Guest: Marty Evans, Robert Mallett, Thomas J. Falk, William Jefferson Clinton, George Herbert Walker Bush, Ken Baker
ANNOUNCER: The is an MSNBC special report.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE WALKER BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We‘re here to ask our fellow citizens to join in a broad humanitarian relief effort.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is significant capacity in those ships to produce fresh water, significant capacity to store fresh water.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I suppose what has most gotten to me is the number of children who‘ve lost parents.
WILLIAM JEFFERSON CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:
When it comes to dealing with the aftermath of natural disasters, the United States has the best record in the world, not the worst.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: This evening, a special edition of DEBORAH NORVILLE TONIGHT, “Tsunami: The World Responds.” The ever-climbing death toll, the ongoing search for missing loved ones, and now the world responds with unprecedented charity, led by the president and his two predecessors.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: The greatest source of America‘s generosity is not our government, it‘s the good heart of the American people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: But will help arrive in time to prevent a wave of disease and starvation from claiming more lives? Tonight, heartbreak and hope from the ruins of one of the worst catastrophes in human history.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The situation we‘re facing now is not so much looking at the deaths but looking at the survivors and trying to make sure that they will continue to survive.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: From MSNBC world headquarters, Deborah Norville.
DEBORAH NORVILLE, HOST: And good evening. A humanitarian crisis on an unprecedented scale, a worldwide response, equally unprecedented. Forty nations donated a total of $2 billion so far to the tsunami relief effort, and an enormous effort for that relief is under way, providing tsunami survivors in South Asia with just the basics to survive and what they need to start rebuilding their lives.
But getting that aid to survivors in those remote areas is a logistical nightmare. The United States military has sent aircraft carriers, cargo planes, helicopters, along with more than 15,000 personnel. And when that help began to arrive, the level of desperation was clear.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was unbelievable how desperate the people were.
They were pushing to get into the cabin to get to the food.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NORVILLE: Russia, France, India, Australia also have sent ships, planes and military personnel. And for relief workers, the toughest challenge now is trying to get to the needy. Even elephants have been put to work, trying to clear debris in areas that bulldozers can‘t reach. And the death toll is now approaching 150,000. Millions of people have been left homeless and traumatized, hungry and grieving for lost loved ones.
President Bush has appointed two former presidents, his father, George Herbert Walker Bush, and Bill Clinton, to lead a nationwide private fund-raising campaign. And secretary of state Colin Powell and the president‘s brother, Florida governor Jeb Bush, arrived in South Asia today to asses the damage and see what more the United States can do.
For the very latest on the situation in Southeast Asia, we‘re joined tonight by NBC‘s James Hattori. He is on videophone in Galle, Sri Lanka. James, I know in Sri Lanka, there‘s something like 31,000 people dead. What is the situation there where you are, in the southwest part of the island?
JAMES HATTORI, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, the amount of aid that has come into the region is starting to get to—I believe they‘re turning a corner, especially in Sri Lanka. In this area, especially, there are roads, for example, going up to Colombo, even though they are detoured in certain places. So the access to that flow of aid coming in is there.
Now, granted, there are still isolated areas, especially in eastern Sri Lanka, that have yet to receive any aid. There have been helicopter drops in some of those areas. And it‘s not quite sure or certain how many more people are out there that still are in desperate need. But clearly, there are people out there whose villages have been wiped away in low-lying areas, as we‘ve seen in so many other places.
NORVILLE: We‘ve heard reports as much as one million people just in Sri Lanka has been displaced. It is not logistically possible in six, seven days‘ time to bring in enough tents, to bring in enough blankets, to bring in enough plastic sheeting to give these people shelter. And we know the weather there has been horrific since the tsunami came through.
HATTORI: Well, you know, that‘s right. And we—the other day, we were driving by, and we stopped by a neighborhood not far from here in Galle, and we—this is where 50, 60 homes, families, had been leveled to rubble. And they had chosen to—initially took refuge in a temple, a Buddhist temple up in the highlands and—but you know, seven days or six days after the tsunami, they began rebuilding on their own. They started erecting temporary shelters on the bluffs overlooking what was their homes.
NORVILLE: And we see now that though the United States was not there in those initial couple days, that it now has a real leadership role in providing material and assistance. We understand the military ships can manufacture huge amounts of fresh drinking water. Is that changing America‘s perception in that region?
HATTORI: I think so. I think at the very beginning, there was so much confusion and it was unclear just the scope of it all, how big it was going to be. And perhaps the United States was seen as perhaps a little slow off the mark, in terms of responding in large—in a large way. But right now, the U.S. Is leading the effort in Indonesia, in terms of getting helicopter drops out to outlying areas, in terms of bringing another group of military ships in. The USS Bonhomme Richard is due in, as well as a couple of other Navy ships, 1,500 Marines, more helicopters. I think the perception has definitely changed 180 degrees since then.
NORVILLE: And what‘s become of the children? The news reports say as many as 40 percent of the dead are children in Sri Lanka. And we hear reports of parents still standing by the water‘s edge, hoping futilely that their children will wash back up to them.
HATTORI: Well, it‘s just a tragic situation for the kids, especially. Many of them have been left orphaned and subject to the whim of the kind of care they can get on their own. And certainly, they‘re in no position to fend for themselves. It leaves them somewhat in a position of vulnerability, as well.
There have been reports of—and they‘re unsubstantiated at this point, but there have been reports and they‘re investigating the possibility that some of these kids who‘ve been orphaned have been taken in by other families, in some cases taken advantage of, perhaps being—I don‘t want to say slavery—enslaved—but used, you know, in an inappropriate way. So there‘s a lot of investigation yet to be done. And certainly, the kids are the worst off in their position.
NORVILLE: There‘ve also been some really disturbing reports not only about children being possibly enslaved—and we know that is a business that goes on in that part of the world—but also adult victims being raped and terrorized in these makeshift shelters that have sprung up throughout Sri Lanka and elsewhere in the affected region.
HATTORI: Yes. I really don‘t know a whole lot about that. I know that it‘s a very different culture here, in terms of the kinds of things that have gone on in the past and would have gone on normally—not accepted, but certainly are—people are aware of the authorities—are aware that those kinds of things have gone on in the past—gone on in the past. So I‘m sure they‘re looking into that possibility right now, as well.
NORVILLE: We also know that Secretary of State Powell and Florida governor Bush arrived today. They‘ll be hitting a number of spots before the meeting in Jakarta later in the week. What realistically can they offer, other than an American face, to the military presence that‘s already there?
HATTORI: Well, that‘s just it. I mean, they come to see what the American resources that have been brought to bear are doing on the ground, for one thing. But they‘re also here to show the point and amplify the point that America is taking an interest. And certainly, what the president has done today in terms of trying to boost private donations by announcing that President Clinton and former President Bush would be involved in this—I mean, it‘s such a huge effort. It‘s not just governmental money. But the U.S. position here has to be one of leadership, and I think that‘s why they‘re here, to make that point.
NORVILLE: James, you‘ve covered a lot of disasters during your career. When you look around you there in Sri Lanka, understanding the situation is even bleaker in Indonesia, can you envision that this area will ever be back to, quote, “normal,” end quote?
HATTORI: You know, this is one place that, actually, I‘ve not been to before, Sri Lanka. And I have to say it‘s hard to imagine what it was like beforehand. There are little parts of a coastline where you can still glimpse the pristine beauty. And the people are so beautiful, as well—very good-natured. And to see them in the rubble of their homes industriously rebuilding and cleaning up and trying to get started, not waiting for government officials to come in and necessarily give them help, although they hope that happens, too—but it is hard to imagine that it will be—that it will take years and years and years before they get their lives back to normal here, if then.
NORVILLE: As we look at these tragic pictures of the tsunami and the survivors of this storm, we know a very big job lies ahead. James Hattori, thank you so much for being with us tonight from Galle, Sri Lanka. We appreciate it.
And coming up: The United Nations says the relief effort in South Asia is the largest in human history. But are wealthy nations and citizens doing enough to help? We‘ll get into that right after this.
NORVILLE: Back with this MSNBC special report, “Tsunami: The World Responds.”
The Web sites of a number of charities crashed earlier today, overwhelmed by the huge volume of donors. One of the biggest recipients of private donations has been the American Red Cross. Marty Evans is the president and CEO of the American Red Cross. It‘s nice to see you. Thanks for being with us. How—how high is the tally so far that the Red Cross has received in America?
MARTY EVANS, PRES. CEO., AMERICAN RED CROSS: We‘re up over $90 million. And that has really been spontaneous donations from the American public and from private corporations.
NORVILLE: And this was not a situation where—when we spoke a few months ago after the Florida hurricanes, where the Red Cross put out the appeal and said, Please give us donations. We need the money. Folks are doing this on their own.
EVANS: On their own. And it‘s just, I think, a reflection of the incredible American spirit of generosity.
NORVILLE: What do you think prompts it? Because Americans have always been generous, but this is—we‘ve used the word—it‘s almost been worn out—unprecedented. We‘ve never seen this level of caring so quickly.
EVANS: Well, I think it‘s partly because the media has done such a great job of covering it. And you know, all of the details are there in our living rooms. And I think people want to do something about it, and so they turn to the Red Cross and to other charities that they know can turn their humanitarian impulses into specific actions.
NORVILLE: Does the time of year matter, the fact that this came the day after Christmas, when we‘re all feeling kind of, you know, “joy to the world” and “peace on earth”?
EVANS: Hard to say, but I think people are generous at this time of year. But I certainly wouldn‘t want to test it at a different time of the year to see if there‘s a correlation. We just are grateful they‘re so generous.
NORVILLE: And the $90 million that has come through your offices is separate from anything that the International Red Cross—or the International Red Cross would be amassing, as well.
EVANS: Exactly right. And I should point out, we‘re one of a global network of International Red Cross and Red Crescent societies. And so in most countries around the world, the national Red Cross is raising money for the victims. So I think when it‘s all totaled, there‘s going to be, clearly, an unprecedented level of contributions worldwide.
NORVILLE: Indeed. As the tsunami toll mounts, corporations are also joining in the relief efforts. There are estimates that if the current giving levels continue, American corporate donations could surpass the $450 million that was donated to charities after 9/11.
Robert Mallett is senior vice president of corporate affairs for Pfizer, which is contributing over $30 million in cash, in drugs and other products to relief agencies. He joins us tonight, along with Thomas Falk, who is the chairman and CEO of Kimberly-Clark. That company has donated $100,000 in cash thus far, along with personal and health care products. And I thank you both for being with us.
Mr. Mallett, let me start with you first. I mean, Pfizer obviously has a lot of pharmaceuticals in its medicine chest that are desperately needed right now by the victims.
ROBERT MALLETT, SR. VP., PFIZER: Yes, it does, and we‘re very happy to provide them. We had announced that we were going to give about $10 million worth of cash and about $25 million in product donations from our anti-infectives, anti-fungals, anti-malarials. These are drugs that are needed because of the outbreak of disease, and we want to be at the ready to assist these agencies.
NORVILLE: Who comes up with the idea? I mean, this happened on a Sunday after Christmas. I‘m guessing that, you know, like most every other company, yours had a lot of people on holiday vacations. Where does the idea happen so quickly?
MALLETT: Well, so many of our people are affected. We have about 4,100 to 5,000 people who work in the region. So we‘re a global company. We have people on the ground there who were affected, and they‘re also helping in the relief effort. Our chairman and CEO was very vigilant about this and thought it was very important that Pfizer have an appropriate response to what he could see was going to be a very substantial disaster.
NORVILLE: And the same question to you, Mr. Falk. When you first heard about the disaster—Kimberly-Clark obviously is an international company. I imagine you‘ve got folks in the region, as well, in terms of employees.
THOMAS J. FALK, CHAIRMAN, CEO, KIMBERLY-CLARK: Right. In fact, you know, the first two questions I really had were, How did our people come out? We‘ve almost 10,000 employees in southern Thailand. How did everybody do?
NORVILLE: Yes, how did they come out?
FALK: Well, fortunately, thankfully, we had no one lost to this disaster. So it‘s really...
FALK: So it‘s really an amazing thing, with the employees we have in India and Thailand and Indonesia, that we didn‘t lose a single person to this disaster. So everyone‘s been accounted for.
But then that‘s followed very quickly by the second question, How can we help? And That happened at the local level, where our teams running Thailand were saying, We make disposable medical gloves. You know, You‘re need those for all the various clean-up efforts. Can we help with those? Even things like bathroom tissue and Huggies diapers.
NORVILLE: Yes. You know, when you look at the sheer numbers, millions of people displaced and homeless, 150,000 dead—and we know that number is going to get higher—as generous as your two companies‘ donations are, in a sense, it‘s just a drop in the bucket to what the need is going to be. Mr. Mallett, is there a sense that your competitors will watch what you‘re doing and say, Yes, we have supplies, we have cash, we can donate, as well?
MALLETT: Well, we certainly hope that other companies join in the effort, and many of them have. Certainly, many in the pharmaceutical industry. A number of them have donated, and in other industries, as well. I think people understand the seriousness of this catastrophe, and they want to be responsive and helpful. And I think corporations, the private sector in the United States, private individuals will respond likewise. I think people really understand the magnitude of this disaster, and they want to be helpful.
NORVILLE: Yes. And Marty Evans, how does the relief physically get there? We know what a bottleneck there is. There aren‘t that many places to land. There aren‘t all the roads open and accessible to the villages that need the assistance. How does that part of the equation work?
EVANS: Well, we have to build a logistic system to distribute this. So the American Red Cross is flying in supplies, tents, blankets, plastic sheeting. It will get into the area. And then the wonderful part of the Red Cross network is each of the countries has their own network of volunteers and staff, and they‘ll be working with us to make sure it gets out to the villages. It‘s kind of a make-it-up-as-you-go, based what assets and resources you have available on the ground.
NORVILLE: And Mr. Falk, in terms of Kimberly-Clark trying to get its material into those areas where you‘ve got people on the ground, are you setting up your own distribution network to be able to facilitate that?
FALK: Now, we‘re really working with the major relief agencies and the governments in the area to try and let them do that job. Otherwise, we just have more of our trucks on the road in an area that‘s already tough to get to.
NORVILLE: And is there more to come, maybe not from your company but from other companies? Are you hearing from your colleagues, Mr. Falk, in the corporate world, saying, yes, we want to do the same?
FALK: Absolutely. In fact, you know, as we all got back together today, you know, we took a look at our response and said—you know, initially, we responded very quickly, got out there with some cash, with some local products, but we said, We need to do more. And so today, we increased our contribution to up to $1 million contribution level by helping match our employee contributions and making an additional cash contribution to UNICEF.
NORVILLE: Well, that‘s tremendous. I know there are many corporations out there doing that. We thank you very much for being with us. Robert Mallett from Pfizer, Thomas Falk from Kimberly-Clark and Marty Evans from the American Red Cross. Good luck as you go forward in the weeks to come.
When we come back: President Bush has appointed two former presidents to help lead the effort, his predecessor and his father. We‘ll hear from Bill Clinton and the first President Bush in just a moment.
NORVILLE: The United States government has pledged $350 million to help the tsunami-ravaged areas of South Asia. And millions more, as you‘ve heard, have been donated by corporations and private citizens, but a lot more is needed. So today, President Bush announced the creation of a nationwide private fund-raising campaign led by two former presidents, his own father, President George H.W. Bush, and President Clinton.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE WALKER BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have come together to express our country‘s sympathy for the victims of a great tragedy. We‘re here to ask our fellow citizens to join us in a broad humanitarian relief effort.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NORVILLE: Earlier today, NBC News White House correspondent David Gregory sat down for a rare interview with the two former presidents, Mr. Clinton and Mr. Bush.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID GREGORY, NBC CORRESPONDENT: President Bush, I‘d like to begin with you. Tell me what you think Americans can and should be doing, at this point, to ease the suffering?
GEORGE HERBERT WALKER BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:
Well, first, let me just say I think both President Clinton and I know the concern that President Bush has. And we‘ve talked today about this. And I think the main thing an individual can do is do something with money. Give cash to one of these established organizations. I wrote down here the address at the White House, the Freedom Corps. They got a Web site, www.usafreedomcorps.gov. They can give through that or give to these charities of their choice.
And if they have any questions about what they ought to be doing, I think what we learned today from going to four different embassies is what‘s needed is funds, so that they can direct the kind of aid that each of those countries—each of those four countries need.
GREGORY: The money matters really more than anything else at a time like this.
BUSH: Oh, I think it does. And I think we heard—now, there are things that they need, medicines and water purification pills and all kinds of things that will help them, helicopters, which the government is trying to help with now. So there‘s a lot of services and things that are needed. One of the ambassadors was telling us he needs temporary housing. But the point is, if you don‘t go out and buy a lot of tents and send them somewhere—I mean, deal with some organization that is set up do this.
GREGORY: President Clinton, this is a large undertaking, both by the U.S. government and then potentially by the country as a whole, the private sector. What‘s the potential here in terms of help?
WILLIAM JEFFERSON CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:
Well, I think virtually unlimited. I remember after 9/11, Senator Dole and I, I think, raised $102 million for scholarships for families who had someone killed or disabled, send the children and the spouses to college.
So what one of the things that I think we want do is to stay in this over the long run. The American people have already done a fabulous job coming up with lots money and lots of other in-kind contributions, but to echo something President Bush said, we have—like, we were talking to the Sri Lankan ambassador today, and he was saying that the whole airport is covered in crates that have already been sent there, and they‘re having some difficulty distributing it.
If you give money, even if it‘s a small amount of money, it‘ll aggregate up, we‘ll send it to the aid agencies on the ground, and then they‘ll spend it right there for what‘s most needed and you won‘t have to worry about the cost and the time delay of physically getting other things overseas.
The other thing I would say is, AOL, Apple and others are trying to provide Web site opportunities for small donors. And I think on the AOL side, we learned today something like $7.5 million was raised in the first 36 hours. So don‘t think because—if you can only give $1 or $5 or $10, don‘t think it doesn‘t matter. It does matter.
GREGORY: President Clinton, this administration was criticized by some in the early days of this disaster for moving too slowly. Do you think that‘s fair? Do you think this president didn‘t move quickly enough?
CLINTON: I do not think it‘s fair. Let me tell you why. First of all, let me point out that the main person that was critical from the United Nations has sort of backtracked and said he was referring not just to the United States but to all the rich countries and saying that over the long run, they should give more development assistance.
This country has a very good record in emergencies, disasters like this. In every year I was president, America gave between 25 and 33 percent of the world‘s aid to disasters. The same thing was true when President Bush was in office.
Look what happened. You had the American military helicopters dropping supplies in the remote areas of Aceh in Indonesia, people desperate to give them. And President Bush has already committed $350 million, says there‘s going to be more.
But I don‘t think we should even waste time talking about that. Look at this. We‘ve got, what, 150,000 people dead, potentially, maybe even more, tens of billions of dollars of immediate needs.
And America‘s got a good record, and the president‘s doing a good job, and he asked us to help. We‘re just trying to help.
But I don‘t think we should waste any time doing it. The American people are dying to do something. We‘re going to try to help them.
GREGORY: President Bush, do you think there‘ll be a need for even more U.S. money from the government in excess of $350 million?
BUSH: I don‘t know the full requirements, and I think we wait until Secretary Powell—and the governor of Florida, incidentally—come back, see what they have to say. But I‘m sure nothing‘s enough, and we‘ll see.
But this argument I thought—really grateful to President Clinton for putting it in perspective. I‘ve only heard it once, this stingy argument, and it was picked up in the press a little bit.
But you don‘t hear it anymore, because they see a lot going on, not only in this eleemosynary way, the private philanthropies, but you see the government responding with helicopters and a lot of other ways too.
So I think that was a passing thing. And I think we‘re on the right track.
And if you go to these four embassies, like we did, I‘ll tell you, they expressed eternal gratitude for what the United States is doing.
GREGORY: President Bush, let me pick up on another point.
Indonesia, as you know well, is the most populous Muslim nation in the world. Particularly after the tension that is associated with the Iraq War, is it important for the United States to show, in a very large way, that it can use its might for humanitarian purposes, and not just its military might?
BUSH: Well, you put it better than I could. But yes, absolutely.
And I think we‘re doing that.
And I think—perhaps I‘m naive. I know I‘m old, but maybe a disaster like this can bring people together, whether it‘s in Sri Lanka or whether it‘s in Indonesia.
And I‘m very optimistic that out of these terrible, terrible disasters, we‘re going to find maybe some people in Indonesia, some of the extremists might say, “We want to help.”
There was one woman at one of the embassies today—was it Thailand?
· who was there. She had lost her mother and father and sister. And then under one tree is a little rubber duck and a little fish, you know. And all of this symbolizes the children that are hurting.
And so out of these tragedies, I‘m optimistic enough to believe that these countries can come together, Sri Lanka helping India, vice versa. And that‘s very important.
GREGORY: But do you think there is a particular need in this part of the world for the U.S. to change some hearts and change some minds?
BUSH: Well, I think so. Because in some areas in the Muslim world, we are not fondly looked upon today.
But I think that for the most part, this will elevate the standing of the United States. But that‘s not why we are doing it. It‘s certainly not why President Clinton and I are involved in it.
CLINTON: This is one of those things where you just follow the do-right rule and hope it works out.
And keep in mind, my fondest hope here is that this will enable countries to resolve some of their internal problems.
I‘d say the hardest hit remote area in Indonesia is the site of the big separatist movement.
I hope that there‘ll be some reconciliation coming out of the effort to rebuild.
Sri Lanka has had a lot of trouble over the last several years. The peace process is a little stalled.
You‘ve got Buddhist temples now in America wanting to send goods to Buddhist temples in Sri Lanka. But they want it given out to the Hindus and the Muslims and the Christians as well as the Buddhists. So maybe we can get some reconciliation.
If the United States is seen as being on the side of building that kind of world, a world where our common humanity matters more than our differences, then that‘ll be good.
But that shouldn‘t be why we do it. We ought to do it because they need help, and we‘re doing it because it‘s the right thing to do.
GREGORY: President Clinton, you‘ve said in recent days that even when the international community mobilizes, there can really be coordination problems getting the aid to where it needs to go.
Given the fact that there is still some tension between the United States and other large countries in the world, given the size and the scope of the U.S. assistance, do you think it‘s time for an American to lead the United Nations? And would you like that job?
CLINTON; Well, we‘re here talking about this aid relief. Let me make two serious comments about the problem you raised.
First of all, President Bush got together a group of nations to work together to eliminate a lot of this overlap.
Secondly, the United States is now working with the U.N. on this. And the U.N. humanitarian effort is one of the charities cited on the White House Freedom Corps Web site. So they are trying to get coordination.
The FEMA director is with Colin Powell and Jeb Bush in the area today.
So I think we are going to avoid that.
And I‘m going to avoid your question, because I don‘t even think it‘s realistic. I can‘t imagine that anything like that would ever happen.
GREGORY: But would you like it?
CLINTON: What I would like to do is to see the United States and the U.N. reconciled. I would like to see strong support of the United States from the U.N. And I would like to see the U.N. universally recognized as having no serious operational problems.
We need a strong and effective U.N. I think President Bush feels the same way. And that‘s what I want.
GREGORY: The final point in our remaining seconds, I think this is the first time we‘ve seen you two gentlemen, two former political combatants coming together for this kind of joint effort—a little strange to be working together, or a good thing?
BUSH: I learned a lot from him. I learned how to lose gracefully and go away.
And I haven‘t done an interview with you, because my son is president of the United States.
But the fact that he is here and I‘m here, we‘re here as friends, and we‘re here as, I think, mutual respect. Certainly I respect what he‘s doing and has been doing when he was president and with his life.
So I think it‘s good. And I hope it sends a signal around the world that we have come out of a divisive political period, and we‘re together, and we‘re Americans, and we‘re proud.
And the fact—you put you finger on—the fact that we are supporting vigorously aid to countries that are predominately Muslim, that‘ll send a very important message, I think.
CLINTON: I like and admire this man. I always have. When we had our differences, I did.
And I came here in good spirits to show that I have forgiven him for showing me up at my own library dedication and giving the best speech of the day.
CLINTON: And therefore, I‘m glad to be with him.
GREGORY: President Clinton, President Bush, thank you both, and good luck.
BUSH: I haven‘t forgiven him for beating me in 1992.
BUSH: But that‘s all right.
NORVILLE: That was NBC News White House correspondent David Gregory talking with former Presidents Clinton and Bush.
When we come back, from supermodel to super helper, the story of a “Sports Illustrated” swimsuit model who survived the tsunami by clinging to a tree for eight hours. Now she‘s raising money from her hospital bed for children who also survived.
NORVILLE: The supermodel who narrowly survived the tsunami, she‘s been raising eyebrows for years. Now she‘s raising money to help children who also survived.
NORVILLE: Supermodel Petra Nemcova was one of the survivors of the tsunami disaster. The 2003 “Sports Illustrated” swimsuit cover girl was in Phuket, Thailand, with her boyfriend when the killer waves swept them from their beachfront bungalow. She managed to survive by clinging to a palm tree for eight hours while suffering from a broken rMD-BO_pelvis.
Her boyfriend, however, was swept away. He has yet to be found. Now recuperating in Thailand, Nemcova agreed to be photographed in her hospital bed by “Us Weekly” magazine in order to raise money for children who survived the tsunami disaster.
Joining me now is Ken Baker, West Coast bureau chief of “Us Weekly.”
Thanks for being here, Ken.
How did you get her to say yes to the photo?
KEN BAKER, WEST COAST EXECUTIVE EDITOR, “US WEEKLY”: It actually wasn‘t difficult.
When she found out that she could help children through the Save the Children organization by simply being photographed, it didn‘t take much persuading at all. She was very eager to do that, because here she is in her hospital bed immobile and feeling somewhat helpless. She‘s seen tragedy all around her. She saw her boyfriend of years, Simon Atlee, being swept away by the sea. And she was feeling very helpless, to be honest with you.
And for her to be able to be photographed and show people that she was OK, that she was doing well and to help children was a plus for her.
NORVILLE: Explain to us how this works. Taking the photo that we‘ve seen of her in the hospital bed will raise money for children. How?
BAKER: Well, what happened was, last week, we had heard through various photo agencies that they were willing to spend $200,000 to get an image of her, because there was such intense interest.
She‘s an international supermodel. People all over the world were interested to see how she was doing, to see her condition. And what‘s going to happen now is that any media outlet who wants to use a photograph of her is going to have to pay for that photo. And that money will go to Save the Children.
NORVILLE: And it‘s conceivable, then, that a lot more than just $200,000 can be raised for relief efforts for kids in the tsunami disaster.
BAKER: Exactly. We certainly hope so, because you have to understand that that would be for a one-time shot, $200,000.
BAKER: So, if this is used multiple times.
It‘s a chance for someone who has spent her entire life practically in front of cameras being photographed. And I know that it made—it was actually probably a very special moment for her on Friday to sit for those photos, because it‘s really been nothing but her having to relive the horror and the tragedy of what happened when that tsunami struck her bungalow.
NORVILLE: And have you spoken to her? Has she described how she last saw her boyfriend and what hopes, if any, she has that he might be alive, just unable to communicate somewhere?
BAKER: Well, interestingly enough, I had been scheduled to interview her over the telephone on Sunday night. And she canceled at the last minute. I had spoken to some people who were with her in the hospital room at the time.
And, to be honest with you, she has a broken pelvis. And that‘s going to heal fine. And it‘s really her broken heart right now that she‘s struggling with, as she‘s coming to grips with the fact that they likely will never find Simon.
NORVILLE: Yes. Well, in that respect, this is a supermodel who has much in common with many people who will never be nearly as famous as she.
Ken Baker, thank you very much for being with us. We appreciate you being with us tonight.
BAKER: Thanks, Deborah.
NORVILLE: When we come back, all about the tsunami and how it‘s been in online blogging around the world as people go online to not only try to find information about those still missing, but learn more about the disaster itself. That‘s to come.
NORVILLE: In the wake of the tsunami, people all over the world have been desperately trying to get information about missing friends and family. And the Internet has proved to be a huge help.
One of the ways is through blogging, those web logs that are just chock-full of information and commentary. Blogging is now bigger than ever and it has a profound effect with those dealing with the tsunami.
Joining me now is MSNBC.com producer and resident blog-meister Will Femia, who has been following the Web‘s reaction to the disaster.
It seems to me that the computer has become sort of the 2000 -- and what are we now? -- 5...
NORVILLE: ... version of the old fireside chat. People gather around the computer to find out what they can‘t find out any other way.
WILL FEMIA, OPINIONS EDITOR, MSNBC.COM: Yes, although it‘s a really big fire.
FEMIA: And that‘s what really makes the difference, is that—you know, it‘s interesting.
This tragedy, this event has really amplified the tools features, blog as a tool for networking, for aggregating information, for guiding people, organizing people and efforts. It‘s really highlighted what a blog, which is such a simple, little, Web site gizmo, can do.
NORVILLE: Which is basically anybody deciding to throw up a Web site
· and it‘s real easy to do now—and share their thoughts and their pictures and their videos.
FEMIA: Right. In a matter of minutes, and for free, no less, you go to something like Blogger.com, fill out the quickie form, you have a blog. And that means you have a global voice that everyone can read.
NORVILLE: It seems to me, initially, there were two reasons to go online. One was to find out about any friends or family that you may have had in the regions that were affected to see if their names were out there.
And I was stunned, because we were looking for friends, to see that you could actually get on to hospital Web sites and see names of victims. It might have been just last names and countries, but you could get solid information. How reliable is what is out there?
FEMIA: Oh, I think it is reliable, especially in that case, anyway, depending on the site. There are some questions now about scams with regard to relief funds and that sort of thing. You want stick with the big names.
But, as far as finding relatives and that sort of thing, I haven‘t heard any complaints about that at all. And you—really, you get a lot of medical detail. Especially in the case where the person isn‘t known, all they can do is describe the person. And one scary aspect that I‘ll mention to the whole thing is that, while a lot of people want to ask the question, where‘s my loved one, in some cases, that question is answered. And it‘s not an easy question to see answered just online with a photograph.
NORVILLE: Because the photographs of the deceased are also being put up on the Internet.
FEMIA: They‘re horrifying. And that‘s the only way.
And strangely—to me, anyway. It seems like a strange thing, but some people are actually able to—they‘re looking at the missing photos and then they‘re looking at the photos of dead bodies. And they‘re complete strangers, just citizens trying to participate. And they say, look, I think I made a match here. Look, I think I made a match here.
I was recently on a message board for Phuket, down into Phuket. And there was someone who—there was a photo of a really horribly bloated body.
NORVILLE: The live person.
FEMIA: And it was a link to I think a Finland Web site that had a photo of the person alive and smiling. And it was pretty horrifying.
NORVILLE: One of the other reasons people went to the Net initially and continue to do so is, there‘s incredible video. There are incredible photographs of the disaster.
And you say that more is beginning to be uploaded. And there‘s some really great sites to go on to see some of this material.
The one that I‘ve been pointing to is called Rocketboom, because it‘s also—you know, it fits into this genre that‘s rapidly growing called vlogging, or video blogging, and they‘ve been doing it quite a bit. But you know, the video is—TV has to worry about copyrights and that sort of thing. Plus, some of it, when people are running and screaming from a tsunami, they‘re also cursing and things that you can‘t really show TV, not to mention dead bodies.
NORVILLE: And there‘s also a lot of this, because this was—these were vacation destinations.
NORVILLE: Everybody had their home video camera. What we‘re seeing here is the wave as it initially approached. I think this was in Thailand as the vacationer was taking the video. And it‘s now up on the Net for all the world to see.
And something that you get on the Web that you don‘t necessarily get in clips like this is what it sounds like, what the roar of that wave sounds like, what the panic of the people sounds like. Oh, now I hear it in my earpiece. But listening online, it‘s really something incredible.
And it took a while, also, I‘ll say. These are just regular people. And when you suddenly have 100,000 people trying to download all these videos, it‘s meant incredible bandwidth, sometimes at great expense to some of these bloggers. And it‘s taken a while for a lot of bloggers to chip in. Some people go here. Some go here. And it‘s distributed that load a little bit.
NORVILLE: And talking about chipping in, and we talked earlier with Marty Evans from the Red Cross. And she said, at some point, as much as every five seconds, more and more money was coming in. Money is also being raised for the victims on Web sites like this one that we‘re looking at, where people have said, chip in and we‘ll get it to the relief.
Initially, we saw bloggers mostly pointing to established charities and just helping organize people finding charities to donate to. And now we‘re seeing things like—people actually make money blogging. So there‘s something called Blog Aid, where bloggers are offering the proceeds from their web logs.
NORVILLE: How do you know it‘s really going to get there?
FEMIA: You don‘t truly.
NORVILLE: It‘s an act of faith?
FEMIA: Yes. Yes. And while some of these—one of the sort of hub blogs of information is something called TsunamiHelp.BlogSpot.com. And that just popped up out of nowhere. And it‘s been this huge source of information.
But a lot of these bloggers have been going—these ordinarily are just diaries of people. So, if you‘re a regular reader of a blogger, you sort of know that person already anyway. So you‘re more apt to trust what it is they‘re doing if they‘re part of a relief effort.
NORVILLE: And if you‘re looking for a portal into the Internet, MSNBC.com and your page on it is a great way to get in there. We‘ve got a link on our Web site.
NORVILLE: Click. Yes. There is it.
Will Femia, thank you very much.
NORVILLE: Stay online for us.
When we come back, it‘ll be your turn to weigh in on the global relief effort, so stick around.
NORVILLE: That is our program for tonight.
And, as always, we would love to hear from you with your thoughts, your comments about the tsunami and the global relief effort that is going on. Our address is NORVILLE@MSNBC.com. And we‘ve posted some of your comments on our Web page. That address is NORVILLE.MSNBC.com, which is the same place you can sign up for our newsletter.
Tomorrow night, our coverage of the tsunami disaster will continue. And, on Saturday night at 8:00, NBC will air a live benefit for tsunami victims on all of its broadcasts and cable networks. And that, of course, includes MSNBC.
That‘s our program for now. Coming up next, “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.”
We leave you now with more images from the devastation and the relief efforts in South Asia.
I‘m Deborah Norville. Thanks for joining us. Good night.
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