Monday, October 29, 2007

PBS's Lehrer Admits Brooks "Body Language" Skills "Creeps Me Out"

Reveals Uncomfortable With Columnist "Staring At Me" On-Set; Alludes "Toe-Tapping" Also Involved.

PBS Newshour veteran anchor Jim Lehrer admitted this weekend that he is "creeped out" over New York Times columnist David Brooks, and his assertion of having "body language" skills.

Lehrer said that, as the segment aired Friday evening, news analysis with himself, Brooks and Mark Shields, a syndicated columnist, he could feel Brooks "sizing me up".

"I got a bit distracted," Lehrer said, "It was getting uncomfortable."

During a discussion about the Bush Grindhouse's escalation of rhetoric, and sanctions, against Iran, Brooks unveiled his body language skills;

JIM LEHRER: You agree with the professor who talked a moment ago...

DAVID BROOKS: Yes, and I'll tell you the basis for my agreement. And this is an argument that the president should give more interviews. He gives interviews to some columnists. It's not a broad ideological stretch. I'm sort of the Fidel Castro of the group. I'm on the far left. But he does give interviews to...

JIM LEHRER: Excuse me. You're on the far left of...

DAVID BROOKS: Of this particular group.

JIM LEHRER: Of the group of people, columnists, OK, got it.

DAVID BROOKS: Right. And we get together with the president periodically. And there are two of my colleagues who, every time they ask about Iran, and the president knows the questions are coming, it's sort of a joke between us, and we see his body language and response to these questions. Some of it is on the record; some of it is off the record.

But if you look, read his language, if you look at his body language, you see a man that's totally different than before Iraq. He is preparing the way for the next administration to have some means to deal with the situation. He believes in the diplomacy. But unless I totally misread him, I think he has no inclination to launch a military action.

"He was staring intently at me, as he made this statement," a shaken Lehrer recounted.

"It was like he was sizing me up ... And, I can't be 100% certain, but I believed I could hear him tapping his toes, under the table ... It really creeped me out."

Mark Shields, who was also in the segments, indicated that "I could sense something going on" but that "I felt my body was not of interest to Mr. Brooks."

When asked for comment, the White House refused to offer one, officially, but did say ask if Mr. Brooks had looked into Russian President Vladimir Putin's eyes and what his read of them were.

Lehrer stopped short of saying he would ban or boot Brooks off The Newshour.

"This is PBS, and were supposed to be knowledge, tolerant and understanding of such things," said the affable host. "But, to be honest, and there's no other way to put it, it just really creeps me out."

If Lehrer removes Brooks from The Newshour, it is reported that Margaret Richard, host of the long-running PBS fitness show, "Body Electric" has interest in bringing Brooks on-board - if his his body-language-reading skills are legitimate.

Shields: "I could sense something going on" but that "I felt my body was not of interest to Mr. Brooks."

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