Archive for January, 2010

Bob Schieffer New Voice of “Face the State”
January 31, 2010

WFSB is proud to announce Bob Schieffer is the new voice of “Face the State.”    The veteran CBS newsman and host of “Face the Nation” was kind enough to lend his voice to the open of the WFSB Sunday morning political show.    Our news director Dana Neves worked with CBS News and Schieffer did the rest. 

This is not the first time Schieffer has worked with Channel 3.   In 2006 he came to Hartford to moderate a debate between Joe Lieberman and Ned Lamont.  

As a political junkie and avid watcher of the Sunday political shows I am  so honored to have Schieffer on our team and look forward to more collaboration with him and “Face the Nation” in the future.

see also:  http://dennishouse.wordpress.com/2010/12/02/face-the-state-faces-face-the-nation/

Congressman Himes on “Face the State”
January 28, 2010

 

Technical Producer Adam Brooks and Audio Engineer Joel Kosciak

Congressman Jim Himes is our guest this week, along with reporters Mark Pazniokas of the Connecticut Mirror and Brian Lockhart of the Stamford Advocate.    Himes has been named by Republicans as vulnerable and the national party has targeted him for defeat.  

During our taping, Himes admitted he could lose his seat in November.   He’s in a tough position:  the 4th district was held by Republicans for years; he’s a freshman; and the Obama wave he rode into office in 2008 is gone.  

We also asked Himes about health care, President Obama’s spending, the war in Afghanistan, whether he supports Ned Lamont for governor and more.   He also talks about whether he has disappointed the  liberal Democrats who helped elect him. 

This is Himes’ fourth appearance on Face the State since 2008.    He appeared three times during the ’08 campaign.   His opponent never appeared, having turned down all of our invitations.  

Also, we unveil our new Face the State announcer.   That’s Sunday at 11. 

The New Voice of Face the State
January 28, 2010

  

Starting this Sunday a new voice will be heard during the open of  “Face the State.”   We figured since Katie Couric got a new announcer for “The CBS Evening News,” we had to get one, too. 

We could have used a former “Face the State” host, much like CBS did by using Walter Cronkite’s voice.     Our first choice would clearly have been Duby McDowell, who hosted the program during much of the 1990s.   Duby didn’t make the cut because she still appears on the program as a political analyst.   Duby, don’t be disappointed.  I am confident someday  you will join the ranks of Morgan Freeman, Gene Hackman and other prominent folks who have lent their dulcet tones to the opens of various programs. 

Tune in this Sunday at 11AM and see if you can identify the new voice of “Face the State.”   At the end of the program we will broadcast the video of our new announcer tracking the show open. 

I’ll give you a hint:  he is a national,  well respected figure.   We are thrilled to have him and think he is a perfect fit for   “Face the State.”

Ted Kennedy, Junior in ’12?
January 24, 2010

State politicos are focused on this year’s Senate race, but there are already polls and speculation about the next big Senate race in 2012, when Senator Joe Lieberman’s re-election to a fifth term is anything but a sure bet.

There is a name that hasn’t surfaced publicly yet in any talk about 2012 but it is a name everbody knows:  Kennedy.    Ted Kennedy,  Junior was described to me by one prominent Democrat as the “dream candidate”  for the ’12 Connecticut Senate race.

Kennedy, who lives in Branford and runs a financial services group in New York,  has indicated he has thought of running for office “in the future” suggesting it could happen when his children are older.  In 2012 his daughter will be college age and his son, ready for high school.  Kennedy himself  will  turn 51 in ’12.    If Kennedy chooses not to run, the next opportunity would be 2016,  assuming Republicans win the seat this year.   It is unlikely Kennedy would challenge a Senator Blumenthal should the Attorney General win this November.

If Ted Kennedy, Junior wants to run for the Senate,  2012 might be the perfect year to do it.

Connecticut Democratic party chairwoman Nancy DiNardo admits the Kennedy name would be a big boost to the party, although she refrained from lavishing too much praise on the late senator’s son.    “We have several great potential candidates in our party,” DiNardo said.

Right off the bat,  there is the congressional delegation of Rosa DeLauro, John Larson, Joe Courtney, Chris Murphy and Jim Himes.   Conventional wisdom says DeLauro and Larson are not interested in the Senate because 0f the seniority both have built up in the House.   It is hard to believe DeLauro would walk away from being one of the most powerful women in the House to be a 70 year old freshman senator.  Ditto for Larson,  who is three slots  away from House Speaker.

Murphy has admitted he is interested in the Senate “down the road,”  and because of that revelation he seems to be the only Democrat polled in matchups against Lieberman.   However, Murphy could face a tough re-election battle this fall and the results could impact 2012.

After Scott Brown’s upset victory in Massachusetts, Republicans are confident they can do well where President Obama and his policies are not popular.   Where is Obama the least popular in Connecticut?   Murphy’s 5th congressional district.   According to Doug Schwartz of the Quinnipiac Poll, President Obama’s approval rating in the 5th is only 50%.     Republicans will most assuredly make Murphy’s Senate ambitions an issue, telling voters that a vote for Murphy is a vote for a man who could begin campaigning for the Senate as soon as the next Congress is sworn in.    If Murphy loses this fall, it would be difficult to see him as a strong candidate for the Senate in ’12, and even a narrow re-election might give Democrats pause.

A few Democrats have told me the one to really watch in the delegation to try to move up to the Senate is Courtney, whose district covers half the state, and includes some of Connecticut’s fastest growing towns.  He tends to be more independent than the rest of the delegation, and could be more appealing to independent voters and Lieberman supporters than Murphy.    Courtney voted against the Wall Street bailout and has refused to take part in  the generous health care plan afforded to members of Congress.  The con for Courtney is that in his 2nd district, the President has only a slightly higher approval rating of 51%.   For the record, Courtney has shown no interest yet in running for the Senate only in being re-elected this year.

Himes could also face a tough re-election this fall.  Another thing to keep in mind:  The 2nd, 4th and 5th districts were all held by Republicans not long ago.     If either Himes, Murphy or Courtney is re-elected big in what is seen to be  a Republican year, he could vault to the front of the line in the next Senate race.

Another potential candidate in ’12 is Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz, now running for Attorney General.

But the person who could clear the ’12 Senate field of Democrats  is the scion of the most famous political family in America.

WFSB Democratic Political Analyst Duby McDowell told me, “While our party has a terrifically strong bench in Connecticut, there’s no doubt that if Ted got into the 2012 Senate race he would be among the front-runners immediately. It’s not just his name and pedigree; he and his wife Kiki have earned a lot of good will in this state for work they have done for candidates and causes. There are plenty of people who would be thrilled to see him make a move onto the political stage.”

Some might argue “wouldn’t Kennedy run in Massachusetts?”   I’m told Kennedy considers himself a Connecticut guy.  Granted he has a summer home on the family campound in Hyannis Port, but what would the justification be for running in Massachusetts over Connecticut?   Republicans would say Kennedy would be running in the Bay State because he  sees Scott Brown’s seat as his “father’s seat.”     Brown won arguing it is the “people’s seat.”

Not too long ago Howard Fineman of Newsweek declared an end to the Kennedy era in Massachusetts.  The next Kennedy era could begin in Connecticut.

We put a request in to Kennedy’s office for a comment on our story, but we had not received a response by publication time. 

Lieberman Could Endorse Lamont for Governor; McMahon for Senator
January 22, 2010

Senator Joe Lieberman, who is admired and reviled for his independent streak kept true to form today by saying he could endorse one time nemesis Ned Lamont for governor and Republican Linda McMahon for senator.  During a taping of “Face the State” the state’s most popular senator, who enjoys a whopping 39 percent approval rating, explained these potential endorsements.  

Lieberman also talked about running for re-election in 2012; Scott Brown’s upset win in Massachusetts and what it means for health care and Connecticut; and a host of other issues.

Lieberman is a Face the State viewer favorite:  his last appearance remains the highest rated Face the State in many years.  This Sunday we also read your e-mails from last week’s interview with Linda McMahon which generated  more e-mail than we’ve had in years. 

Face was taped at our news set because of construction in the Face the State studio.  

Tune in this Sunday at 11AM.

Mika B and her Book
January 19, 2010

It isn’t everyday I have a friend who writes a book, so Saturday Kara and I took the kids to Mika Brzezinski’s book signing.   My 2 year old was excited only because we told her she could pick out any book she wanted.   We arrived early and encountered a crowd of about 100 or so people snaking through the aisles of the Bookworm in West Hartford.    We planned on spending more time with Mika after the signing but our children had other plans!

Truth be told,  we got a free advanced copy of Mika’s book a few months ago and only went to the book- signing to support our old friend.  We bought three copies and I may get a few more to give as gifts.

Longtime Channel 3 viewers will remember Mika as a cub reporter in a stable of newbies that included David Ushery, Virginia Cha, and Dennis House.   That was the fall of ’92.   We covered a host of stories together:  Chris Dodd  cruising to relelection against Brook Johnson; Mia Farrow and Woody Allen in court after Farrow learned Allen was having sex with her adopted daughter; and lots of winter storms.  

Mika and I later anchored the morning news together for a short stint before I got moved to the evenings to sit next to Gayle King.    

Mika and I have remained friends through the years and I have watched her career flourish and founder and flourish again.  I’ve always admired her tenacity, persistance and drive.   

Her book,  “All Things at Once,” is a great read.   Mika writes about her fascinating yet unconventional upbringing, her husband Jim (former WTNH reporter Jim Hoffer) and her career.   The focus of the book is how she managed to juggle her career and motherhood.  I won’t say much more because I want you to buy a copy.     

In case you don’t know, Mika is now the host of “Morning Joe”, which is the undisputed jewel in the MSNBC lineup.  I know, you’re thinking “isn’t that the station that airs shows featuring  endless shots of prisoners in their underwear  and liberal commentators obsessed with Sarah Palin?”  Yes, that’s the one, but the mornings on MSNBC are a whole different place in the television world and Mika is different.

Mika is the consumate journalist and along with Joe Scarborough, her show rocks.  They have great guests, terrific chemistry and every minute is interesting to watch.   I should point out, I watch it when I can, before my daughter demands “Dora the Exlporer.”  I really think MSNBC should re-run “Morning Joe” in the evenings.   They’d save some cash in salaries of the evening commentators and save their graphic artist the repetitive task of having to continually come up with shots of  Palin and Bill O’Reilly.   MSNBC would also improve their ratings.   More importantly, there are many of us who can’t watch from 6AM-9AM and who would tune in for an “Evening Joe.” 

Mika, best of luck with the book …we are so proud of you.   You may be a big author now, but I will always remember you as the girl who drove her giant red pickup truck to Broadcast House.

Bysiewicz Asks Blumenthal to Confirm She is Qualified to be A.G.
January 15, 2010

Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz just told me she has asked Attorney General Richard Blumenthal to look into whether she is qualified to succeed him, should be elected.    At issue, whether Bysiewicz has enough legal experience to be attorney general as required by state law.     A blogger has raised concerns that Bysiewicz does not have enough experience in private practice.  Bysiewicz argues that years in public practice qualify her. 

Bysiewicz spoke to Blumenthal by phone and is drafting a formal request in writing.    No word on how long it will take Blumenthal to investigate.

Bysiewicz told me she believes she is qualified and that her staff has done extensive research and found it is “very clear that she meets the  requirements.”   She called the accusations that she is not qualified, ” politically motivated,”  saying those critics are using a very narrow interpretation of the law.    She called their view “irresponsible” and said they used “poor legal judgement.”

The secretary went on to say with that narrow interpretation Blumenthal wasn’t qualified to be A.G. when he was elected in 1990.    And she mentions George Hinman, who became attorney general in 1915 without ever spending a single day in private practice.

So will she return to the governor’s race if Blumenthal finds she is not qualified to be A.G.?    “We are quite certain our interpretation is right on.” 

More tonight on Eyewitness News.

McMahon Tapes Face the State
January 14, 2010


Linda McMahon granted  her first extended local television interview with an appearance tonight on Face the State.   Had she arrived early at our studios she might have said “What is he doing here?”   Richard  Blumenthal also came to the station for our 6 o’clock news  to talk about Haitian scams, and left our building about 6:20PM.   McMahon got here shortly after 6:30.   The two never saw each other.

Like most of our guests, McMahon came with a pair of aides including former WFSB intern and WTNH reporter Jodi Latina.  

McMahon was treated like any other guest here on Face, but there is no denying she is something of a celebrity.  One of our audio technicians is a big WWE fan, and posted on his Facebook page that he was excited to be the one to a put microphone on Vince’s wife.   

McMahon took time to meet some WFSB employees.  This is not unusual, other candidates have done the same thing and often the introductions are my doing.  I get to meet all the candidates and elected officials and think it is only fair our producers and staff get to meet them, too.

Tonight’s Face the State guest told me to call her Linda, but I went with Mrs. McMahon.   I guess it is my Catholic school upbringing.    For the record I don’t address Simmons and Blumenthal as “Rob”  and “Dick.”

Mrs. Mcmahon was patient as the Face the State set was prepared and lighted, and the taping began behind schedule because of last minute fixes.

 As I blogged yesterday, the studio is a construction zone and the set was taken apart and put back together just for the taping.   Tomorrow it will be dismantled again.   

We spent that  time waiting for the taping to start with small talk, chatting about everything from McMahon’s favorite thing to cook to Katie Couric to the Massachusetts Senate race.  McMahon noticed the desk needed some cleaning….which it did,  and she thankfully plucked a piece of thread on my lapel that was out of my view.   She’s very personable and I couldn’t help recall that George Bush/John Kerry question from 2004:  who would rather have a beer with?   Linda McMahon is someone you’d want to have a beer with.

The panel of Daniela Altimari of the Hartford Courant, Brian Lockhart of the Stamford Advocate and I spent the half hour (24.5 minutes after commercials) questioning McMahon about why she is running, what the message is now that Dodd is out, and the polls that show her losing badly to Blumenthal.    We also devoted an entire segment to steroid use at the WWE, and asked McMahon if she felt responsible for the steroid related deaths of WWE wrestlers.    After the taping one of our producers felt we spent too much time on the WWE, and after the show airs I expect that some critics will say we didn’t spent enough time.  

Bottom line:  we crammed in as much as we could.  

We talked about why she donated to Joe Lieberman and whether her husband will join her on the campaign trail.  

McMahon agreed to appear in a special hour long “Face the State” debate with fellow Republicans Peter Schiff and Rob Simmons.    Then she left with her souvenir mug. 

Overall, I think we asked fair and tough questions and McMahon came prepared.  

You can be the judge and watch the entire interview this Sunday morning at 11AM. 

You can watch the entire interview with Mrs. McMahon this Sunday

McMahon to appear on “Face the State”
January 13, 2010

The pizza joints are getting their delivery drivers ready.   People are running to the grocery store to buy chicken wings and  ingredients for chili.    Sales of plasma televisions are expected to soar in the days ahead, all for a big television event this Sunday.

Okay, so perhaps I am exaggerating…..ok, completely fabricating, but this week’s Face the State IS  already getting attention.  That’s because Republican senate candidate Linda McMahon will be making her inaugural appearance on FTS.

Normally we release the  Face the State guest list after the show is taped on Thursday nights.  We made an exception in this case to satisfy viewers who kept asking “when are you going to have Linda McMahon on?”   I was being accused of not inviting her to appear, which simply was untrue.   In September we invited all the senate candidates to make individual appearances.     The McMahon camp and I agreed on the date of January 17th back in November, and announced it then.      

Someone already called the appearance the “Rumble in Rocky Hill,”  but I think “Interview in the Industrial Park” is more like it.   Mrs. McMahon will be treated like every other guest.    We are not out to get her and the questions will be fair.   We asked tough questions of Senator Chris Dodd and he came back on a second time, so one can assume he felt our line of questioning was fair.     We expect this will be the first of several appearances on Face the State this year by McMahon. 

The guest reporters will be Daniela Altimari of the Hartford Courant and Brian Lockhart of the Stamford Advocate.  Both are outstanding, well respected journalists who have been on “Face the State” before.   Most importantly, they have reported on the McMahon campaign and bring insight and experience to the broadcast  that should serve the voters well.  

Daniela, Brian and I will have a list of questions, and because it is only a thirty minute broadcast (24.5 minutes after commercials) we may not get to them all.  Also, interviews are often like conversations, and at times a person’s answer to a question may lead to a follow-up question we hadn’t thought of.  Seldom does an interview go exactly as planned. 

No matter what happens, I expect to get some negative reviews from our viewers.   There will be the usual ones labeling us the “liberal media” and that I am secretly a Republican or secretly a Democrat.    I’ve had people call me a Democrat if I wear a blue tie and a Republican if I wear red.  Think I’ll wear purple.   There will be others who will accuse me of being too easy on a guest.  Others, think we are too hard, with an agenda.  Someone actually blamed me for Senator Dodd’s decision to retire.  I’m flattered someone thinks I’m that influential, but we can take no credit for that.

As of the writing of this blog, the Face the State set is in shambles.    Workers are doing some kitchen construction in the studio, which we share with “Better Connecticut,” and “Friday Night Frenzy.”    I’m told the set will be put back together in time for our taping.      If you see Mrs. McMahon and  me sitting on a ladder, you’ll know what happened!

Face the State airs this Sunday morning at 11AM.

What do these women know that we don’t?
January 12, 2010

Here’s something you don’t hear every day in politics:  both front runners in the race for governor are not running.  As we reported earlier, sources tell me Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz is saying no thanks to some great poll numbers and will drop her quest for the state’s highest office. 

This comes just days after another poll showed Bysiewicz scoring higher than her fellow Democrats and easily beating,  thumping is more like it, Republican Lt. Governor Michael Fedele and former U.S. Ambassador to Ireland Tom Foley.

And it comes just two months after Governor Rell decided not to run for re-election even though polls showed she could win another term.   Ironically, the only Democrat who came close to beating Rell was Bysiewicz, and Bysiewicz was beating the governor among women.

The polls showed Susan Bysiewicz was the Democrats best chance of recapturing the governor’s office, a prize they last won in 1986, when Ronald Reagan was president.

So what gives?  We’ll find out tomorrow when Bysiewicz explains to reporters why she is dropping out of the race and running for Attorney General., but folks at the Capitol and political observers say Bysiewicz may have looked into the crystal ball and not liked what her governorship looked like.  UConn economist Fred Carstensen is predicting the economy in our state to be even worse a year from now.  Whoever is governor will have to make more painful budget cuts and inherit a half billion dollar budget deficit.   The ever popular Bysiewicz might become…unpopular, and quickly. 

Our state is also not attracting new businesses and new residents and the prospect of new revenue streams is dim.   Few candidates are embracing money makers like tolls and Sunday liquor store openings for fear it will prevent them from being elected.  Whoever is governor has one tough job ahead.

There is also speculation she may challenge Joe Lieberman for the senate in 2012.

So the Democratic field looks like this:  2006 Senate nominee Ned Lamont, Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi,   State Senator Gary LeBeau,  former Stamford Mayor Dan Malloy,  former house speaker Jim Amann, and Simsbury First Selectman (yes, it is not called woman) Mary Glassman. 

The Republicans are Lt. Governor Fedele, Foley, and Metro Hartford Alliance President and former Bank of America Connecticut president Oz Griebel. 

All are asking,  “Hey, Jodi and Susan, can I have your poll numbers?”

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