WEB EXCLUSIVE: CNN wraps up GW ‘Crossfire’ broadcasts

CNN’s “Crossfire” finished its stay at GW last week, filming five shows in the Jack Morton Auditorium in the Media and Public Affairs building for a second-straight week. Guests included senators, activists and authors who discussed issues surrounding the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Students and “Crossfire” hosts Bill Press and Tucker Carlson discussed the United States’ response to terrorism with high-profile guests including the Rev. Al Sharpton and The Perfect Storm author Sebastian Yunger in the series of town-hall format meetings.

Discussion Monday night centered on increased airline security, recent reports of racial profiling at airlines and the future of airline safety.

The panel included Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), Rodney Slater, transportation secretary for the Clinton administration, and Capt. Dennis Dolan, vice president of the Airline Pilots Association International.

Tuesday night’s panel included Sens. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) and John Edwards (D-N.C.). The senators continued a bipartisan theme and concentrated mostly on America’s level of preparedness for possible chemical terrorist attacks and the formation of an international coalition against terrorism.

The show hosted military experts Wednesday night to debate military action in Afghanistan. The panel included retired Army Gen. David Grange, a former member of the Delta Force and commander of the 1st Infantry Division, and Michael Vickers, former CIA Operations officer and Green Beret. The Delta Force and the Green Berets are covert U.S. military units.

The panel fielded questions from audience members. One audience member said U.S. sanctions on Iraq have harmed the Iraqi people and asked if it will be the same way in Afghanistan.

“Some civilians will suffer; it’s going to happen no matter what kind of war you have,” Grange said.

Grange said the United States has tried to help Iraqi people, a statement that brought questioning coughs and laughs from some audience members.

Sharpton joined Arab American Institute President James Zogby and Cherry Tsutsumida, who was placed in a World War II internment camp, Thursday night to discuss racial profiling and discrimination in the wake of the attacks.

The panelists called for Americans to stop blaming all persons of Arab descent or Muslim faith for the attacks and warned that discrimination will only compound the tragedy.

When asked about restricting immigration to promote national security, Zogby and Sharpton said such actions would betray the sense of freedom and fairness that define America.

The show wrapped up its stay Friday with author Sebastian Yunger, who wrote about his experiences living with the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan in his new book, Fire. Laurie Milroy, author of A Study of Revenge on Saddam Hussein also joined the panel. Members discussed the political atmosphere of Afghanistan and the Middle East from their first-hand experiences.

“Crossfire” host Bill Press said he enjoyed broadcasting the show at
GW.

“Each night there is tremendous energy,” he said. “We’re so impressed with the caliber of the questions and the enthusiasm. It’s been a wonderful two weeks.”

Kristy Schantz, senior producer of “Crossfire,” said the quality of the questions posed by the audiences is what makes shows at GW successful.

“We love it here,” she said. “The students and other audience members asked the smartest and toughest questions. We were really pleased with that.”

Host Tucker Carlson said the show will definitely return to GW next year.

Student Association Roger Kapoor said he was pleased with the show’s presence on campus because of the dialogue it brings among the student population.

“It allows the students to engage in great debate over the issues,” he said. “I’m so happy they’re here, and I know the students are.”

-compiled from staff reports

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