Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Richardson Talks to Local Reporters About North Korea

After appearing on a slew of network news shows, Governor Bill Richardson talked to local reporters about the release of two American Journalists from North Korea.

Here's the audio from the news conference this morning after he rolled out new education initiatives. Richardson, who has had a long term relationship with North Korean officials, including Kim Jong-il, said that while he was involved with the U.S. State Department that former President Bill Clinton was the perfect envoy for this rescue mission.

Gov. Bill Richardson says both the United States and North Korea can cite victory from the high-level talks that sprang two American journalists from jail in the reclusive communist country.

Richardson, a former U.S. ambassador the U.N., said Wednesday that "it's equal right now" in terms of public relations one-upmanship between Washington and Pyongyang as a result of former President Bill Clinton's successful mission.

He said on CBS's "The Early Show," that North Korea "used the two journalists as bargaining chips. ... They've played this game before." Richardson said Washington won their release and perhaps an easing of tensions and North Korea's Kim Jong Il "gets a former president on his soil" at a time of turmoil in relations between the two countries.

For Pete's Sake:

Originally, reporters were told that Richardson was on a tight schedule, and that he would not talk to reporter's following the news conference. As the chief's top executive that's to be expected. Instead we were told that Veronica Garcia, and other's VIP's who attended could answer our questions.

I have to tip my hat to Richardson. He stayed for about five minutes and took every question from the local reporters who attended the event.

Handlers (we call them gatekeepers) and other's often get in between the governor and the local press. But, it's been my experience that he takes the time to make sure we get every one of our questions answered. In April, for example, he told his driver's to shut his SUV's engine off so it would not mess up my audio recording.

The thing that handlers don't always know is that many of us in the press, myself included, have known Richardson since the early 80's and have longer relationships with him than they do.

I first met Richardson when he ran against incumbent Manuel Lujan. I walked with him and Speaker of the House Tip O'Neil door to door during a photo op. He's always taken the time to speak with us. And that's why we can bring you great audio to listen to on this blog and on the air at 770KKOB and other great stations in past, like KZIA 1580 AM, where I worked with Joe Monahan and Mike Santullo when I was just a kid. Ah the memories.

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