May 4th, 2009
10:00 AM ET
14 years ago

John King: Flu and politics dominate Sunday talk

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="CNN's John King talks with newsmakers about the hot topics in Washington in the past week."]
Editor's note: John King, CNN's chief national correspondent and "State of the Union" host, examines the news made in Sunday talk and offers up this Monday morning crib sheet on what to watch this week in politics. Please note that all quotes are from rush transcripts and are subject to change. If you'd like to receive a sneak peek of next week's news in your inbox every Sunday, you can sign up for the "Political Ticker newsletter" at

(CNN) - It was another remarkably busy and newsy Sunday. And Sunday morning TV junkies saw the return of a term of Clinton-era lore: "The Full Ginsburg."

Depending on your perspective, Sunday's cover of Newsweek - featuring a pig's snout on an ominous black background - either reflected your anxiety over the spread of the H1N1 flu virus or was another example of media sensationalism. "Fear and the Flu" was the headline. Read Newsweek's coverage

It's been a week since the Obama administration declared a "national health emergency" over the swine flu spreading out of Mexico. To say there is unease across America is an understatement. That's where "The Full Ginsburg" comes into play.

The administration's top three "flu fighters" - Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano; Health and Human Services head Kathleen Sebelius; and Dr. Richard Besser, acting director of the Centers for Disease Control - fanned out to all five Sunday news shows.

There were no "remotes." They visited the studios of ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox and NBC - a feat first pulled off by William Ginsburg, the outspoken and always quotable attorney who represented former White House intern Monica Lewinski of Clinton impeachment fame.

It was a scheduling challenge not only for the Sunday bookers, but a logistics challenge for the security details and motorcade drivers. "We're getting to know each other very well," Sebelius said in an off-camera chat on the "State of the Union" set.

At "State of the Union," we decided this was a perfect opportunity to take the story out of Washington even as we sat on a set in Washington. Viewers asked many of the questions. They came in live by telephone, on and on our Facebook page, and their straightforward style made for an informative conversation.

Full story

Filed under: Arlen Specter • Jack Kemp • State of the Union • Supreme Court • Swine Flu
soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. pike

    FACT: In 1918 St. Louis shut down their city 2 weeks before Philadelphia, just 2 weeks. Result: their death rate was half. I say shut the borders/close down for a week/ have a home delivery service for those needing medicine. Also, note that the biggest carrier in 1918 was the postman. IF WE SHUT IT ALL DOWN WE WOULD SAVE LIVES.

    May 4, 2009 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  2. obambi

    this flu over reaction by the Obama administration is an outrage. Who is making "dirty money" off all this? Do the Democrats own a company that makes those cheap, useless masks? Most of those masks will filter out dust at the very most! Viruses of any kind require expensive, special filtered masks which cost a fortune! Take it from an ER Nurse who went through SARS outbreak. All that money and false scare for nothing–thanks to Obama and Biden–Debt you can believe in. Just another diversion from their freedom killing agenda.

    May 4, 2009 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  3. Not this Time


    "Just another diversion from their freedom killing agenda"

    Please tell us what freedoms you have lost since 20 Jan 09?

    May 4, 2009 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  4. Blake

    To obambi... the "dirty money" in this is going to the producer of "Tamiflu." Two major shareholders of the makers of Tamiflu are: can you guess? Cheney and Rumsfeld... Have a nice flu-free day.

    May 4, 2009 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  5. Lynn

    Of course the Republicans are going to say the Obama Administration overreacted and they would say he didn't react strong enough if they hadn't done the same amount.

    When did the Obama Adminiostration tell people to wear masks?? What a pile of garbage as is your silly "tag", Obambi!

    Just last week the media was saying how Pres. Obama was remaining calm and keeping the panic down while they were creating fear and panic with their non stop panic mode reporting.

    May 4, 2009 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  6. Lynn

    As usual John King carries the Republican's water by completely overlooking the exchange of the Head of the Harvard Law School who was Pres Obama's teacher who gave an overwhelming endorsement that President Obama would make an excellent choice.

    He also commented on the President's intelligence and exemplary background as a teacher of Constitutional Law. The president's qualifications makes him head and heels above the pundits and political hacks who think they know beat!!

    If a person does a summary of what happened on a show they should not pick and chose what to include!

    May 4, 2009 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  7. Kitty

    Well no drama "Obama" sure is causing a LOT of drama!!! I agree that he is trying to help himself to some early votes for re-election!!

    I am surprised he isn't going to battle ground states and making his flu announcements there!! LOL.....

    For Obama to say that government is not trying to be in the car business is BULL. And now he is trying to control the schools!!! LOL

    May 4, 2009 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  8. Obimbo

    All that money and false scare for nothing–

    OH, wait....I thought you were talking about duct tape and plastic sheeting......

    May 4, 2009 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  9. joe smith

    one thing a potential pandemic does, deverts our attention away from the more serious situation with freddie mac..

    May 4, 2009 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  10. JonDie

    Republicans have convinced many Americans that having no government (supposedly this will cause taxes to go down but what it really means is that private corporations spring up to rip the public off for providing the same services) is the way to go.

    From 2001-2009, the Republicans did everything possible to turn down government services and government employees so that nothing in the government will work, even when we need a planned, unified action (e.g,. to combat a pandemic). The government's FAILURE to plan for or respond to Hurricane Katrina was the crown jewel of the Republican Party. In fact, the scientist in Louisiana who tried to warn us about Katrina...has been fired by the state's Republican-led government.

    But since most Americans are science- and health-illiterate, many Americans will never figure it out...until it's too late. In fact, many of these same people will blame God or Jesus or Osama bin Laden when a global pandemic actually hits.

    I have no doubt that sheep do not stand around in pasture thinking about flight, much less designing or flying airplanes. But I don't see that the average American who does...has more intellectual capacity than the average sheep.

    May 4, 2009 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  11. Franky

    Yeah...that was good stuff, I like the show.

    Hey John, have you guys ever thought about Twittering about State of the Union?? Ohh don't get me wrong, not during the show or when you guys are working, ohh no. Like say you bust out in the streets hanging out with the people and boom!!! A State of the Union update, either way or side. That would be nice and cool!!! Plus, I think that'll be awesome, one day John can be hanging out in the restaurant or make an update that they are in a rural area. Not articles, or analysis but if you want, go ahead, that's more for me, LOL!!

    Who knows maybe you guys do, but I think that'll be cool. You agree John or not into that high-tech stuff??? I wanna know was up with the Union, I think that'll be awesome...but that's just my opinion.

    May 4, 2009 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  12. Alfred E. Neumann

    How to avoid the swine flu:

    Wash your hands (more than once a day).
    Cover your mouth when you cough.
    Remember, the no name flu that you ignored last year killed over 30,000 people.
    Try watching a bit less cable television.

    Finally – get a grip.

    May 4, 2009 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  13. Lilarose in Bandon, Oregon

    I would like the media "alarmists" over the swine flu to give us straight-forward statistics on "regular flu" numbers.

    It is my understanding that since January 2009 more than 8,000 Americans have died from what is called "regular flu," that flu that kills over 30,000 Americans every single year.

    What are the statistics on the "regular flu?" Who gets it, where do they live, why don't we hear more about this?

    Maybe because it mostly involves seniors. In America, they tend to be considered "disposable."

    May 4, 2009 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  14. Tulsa L

    The media is the one creating the fear.......NOT OBAMA.....the repblicans are saying this admistration overreacted but if the flu was to take off and start spreading like wild fire then the republicans would be saying Obama didn't act swift shut up republicans we already know that your never going to be on the side of this President which means you aren't going to see the inside of the White House for a long time either.......

    May 4, 2009 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  15. phoenix69

    obambi, please provide a link showing where this admistration has told anyone to wear masks? What is an outrage is people making stuff up, and attributing it to Obama. Contrary to popular Republican belief, repeating a lie over and over again does not make it the truth

    May 4, 2009 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  16. Terry

    I must mention that more people die from flu every year than die terrorist attacks. More people die from aspirin complications than die from terrorist attacks. Millions of people have died since 9/11 from the effects of alcohol and tobacco. Deaths from terrorists during that time period: less than 10,000.

    Our priorities are nuts.

    May 4, 2009 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  17. Greg Pottstown, Pa.

    JonDie May 4th, 2009 11:04 am ET

    Republicans have convinced many Americans that having no government (supposedly this will cause taxes to go down but what it really means is that private corporations spring up to rip the public off for providing the same services) is the way to go.
    The bigger the government gets the more taxes it takes to support it. true or false
    I think that forcing people to pay for services for others is ripping off the public. What do you have to say about that?
    I would rather pay more fop services I use then pay for services for everyone else. how about you?
    When those services go to the private sector and taxes are not need to support them what do you think happens? When those services go to the private sector do they create jobs? Will our taxes pay for those jobs?

    May 4, 2009 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  18. Ken in NC

    The Obama administration is being accused of over reacting to this flu situation by opponents and Naysayers while I consider it safer to err on the side of caution when not doing so would mean the potential for an even greater loss of life.

    Now had they not responded in the manner they did, the accusation would have been that they were laid back and didn't care about the population. This, like every other decision being made by this administration will have supporters and opponents. The only problem with this is that those who oppose his decisions in this case RISK death. That should not be an acceptable risk but it is their decision so I will honor their decision to risk their own lives for the sake of opposing the administration.

    May 4, 2009 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  19. Greg Pottstown, Pa.

    Terry May 4th, 2009 11:24 am ET

    I must mention that more people die from flu every year than die terrorist attacks. More people die from aspirin complications than die from terrorist attacks. Millions of people have died since 9/11 from the effects of alcohol and tobacco. Deaths from terrorists during that time period: less than 10,000.

    Our priorities are nuts.
    the difference is that those people that died from alcohol and tobacco made a choice that eventually killed them. People that die from terrorists did not deserve to die. I would also like to point out that One terrorist attack has the ability to kill in one day more than die in a year from all of the combined reasons above. Our priorities are not nuts,

    May 4, 2009 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  20. Not All Docs Play Golf

    Swine Flu?? I thought the swine flew out of Washington on the last day of the previous administration!!

    May 4, 2009 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  21. roger in ga

    John King has blown his cover. I think everyone knows now that he is a practicing Republican that was able to keep that secret during the campaign but now he is beginning a little at a time to spew his Republican side. It is almost like he is now mounting his own campaign against President Obama well in advance of the next election. It is sad that he is doing this because while I will from time to time watch the Right wing shows just to hear some of the lies they are trying to spread. John, on the other hand is being sly about his dissemination of the Republican agenda against President Obama.

    He is using his State of the Union show more and more every Sunday to do it and that is why I had to stop watching because it was appearing more and more every s\Sunday that he was leaning more and more towards the Republican side of the picture. I could have continued to accept his position as long as he was neutral of leaning to the Democratic side.

    May 4, 2009 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  22. Melissa

    Politics ok, but I'm quite tired of the efforts to scare people with the swine flu. You're making things worse, not better.

    May 4, 2009 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  23. Tom McCarey

    I do not think John King is an objective commentator. His presence as a Sunday morning commentator discredits CNN and drives me to MSNBC. At least their biases are evident and to my way of thinking they are more factually based.

    May 4, 2009 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  24. Mississippi Mike

    Swine flu, yes. Politics, not so much. I guess if you are a political analyst, politics would dominate your weekend news. The swine flu or as the Israelis call it, the Mexico flu, is a big deal.

    May 4, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  25. Melissa

    In case anyone failed to notice, cnn is now saying that the spread of the flu is slowing down.

    May 4, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |