(Phil Truluck, Heritage Foundation Executive Vice President introduces Michael Chertoff, Secretary of Homeland Security)
SECRETARY CHERTOFF: (Sustained applause.) Phil, I want to thank you for that introduction. And I want to thank Heritage for bringing us all together this morning to talk about the issue of terrorism and its place in American culture. We’ve got many distinguished guests. I’m not going to single them all out, but I do want to observe that we have Justice Thomas and GinnI Thomas here. (Sustained cheers, applause.) We also have some very distinguished radio commentators. Rush Limbaugh and Laura Ingraham are here. (Cheers, applause.) This is great. If I keep identifying the prominent people in the audience, I’ll just get applause throughout the entire speech! (Laughter.)
I have to remember to use that technique in the future. I also want to thank the cast members of “24” and the producers and writers who have come out here, because I think it’s a testament to the seriousness with which they take this issue that they’ve come out to Washington to talk about it. Also, on a serious note, before we wind up discussing the cultural issues, I do want to obviously observe, as Phil said, that we have had a series of arrests overnight. And the attorney general is going to be giving a press conference in a little less than half an hour. I’m not going to jump his press conference, and I’m also going to be mindful of the fact that whenever you have a pending set of criminal cases, you’re very limited in what you can say.
But I do want to make the point that as we look at the events of the last 24 hours in real life, not on TV, and as we look at what happened in Canada in the last couple of weeks, where a plot to commit real destruction in Toronto was uncovered, it reminds us of the fact that the issue of terrorism is a national problem. It’s not something that is centered in one or two places, but it’s a threat that exists throughout the country and throughout the world. And we have to be vigilant across the country, and we have to build our capabilities across the country using risk management as a way of identifying where the priorities are, but also making sure we adequately cover not only the places which have been the subject of plots in the past, but the places that may be the subject of terrorist acts in the future.
In reflecting a little bit about the popularity of the show “24” — and it is popular, and there are a number of senior political and military officials around the country who are fans, and I won’t identify them, because they may not want me to do that (laughter) I was trying to analyze why it’s caught such public attention. Obviously, it’s a very well-made and very well-acted show, and very exciting. And the premise of a 24-hour period is a novel and, I think, very intriguing premise. But I thought that there was one element of the shows that at least I found very thought-provoking, and I suspect, from talking to people, others do as well.
Typically, in the course of the show, although in a very condensed time period, the actors and the characters are presented with very difficult choices — choices about whether to take drastic and even violent action against a threat, and weighing that against the consequence of not taking the action and the destruction that might otherwise ensue.
In simple terms, whether it’s the president in the show or Jack Bauer or the other characters, they’re always trying to make the best choice with a series of bad options, where there is no clear magic bullet to solve the problem, and you have to weigh the costs and benefits of a series of unpalatable alternatives. And I think people are attracted to that because, frankly, it reflects real life. That is what we do every day. That is what we do in the government, that’s what we do in private life when we evaluate risks. We recognize that there isn’t necessarily a magic bullet that’s going to solve the problem easily and without a cost, and that sometimes acting on very imperfect information and running the risk of making a serious mistake, we still have to make a decision because not to make a decision is the worst of all outcomes.
And so I think when people watch the show, it provokes a lot of thinking about what would you do if you were faced with this set of unpalatable alternatives, and what do you do when you make a choice and it turns out to be a mistake because there was something you didn’t know. I think that, the lesson there, I think is an important one we need to take to heart. It’s very easy in hindsight to go back after a decision and inspect it and examine why the decision should have been taken in the other direction. But when you are in the middle of the event, as the characters in “24” are, with very imperfect information and with very little time to make a decision, and with the consequences very high on a wrong decision, you have to be willing to make a decision recognizing that there is a risk of mistake.
You have to do the best that you can, you have to analyze as best as you can, but at the end of the day you have to act. And I think a little bit of that spirit of understanding of what the decision-makers and the operators face is not a bad tribute to pay to the people in real life who have to make those tough decisions every single day. Of course, there’s an element of “24” that is very unrealistic, and that is the idea that we’re going to resolve our problems in 24 hours. The characters in “24” bring to the challenges they face courage, intelligence, street smarts and determination, but there’s one thing they really don’t have to bring, because they only have 24 hours in which they operate, and that is perseverance and steadfastness over a long period of time.
And yet in the real war on terror, whether it’s the war we fight here at home or the war we fight overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan, as important as the courage and the intelligence and the skills is the steadfastness and perseverance. The fact of the matter is, American history shows that we cannot be defeated in a fight unless we lose our nerve or we lose our will. We have only lost those conflicts where we have withdrawn from the field of battle before we prevail, and that perseverance and that resoluteness is the one critical key to our winning this war on terror — which, as we all know, is not going to be resolved in 24 hours or 24 weeks or even 24 months. And so I think as we look at “24” and we consider some of the virtues we see in the characters, it’s very important to remember that we owe our operators and our soldiers and our police and our agents the backing and the perseverance and the resoluteness which are the critical necessity to winning a war like this, that is not going to be resolved in a single day.
Finally, I want to pay tribute to some real heroes, because much as we like the characters, we know that they work hard but they go home every night to be safe in their own beds. But all over the world as we speak, today and over the last days wand weeks and months, we’ve had real American heroes out defending the country — those who are in Iraq and Afghanistan facing real danger from IEDs and other kinds of weapons; those in this country, who engage in dangerous investigations and make dangerous arrests; Coast Guardsmen and other DHS personnel who were involved in rescuing over 33,000 people in Hurricane Katrina, often at substantial risk to their own life and limb; and our Border Patrolmen, who are out in a very dangerous and inhospitable environment facing not only smugglers, but facing drug dealers and other kinds of criminals who increasingly are willing to resort to force in order to protect their illegal operations and their trafficking.
These unsung heroes put themselves at risk every single day, and we don’t often know their names. And the day after they commit an act of heroism, they’re out there again doing their job, but I think it’s very important whenever we consider kind of cultural or the public appearance aspect of what we do in the war on terror to realize that the real work and the real courage is shown by the many thousands of people who work not only for the Department of Homeland Security, but for the Department of Justice, the Department of Defense and all the myriad agencies at the federal, state and local government that are charged with protecting our lives and our well-being. (Applause.) So with that, I’m happy to answer some questions.
TRULUCK: We have a couple of questions here. Some of them a little light-hearted. What aspects of “24” are most like the real world? What are most unlike the real world?
SECRETARY CHERTOFF: Well, I can tell very easily what’s not the real world. First of all, I do not have an operations center like CTU. (Laughter.) Things to not get resolved in 24 hours, and we don’t get to get information by using measures that would violate the law. So those are all things that are not like the real world. (Laughter.) I think what is like the real world is that you do have a very, very hard-working people who put in very long hours sometimes when they have considerable family pressures. You know, one thing actually that’s also a little (extraordinary ?) about “24” is everybody in this small unit have personal relations with another. That’s also not like the real world. (Laughter.) But everybody does have a family, and I think my family may be here too. And I want to thank them, and I want to thank the families of all the people who work in real life in things like “24” because it is the families that don’t go to the office, but actually sit and wait patiently, the real fortitude that allows people in real life to carry out their duties. (Applause.)
TRULUCK: Well, we have one here — I think it’s for the panel that’s coming up about — about (Edgar ?). So we’ll open up — (laughs). Okay. “Please comment on decrease in Homeland Security funding for New York.”
SECRETARY CHERTOFF: All right. I was waiting for that. That’s what we call a softball question. (Soft laughter.) I’m going to answer it in — by making three points. First of all, people who portray it as a decrease don’t recognize — and actually, there’s been a real swing up and down over the past several years. And if you look at the average amount which has gone to New York, it’s been about 18 percent — this is — U.S. funding is essentially the same, 18 percent. In fact, this year we did something for the New York area that is actually of more assistance than we’ve done in previous years because we’ve put a lot of extra money into Northern New Jersey, and those who have lived in that area know that you’re really giving, with a single metropolitan area — if you look at the whole metropolitan area, you’ve got almost a quarter of the total funding in this urban grant program going to the New York metropolitan area.
The second thing I want to say is, look, we recognize that the risk is not evenly distributed around the country. Most of the risk is in certain cities. And for that reason, over the past several years, we have put approximately one-half of the total funding for the urban area security grants in five cities. That’s half in five cities. And those cities have consistently been New York, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles — the one change we’ve had is in some years we’ve done the Bay Area in California, and more recently this year, we did the Northern New Jersey area. The question then becomes, should any money go the other cities? Because at some point, once you go beyond giving five cities half the money, to give them three-quarters of the money, you really don’t have enough money to put in any other cities.
And there I have to come back to the point I made earlier — we all agree that certain cities are at the highest risk. Does that mean that other cities have no risk? And I think the answer to that is no. And the proof of the pudding, frankly, is in the events of the last 24 hours. So we have a responsibility to look not only at the highest-risk cities, but to look at cities with a real risk, even if it’s a lesser risk. And what we try to do is array the money in a way that will focus the most in the cities with the highest risk, but also make sure that we are not putting all our eggs in one basket, and that when necessary, we are building basic capabilities in cities all over the country that will enable them to respond if there’s a terrorist attack in the heartland. And finally, for those who are skeptical about whether it makes sense to put any money in the heartland, whether there can be a terrorist attack in the heartland, I have two words to say to you: Oklahoma City. (Applause.)
TRULUCK: Okay. I’m not going to ask the secretary to answer this one, but it was such a good question, I thought I would just thank the person who sent it in. “Would it be considered unethical to clone Jack Bauer?” (Laughter.) I guess that’s a moral discussion that we’ll leave for now.
SECRETARY CHERTOFF: We’re doing it already. (Laughter, light applause.)
TRULUCK: I have sort of two questions on technology. One is that in the ’50s and ’60s, Dick Tracy’s two-way wrist radio-TV was far-fetched. Now, the latest cell phones make that a reality. In “24,” the CTU personnel are greatly aided by satellite technology that can penetrate buildings, even to the desired floor, and provide imagery to assist. How close are we to this? And a related question is, is electromagnetic pulse terrorism fact or fiction?
SECRETARY CHERTOFF: Well, let me say first of all that it is true that technology always surprises us, and we find that we have enormous capabilities that we can only dream about. But a year or two later, they come to fruition, and technology is a critical element of what we try to do in Homeland Security. Of course, one thing you don’t see on “24” is when the computer’s crashing and having to get the IT people to come in to reboot and get the computer working again. (Laughter.) The serious point to that is, we have to build a certain amount of redundancy and resilience into our systems. We can’t always assume it’s going to work the way, you know, people expect and hope. As far as electromagnetic pulsating, I don’t know if it would shut the entire country down. And there’s a lot of scientific data on the circumstances under which it could pose a problem for certain types of systems. Again, we have to build resiliency and redundancy to prevent that kind of a breakdown.
TRULUCK: We’ll take one last question, and we’re sorry that we have to cut it. I have so many questions here, appreciate your sending them in, but — there is one here about who you think should play you if your role is created, but — you can answer that, if you like, but — (laughs). (Laughter.) Let’s end with this one. What aspects of the real world of government do you wish resembled “24”?
SECRETARY CHERTOFF: I wish we could have a rapid execution of tasks within 24 hours. I think we’re a long way from doing that. I wish we could have instant communications. I wish we didn’t have systems that sometimes went down and broke. So those are all aspects of “24” I wish we had. On the other hand, there is something that we do have which I think is very satisfying and very important, which is, we have a tremendously dedicated group of men and women who work for us, who have a dedication that I think, frankly, is equal to that of the characters that are portrayed on the television show. And so my confidence in our ability to protect this country and bring security to the men and women who live within our borders is founded upon my belief that nowhere, whether in real life or in fiction, can you find a better team than the team that we have working at all the agencies of government, at all levels of government, to protect homeland security. So I want to thank you very much. (Applause.)
TRULUCK: (Off mike) — a lot of fun.
SECRETARY CHERTOFF: I enjoyed it. (Applause continues.) I wish I could stay for the panel, but I actually have real — in the next 24 hours I have real things I have to do — (laughter) — (inaudible).
MODERATOR: Thank you, Mr. Secretary.
SECRETARY CHERTOFF: Thanks very much. (Applause.)
TRULUCK: We’re very grateful to the secretary for taking this time. Particularly with the activities that took place yesterday and this morning we doubly appreciate him being here. We’re going to move on to the panel and before we bring the panel out I’d like to bring our moderator out. He’s someone who, the old saying goes, “needs no introduction” so I’m not going to introduce him. I will say that Rush Limbaugh has been a wonderful friend of ours for many, many years now and of course so many of us give him credit for so many of the victories we’ve had over the past decade and a half in Washington and around the country. (Introduces Rush.)
RUSH: It’s great to be back at an event for the Heritage Foundation, and it is a thrill to be in the Ronald Reagan building, ladies and gentlemen. (Cheers and applause.) This is quite a treat for me to be able to moderate. Normally I am the expert and have all the answers, and today I get to ask questions. (Laughter). It’s sort of a day off, but it’s going to be fun. We’ve had a wonderful — we slept about four hours last night, and I told the group, “The less sleep we get last night, the better this panel is going to be,” and we’ll see if I’m born out. Let me tell you how I became familiar with “24”. I’ve only been watching the show about 16 months, maybe 17. I went on a troop visit to Afghanistan a year ago February with Mary Matalin.
By the way, is Mary in the crowd? She was going to be here today and I wanted her to stand if she is. She is not. We had to fly all the way to Dubai before getting on a UN (shakes head). I can’t believe I agreed to do it. (Laughter.) It was a United Nations DC-9 flown by a crew from some “stan.” (Laughter.) But on the way over — I had never watched the show “24”. Some people had said to me for the longest time, for the run time of the show, its in its fifth season, “Have you ever seen the show “24”?” I said, “No, I don’t watch television at night much, certainly not series network television anymore. The last such series that intrigued me was Dallas.” (Laughter.) A long time ago. So a friend went out and got the first two seasons on DVD and I stopped in Washington and picked Mary up, and I said, “You ever heard of this show ’24’?”
She said, “Ah, people have told me about.”
I said, “You ever watched it?”
She said, “No.”
I said, “Well, I’ve got the first two seasons on DVD. Let’s pop a DVD of season one in and see what happens.”
Sixteen hours later we landed in — (Laughter.) Sixteen hours later landed in Dubai, having watched 18 episodes of season one. We did not sleep. After the first four or five episodes, I said, “Mary, let’s just watch one more. We’ve gotta get some sleep. We’re going to Afghanistan.”
We kept on after every episode, “We’ll just watch one more.” (Laughter.) And the only reason we stopped is because we landed in Dubai, and the whole week we’re in Afghanistan — which was another story itself, and it was an amazing trip — the whole week we can’t wait to get back to finish the final six episodes of season one and watch season two on the way back. That’s how I became familiar with it. I came back from that experience, and I was telling everybody on my radio program about it. I like to share my passions and the things that I enjoy, and the co-creator of the program, unbeknownst to me, is a huge fan of my program. I’m not surprised, but — (Laughter.) (Applause.)
I see some people not applauding and smiling. (Laughter.) I’ve spotted you. I know who you are. I know where you are, and my security people have your seat numbers. (Laughter.) Joel Surnow called and thanked me for plugging the show and so forth. I can’t believe that. So this relationship started. I’ve been out there twice, once a set visit while they were actually filming the last two weeks of the previous season. The show is incredible. It just finished its fifth season. Series television normally by this time in its lifespan has begun its downward trend. “24” just had its highest audience ratings ever.
The series continues to improve. It continues to fascinate people. It continues to reach people from all demographics, and it’s a thrill to know these people and to learn from them. They’re some of the most creative people (whispering) and most of them are conservative. (Laughter and applause.) Yes, you can applaud that! (Applause.) There are a couple on the staff — I am not going to name names — who have bought into the human-beings-are-causing-global warming hoax. (Laughter.) But we’re working on them. They are just fabulous people. I’d like to bring the panel out now so we can get started with all of this. Please come out en masse, and I will introduce them after they have been seated. (Applause.)
(Panel takes their seats.)
By the way, before we get started, I can’t forget this. I want to thank Justice Thomas and his wife, Clarence, for making all of this (Laughter.) You deserved that after what you’ve been saying to me this morning. I did that on purpose. His wife, Ginni. They have been gracious to us. We had dinner last night in the justices’ dining room at the Supreme Court, rarified air, and I want to thank you for making that possible — and Ginni put this whole event together with Joel at a party we had at my house back in March that I didn’t even know about. (Laughter.) So that’s great. Let’s get to the panel. Here is, from my left on down, from the Heritage Foundation, Jim Carafano, homeland security expert. (Applause.) Homeland security “scholar” is the language. Howard Gordon, who is the executive producer of “24” and was the lead writer for this season’s episodes. (Applause.)
By the way, Howard’s son, Micah, is in the front row, ten years old. Stand up, Micah. Stand up. (Applause.) Joel Surnow, co-creator “24”, executive producer, “24”. (Applause.) Chloe. (Cheering, Applause.) The name is pronounced “Rajskub,” Mary Lynn Rajskub. Next to Mary Lynn, Carlos Bernard. (Applause.) Carlos played Tony Almeida, and is supposedly dead, but we didn’t see a body on the gurney on the way out, so you never know. (Laughter.) Somebody, when I saw him, I said, “Shouldn’t you be in jail?” President Logan, Greg Itzin. (Applause.) The co-creator of “24”, executive producer and one of the real brains behind this — they all are, but — Robert Cochran is next down there (applause), and we had to go get a token moderate. (laughter)
HEYMAN: (shaking his head, laughing, waves)
RUSH: Dave Heyman from the Center for Strategic International Studies, also a homeland security scholar. Welcome. Great to have you. (Applause.) Okay so far, Clarence? (Laughter.) I want to start with our two scholars, and I want to get to something that is active in the minds of — I don’t think a majority of the American people, but it’s active in the minds of many in what I call the Drive-By Media, trying to stir things up — that’s “Club Gitmo,” I call it. Abu Ghraib. The program “24” routinely portrays what people would consider torture. The ticking- time-bomb scenario happens in “24” sometimes multiple times an episode. The aspect of torture as portrayed on the program versus the way the media in this country en masse is trying to portray us as evil, what are the connections between that and the people who watch this program? And is the effect of the torture news coverage versus the presentation of this in “24” confusing to viewers? Does it make a difference in public opinion about the whole issue?
CARAFANO: Well, it has nothing to do with reality. I mean, I was in the army for 25 years, and I talked to lots of military people who had been in lots of wars; I talked to lots of people in law enforcement. I’ve never yet ever found anyone that’s ever confronted the ticking time bomb scenario notion that, you know, the bomb is ticking and if we don’t get this information from this person right now, then people are going to die; therefore, I’m faced with this enormous moral dilemma: Do I torture them, or, you know, or do I let people die? And, quite frankly, that — that scenario, as far as I can tell, has never even happened in human history. So it’s great fiction. It’s good drama. It brings — it brings us moral — but that’s not the moral dilemma that people normally face.
The moral dilemma that people normally face is, “Are there ways to get this information legally and lawfully and — and still support the people?” That’s the real issue. And that, you know, brings up the real point, which is, “What is the real courage?” and here is where I would disagree with the secretary. “24” does not portray real courage in Washington. It’s not about making a life-threatening decision on some great moral dilemma. It’s really about fighting this very slippery slope, when it’s a lot easier to say, “Well, you know what? We’re getting pushed back on this Gitmo thing; let’s just — let’s just not do that.” Or, “You know, every time we arrest somebody, you know, we get criticized for picking on whatever, so let’s just not do that,” and if you make that decision, nobody’s going to die tomorrow. Nobody made a decision that made the people in 9/11 die that day.
But, you know, people make easy decisions when they pick an easier wrong rather than a more honest right which had consequences down the road. And the people that do those things — I think back, for example, to the Dubai Ports World debate where we had the secretary stand up and say, “Well, this is not a real security issue.” He didn’t have to do that. I mean, there’s this enormous political storm. He could have done the easier wrong and said, “Oh, yes, you’re right. We should have been terribly concerned about this.” But he said, “Well, you know what, this is not a real issue.” That, in my mind, is real courage. And as much as I admire the show and love the show, it’s the kind of courage that, you know, doesn’t make great theater and — and never really (garbled). So this notion that somehow we have to make this really hard decision about torture people, letting lots of people die, it’s just simply, quite frankly, something that almost you virtually never confront. I don’t know if Dave’s experience is any different.
HEYMAN: I’ve never been involved in torture, thank you, Jim. (Laughter.)
CARAFANO: That’s not what I hear.
HEYMAN: Can I just start by saying, “Where have you people been? Jim and I try to have these kind of things all the time, and you’re never here.” (Laughter.) Maybe Mary Lynn could show up a little more often. No, I think this is really reflective — the show reflects really where we are sort of a culture moment in time. Every generation has it. There’s social transformation going. We’ve got, you know, global forces; we’ve got the question of what security is — whether security has changed the way we see the world, domestic policy, foreign policy, domestic intelligence, foreign intelligence, all these things are becoming blurred, as are the questions that we have to face on morality. And the show does a really great job of trying to put those questions on a personal level for all of us. We’re all Jack Bauer in our hearts. We know that, right? And you measure up to Jack Bauer by saying, “What would I do if I was in his shoes?” So you have this question of, you know, individuals want justice. You want justice. But societies want process. And there’s a democratic process we all subscribe to. When you get to the questions of today, Gitmo, you get to questions about rendition of — of — of — of terrorists, you get to these kind of very difficult questions. We do want democratic process, but we also want justice. And the show allows us to have both, and that’s why we love it.
RUSH: You’ll have to excuse me. I have to move out in front to be able to hear them so that I don’t ask a question they’ve already answered. Joel, would you like to respond to this? I wanted to start with the scholars first. They are viewers. They’re interpreting what you’re doing. You’re creating it.
HEYMAN: And you’ll never hear from us again, but… (Laughter.)
SURNOW: The whole conceit of “24” isn’t realistic. I mean, when we first started out doing this, when we write our drama in the past, we always like to, in the last act of a show, put a — what we call “put a clock on a story” to really make it exciting. And the whole concept of “24” is to put a clock on the whole season. So, no, it isn’t realistic. But it does allow us to take the most extreme situations and force you to make a decision between, as Secretary Chertoff said, “a bad decision and a worse decision,” and that sort of is where our show lives. I mean, it’s in that decision making, and in that idea which transcends doing it in real time or under the time pressure. I mean, I think as we’re fighting the war on terror, we are dealing with not-great options. Any time you go to war, it’s not a wonderful option. But what is the long-term effect, and are you doing this, and is it going to help? So all our show is is an exaggerated sort of expression of that stuff that I think the policymakers in this country have to face every day, but in, obviously, a less intense way.
RUSH: But you’ve done five seasons, and as you’ve done five seasons, you have to become conscious and aware of the effect the program is having on the audience, and you become aware of events, and I don’t — let me ask you: how much of the show is written with real-world events as a guide, versus how much of it is just totally made up? Is any of it what you wish the United States was doing? Had the capability to do?
SURNOW: Well, sort of every other season we’ve sort of gone into real-world events. Season two and season four dealt with sort of the radical Islam war on terror that we’re all sort of dealing with front and center. Absolutely it’s what we wish. There is a wishful film and fantasy. I mean, we try to —
RUSH: All right. All right. (Laughter.)
SURNOW: You know.
RUSH: Me too.
SURNOW: The terrorists are the bad guys, and we’re the good guys, and so we’re — you know. (Applause.)
RUSH: I asked Mary Matalin, by the way, on this trip to Afghanistan, we were watching this, and I asked her — she worked for Vice President Cheney at the time — I said, “Do we have anything like this?”
RUSH: She said, “Not that I know of.” What about the possibility of government officials — back to the scholars — government officials watching this program (we know they do) can they get ideas, creative ideas on dealing with these problems from this show, or are they strictly fans, do you think?
CARAFANO: Well, I — I think they’re strictly fans. This is not how you stop terrorists. I mean the notion — actually, it’s the worst thing you’d want, is a bunch of guys, and they’re in the room, and they’re taking care of the rest of us. I mean stopping terrorists is — if you look, for example, at what was done to stop the group in Canada; the group that was recently arrested in Miami, it was very unglorious stuff that took months and things and required a lot of people cooperating over things. That’s — you know, it’s just like good law enforcement. You watch Tony Soprano, you know, and that’s — you know, we love to get those guys. But that’s not really the way it works. And I think that’s actually one of the problems with the show. I mean, if you think back — I think one of the problems in Katrina, for example, is Americans saw television, and they looked on television, they saw, “Oh, my God, there’s people down there. Do something,” and they were very frustrated that their government can’t do that. And they took things like thousands of square miles, roads destroyed, infrastructure, just kind of out of things, and they can go, “You know, I can get instantaneous solutions on television, I can see problems; why can’t they fix that?” But in real life it’s a bunch of nice people just like us who go to work every day and do their job, and that’s what you really, really need.
RUSH: True. But it’s creative as it can be, and it’s inspirational to a lot of people. Speaking just as an American citizen, you mentioned the operation in Canada. This is why the show has an impact on people. We have a political party trying to shut down the program that enabled that operation in Canada to be a success. It’s being called “domestic spying,” when it’s not. These guys put the same kind of conflict in the program. Jack Bauer, who never fails, always is the target of the government, somebody, being put in jail. It’s amazing how close it is. I’m not trying to say that “24” replicates life or influences things. It’s clearly an entertainment program. But people who watch this love it because it is pro-good guy; it does show a way in which these things can happen. Howard, how conscious are you when you write an episode or a story line, of real-life events? How recently do you try to incorporate, or is it all made up in your head and if it happens to coincide with reality, it’s coincidence?
GORDON: It’s a little bit of all of the above. We read the same newspapers that everybody else does, so what’s in the ether obviously seeps into our imaginations as well, and we synthesize it. And while we don’t try to represent any kind of real truth in terms of obviously 24 hours in the format makes it impossible, we try to, I think, present an essential truth, or an essential problem. So when Jack Bauer tortures, it’s in a compressed reality. He has to get this information out of somebody, but he also pays a price for it. So we’re aware of the price of torture in terms of due process. That, too, is something that we — you know, we try to compress these arguments and these issues and dramatize them in obviously very unreal ways, but hopefully in dramatic and compelling ways. And that’s really ultimately our — our — our master is — is making a compelling, “adrenalized” TV show.
RUSH: When you put this show together, do you plan the whole season in advance and then write it, or are you writing this thing as you record —
GORDON: This is a remarkably spontaneous — we are lucky if we know we’re going to begin, let alone where we’re going to end. We wrapped up the last episode six, eight weeks ago, and we start shooting the next season four weeks from now.
CARAFANO: That’s good because David and I have some ideas for season six.
GORDON: We’re taking ideas and submissions, so. Rush will be accepting —
VOICE: It’s about very nice people.
RUSH: All right, staying on the theme — Joel, Bob, you guys answer this — you have sources in the government that gives you ideas or possibilities that you can put in the program that are real, or is this all in your creative heads?
COCHRAN: Well, we occasionally do talk to people in the government. I think for the most part we make it up. (Laughter.)
CARAFANO: Just like Dave and I.
RUSH: I didn’t quite hear what he said, but I think I understood it anyway. Are you surprised by the reaction the show’s had? Getting questions like this, you’re sitting here saying, “Is that real life terrorism?” Are you having sort of an out-of-body experience with the reaction to this? What surprised you the most?
SURNOW: You know, I mean every show sort of finds its own way to the audience, and — and some of them are sort of touched by a magic wand, and in sort of a tragic way, but an interesting way our show aired a week after 9/11. And basically so what we had been doing as a fiction sort of became something that was sort of in everybody’s mind once it aired. So there was a very kind of tragic but sort of relevant beginning to the show in terms of what we were trying to do. We hadn’t seen a lot of spy shows, anti-terrorist shows on TV. It’s mostly cops or doctors, and we were trying to carve out — besides just the idea of doing a “24” thing, the idea of doing anti-terrorism, which pre-9/11 was sort of, “Why would you want to do something like that?” suddenly became a very relevant show. So after that happened, we started to feel like we were onto something that people might be interested in.
RUSH: Yeah, well, you’ve certainly done that. But what surprises you most about the reaction that people have had, both audience and government officials?
SURNOW: What surprises me, actually, is that we have everybody from Rush to Barbra Streisand like this show, and that’s really kind of crazy. And I don’t know (Laughing.) (Surnow: Laughs) How about you, Howard?
GORDON: The Rush to Barbra spectrum pretty much says it all. (Laughter.)
Voice: You can’t encompass that.
CARAFANO: You know, the folks that work at the National Counterterrorism Center say it’s their favorite show, too, so —
RUSH: I’m sure it is. Everybody I’ve met in the government that I tell I watch this show, they are huge fans. Vice president’s a huge fan. Secretary Rumsfeld is a huge fan. That’s why I’m fascinated by the show, and I’m sure they are, too. But, look, let me get the actors in here. (Applause.) Not that the rest of you are not stimulating. (Laughter.)
BERNARD: I have one question. There’s a table here with microphones. There’s Justice Thomas in front of us. Is this some sort of a hearing we’re at? (Laughter.) I mean, if we’re in trouble, I want to know right now.
RUSH: Yeah, how does it feel to be on that side of the table? Isn’t it… No, you’re safe. Nothing you say will be held against you. You’re already presumed guilty. All right, very pro-America show, “24”. Made in Hollywood. Do you have any problems with your friends, with the acting community by appearing on the program?
ITZIN: Only jealousy. (Applause.) I don’t think anybody — well, I think there’s one or two people over the course of the time that I’ve been allowed to be president (Laughter.) have talked to me about the fact that the show does have torture issues and things, and how can I live with that. And I don’t have… Because it’s a show! I mean, I’ve done Shakespeare and killed people with a sword. I mean so… (Laughter and applause.) And I had no problem doing that because they deserved to die, so I mean (Laughter.) So I —
RUSH: I’m just pretending. I can’t hear you.
ITZIN: That’s okay. I’ll be more succinct, or distinct next time.
RUSH: What’s that?
ITZIN: I’ll be more distinct next time. I just said I had no problem killing somebody with a sword, so it’s just an acting job.
RUSH: Ahhhh, okay. Let’s talk about your character for just a second.
RUSH: Whose idea to come up with a president that was a — turns out fake, but a — spineless poltroon? (Laughter.)
ITZIN: I’ve been called much, much worse.
RUSH: Because I’m told that you helped create the character.
ITZIN: I’d like to think so. Actually, when the gentleman came and offered me the job, which in itself is a big gift, you know, they did that. They said, “We’re going to write this vice president, and all we know about him right now is he’s scared and he has a hard time making a decision. Would you like to play that?” (Laughter.) And I made a very fast decision and said, “Yes, I think that would be nice.” So it was originally a three-show arc, and I came in and played around, and they liked what I did and kept me around as a foil for David Palmer, and then that went well, too. So, yeah, I think that the creation of the character was like a symbiosis here, that I brought whatever natural twitchiness and et cetera that I bring to my work. (Laughter.) And they liked it and exploited it, and then I think all good writers take the characters, the actors that they have, and together something becomes an extent that never existed or wouldn’t exist on either side, but everybody working together makes this rather wonderfully strange character come to life.
RUSH: What about you, Carlos?
BERNARD: Yes, sir.
RUSH: Any problems being on the program?
BERNARD: I didn’t do it. (Laughter.)
RUSH: Okay, let me go a different route with you.
BERNARD: Yes, sir.
RUSH: Okay? And I guess it’s a question for you guys, too. You never know about job security on this show.
ITZIN: It’s like life. Like being an actor, this job.
RUSH: You get blown up; you get killed. How many times have you been dead on the page that you’ve been able to talk them out of it? (Laughter.)
BERNARD: A couple. Uh… (Laughter.) How…? How…? They actually know more than I do because they didn’t tell me a few times, although I could always tell when they were thinking about killing me, because Joel would come up. You know, they never come down to the set, first of all. So, you know, I know when Joel comes down to the set and puts his arm around me, that they’re thinking of killing me. (Laughter.) So then I go directly and call his wife and start talking to her and lobbying her, and I have various methods, actually.
CARAFANO: I got to ask, “Do you get paid for the scenes when you’re in a coma?” (Laughter.)
ITZIN: Yes. That’s some of his best acting.
BERNARD: You know, it’s funny, that is some of the hardest acting I’ve done. (Laughter.) Howard Gordon made a joke last year that I was “the highest paid actor per word last year.” (Laughter.) And that’s okay. (Laughter.)
RUSH: Take it however you can get it. Mary Lynn.
RAJSKUB: Hi. (Laughter.)
RUSH: They love you.
RAJSKUB: (Laughing.) Do my friends have problems with me? Is that what you’re asking? (Laughter.)
RUSH: What did you say?
RAJSKUB: Do my friends have problems with me because I’m on the show?
RUSH: Well, go ahead and answer that.
RAJSKUB: Like politically? Philosophically? Because of the violence?
RUSH: No. (Laughter.) Whatever. Violence. It’s pro-America. You know, it’s in Hollywood.
RAJSKUB: Um, I like America. I think it’s pretty cool. I got into acting to avoid politics of any sort, and (laughter) so I could remain in a fantasy world. (Laughter.) And you guys are kind of bringing me out of it. So, uh… (Applause.)
RUSH: I’ve heard the toughest part of the show for you is — what is it?
RAJSKUB: A lot of fake typing. (Laughter.) It’s so hard. It hurts my fingers. (Laughter.) Pretending like I know what I’m talking about. (Deep breath.) Whew.
RUSH: When do you guys start on the next season? Have you already got it planned?
Voice: We have the first — we have the first scene for —
RAJSKUB: What am I going to wear?
GORDON: Page 23, if you want to be — if you really want to know.
RUSH: Page 23.
GORDON: Of the first episode.
RUSH: Are we back to — can you tell us, are we back to what kind of terrorists?
GORDON: Swedish terrorists. (Laughter.)
RUSH: Well, there go all the questions about reality. (Laughter.)
Voice: They’re the worst kind, Rush.
GORDON: We decided to confront this project squarely. (Laughter.)
RUSH: (Laughing.) All right. I had some other questions prepared here for the scholars. I want to get you guys back into it. This program — I happen to know because I did research. DVD sales internationally are through the roof. Even countries that would be considered our enemies buy it because America takes it on the chin quite a lot in this show, and these people love seeing that. What effect, since — we’re all concerned now with “the image” of America abroad. Some of us aren’t concerned about it because we don’t care, but a number of people are just wringing their hands: “Oh, my God, what do they think about us!” This show, internationally, what do you think it does to those people who have an opinion about America pro or con? Does it help it or hurt the image of the United States?
CARAFANO: I went to France and did some personal research about this last week.
RUSH: Wow. What a deductible trip.
CARAFANO: I had breakfast with seven Irishmen, which is — you know, which is a challenge because usually, if they’re up that early, they haven’t finished drinking, but (Laughter.) No, seriously, I did, everywhere I went when I asked people, “Do you watch “24” and what do you think of it?” and I’ve actually been to Europe three times this summer, and remarkably everywhere I’ve went, everywhere in Europe, everyone I’ve talked to, everybody watches the show — and I think the reason why American television is so popular around the world it’s because it’s so damn good. I mean, the reason why “24” is so popular is because it’s such an amazingly powerful, dramatic show; and that’s what people really love, and that’s why they just eat it up all over the world. Nobody can compete with the United States. I mean, this is one area where we still rule the world.
Nobody can compete with the quality of our television and do that kind of quality programming. Now, you know, in terms of what they take away, the Americans, like, do they believe we really torture people or not, the answer is, quite frankly, people take away what they put into it. I mean, if there are people around the world who think ill of us, then they’re going to think ill of us regardless, and if they see something on “24”, it just kind of confirms their prejudice. On the other hand, if there are people around the world — and, quite frankly, there many people around the world that really do join us in the war on terrorism. Nobody really wants Al-Qaeda, you know, setting up in their backyard. And they’re with us in the war against terrorism, and they see that, and a lot of times they take the good things out of that. So the American television is a mirror for what people already believe, I think.
BERNARD: Rush, I did my own research on Europe. I was over there. I’ve talked to those folks, and (laughter) I’m here to tell you, they love us. (Applause.) I’m finished. Thank you.
RUSH: What are your thoughts on this?
HEYMAN: Well, my thoughts are that I need to find a job where I can do some more research in Europe. (Laughter.) But, you know, the show sets expectations in some sense. I mean, there’s a perception out there, you’ve got Jack Bauer as a guy who succeeds by breaking the law, by torturing people, by circumventing the chain of command. God, isn’t that great? But you know, maybe that’s an image that people have of us and it reinforces it, and maybe that’s good; maybe it’s not. I don’t know. I mean, they loved Rambo. Did that hurt us, help us? I don’t know. I think actually on the domestic side, the expectations may be somewhat more difficult.
People don’t really pay attention — no disrespect to the secretary and the team that he’s got together, because they’re doing a great job, but they’ve got very little attention of the American public. The interest in terrorism and all that is kind of going down. These guys have them every week, and the expectation that that show sets for people because that’s sort of they connect the dots in their mind and they say, ‘Wow, I’m going to call Chloe and get me off this ramp,” and I actually have done that with my staff. They’re here to validate to that. “Get me a ramp. There’s a traffic jam.” (Laughter.) It’s true. But they do set expectations in terms of how quickly we can get things done, how easy it is to get things done, and that may be something that, I don’t know, may be much more difficult than to… The Katrina effect, you know, complete divergence to what we can do on “24”.
CARAFANO: Yeah, and also on what needs to be done. I mean actually 99% of what needs to be done is not somebody in Washington picking up a phone and doing something. I mean, normally, actually, if you’re waiting on somebody in Washington to do something before we can start saving lives, then we’re all going to die. (Laughter.) NO, I mean — (Applause.) I mean, you know, the people that are going to save our lives are Customs agents. They’re people standing on the border. They’re cops on the border. They’re firemen. They are EMTs. You know, those are the real heroes. And nothing against you guys, you’re doing great stuff, but you’re not the people that are going to save us from the terrorists and other bad things.
GORDON: We never said we were. (Laughter.)
CARAFANO: I know.
GORDON: But to the extent that Jack Bauer is an everyman — he is a Customs agent; he is an INS guy — I mean, he really is the guy who I think stands for that American can-do thing.
RUSH: Right. The audience hopes we’ve got thousands of them out there doing what he’s doing.
CARAFANO: I think that’s absolutely right, and Chloe actually could stop terrorists, because you scare the hell out of me with your laptop. (Laughter.)
RAJSKUB: I just think this would be a good time to say, “I’m open for bribes of any sort,” and I’m very convincing at delivering information. So if anyone wants to talk to me afterwards about certain things you want to have said during the show (laughter) I think I could get it across and get some stuff done. (Laughter.)
HEYMAN: Could you — Chloe, Mary Lynn, could you find out if they’re spying on me?
HEYMAN: Could you find out if they’re spying on me?
RAJSKUB: If I’m spying on you right now?
BERNARD: I can safely say no one’s spying on you. (Panel: Laughter.)
RUSH: Keep going, Carlos. You’re on a roll. Have you had any actors refuse offers to work on the program for any reason? (Laughter.)
SURNOW: I don’t know if you remember, we had a line that William Devane gave his son, which was, “Don’t give me that sixth grade Michael Moore logic of yours,” and an actor came in, and he was reading for the kid. He said, “So is this show, like, kind of about like the kind of stuff that Michael Moore is into?” I said, “Not exactly.” (Laughter.) And I said, “It’s actually kind of the opposite,” and he goes, “Well, with all due respect, I think I’m going to leave,” and he got up, and he walked out. That was the only time that it’s ever happened, though, in five years.
Voice: How old was this kid?
Voice: But Joel had asked him to leave before he left.
SURNOW: That was the only time.
Voice: He really did?
SURNOW: Yeah. It was that kid from That 70s Show.
Voice: What did Devane say?
Voice: It was great for his career, by the way, Rush. He got a lot of jobs because he left. No, he didn’t.
RUSH: Without mentioning names, have any actors refused story lines and asked you to change them?
SURNOW: Greg Itzin. I mean — (Laughter.) Carlos Bernard.
ITZIN: Oh, yeah, I wanted to be a good guy, that’s right.
RUSH: Just to illustrate a point, what happens to you — seriously, Greg. Can you be serious here, ten seconds, this answer.
ITZIN: I can go there. (Laughter.)
RUSH: What happens? You go out in public and people see you.
RUSH: I mean, do they talk to you in character, and what’s their reaction?
ITZIN: Actually we’re talking about the effect of the show, it’s so gratifying.
RUSH: What, do they want a poltroon president?
ITZIN: I get, “We love to hate you. We love to hate you,” is the standard one. “Mr. President, Mr. President, we love to hate you.” That’s very neat. (Laughter.) When it first happened and people really hated me, in the beginning, before — what I found most fascinating was that in episode 16, when I turned (air quotes) “bad” or whatever, after that, people liked him more. Before that, people just thought he was vacillating and weasely and indecisive and petulant and all those wonderful words that were applied to me, and then people in the public would actually, if they saw me and recognized me, some people would actually go — and I mean hatred would come out. What I find interesting is that I think the job is iconic. I think the “president of the United States” is an iconic job. So if people are emotionally tied to a show, and someone’s playing president on that show, they pour a lot of their hope, fear.
They want this guy to be a good guy, and if he’s not, and he can’t make a decision, they’re not going to like that. They want the president to be presidential, and mine was not necessarily what we would call presidential. I think he was a character. But after he made the decision, after they made the decision, that it was going to be more interesting to have him be complicit in all the things, people liked him more, and I found that to be a very fascinating thing, whether it’s just because they wanted a stronger president, or because we delight in our Iagos and our Macbeths and our Richard IIIs, I don’t know. But that was an interesting response from the public. Yeah, and in New York especially. People just come and up and embrace you and say, “Don’t let ’em kill you. We love you so much,” stuff like that. (Laughter.)
BERNARD: Good luck. (Laughter.)
RUSH: Do you have pressure from celebrities outside of Hollywood acting who ask to appear on the program in cameos? Because I have an idea for one, if you do. (Laughter.) Jack Murtha as head of a new KGB. (Laughter and applause.) I’m sorry. Just had to get that in, Ginni.
HEYMAN: Jim and I were talking about where the think tank guys are in the show, because, you know, the whole idea, it’s gotta come from somewhere, right?
RUSH: Yes, exactly.
HEYMAN: Okay, it’s not going to happen.
GORDON: What do you think, guys? Okay, we’ll read you right now. You want to try it? Okay. We should do like American Idol, which guy gets the part. You vote!
CARAFANO: I hate to do it, but actually it does bring up a serious point. The problem with the 21st Century is we live in this world that’s united by networks that carry the free flow of goods, people, ideas. You know, it makes the United States great. You know, we can move things back and forth. It makes other countries great. It lifts developing nations out of poverty. It really is what has made the world really a better place, and actually the data says that the world’s actually safer than it was ten years ago. Less people die from political violence than ever. More countries have lifted out of poverty than ever. But those networks are somehow going to carry some wacko to somebody’s shores, and the people that we should really worry about are not the Al-Qaedas of the world; we know they want to kill us; we’ll get go them.
But it’s like the Aum Shin Rikyo cult. Aum Shin Rikyo is the cult that built up in Japan. They had over a billion dollars in assets. They ran a bunch of computer stores. They had this idea that the world was going to come to an end and they were going to be the only ones left. And it didn’t come to an end, so they were trying to help get it started. And so the idea was that — no, this is serious — their idea was they were going to provoke a war between the United States and Russia by conducting weapons of mass destruction attacks. They had over a billions dollars in assets. They tried to build nuclear weapons. They tried to build chemical weapons. They actually did an attack on the subway in Tokyo, and they actually tried to do an anthrax attack by throwing anthrax off a building. They actually tried to poison people at a US military base, and they actually planned on coming here.
Now, nobody knew who these people were. I mean, you guys could not make up wackos like this, and these are wackos that really exist out there. And there — there are always — and here’s the irony. As the world becomes a better and safer and more wonderful place, there are going to be people who are going to be frustrated in that. Because they want to be Hitlers and they want to be Maos and they want to be Stalins, and the only recourse they’re going to have is violence, because the system isn’t going to let them perpetuate evil, and so there are going to be people that always want to turn to violence, and there is always going to be a way in the modern world in which we live that you can do that. And so, sadly, we’re going to — we’re going to live in the 21st Century, we have to worry about the wackos in the basement who get a crazy idea, because some of them are going to be Timothy McVeighs and Ted Kaczynskis, and I think those are the people you really need to worry about, not the dangerous that we know, but the dangers that we don’t know, and that includes David, by the way. I just… (Laughter.)
RUSH: You just said something that I can’t let go uncommented on. You talked about the lack of political danger, oppression today as — as being better than it’s ever been, progress. You basically painted a picture of optimism in terms of worldwide violence, economic opportunity and so forth, and I guarantee you, people may be — not in this audience, some maybe — but people watching this, are wondering, “What are you on?”
CARAFANO: (shaking his head.)
RUSH: Now, wait, wait. No, I’ve got a point with this. The media today is one crisis after another. We’re all going to die if we go to Kentucky Fried Chicken or Starbucks. We’re all going to die from a hurricane. We’ve been “braced” since June 1st for a hurricane. We’re just waiting. We’re all tense. The other day a story about the San Andreas fault. It’s about to blow up in LA! We’re all going to die if that happens! War, pestilence, global warming. You have just painted a picture that doesn’t reflect any of that. You have said even after 9/11 that the odds of being killed in some sort of political oppression are lower than they’ve ever been. Explain this. I happen to agree with you. I think it’s great that you said it, but I think you need to elaborate on it.
CARAFANO: Well, I think the truth is we have a popular media that looks on “24” with envious eyes. They want their numbers. And so, you know, particularly, you know, cable news televisions, I mean, if it bleeds, it leads. I mean, there are “24” hours in the news cycle, and those “24” hours have to be filled whether there’s news or not — And they’re going to be filled, and they’re going to be filled with the most visually exciting and provocative things that you can possibly find. And I think that’s why, you know, we have a vision of reality that we do get through news, which is in some senses more distorted than the reality that we get through watching drama on television. (Applause.)
RUSH: That’s true. “24” is, ultimately at the end of the day, it’s optimistic. The ending for the people of the country is always great. Jack Bauer is always in a jam. But that’s because you need next season. But I’m sorry. I don’t mean to sidetrack by this, but I think it’s a big problem, the creation of — there’s so many people are filled with pessimism and doom and gloom and just everything they’re barraged with, and it’s not just cable news; it’s all of what I call “the Drive-By Media,” and that’s what they drive-by. They lobe some mortar fire into a group of people, create a carnage and a mess, people like me have to come along and clean it up, and they’re already down the road in a convertible throwing something else out. It’s either global warming or all these things, and that’s why the show “24”, that’s why people have continued. How do you explain, fifth year, audience ratings still going up? It’s gotta be optimism, it’s gotta be the fact that. (Crowd reacts with applause.) It’s her expanded role.
SURNOW: I don’t know why the show has taken off. I think because we were a different format, it took people a couple years to sort of, for it to kind of like virally get into the population where people were saying, “Okay, this is different.” Now it’s not as much. We went from being a sort of a cult hit — loved by all cults, by the way — to a more of a mainstream hit. It has happened in the past. Law & Order, which was a sort of format change for hour drama, sort of expanded its audience in the fifth and sixth year, but it doesn’t happen a lot. And I — you know, we haven’t really done anything different. I don’t look at the first season or the fifth season, saying one is better than the other. It’s been the same writers and same level of actors and directors. So I’m a little mystified by it as well, to be honest.
RUSH: Do you expect it to continue? You’re already breaking some of the rules or violating some of the rules.
SURNOW: I think the DVD has helped us. I think the fact is that our show is perfectly made for like a DVD box set, and what we found is the season four DVD was really successful, and then our numbers for season five. So that word-of-mouth gets out differently than it has in the past for other shows. So I think we have another couple of good seasons ahead of us in terms of that.
RUSH: Do you ever come up with concepts, the writers — because some of the concepts that you have gone with are out there, very imaginative. Have you ever come up with any you’ve rejected as just being too unrealistic, couldn’t make work, and you would like to admit to?
COCHRAN: Nothing is too unrealistic for us. We’re open to anything.
GORDON: I learned something early on from Bob and Joel, which was their motto was “not good, never boring.” So that’s sort of — we live and die on that one, so nothing is too outrageous. If it works, we’ll contort ourselves to that place. We sort of have to keep ourselves interested, and part of the way we do it is, if we’re interested writing it, people will be interested watching it. And that’s how we do it.
RUSH: Most people have bosses, and I assume you guys do, too. Studio, Fox. You ever have people say, “Naaaah, you can’t do that, or, you’ve gotta water that down. Nah, that’s going too far,” or do you have… How much freedom do you have?
SURNOW: The only time in five years that we had anybody from the high levels of News Corp. tell us not to do something was when we shot down Air Force in season — what was it, four? We couldn’t kill the president. So Air Force One got shot down, and the president survived, but it was an irrelevant… We didn’t mind.
GORDON: Although, in fairness, when we first started the show, they had something to say every day about the way, “That couldn’t happen. That’s not real,” and we had to remind them it was a TV show. (Laughter.) But of course, once the — once the ratings started coming in, we got a lot more freedom. As you well know, it works that way. (Laughter.)
RUSH: I don’t know. I don’t have a boss. (Laughter.) It’s the reason I’m successful. (Laughter.) Nobody knows as much as I do about what I do. They think they do. But we’re not here to discuss me.
BERNARD: I do, Rush. (Applause.)
RUSH: Carlos, would you like to add anything?
BERNARD: I’m sorry, what’s that?
RUSH: I said, would you like to add anything? You’ve been adding things at opportune moments —
BERNARD: No, I think I know more than you do, Rush. (Laughter.)
ITZIN: He knows more than you do.
BERNARD: I believe so.
RUSH: I love people with optimistic — (Laughter.) Where did you guys — Joel, you and Bob are the co- creators of this, right?
RUSH: Now, if you’ve answered this, and I haven’t heard it, I’m sorry, just tell me. Where did you guys first come up with the concept? I know talked about you got lucky with 9/11 happening shortly after your show started. “Got lucky,” but it was — sorry.
SURNOW: Bad choice of words.
RUSH: Bad choice of words.
SURNOW: The concept, the evolution sort of goes like this. As hour drama writers write 22 episodes a season. That’s how long a season is, and one day I was just thinking, what if you did “24” episodes a season, it’s only two more episodes, and you do an hour real time? I called Bob up. Bob and I had worked together off and on for about seven or eight years, and I asked him what he thought of the idea. And he said, “I think it stinks,” hung up, and we didn’t think about it for a couple days, or weeks. But it kind of just kept going around and around in my head. So we got together at International House of Pancakes. (Laughter.) I think Bob had the eggs over easy, and I had the pancakes. I can’t remember. Maybe it’s not important; I don’t know. But we originally thought, “Let’s do a show about a wedding. It’s about the day of a wedding. It will be a romantic comedy,” and that’s what the “24” hours was going to be, and we thought that would be kind of funny. And we kind of, you know, went through our breakfast and said, “Ah, let’s try it again.” So a couple days later we came back. I think I had the eggs that time, and then we said, “No, it’s gotta be a race against time. If it’s going to be about 24 hours, it’s gotta be a race against the clock,” and then we needed things to have high stakes. So what has high stakes? Well, if your daughter is missing, and you’re the parent of a teenaged kid, and your daughter is missing, you’re up all night — and if your job happens to be, while your daughter is missing, that you’re going either have to stop an assassination attempt of a presidential candidate that day in the city of Los Angeles, you’re up for 24 hours. So it really just started from that sort of breakthrough idea that it’s a race against time, and that’s what the show is. So that’s the basic concept.
RUSH: How many endings do you shoot and choose one, or do you have one and then sign everybody to confidentiality agreements? How do you do it? Do you keep the actors in the dark?
SURNOW: No, we shoot only one ending except for the first season when we killed Jack’s wife, Terri, so we shot two endings for that because they were so appalled at the idea that we would go through an entire season for Jack to succeed, to protect and save his family, and at the end that his wife died. They did not think that that would be good for the show. It turned out to probably be the most important thing we’ve ever done on the show in terms of setting an expectation level for the audiences, to the fact that anything can happen on this show, and that Jack does pay a price, and in fact the show is a tragedy. It’s not a rah-rah. I mean, it’s optimistic in that we do get the bad guys, but there’s always a price to pay just like in war, you know. People, you know, will ask, “Why did you kill Edgar? Why did you kill Tony?” Because there’s a price to pay, and you have to care about the people that are paying the price or the show doesn’t work, so…
RUSH: Also when you can’t reach negotiation deals for the next season, you kill ’em off.
SURNOW: Yeah, we have had that script. (Laughter.)
RUSH: Okay, so there is a sense of morality, obviously, in the program. There’s a price to pay for everything, even though it ends well and ends optimistic. What’s the grand scheme? Are you trying to teach a lesson as well as do an entertaining program? Are you trying to spread values to the audience?
SURNOW: We’re trying to keep our pool heated. That’s all we’re trying to do. (Laughter.) And that takes ratings. We’re not trying to teach anybody anything. Are we?
GORDON: Umm… No. You know, but it’s not as simple as that. We do talk a lot about this, and we spend a lot of our off time, on time, talking about what we are doing and what we’re putting out there. So we do take it… We’re not just heating our pools. We’re also paying for our kids’ educations and —
RUSH: Actually, real-world concerns. Back to our scholars from the think tanks, Heritage and Center for Strategic and International Studies, as you listen to all this, I mean, you’re taking terrorism extremely seriously; you are both delved deeply into it. What is your reaction as you listen to a discussion like this on a popular culture program as it relates to the effectiveness the country is going to have in dealing with the problem?
CARAFANO: Dave, why don’t you…
HEYMAN: It’s just a show, and I think people know that; they realize that; they enjoy it; people escape with it. I actually think what Howard was just talking about is really important. I mean, they kill off Michelle Dessler, David Palmer, Edgar. These are characters that people actually grew to like, love, whatever. To me that’s actually… (Laughter.)
HEYMAN: Michelle, David, Edgar.
BERNARD: Tony. Tony.
HEYMAN: Tony Almeida is not dead! (Cheers and applause.) But that’s something that I think — you know, I don’t know. I don’t think people — I don’t know if they talk about it. My friends all talk about it after, you know, after the show’s over, but that really brings in a level — at an emotional level — that we don’t always connect with on the policy level, and that is that there is randomness in death, in the death of terrorism, in the death of the war that we’re fighting on. It is tragic. There are people that we love, and we recognize and embrace that fragility, and that gets us back to what’s really important, is fighting the war against terrorism, and that’s the central theme there, and that’s where people I think resonate most.
CARAFANO: You know, part of is, you know, people do. You look at the polls, and people care about security, people care about terrorism. They invest 24 hours of their life watching this show “24”, and I’d like a census of how many of them spend 24 hours of their life seriously really thinking and reading and studying about the issues that are presented in the show — and, sadly, I don’t think that the numbers would be near as high.
HEYMAN: That’s why you have a job, Jim.
CARAFANO: Yeah. But evidently we’re not very good at it.
RUSH: Getting tired? Question from the audience. “Do you ever worry…?” the writers, “Do you ever worry about the ideas that you give terrorists actually being adopted by real bad guys out there and used against us?”
COCHRAN: Yeah, we do worry about that a little bit. This may sound strange, but we have tried to… We make sure that we don’t do research in a way that will actually provide information that’s not already out there. This is sort of a silly example, in a way, but in year four, I forget what year, we stole a stealth bomber, a stealth fighter — and the word came down from on high that, just make sure you don’t give the terrorists an idea of how you really go about stealing a stealth fighter. Well, we had no idea how you would go about stealing a stealth fighter. (Laughter.) So that wasn’t really a problem, but —
CARAFANO: We can only hope that there are terrorists out there trying to emulate “24”, because if there are, then we’re all safe.
COCHRAN: Exactly. So, yeah, we would be mindful of that. We don’t want to give people ideas of, “Hey, if you really want to cause some trouble, here’s what you do.” If it seems plausible on the screen, that’s all we are interested in.
RUSH: Mary Lynn. How’s this program changed your life in terms of your career? You were a comedienne. Now you’re an actress. How has it changed your life?
RAJSKUB: Strangers touch me now. (Laughter.) People think I’m a better person. It’s like I’m better than everybody else. (Laughing.)
RUSH: I can’t… I’m stunned at some of the people we have in this audience. Listen to this question from one of you. “Are you carrying Edgar or Jack’s love child?” (Laughter.) This is the Heritage Foundation!
RAJSKUB: I think whoever wrote that question needs to think about something else for “24” hours because that’s none of anyone’s business, and my baby is my baby. (Laughter.) We’ll do the DNA tests later.
CARAFANO: But you know when you do get pregnant, that’s the last season. Right? (Laughter.)
RUSH: No, it can’t be.
CARAFANO: So when the show is going down, you know, somebody gets pregnant, two characters get married, and then that’s it.
RAJSKUB: Women can have a career and be pregnant. (Laughter.) I’m not wearing a bra. (Laughter.) Rush, help me. Help me see the light.
RUSH: Another question from the audience. What do you need there, Carlos? Something’s fallen on the floor?
BERNARD: I’m just checking stuff out. That’s okay. Proceed.
RUSH: Another question from the august gathering here at the Reagan building. “Why did you feel the need to have Kiefer run announcements about not hating Islam?” I guess that was season three?
RUSH: Season four. Were you asked or pressured to do that?
GORDON: Bob and I took meeting with CAIR, the Council of American-Islamic Relations. We were encouraged, asked by Fox because of their concern, and as it turned out, it wasn’t as much the content of the program as it was the way the program was being promoted, which had a family living — the promo had an Islamic family that said, “they could be next door,” and we never approved it, never saw it until it was on the 405 freeway and, you know, hundreds of thousands of people were seeing it. So that was really the more incendiary thing, and we obviously never wanted to participate in, you know, xenophobia or stirring it up. That’s really not our intention, and to that extent, we felt it was not — we weren’t conceding or anything by doing that announcement, and I think Bob crafted it.
COCHRAN: Yeah, as long as the content of the show was unaffected, we saw no harm in the announcement.
RUSH: Okay. That makes sense, if it didn’t affect the content. So nobody leaned on you to change the content of the show, that was just —
COCHRAN: CAIR didn’t, either.
RUSH: From the audience again: “President Logan, can you give us the ‘glare stare’?” (Laughter.)
ITZIN: That happened… (staring).
AUDIENCE: (Laughter.) (Applause.)
ITZIN: I guess I can. I guess I can do that.
RUSH: Somebody wants to know if you’re going to continue the story line with Aaron. How much can you tell us what you’ve thought about for next season that doesn’t give away plots?
SURNOW: We will actually have a president in Washington, DC. We’re going to do some stuff based in DC next year for the first time. We won’t do (applause) and we do intend to bring Aaron back. He’s a beloved character, and he won’t be in his love nest with Martha Logan, but he’ll be back and working for the president.
GORDON: But he was dead at one point, though. He was another character who was on the page dead.
RUSH: He was dead on the page?
GORDON: He was dead in episode 23. Martha discovered him, and that was what prompted her to turn on her husband. But he called me that night, and I called Joel and Bob, and he said, “It’s a mistake, too many people have died this year.” (Laughter.) And he was worried about — he also said, “My pool is getting cold.” (Laughter.)
BERNARD: Why didn’t I try that?
RUSH: What about President Logan? Now, a lot of people have told me that they felt a little bit disappointed that he didn’t suffer public humiliation at the end of the season.
SURNOW: For him to have suffered public humiliation, you’d have to recount to the public what he had done, and we were about eight minutes left in the show, and the real time —
RUSH: Plus you have a need for next season.
SURNOW: What’s that?
RUSH: You need his character for next season.
ITZIN: You heard it here.
RUSH: Yes, yes. (Laughter.)
ITZIN: In these hallowed halls, they are accountable.
SURNOW: You’ve not seen the last of President Logan.
RUSH: Joel, what do you think this will lead to for you guys professionally after this? Do you have…? I know you — tell people how you’re going to do a movie out of this format. You take “24” hours, “24” episodes, one day. How do you do a movie?
SURNOW: We’re in the process of writing a movie for “24”. It’s not going to be in real time, and it’s probably not going to be CTU Los Angeles. It’s going to take place in “24” hours. It will be more international. We’ll go to locations that we’ve never been to and actually shoot on location, and it will be more, as conceived right now, as sort of Jack Bauer is the new James Bond. I mean, like the Bourne Identity movies where, you know, what Jack does in the way we depict him fighting terrorism, I think, actually against a bigger canvas like putting him internationally in the Middle East or in Europe, could be very exciting for us to really not be constrained by the fact that we have to get from one place to another in ten minutes, and that’s ten minutes of real time. So right now the plan is to try and make this just kind of a big epic action with Jack Bauer front and center in this thing.
RUSH: Are you going to leave LA in the TV show for any of the episodes next year? Is some city besides LA going to get beat up on?
SURNOW: No, we have to shoot in LA. We have to shoot in LA; the show takes place in LA. That probably won’t change unless — and the reason you can’t move it and pick up and go to another city is because we’ve had 350 people work for us for six years, and they would suddenly all be out of a job. So there’s other considerations that you don’t think about that have to do with the fact that, yes, LA will have another bad day, you know. (Laughter.)
RUSH: Another question from the audience: “Why do we never see the characters eat?” (Laughter.) How, for example, does Chloe keep up her strength?
SURNOW: There’s a commercial in Japan that Kiefer did for an energy bar, and he plays Jack Bauer, and the whole commercial is that Jack Bauer doesn’t have time to eat, and he’s chasing a guy and he stops and eats an energy bar. (Laughter.) I thought that was pretty clever.
RAJSKUB: I came out of the bathroom last year. You see me coming out of the bathroom.
SURNOW: Yeah, she came out of the bathroom.
RAJSKUB: Which isn’t eating, but it’s related. (Laughter.)
RUSH: All right. “As an actress…” I know the ladies in the audience will be thrilled with this question. “As an actress, does it frustrate you that your hair never changes the entire season, that your wardrobe is the same dress the whole season?”
RAJSKUB: Yeah, it gets stinky. I want to change the hair. I want to change the face. There’s a lot of things.
GORDON: Should we change the concept of the show?
SURNOW: Okay, so we’ll get you a bigger wardrobe.
RAJSKUB: I need a bigger chest. Um… (Laughter.)
RUSH: In the scope of a day?
RAJSKUB: Yeah. (Laughter.) A lot of things I want to get done.
RUSH: Another question from the audience. “How do you keep a serious face on the show?” Not here. On the show.
RAJSKUB: Well, it’s pretty intense, and there’s bad stuff going on, and you just think of bad stuff in your head.
RUSH: The Edgar scene, when Edgar succumbs.
RUSH: Did you do that in one take? I mean —
RAJSKUB: Like one or two or three.
RUSH: How many takes normally are there of a scene?
RAJSKUB: Uhhh… Three to five to ten. (Laughter.)
RUSH: No, I only ask because as a consumer it looked real. Well, the whole show looks real, but that scene — nobody expected that.
RAJSKUB: Do you want to answer that for me? Yeah, I had real emotions. It’s sad. I don’t know. Just go inside and then they come out. Inner pain. And then also, all the extras were falling down dead and… (Laughter.) It made me sad. I hadn’t eaten breakfast yet. That made me sad. My hair. It was bad.
RUSH: I’m sorry. What was that?
RAJSKUB: My hair was bad.
RUSH: Your hair looks great.
RAJSKUB: No, today it looks great, but that day it was bad. (Laughter.) Justice, help me. What do I say? What do they want to know? Yes, I cried. It was real. (Laughter.)
CARAFANO: I have to ask, do people come up to you and ask you like how to fight terrorists?
GORDON: All the time.
CARAFANO: Really? And what do you tell them?
RUSH: Oh, you wouldn’t believe… I could tell you — I can’t tell you. I would love to be able to tell this story. There are people you know, that people you may respect — don’t worry about this. Don’t worry about this. Who have been out there and visited the set. (Whispering.) People who are elected!
RUSH Went up to Edgar. “Edgar, I was so sorry you lost your mother.” (Laughter.) “You were so brave.” Edgar is Louie Lombardi. Who’s he talking to? (Laughter.) So obviously people go up to you guys in character all the time. Was that the thrust of the question?
BERNARD: He wants to know how we answer them, right?
BERNARD: I can’t tell you. (Laughter.)
RUSH: It’s that secret?
BERNARD: Yes, sir.
CARAFANO: I talked to some of the guys that worked at the National Counterterrorism Center, which is the center that we set up after the 9/11 Commission report came out, and recommended that they consolidate all the different agencies in one place working on this, and it’s kind of not a perfect analogy for what you guys do. They’re not sitting there day to day tracking terrorists and stuff, but they try to bring together all the — connect all the dots and bring in all the pieces and everything — and, like I said, they all love the show, and they’re all terribly envious because all of your technology works so well. I mean, it’s all instant. You know, for example, in the show they’re screening through and there is a CTV, you know, they’re looking at a television feed, and they go, “Oh, yeah, there’s the guy.” Well, you know, you think about it, nobody actually looks at these televisions.
There’s millions of televisions all they way over America, you know, filming you, but nobody is actually looking at that. It’s just being stored up somewhere, and if something bad happens, they want to go back and find out what it was, and somebody’s gotta physically go through all that and it takes hours and hours and hours. But not these guys. They sit there and click a button and go, “Oh, yeah, there it is,” or they redirect… They, you know, need some satellite info, so they, you know, punch a button. The satellite says, “Okay, I’m not busy right now,” you know, gives them the image they want or things. Well, in real life, you know, all these technologies don’t really exist, and so they just sit there with envious eyes and looking and go, “Jeez, I wish I could sit at my computer and do all the things that Chloe does,” and they’ll feel sad to find out she doesn’t know how to type. (Laughter.) But you know, I can say this, somewhere out there, there are a plethora of software manufacturers that are just thrilled with you guys, because somebody is going to come to them and say, “I want that.”
RUSH: Have any of you guys, Joel or Bob, have you been to the actual counterterrorist organization the United States government has?
COCHRAN: I’ve taken a tour of the CIA, but I haven’t seen the one that he mentioned.
CARAFANO: Actually, somebody told me that one of the subcontractors that worked on their operations center also worked on the set at “24”, so they kind of do look alike, I’ve been told. I don’t know if that’s a secret or not. So life does imitate art.
BERNARD: It’s the drywall guy, I think.
GORDON: Who is this guy?
CARAFANO: I read it in a Judith Miller New York Times article. (Laughter.) No. Just passing it along.
ITZIN: You asked us a question about why we thought the show was as interesting, whatever, to the country and to the world.
ITZIN: Do you have an opinion about why it’s as hot as it is or as fascinating?
RUSH: Well, yes, I do. I have opinions on everything.
ITZIN: Yeah. Yeah. (Laughter.) That was an opening gambit, Rush. I’m just curious.
RUSH: And I’m documented to be almost always right, too, 98.5% of the time, and my opinions are audited. First and foremost, I think it’s just a good show. It’s just…
RUSH: The people who produce it and write it know what it is. They’re not trying to make it more or less than what it is. They know what the audience expects, and they try to expand or exceed those expectations. I also think, in all candor — and I, having watched the first two seasons, bam, bam, bam, DVD-wise, as opposed to over the air, the number of plot twists, I’m literally in awe of the creativity of the brains behind the program. The plot twists in one episode are more than you will have in most series in a whole season, yet they don’t exhaust themselves. This is a program you will expend energy watching. This is not something that you veg and are doing passively while something else is going on in the house. You can’t do that and follow it. You have to keep up with it.
Things happen so fast. There are little clues, micro-inserted in the program, and I’m in awe, the reason I’m a big fan of it, is I am in total awe of the brilliance and the creativity and the lack of boundaries. You don’t seem to be hemmed in by much, and no matter what I think is going to happen next, I’m usually wrong. You surprise me. You can’t predict; there aren’t any patterns. Every show develops patterns. I know you have ’em, but we as the audience don’t figure ’em all out. The actors are… Like your character this season, people wonder — that watch this show who really get into it, really think that there is some inside knowledge that the writers have with people in government, and there’s some people are wondering if we really had a president like this, do we really know that we haven’t? The public didn’t know that you’re like you are. Have we ever had president like that? People ask these questions. It spawns thought. Your program creates mental energy just from an entertainment standpoint. All the other things about, “Is it real? Is it going to give people ideas?” Those are just, I mean, added bonuses for all of you. But the fact is to me is it’s one of the most intelligent programs on the air tackling the subject matter that it does, and that’s why I’m captivated by it. I mean, I’m not going to waste my time (and most other people aren’t, either), with a vapid, boring show, and yours isn’t.
RUSH: Anybody else have any questions for me? (Laughter.)
SURNOW: Where did you get that tie, Rush?
RUSH: (Laughing.) What time is it? We still have ten minutes left. Has anybody heard anything that you want to react to that you didn’t react to?
CARAFANO: Well, I still want to hear David’s plot line for next year.
HEYMAN: My plot line?
HEYMAN: Well, it does take place in a think tank. (Laughter.) Possibly CSI (unintelligible.) We’ll think about Heritage.
CARAFANO: With a heroic young — yeah.
HEYMAN: That’s serious question?
HEYMAN: I actually haven’t given much thought, but I mean the Chinese have to be involved in this, and I think there will be an international incident just like — because — not because the Chinese are involved but because the Swedish thought they would be involved up until a few minutes ago. Actually, I would want to sort of just — one thing, Rush, my takeaway here, that these guys started writing this show before 9/11. So the whole concept in fighting terrorism and all that, the first five episodes, I think, right, were all before 9/11 — and so the idea that this would actually be relevant is extraordinary, and it is relevant, and I think it’s actually the real life fight against terrorism, which gives sort of an added depth on our own life because we do watch the news and we watch Rush’s show and (…) you watch the news; you get your sense of what the real terrorism issues are about, and you fill in the gaps, you fill in the dots, and it gives you sort of moral and a political and a social depth that this show just bounces off of, and it’s an extraordinary experience, and I think that’s part of why it’s successful here is that we actually have this backdrop of very difficult, challenging, complex political, social, and moral issues that we’re wrestling with — Jim and I, anyway — that are played out in some form or another and gives each person a chance to explore that on a personal level and have fun with it, frankly, and then we go back to our real — you know, real world, and forgive me, Mary Lynn, for going back to the real world. The challenges are great, and I would hope that actually, you know, as much as this is fun, that people do pay attention to the serious issues of the day and work through them in their own minds.
RUSH: Well, about that, if I heard — I hope I heard everything you said. If the question’s askew, forgive me. We haven’t been hit in this country since 9/11. We don’t show our people on television the pictures of the 9/11 very often because, “Aaaah, it’s too tough; we don’t want exacerbate trauma and so forth.” Do you think, you scholars studying the issue, are the American people getting too lax? Are people wanting to drift back to a pre-9/11 mentality?
CARAFANO: That’s a great question. You know, I ask that question all the time, “Are we safer? Nothing’s happened since 9/11,” and that’s an interesting data point, but it’s irrelevant. I mean it took five years to plan 9/11. It took we think three years, we think, to plan the Madrid bombing. The time between the terrorist attack could be meaningful or could be meaningless, and it really gets to the central point. If we were conducting a great war on terrorism, and we were doing everything exactly right, none of it would look anything like what you do on television. But if we were doing everything exactly right, and we were thwarting every terrorist attack, to the average American, what would the world look like? Well, yesterday would look a lot like today. It would look a lot of sameness.
Well, if we weren’t doing anything right, if we were asleep at the wheel and we weren’t making the tough calls and we weren’t doing the things that we needed to do even though it maybe upset some people and we were just totally neglecting it, what would it look like? It would look pretty much like the same way day after day. I think actually one of the worst things that ever happened, if you can say this, is think back to the millennium bombing. At the change in the millennium between 1999 and 2000, there was a bomber was in Canada decided he was going to bomb the LAX airport, and he was picked up at the border by a watchful, observant agent who was just doing their job, and just asked a simple question, “Where are you going?” And he said, LA. Said, “Where are you staying?”
He said, “LA.” He said, “Who are you staying with?” He said, “LA,” and so, okay, you know, and so they searched his car, they found all this bomb-making equipment. Well, you know, we all worry about, you know, bomb, terrorist plots at the millennium, and so when they picked up this bomber we thought, “Oh, boy, our government is really doing a great job. They’re on the ball. They’re doing the job. They picked up the terrorist. We can all go back to sleep now,” and the problem is, for us, it’s very, very difficult to just look — and this is what we want to do. We want to look at television; we want to see black, white, good, bad, and we want to make a judgment call because we’re smart, intelligent people. We want to do the same thing with our news.
We want to look at a television screen, we want to look at the cable news network that day, we want somebody to come on and show us some pictures, and we want to say, “Good, bad, right, wrong, indifferent,” and make a decision to move on, but that is not what is going to make the nation safer. What’s going to make this nation safer is a lot of mundane, ordinary things every day, and if we’re doing our job right, we all get to live in the world just as it is, and if we’re doing our job wrong, we all get to live the world every day just as it is, until you have a nice, warm September morning, and somebody steals a plane and slams into a building. So the answer is that you cannot live your life watching cable news or watching “24” and having somebody give you something and make a snap judgment whether thing are going right or not.
You actually have to care about the policies that this government has, what we’re doing, and making sure that the mundane things are done right, because at the end of the day it’s the mundane things that are going to make us safer, make our children safer, and make the world safer. As much as we would all like to stand in the president’s shoes and, you know, say, “Well, you know, if I was president, I wouldn’t do those stupid things.” You know, we’re not going to get to stand in the president’s shoes. We all get to vote. We all get to call our congressman. We all get to write editorials. We all get to get on the Internet and read newspapers and figure out what our government’s doing, and we can all join in doing the important thing, which is we can love “24”, but we should spend some time every day being concerned about whether our government’s doing this right. (Applause.)
RUSH: I think we’ve reached the end, and that’s a good way to close this out on a serious note, and James Carafano and Dave, I want to thank you both for joining us on the panel today. Howard, Joel Surnow. (whispers) Chloe!
RUSH: Mary Lynn Rajskub, Carlos Bernard, Greg Itzin, and Bob Cochran. (Applause.) Thank you all very much for coming. It’s been a thrill to be with you this morning.