and also to have that person be a proven disrupter of technologies, somebody who made it easy to read print, to read print content (books, magazines, newspapers) on the Kindle, which I think really preceded the tablet as a new way of reading, that's pretty exciting.

So by the end of the week, people were thinking, "How do we go on the offensive? How does this dynamic, new owner take us into a space where we're going to be more exciting?" I mean, Kara's right: Newspapers too often are boring. You know, they were boring in the old days; they're often boring now. How do we get hot again?

DAVID GREGORY:

And isn't that--

DAVID IGNATIUS:

And that's a fun thought.

DAVID GREGORY:

Ted, isn't that part of the point? I mean, look, your history, the history of Nightline was to be nimble at a time of an emerging crisis and take television into a new era, new branding. Why, as Kara writes, have big institutions like ours been slower to adapt to what society is saying, "Hey, we're ready for"?

TED KOPPEL:

You know something, it's all about money. You still advertise this program as being the longest-running continuous television program in the history of the universe.

DAVID GREGORY:

We think that's what makes us hip.

TED KOPPEL:

That's what makes you hip.

KARA SWISHER:

"We're really old."

TED KOPPEL:

And it has a lot to do--

KARA SWISHER:

Impactful.

TED KOPPEL:

--with the brilliance of its host and its production and the elegance of its guests, but most of all it has to do about the fact that it's cheap. This program has survived, Meet the Press has survived; Face the Nation has survived; This Week has survived because they are cheap. There's nothing cheaper than having a bunch of people talking around, flapping their lips.

Jeff Bezos, and David just mentioned it, brings $25 billion to the table. So he's going to be able to do things that other, the Grahams among them, have not been able to do. They will be able to harness the technology, but in the final analysis it's always about the same thing: content.

DAVID GREGORY:

David?

DAVID BROOKS:

Yeah, I think the audience has changed online. I think there's been a return to authority. You know, I used to read blogs, and you'd kind of be reading something interesting, and then the blogger would write, "Well, I've got to quit now. I'm going off to junior high." I realized I'd been reading a 12 year old.

But I think there has been a return away from some of that toward, whether it's online or in print, a return to quality. People who actually make the calls, who are not speculating, who are reporting. And I think there's been a return to that sort of stuff.

And so I'm a little more of the belief that the old media is going to continue. Look at ebooks; they've hit a plateau. Look at online; it's hitting a plateau, I think. And so I think we're going to be stunned by how much of the old media, whether it's delivered online or not, is going to be around, as the audience returns to authority (?)--

DAVID GREGORY:

Isn't that a way, Kara--

KARA SWISHER:

You're using terms, "old media." Why are you doing that anymore? I mean, it's kind of like-- is it because you're old or whatever? But that's not the case.

DAVID BROOKS:

I'm not that old.

KARA SWISHER:

No, I know that. I'm also old. But the fact of the matter is, the fact that you're using terms "old media" and "new media," it's changed completely. For example, we have a staff of six people covering tech. Very small, lean staff. We pay our reporters very well. We broke a lot of the major news stories when every other bureau has larger people. It's not a function of cost; it's not necessarily a function of having this old institution. It's a function of embracing these tools and doing the same thing.

DAVID BROOKS:

I was--

KARA SWISHER:

I think people are just resistant to the change, and they have to say "blogs" as if it's an insult. They have to, like, separate them. And they're all part of a living, breathing news organization that has to use these tools. It's like arguing against printing presses. You know, monks arguing against Guttenberg. I just don't understand why--

(OVERTALK)

DAVID BROOKS:

Yes, I'm not sure we're disagreeing. I would say when you look at projections of the future, go back, look at how people predicted the future, they always underestimated the extent of technological change. They always overestimated a sense of behavioral change. So the technology's going to change, but what people want to read is going to be basically the same--

KARA SWISHER:

But the consumers are way ahead of you.

DAVID BROOKS:

--it's just people doing reporters (?).

KARA SWISHER:

The consumers are already there. I mean, when I start speeches, I'm like it's not just the kids love but everybody loves it.

DAVID BROOKS:

I know.

DAVID GREGORY:

But do brands matter, David Ignatius? Is that--

DAVID IGNATIUS:

Well, I--

DAVID GREGORY:

--do they survive?

DAVID IGNATIUS:

--hope so. We're still going to be called The Washington Post. But I think we're going to have to earn our keep every day by being newsy. I mean, you know, newspapers have value, news sites have value because they have news. They tell you something you don't know, and they tell you it in an exciting, stylish way. And we have to work better on that.

And we also have to deliver for advertisers. Those lines that you were showing in the beginning of digital audience going up, and the problem is that advertising revenue doesn't go up with it. And maybe, you know, I go to the Amazon site, they know a lot about me. They know what I might like to buy. There's no reason we couldn't do that with our newspaper site.

DAVID GREGORY:

I'm going to make that the last word today. Thanks to all of you; a conversation that will continue. That's all for today here on Meet the Press. We'll be back. If it's Sunday, it's Meet the Press.

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