Tony Snow Reprimands CBS's Harry Smith: 'You Can't Have Your Own Facts'

On the June 12 "Early Show," anchor Harry Smith again pounded Tony Snow, and Tony Snow again responded with a reprimand. Smith, who recently offered a puffy interview of Al Gore, continued his harsh interrogation of the White House press secretary. When discussing the G-8 summit, Snow asserted that Bush has "taken the lead" on initiatives such as climate change. Smith interrupted Snow like wise.

Video (0:37): Real (0.99 MB) or Windows (1.11 MB), plus MP3 (167 kB).

SMITH: I think that's following on climate change. He's following on climate change.

SNOW: No, no I don't think so --

SMITH: These other countries are setting the table for this, for years. The president is late to this table. You can't flip that around --

Snow, who previously accused Smith of sounding "like a partisan" hit the CBS anchor right back.

SNOW: No, Harry, you can't have your own facts. We got a better record than the rest of the world. We have more --

SMITH: And he should have better record than we already have and you know that –

Harry Smith then moved to Guantanamo Bay noting former Secretary of State Colin Powell is calling for its closing. After Snow asserted that "some people there" are "really dangerous," Smith continued to advocate for its closing.

"You know, by keeping it open, and keeping it there, you're basically saying the United States justice system can't be trusted to prosecute these people properly. Why not just shut it down?"

Early in the interview, Smith mildly sided with the president, but on an issue where the president gets the bulk of his criticism from the right, immigration reform. Smith asked Snow: "Doesn’t the president have to convince those people who are so adamant about this that he may be right?"

The entire transcript is below.

HARRY SMITH: For more on the president's Capitol Hill visit, we turn now to White House Press Secretary Tony Snow. Tony, good morning.

TONY SNOW: Good morning, Harry.

SMITH: We just heard in this report from Joie Chen 38 Republicans voted against this immigration bill. Any real chance of getting any of them to change their minds?

SNOW: Yeah, there is, because if you take a look at the vote last week, it wasn't necessarily on the immigration bill. There are some people that are opposed to it, but also a fair number of Republicans were unhappy because Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid did not want to continue the process of debating a lot of Amendments. Say, people like John Warner and others saying, "well, wait a minute, this is the Senate. We need to have a full debate." I think what you're going to find, Harry, is that Senate Republicans are going to put together a package of amendments, they're going to present them to Democrats, saying this is what we want to debate, and we seem to be getting some signals out of the majority leader that he'll go ahead and make that debate possible. Therefore, we feel pretty confident we're going to get passage.

SMITH: But when this thing went down last week, there were a number of conservative groups very vocal, very determined, very angry people who said, "see, this system works for us. The people in Washington listen." They're very angry at the president as well.

SNOW: Well, you know, and you can kind of understand it. Look, 21 years ago, we had immigration reform. And what did they promise? They promised to have secure borders, and to do assimilation, economic things, and none of it came to pass. And so there's, there's a fairly high amount of skepticism right now about whether Congress is going to be able to follow through on security and all the measures. What's interesting is if you take a look at the component parts there are more than 60 votes in either House. I'm sorry, 60 votes in the Senate. And furthermore if you do the polling on the component parts, they're all highly popular. But there is a big level of skepticism, which is why the bill has been written in such a way as to say "okay, don't trust us verify."

SMITH: Doesn't the president have to convince those people who are so adamant about this that he may be right?

SNOW: Yeah, well, look, there are some people who are not going to be persuaded because they disagree with them. But there are also a lot of people right now who are saying, well, who's right here? I think that's one of the reasons why you have political debate in this country. You're absolutely right. We're going to continue to present our arguments to the American people and explain exactly what this bill says what it does and why it answers people's qualms about security, provide security first, why it restores rule of law and why it makes citizenship special.

SMITH: The other thing that comes up then is that the president can't get this done, in which he has placed so much of his own prestige and will and everything else. Does this not show that he's a lame duck?

SNOW: Well, think of it -- let's flip it around. The president just came back from a G-8 session where, you know, when everybody went, they said, well, here's George W. Bush, the whole world's against him on climate change. Guess what? He goes to the G-8, leads the way on climate change, leads the way in development, leads the way --

SMITH: I think that's following on climate change. He's following on climate change.

SNOW: No, no I don't think so --

SMITH: These other countries are setting the table for this, for years. The president is late to this table. You can't flip that around --

SNOW: No, Harry, you can't have your own facts. We got a better record than the rest of the world. We have more --

SMITH: And he should have better record than we already have and you know that --

SNOW: No, what you're, what you're arguing is that you regulate your way in. It never works, hasn't. What the president says is use technology as the way of doing it. Guess what everybody agreed. Now, when it comes to domestic policy, the president laid out a number of key items in the State of the Union address. Immigration is one of them, we feel pretty good about that. They're debating energy right now. He's been able to implement a fair amount of that by executive order. No Child Left Behind, that's got bipartisan support. What I think you're going to see is big major legislation being passed in the seventh year of the presidency. That's not a lame duck. What you have is a situation of a lot of political contentiousness.

SMITH: Alright we'll see. General Colin Powell goes on television over the weekend. He says that the United States should shut down the detention center at Guantanamo, Cuba. Is there any way the president would consider this?

SNOW: The president says he wants it shut down. I mean look, we don't like the situation with Guantanamo. The problem is, you've got some people there who are really dangerous and the president doesn't want them on U.S. soil. What are we trying to do? We've asked their countries of origin --

SMITH: You know, by keeping it open, and keeping it there, you're basically saying the United States justice system can't be trusted to prosecute these people properly. Why not just shut it down?

SNOW: No, no, that's not at all what you're saying. What you're saying is that there's a long chain of precedent extends back to the founding of this country where you treat, where you treat enemy combatants in military tribunals. That's always been the case. And furthermore, the approach has been supported by the Supreme Court and we've had legisla- we had a big legislative debate about this last year where we got resolution. The fact is Harry, we don't want Guantanamo open. But the guys there are so dangerous, their countries of origin don't want them back. So what we're trying to do is set up a process where their rights are respected where you have a disposition, at the same time, you keep the American people safe. We certainly understand what, what Secretary Powell is, is saying.

SMITH: Tony Snow, we thank you so much. We understand the president is going to buy vacation property in Albania.

SNOW: Bada boom, thanks, Harry.