warning Hi, we've moved to USCANNENBERGMEDIA.COM. Visit us there!

Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

Politics Today: President Obama's Most Watched Speech, Bush Declines White House Invite To Ground Zero, And More

Tracy Bloom |
May 4, 2011 | 12:09 a.m. PDT

Executive Producer

President Obama's speech announcing the death of Osama bin Laden drew about 56.5 million viewers Sunday night, making it the most watched address of his presidency. As Variety noted, the huge rating came even though it aired after primetime hours in more than three-quarters of the country.

Osama bin Laden's death has rehashed the debate on the value of torture. Former officials from the Bush Administration claimed the success of the raid on bin Laden vindicated their policy of "enhanced interrogation techniques" that included waterboarding. A new report by the New York Times however, calls that claim into question, saying it played a minimal role at best. According to The Times "a closer look at prisoner interrogations suggests that the harsh techniques played a small role at most in identifying Bin Laden’s trusted courier and exposing his hide-out. One detainee who apparently was subjected to some tough treatment provided a crucial description of the courier, according to current and former officials briefed on the interrogations. But two prisoners who underwent some of the harshest treatment — including Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, who was waterboarded 183 times — repeatedly misled their interrogators about the courier’s identity."

Former President George W. Bush has declined a White House invitation to attend a ceremony at Ground Zero in New York City on Thursday to mark the death of bin Laden. A spokesman for Bush said the former president preferred to stay out of the spotlight but appreciated the offer. "He continues to celebrate with all Americans this important victory in the war on terror," the spokesman said.

Rick Santorum, a two-term Senator from Pennsylvania, has officially formed a presidential exploratory committee. The announcement comes just ahead of the first Republican presidential debate in South Carolina on Thursday. "I filed today for an exploratory committee. I'm not announced for president, but basically I'm in the position now where I can participate in the FOX debate," Santorum said. The presidential debate, which is hosted by Fox News and the South Carolina Republican Party, requires participants to have formed exploratory committees. 

Apparently, which newspapers Sarah Palin reads isn't the only thing the former vice presidential candidate can't name offhand. At the MSNBC party after the White House Correspondents' Dinner this weekend, Palin, along with others at the event, was asked to name the most influential journalist. In a scene reminiscent of her 2008 interview with Katie Couric, Palin couldn't seem to think of a name off the top of her head. "Oh my goodness, that's a great question," she said. "Um, gosh, that's a great question, I have to think about it, OK? Because there are many." When Greta Van Susteren, an anchor on Fox News, walked by, Palin said, "Greta Van Susteren is the most influential journalist!" It is worth noting Palin works for Fox News. And naturally, the whole exchange was caught on video



Craig Gillespie directed this true story about "the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

Watch USC Annenberg Media's live State of the Union recap and analysis here.