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Shepard Smith Speaks To Democratic Guests Harsher Than Republican Guests

Reported by Donna - October 10, 2006 -

Today on Studio B with Shepard Smith he had a segment that included Jon Wolfsthal, a fellow with the Center for Strategic and International Studies and who worked in the Energy Department under the Clinton Administration. The segment centered on what should be done with the North Korea/nuclear testing issue.

Wolfsthal was very forthcoming yet Smith remained rather testy in his talk with him. His tone was completely different, kinder, when he later spoke with Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

Here is my transcript of Shepard Smith and Jon Wolfsthal (who Smith mistakenly called 'Jeff' twice)

Shepard Smith: Jeff, is there anything practically speaking that can be done here or is North Korea operating on it's own time and in it's own space?

Jon Wolfsthal: Well, I think there are a number of things that have to be done but I'm not sure if any of them are going to force North Korea to give up their nuclear weapons or rollback their capability. What I'm most concerned about is that the United States needs to insure that North Korea understands it's deterrent committment to South Korea and to Japan. It's fine for the president to make a statement from the oval office, I think we need a direct message, face to face with Kim himself or his top leaders to make sure he understands that America stands by it's allies in the region.

Smith: Well, you know Jon, people who are against that are going say, well, we did that and get the framework together back under the Clinton Administration, and that didn't do a darn thing. (Comment: Nice Republican talking points by Smith) So, why do it again?

Wolfsthal: Well, one, I'm not talking about negotiations I think we need to send a direct message. I don't think that North Korea is interested in negotiations at this point, they want face to face talks. But I think those talks should be designed to give them a hard, cold message.

To those people who think that the agreement in the 1990's didn't achieve anything, not a single nuclear weapon was produced in the eight years that President Clinton was president and over the last six years we've seen North Korea now build an arsenal of up to 12 nuclear weapons so I would argue that engagement did work. I don't think we have the luxury of engagement, I think now we need to talk hard cold facts to North Korea. (Comment: Great comeback)

Smith: And what do you say to them? (Comment: Sounding exasperated and testy) I mean you talk hard, cold facts. What are those facts and how do you convince them to do anything?

Wolfsthal: Well, I don't think we can convince them, as I said, to give up their program, but they have to be made to understand that they risk nuclear annihilation for themselves and for their region if they continue to behave erratically. The United States has a responsibility....interrupted by Smith.

Smith: Do you think Kim Jong Il cares (Comment: Sounding more exasperated) one bit about any of that? He has shown absolutely no desire to care anything about his own people. He doesn't give them food or water, why would that effect him in anyway?!

Wolfsthal: Because he cares about his own existence and he cares about the existence of his government. We have the ability to target that with our own nuclear weapons if necessary. What I don't think Kim Jong Il understands is that by becoming a nuclear state, he now becomes fair game for our own nuclear arsenal.

And I think we need to make sure that we are communicating clearly, directly to North Korea what their decision to go nuclear means for their security. It doesn't mean that it will work. But I think if we fail to communicate that message then the blame will rest as much on us as it does on North Korea.

Smith: How great is the risk that this man who has, since his father was around for that matter, been selling weapons, not nuclear, but weapons to other, to rogue state and otherwise, in some cases we don't know exactly where any of them are going. How great is the risk that some of these weapons, that he now possesses, and potentially nuclear it would appear, would get into the hands of people who would just love to use them in Times Square or somewhere else?

Wolfsthal: Well, quite frankly I think that fear, while possible, is quite overblown. I put it in the same category as those who said that Saddam Hussein was going to give chemical weapons to terrorists (Comment: I can't help it, but what a good one!)

A country that has spent so much time, so much money, trying to become special by becoming a nuclear weapons state doesn't lightly give them away, or doesn't lightly sell them, even if they feel it is necessary. And I think the argument is bourne out by the fact that chemical weapons exist in North Korea and have for 20 years and Kim Jong Il hasn't sold those. So I think it's wrong to assume that this guy can't be dealt with. He may not think the same way that we do but he can be deterred.

We've deterred him for the last 50 years on the penisula and I think we need to make sure, now that they've gone nuclear, that deterrence is enforced.

Comment: It was a very well thought out segment by the guest. He was very articulate without being testy like Smith. Later on in the show Smith interviewed Attorney General Gonzales and he was polite as anything. He received better answers from Wolfsthal than he did from Gonzales so maybe he should stop the deference and start asking the tough questions to all guests. It really shows when he's only tough on the Democratic guests.