updated 6/28/2004 10:59:35 AM ET 2004-06-28T14:59:35

Guests: Ana Marie Cox, Lisa Bloom, Ron Maxwell, Jack Burkman

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  Tonight‘s top headline, “Fahrenheit 9/11” opens nationwide today.  The “Real Deal,” Moore‘s movie plays fast and loose with the truth.

Hey, welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, where no passport is required and only common sense is allowed. 

Critics praise “Fahrenheit 9/11,” while admitting it‘s filled with lies.  Why?  And will the movie help John Kerry‘s limp campaign?  We‘ll be debating that.  Plus, we‘re going to be talking to the director of “Gods and Generals” and “Gettysburg,” Ron Maxwell, on why Hollywood elites are embracing what many are blasting as pure propaganda. 

ANNOUNCER:  From the press room, to the courtroom, to the halls of Congress, Joe Scarborough has seen it all.  Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.

SCARBOROUGH:  I warned you yesterday about the misinformation and lies that Michael Moore packed into “Fahrenheit 9/11.” 

Well, NBC‘s chief investigation correspondent, Lisa Myers, follows up with a report that she filed today for NBC. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LISA MYERS, NBC CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT:  Among the many controversies surrounding the film is that it‘s billed as a documentary.  We consulted various dictionaries.  And all defined a documentary as factual and objective.  So we decided to look into when and where director Michael Moore takes liberty with the facts. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “FAHRENHEIT 9/11”)

MICHAEL MOORE, FILMMAKER:  Good.  Good.  I‘m trying to get members of Congress to get their kids to enlist in the Army and go over to Iraq. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MYERS (voice-over):  The title, “Fahrenheit 9/11,” suggests the film is incendiary.  And it is. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “FAHRENHEIT 9/11”)

MOORE:  With everything going wrong, we he what any of us would do, he went on vacation. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MYERS:  Though fervently anti-Bush, the film also purports to be truthful. 

NARRATOR:  From the corridors of power comes the true story that will make your temperature rise. 

MOORE:  I believe that Americans, when they know the truth, will do the right thing.  And I hope my film in a small way helps to educate them about what the truth is. 

MYERS:  Clearly, the unflattering video of the president and other administration officials throughout the film is authentic. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “FAHRENHEIT 9/11”)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I call upon all nations to do everything they can to stop these terrorist killers.  Thank you. 

Now watch this drive. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MYERS:  You can‘t make this stuff up. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “FAHRENHEIT 9/11”)

JOHN ASHCROFT, ATTORNEY GENERAL (singing):  Let the Eagle soar.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MYERS (on camera):  But the film is heavy on conspiracy theories.  On some key facts, experts say Moore simply gets the facts wrong or weaves them in such a way to leave viewers with an inaccurate impression. 

(voice-over):  First, the Bush family and the Saudis.  The film notes that former President George H.W. Bush was an adviser to the Carlisle Group, whose investors, prior to 9/11, included the bin Laden family.

It also claims close ties between the Bushes and the Saudi royal family.  Fine so far.  But then the film suggests—quote—“When the Bush family wakes up in the morning, they might be thinking about what‘s best for the Saudis instead of what‘s best for you.”

Roger Cressey served as a counterterrorism official in both Clinton and Bush administrations and is now an NBC News analyst. 

ROGER CRESSEY, MSNBC COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST:  Where the film does a disservice is implying that the personal relationship between the Bush family and the Saudis somehow is driving U.S. foreign policy.  The administration has made many mistakes in the war on terrorism, but to say somehow personal or financial profit by the Bush family is at the heart of it is simply wrong and unfair. 

MYERS:  Next, Saudi flights out of the U.S. after 9/11.  Moore suggests because of the Bush family‘s close relationship with the Saudis, 142 Saudis and 24 members of the bin Laden family were allowed to leave the U.S. after 9/11 without being properly vetted.

In fact, this man, former White House counterterror chief Richard Clarke, now one the president‘s most outspoken critics, says he approved the Saudi flights and would do it again.  A former ambassador to Saudi Arabia agrees the flights were not nefarious. 

RICHARD MURPHY, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO SAUDI ARABIA:  They were not spirited out of the country in this sense.  They were vetted.  The FBI knew who was on those planes and had no problems with their departure. 

MYERS:  The 9/11 Commission says nobody was allowed to depart on these six flights who the FBI wanted to interview or who the FBI later concluded had any involvement in those attacks. 

The president‘s reaction on 9/11.  The film notes that after Bush‘s chief of staff informed him that, America is under attack, the president stayed in this Florida classroom for seven more minutes reading the book “My Pet Goat” to children.  The film says, not knowing what to do, with no one telling him what to do, Mr. Bush just sat there. 

The president told the 9/11 Commission he was trying to project calm in a moment of crisis.  The Democrat vice-chair of the 9/11 Commission, lee Hamilton. 

LEE HAMILTON, VICE-CHAIRMAN, 9/11 COMMISSION:  I think he made the right decision in remaining calm, in not rushing out of the classroom. 

MYERS:  The war in Afghanistan.  The film suggests the president‘s invasion of Afghanistan was—quote—“really about something else,” helping the oil companies build a pipeline through the region.  Those involved in White House deliberations call that pure fiction. 

CRESSEY:  We went to war in Afghanistan for the simple reason that it was al Qaeda‘s principal sanctuary.  The objective was to eliminate the al Qaeda presence and overthrow the Taliban, to eliminate the terrorist sanctuary.  To say that we went in there for oil interests is simply crazy. 

MYERS:  The war in Iraq.  The film makes a powerful statement against the war with graphic depiction of the human toll.  Moore ridicules the so-called coalition of the willing supporting the U.S. in Iraq, noting it includes Palau, Costa Rica, and Iceland, which don‘t even have armies.  He does not mention Great Britain, Italy and Poland, who have sent troops. 

The film paints a bucolic portrait of Iraq under Saddam before the war, showing children playing in the streets.  There is nothing about Saddam‘s torture chambers, his gassing of the Kurds or Iraqis whose hands were amputated.  However, the film does talk of all the Iraqis killed and maimed by American troops. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “FAHRENHEIT 9/11”)

MOORE:  If you get called up, will you go back to Iraq?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  No.  I will not let anyone send me back over there to kill other poor people. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MYERS:  A former phone worker seems to sum up the film‘s message about President Bush—quote—“Someone said Osama bin Laden is a real (EXPLETIVE DELETED) for murdering those people.  And I said, yes, that‘s true, but he‘ll never be as big an (EXPLETIVE DELETED) as Bush, who bombs all over the world for oil profits.”

(on camera):  No doubt the suggestion that this president is worse than Osama bin Laden will generate still more controversy.  Moore says he hopes the film influences the November election.  The White House is basically ignoring it, calling the film so outrageously false, it‘s not even worth commenting.  The president‘s communication director says, if he sees a work of fiction this weekend, it will be “Shrek.”

Lisa Myers, NBC News, Washington. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH:  Thanks a lot, Lisa. 

Now let‘s bring in an all-star panel of truth-tellers to talk about Michael Moore‘s movie.  We have MSNBC senior political analyst Lawrence O‘Donnell, Democratic strategist and MSNBC political analyst Flavia Colgan, and Jack Burkman, a Republican strategist.

Let‘s begin with you, Lawrence O‘Donnell.

You know, I think, Lawrence, you and I share similar views about the political process, that it brings a lot of very good people to it.  I went to see this movie yesterday and I really was expecting to like it.  I was expecting to come apologize to my conservative viewers, saying, Michael Moore, he is a P.R. genius.

But I was so offended by the countless lies and the ham-fisted techniques, that it was all I could do to sit through the movie through two hours.  I really was insulted.  And I would say right-thinking liberals I have spoken with also said, you know, it was just cheesy.  It was heavy-handed.  And yet there were people in the audience, a lady next to me was crying halfway through.  And I felt like patting her on the hand and say, don‘t worry, honey, it ain‘t true.

What was your reaction to the movie?

LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL, MSNBC SR. POLITICAL ANALYST:  Well, it‘s a very different movie from “Roger and Me,” his first venture, which was about trying to chase down the chairman of General Motors and complaining about laying off workers in his home town of Flint, Michigan. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  I thought a great movie. 

O‘DONNELL:  That movie was, I thought, a great movie.  It had some brilliant documentary techniques, but it was fundamentally a comedy. 

And you could watch that movie, you could enjoy that movie and conclude that there was nothing immoral in a corporation laying off workers in order to cut costs, so that Americans could buy cheaper cars.  But you could have fun with the movie even if you didn‘t buy Michael‘s moral principles involved.

This one, I don‘t think allows for that kind of detachment, specifically because of all of the stuff that Lisa Myers‘ report was talking about and the fact that this is a very serious arena.  This is about war.  This is about life and death.  And so it‘s hard to pull back and watch it for Michael Moore‘s great comedic touch.

And including, by the way, I think part of the limiting of information, part of the joking about the president being on vacation, to me, that‘s pure comedy.  I know Michael Moore knows that there is no such thing as a vacation day in the presidency of the United States since the invention of the telephone.

JACK BURKMAN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  Lawrence, I‘m not sure about that. 

I would say, Joe, there is nothing funny about this movie.  Like yourself, I went there thinking that maybe the whole thing was overblown.  It‘s beyond the lies and the terrible distortions.  And we can get into more of that.  This movie made fun of American soldiers.  They had taken audio out of context.  They are showing American soldiers almost like these trigger-happy buffoons.  There was banter taken from a tank.  It was a deliberate and calculated attempt to make fun of American soldiers.  There is nothing funny about that. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Jack, you need to put that in context and explain what you are talking about is, he was talking to—he would show pictures of slain Iraqi children with—blown up, thrown in piles, mother screaming, and then they would cut immediately to U.S. soldiers talking about the great adrenalin rush that they had and they loved listening to rock CrMDNM_.D.s. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  And I‘m just trying to lay out what you are talking about.  Go ahead. 

BURKMAN:  But it is a very deliberate—everything was taken out of context. 

First of all, they didn‘t show any of our soldiers who had lost legs, lost arms.  I have been privileged to go with Pentagon officials to Andrew Air Force Base and Bethesda Naval in the last few months and see some our soldiers.  I wonder if Michael Moore would have the decency to show one American who has lost a leg or an arm.

But even if he doesn‘t do that, that‘s his First Amendment right not to do that, if he chooses.  But he is making fun of American troops.  Joe, like yourself, I came here tonight expecting to say this whole thing is overblown.  The conservatives are overfocused.  Maybe we‘re all wrong, First Amendment, this, that and the other.

I changed my view entirely.  I am going to ask you to join me in a

boycott of any commercial interests from the theaters to anyone anywhere

who

(CROSSTALK)

O‘DONNELL:  That will help.  That‘s the way to boost up the box office. 

(CROSSTALK) 

O‘DONNELL:  Get a boycott going and you‘ll boost up that box office.

SCARBOROUGH:  Jack, you know what?  I‘m not going to throw Brer Rabbit into that briar patch, buddy.

Lawrence, I want to go to a larger point here.  And, again, I want to talk about politics, talk about, again, the coarsening of political discourse in America that Democrats say began when Bill Clinton was president, Republicans say began Richard Nixon was president.

How do we—how does this help American political discourse, when you have Americans going into films—and the people that I sat with in the Upper West Side, supposedly one of the more educated areas in America, bought into these theories.  They gasped.  They cried.  When Michael Moore said—and Lisa Myers talked about this—that Afghanistan invaded Afghanistan to build an oil pipeline there, that‘s just lunacy.

There is not a single thoughtful, intelligent person on either side of the aisle in Washington that would say that.  That the bin Laden family helped the George W. Bush start his first business, that the Bushes and bin Ladens were so close, they let the bin Ladens skip out of town, that we went into Iraq for no reason other than oil, that the White House purposely tried to scare Americans about terror threats after 9/11. 

Respond.  Weren‘t you disturbed by some of these conspiracy theories? 

O‘DONNELL:  Well, the problem with this happening in a movie theater, Joe, is that Lisa Myers isn‘t going to be there when you are walking out. 

And so, when you are in a movie theater, you have agreed to the author‘s limitations of the way we‘re going to present whatever it is, fictional movie or, in this case, a so-called reality movie.  And so the audience that is—it is unempowered by Lisa Myers‘ intelligence on this matter or what you know about the matter.  And, by the way, you are not using any information that has not been publicly available for years. 

Literally, within days of those Saudi flights leaving the country, NBC News had done exhaustive reports about that and how those flights were cleared and how they came about.  And one of the tricks of this particular movie is to take what is, unfortunately for the modern public memory, very old news, because it‘s three years old and present it as if it‘s a previously unknown fact. 

And so the audience in a movie is not equipped and deliberately not equipped to be able to critically evaluate it, by the movie‘s own design. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And, Lawrence, and that‘s what is so disturbing to me, is that he knows they aren‘t and he intentionally misled them on so many points that we‘re going to keep talking about.

Lawrence, stay there.  Jack Burkman wants to respond to you. 

And we have got much, much more.  So stick around. 

The nationwide release of “Fahrenheit 9/11” today.  We‘re going to keep debating it with my panel. 

Plus, the director of “Gods and Generals” and “Gettysburg” is going to join me next.  And I‘m going to ask him if Michael Moore has filmmaking talent or if his left-wing bias is giving him a free pass.

We‘ll be right back with that in a second.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  “Fahrenheit 9/11” opens today.  Will it set box office records on fire, or will it instead burn up Michael Moore‘s already shaky credibility? 

We‘ll have more on that debate in just a second, when we return.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Welcome back to our show.

Now, “The New York Times”‘ A.O. Scott admitted that this movie is

unfair.  But in his review of “Fahrenheit 9/11,” Scott said this—quote -

·         “Michael Moore is a credit to the Republic.”

Now, Flavia Colgan, let me bring you into here.  You‘re a Democratic strategist.  I know you‘re a fan of this movie.

But how can all these movie reviewers that are giving these great reviews and saying it‘s great for democracy, it‘s great for public discourse at the same time admit it‘s unfair and he really is not telling the truth?  How can you be a great credit to the Republic and be telling lies in your movie? 

(CROSSTALK)

FLAVIA COLGAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Well, I don‘t think he is telling lies.  I think that editing is certainly the highest form of commentary and it always has been.

And I think that Michael Moore is very clear on his agenda.  He describes it as an op-ed.  And he has been very outspoken in terms of wanting to get Bush out of the White House. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You don‘t think he is telling lies? 

(CROSSTALK)

COLGAN:  It is such a credit to democracy and discourse. 

Let me just address the issue you brought up, because I think there are two cancers that are basically eating away at the fabric of our democracy.  And they‘re nihilism and they‘re apathy.  And this movie, although Lawrence is right in that none of these images or ideas that there are already civilian deaths, that there are amputees, that there are people coming from Iraq changed forever, none of this is new information or Bush‘s relationship with the Saudi government.

But the way he presents them, in this visceral, emotional way, it sort of captivates not just people‘s mind, but people‘s hearts, is a very different way of presenting it. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, yes.  He‘s lying. 

(CROSSTALK)

COLGAN:  ... that we‘ve seen in the American media.

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Flavia, I‘ve got great respect for you.  Hold on a second.  I can‘t understand how you could say there aren‘t any lies in here.  I don‘t know if you heard Lisa Myers‘ report at the top of the show, but here, you have Richard Clarke and Roger Cressey, two opponents of George W. Bush, who say flat out that these claims are false. 

Cressey even said they‘re crazy.  You can‘t have it both ways.  Either Michael Moore is a liar or he is a truth-teller.  And it‘s very clear from what Lisa Myers, who is NBC‘s chief investigative reporter, reviews this and says there are all these lies in the movie.  How can you sit there and say that it‘s the truth?

(CROSSTALK)

COLGAN:  With respect to the Saudi planes, I agree with Michael Moore, in that I don‘t want to get lost in the forest because of one tree.

Here‘s the bottom line.  I was stuck in Pittsburgh away from my family and my job...

SCARBOROUGH:  Flavia...

COLGAN:  Just like thousands of Americans were.  Meanwhile, there were Saudis and people in the bin Laden family that they bent the rules for a little.  But whether it was unethical or illegal is not the issue.

Why did these people get special treatment?  And as you saw in “The

St. Petersburg Times,” there‘s yet another flight that went out September

12.  The September 11 Commission is looking into it.  And the point is,

forget about whether this was illegal or not or unethical.  These people

got special treatment.  And why should the Saudi family

(CROSSTALK)

O‘DONNELL:  No, they didn‘t. 

BURKMAN:  Michael Moore can write any kind of op-ed he wants. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Flavia, that‘s not true.  What you‘ve just said is completely false, that..

(CROSSTALK) 

COLGAN:  It‘s not true that they got—why was I grounded in Pittsburgh and they weren‘t?

SCARBOROUGH:  You know what?  We just had somebody come on a couple of days ago representing Michael Moore saying that Michael Moore didn‘t tell that to Americans, that he made it clear that they got out of the country after other Americans were able to fly and...

COLGAN:  Exactly.  His bottom line

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  No, no.

(CROSSTALK)

COLGAN:  His bottom line, Joe, is what I just said, which is that they got special treatment. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You just said that they got out while you were still grounded in Pittsburgh.  That is not the truth.  It is also not the truth that the 9/11 Commission is still investigating this.  The 9/11 Commission has already concluded.

COLGAN:  Did you read “The St. Petersburg Times” today, Joe? 

SCARBOROUGH:  It was the right thing to do.  Lee Hamilton, which is

also in the NBC chief investigative correspondent‘s report, has already

concluded it was the right thing to do.  Richard Clarke, who is an

opponent, a vocal opponent of George

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Let me finish what I‘m saying.

COLGAN:  The American people can make that decision for themselves. 

(CROSSTALK)

COLGAN:  Why don‘t you let them decide whether they should get treated different than Americans? 

SCARBOROUGH:  I‘m going to leave you, Flavia.  I‘ll tell you why.  Because you are using the same techniques that Michael Moore is using, because I‘m trying to tell the truth and you know I am telling the truth and you don‘t want it out.

So I‘m going go right now to Jack Burkman.

COLGAN:  That‘s ridiculous, Joe. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Jack Burkman, Flavia Colgan would not let me get out the fact that Richard Clarke testified before the 9/11 Commission, the 9/11 Commission, which, of course, Michael Moore used clips from Clarke when he testified in other areas, that Clarke was the one that approved this and he said, I would do it again. 

Well, I cannot believe that all these lies are being allowed to go out there and nobody is even challenging them. 

BURKMAN:  Absolutely. 

Flavia she said, a forest and trees.  The whole thing is filled with nothing but lies.  And I‘ll take it a step further tonight.  It‘s worse than even that.  It‘s worse than even everything we‘re talking about, in that he is juxtaposing images and audio that have no temporal place.  For instance, he is bringing in audio or somebody laughing not from that scene, maybe from a month ago. 

It‘s one big cycle of fraud and distorted images.  I was so shocked today.  You know what I thought of?  This is what the Stalinists did.  This is what the Nazis did, not in terms of scope and magnitude, but in terms of perception.  Michael Moore is manipulating images and realities with his juxtaposition of distorted video and audio, much in the same way that Stalin did.  It is a refinement of those perceptual and rhetorical techniques. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, thanks, Jack.

Now, much more SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY straight ahead.  I‘m going to be talking with director Ron Maxwell, who helmed “Gods and Generals” and “Gettysburg,” two remarkable movies.  I‘m going to be asking him why so many Hollywood types are embracing “Fahrenheit 9/11.” 

And Jack Ryan abandons his Senate bid race after a judge releases embarrassing sex documents.  We‘re going to go behind the scenes of that scandal in Washington.

And a—quote—“destroyed” Monica Lewinsky lashes out at Bill Clinton.  Hear what she‘s saying when we come right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Ron Maxwell, the director of “Gods and Generals” and “Gettysburg,” is with us talking about Michael Moore‘s latest film.  We‘ll be talking about that in a second.

But, first, let‘s get the latest headlines from the MSNBC News Desk. 

(NEWS BREAK)

ANNOUNCER:  From the press room, to the courtroom, to the halls of Congress, Joe Scarborough has seen it all.  Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, it really is, Michael.  It is a very happy theme song for a guy who is just so darn mean. 

Anyway, let‘s bring in Ron Maxwell, who has brought us great movies like “Gods and Generals” and “Gettysburg.”  He recently was the executive producer of “America Will Always Stand: New Songs of the Civil War.”

Ron, obviously, you‘re a celebrated director.  Tell me, what is your take on Michael Moore‘s movie “Fahrenheit 9/11”? 

RON MAXWELL, FILMMAKER:  Well, Joe, I have spent more than 25 years now studying the Civil War on working on those two movies.

My father was a World War II veteran in North Africa with Eisenhower.  And I lost a high school buddy in Vietnam.  So if anyone is predisposed to appreciating an anti-war film, it would be me. 

However, I must say that found Michael Moore‘s film to be a great disservice to his countrymen.  I found it to be crudely and cruelly manipulative, crudely manipulative because it is a poorly made, clumsy collection of images juxtaposed.  Your former guests have talked about it.

If you want to see good documentaries, look at “Frontline” on PBS.  That‘s serious documentary making.  Documentaries should be trying to get to the truth, not obscuring the truth for the political message.

And the reason I say cruelly manipulative is because it preys on the emotions of we Americans and especially the emotions of families, especially the film preys on the emotions of families who have loved ones in harm‘s way in the military. 

What the film says—and this is the big lie which transcends all the little lies.  The big lie of the film is, it says that the war is being prosecuted for profit, for the profit of the Bushes and for Halliburton and for other corporations.  Look, I wouldn‘t mind a separate film examining who is profiting from the war, but the war clearly is not about that. 

The war is a response to a global war of terror.  And so this is the big lie and the great deception of the film. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Ron, the thing that surprised me there, I‘m not a filmmaker.  Obviously, I have followed movies for quite a long time.  But what struck me, as somebody who is a novice in this area, was how crude the attempts were at pulling emotional strings. 

You would have the mother, the heart-wrenching scene of this mother doubled over in pain crying who lost her son, or an Iraqi woman crying over her daughter that just died.  You would see piles of dead people in the street.  And immediately, they would cut to a grainy, slow-motion visual of George W. Bush or they would cut to shots of U.S. soldiers saying that they enjoyed, basically enjoyed, going out there and shooting at everything that moved. 

And that struck me as cheap attack ads that I would see in like local political races.  And yet, Ron, let me read you a couple of reviews that this film has gotten. 

“L.A. Times” calls it “excellent, ambitious and unapologetic.”  And “The New York Times” says it‘s “scorching, a powerful and passionate expression of outraged patriotism.”  “The Washington Post” calls it a “cultural juggernaut.”  “TIME” magazine says it‘s “enthralling” and says “audiences of all political persuasions will be engaged.”  Peter Travers, a guy whose reviews I read religiously from “Rolling Stone,” says it‘s “brilliant.”

How could these critics, who usually get it so right—in fact, I‘ll tell you what.  Most of those critics I just read, they are the only people I listen to, other than Ebert and one or two others, when I decide on what movie to go to.  How could they see a ham-fisted movie made like this and give it that sort of praise? 

MAXWELL:  Well, Joe, I think the obvious answer is that they hate George Bush and they want to see George Bush defeated more than they love cinema, because this is clearly a shabby, disjointed mess of cinema, the way it‘s put together, certainly.

As I say, look at “Frontline,” look at documentaries that are made all the time.  But also because it‘s a collection of lies which leads to a big lie.  You can take an image that is truthful here, an image that is truthful here, mix them up and you get an untruth.  And this is what is done constantly through this film.  It terribly manipulative.  It reminds me of some of the sophomoric films we saw in the first couple years of film school that we try to grow out of. 

I‘ve spent 30 years in this business.  Many of my friends are documentary filmmakers.  I‘m not.  I don‘t pretend to be one.  But this is a shabby piece of filmmaking and profoundly dishonest. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You certainly would never see somebody like Ken Burns, who does remarkable documentaries for PBS, doing this.

Lawrence O‘Donnell, let me...

MAXWELL:  Or the Maysles Brothers.

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes. 

Let me bring you back in, Lawrence O‘Donnell.

I had a run-in before with Flavia.  I had said that it was filled with lies.  She said, there are no lies in there.  The words of John Lennon from 1970, just give me some truth here.  I‘m going to read you one of these conspiracy theories.  And tell me whether you agree with this.  America invaded Afghanistan so an oil company could put in a pipeline, true or false? 

O‘DONNELL:  Joe, America has no history of going to war over a commodity that is for sale, not only for sale, but at a very cheap price. 

If American wants to take over the Middle Eastern oil industry, all that will do is make it more expensive for the American oil companies to participant over there. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Exactly.  Exactly. 

O‘DONNELL:  And if that were the case, why did the first Bush administration create in effect an embargo on oil from Iraq for all those years, when the American oil industry could have been profiting by it? 

I think one of the really funny outcomes of the movie is Michael Eisner at Disney, his attempt to be the Bushes‘ best friend, as he claims to Michael Moore‘s agent—because Disney does business this Florida, they didn‘t want to distribute this movie, so that helped create an air, a bit of phony air, of suppression of the movie, which was all it needed to win Palme d‘Or at Cannes and all it needed to become a movie that is the biggest hit in the Hollywood liberal movie agenda ever.

And so with friends like Michael Eisner and his handling of this movie, the Bushes don‘t need any enemies in Hollywood.  If Michael Eisner wanted to be their friend, he would have held on to it for Disney.  He would have cut the advertising budget to zero, put it out on about 10 movie screens.  The movie would have come and gone by now, if Michael Eisner really knew how to be a friend to the Bushes.

SCARBOROUGH:  Jack Burkman, did America invade Afghanistan to put an oil pipeline there? 

BURKMAN:  No, they didn‘t, Joe. 

These questions, this is just a film strung together with nothing but absurdities.  But I will go back to—I am surprised that a guy like Terry McAuliffe would be posing for photo opportunities with the person who makes a film that makes fun of American troops in battle.  That‘s what really struck me today.  This is something unprecedented.

Yes, it‘s filled with lies and distortions, but it‘s also unprecedented.  Never in American history in the middle of a war have we had a filmmaker—yes, we have had people criticize wars, but we have never had a film, we have never had a person come out and say that—make fun of American troops in the middle of war. 

I think it‘s overkill.  You asked about the politics.  I think it‘s overkill.  I think a lot of people are going to hate this.  And I think a lot of swing voters who are making up their minds might be moved by this.  All of the hype will work to Bush‘s advantage.  It will work to Moore‘s advantage, but also to Bush‘s.  And here is why, because everybody will see this film.  Many, many people, many more people will see this film because of shows like this.  And what will happen, that will work to the disadvantage of the Democratic Party. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Flavia Colgan, do you believe this could blow up in John Kerry‘s face? 

COLGAN:  I think that it‘s going to, as the focus groups in Michigan have shown, I think that it‘s going to be a wakeup call to the choir, to the Democratic base.  I also think the people that are still flirting with Ralph Nader will feel compelled not to. 

And I think, for a lot of the people who feel disenfranchised, this movie connect with them in an emotional way that so far, John Kerry, despite some of his credentials and gravitas, has not been able to connect with the American people in that way.  And I found in the movie the most compelling parts were not so much Michael Moore‘s commentary and some of his conclusions which I didn‘t agree with, but the cinema verite aspects of it, where people were speaking for themselves. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, thank you very much, Flavia Colgan, Ron Maxwell, Lawrence O‘Donnell, and Jack Burkman.  I appreciate you all being here.

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  And I do agree with Flavia in this one area.  If Michael Moore had just kept his mouth shut and run the clips of George Bush, the soldiers, and also the people, the civilians killed in Iraq, it would have been a very powerful movie.  It was his zany conspiracy theories that ended up destroying what I believe was his already shaky credibility.

Now, don‘t forget to watch SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY Monday night.  Lions Gate Film President Tom Ortenberg is going to be here to talk about why he decided to distribute “Fahrenheit 9/11,” while others like Disney stayed away. 

And coming up, another man‘s career is ruined by a sex scandal, as his private documents are made public.  Do politicians deserve any privacy?  We‘ll be debating that straight ahead, so don‘t go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Monica Lewinsky fires a shot back at Bill Clinton, and a sex scandal sinks a rising star in the Republican Party.

You know, politics may not be the oldest profession, but sometimes politicians‘ behavior resembles the world‘s oldest profession. 

With me now to discuss the latest developments in these two Washington sex scandals are Lisa Bloom, Court TV anchor, and also SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY‘s favorite wonk, or should I know say Wonkette, Ana Marie Cox, editor of Wonkette.com.

Ana Marie, let‘s go to you first.

I know, as my grandma used to say, you‘re in high cotton tonight, another sex scandal in Washington.  You are sort of Washington, D.C.‘s—what would you call yourself as Washington, D.C.‘s...

ANA MARIE COX, WONKETTE.COM:  Foul-mouthed vixen is fine. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Foul-mouthed vixen, exactly.

COX:  Works every time.

SCARBOROUGH:  Obviously, though, you get around.  You hear what people are talking about.  Tonight, is official Washington surprised that Jack Ryan ended his campaign? 

COX:  If someone is surprised, I haven‘t talked to them. 

I think that people were just waiting for this to happen.  I think some people are surprised it took this long.  The stuff about his divorce, pretty nasty stuff about his divorce, started coming out pretty early.  And it just seemed like it got worse and worse and worse until finally I think no one expected something quite as literally public as like a sex club visit to come out. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  So, once these allegations were broken, there was no way people in Washington thought that Ryan was going to be able to survive his Illinois Senate race? 

COX:  No.  I thought it was kind of cute the way that some of the Republican Party seemed to stand by him.  I think that‘s adorable.  But I don‘t think anyone took it very seriously. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know what I think is adorable, is, here this happens while Bill Clinton is going around trying to spin Monica and trying to spin Gennifer Flowers and some of these other things in his book. 

What‘s interesting to me is that here you have a guy where there are no allegations that he cheated on his wife.  You just have charges in a divorce case.

COX:  Ryan, you mean, yes.

SCARBOROUGH:  And yet Bill Clinton survived two, three, four, maybe 400 affairs, and he survived his presidency.  What‘s the difference between a Bill Clinton that survives and a Jack Ryan that doesn‘t survive and a Gary Hart that doesn‘t survive? 

COX:  I think it‘s—well, Gary Hart, you throw Gary Hart in the mix and it sort of throws off my theory.

But my theory is that people don‘t mind if the politicians have sex.  People have sex.  It‘s if you push out of “Playboy” territory and into “Hustler” territory with your sexual practices, I think people are a little unwilling to accept that.  And I think Jack Ryan went beyond what people kind of consider in their normal range of acceptability for anyone, much less a politician. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And yet, I don‘t think—of course, I never read “Hustler,” but walking in the airports, going, reading magazines, never seen like steamy wife sex in “Hustler.” 

I want to read you, though, a statement that Jack Ryan said today when

he dropped out of the race.  He said he didn‘t want it to become—quote -

·         “a brutal, scorched-earth campaign, the kind of campaign that has turned off so many voters.”

Lisa Bloom, let met bring you in here.  What‘s your reaction not only to what‘s been happening with Jack Ryan, but also the Bill Clinton book this week?

LISA BLOOM, COURT TV ANCHOR:  Well, I think it‘s sad that the women and the children are often the victims.

You know, Monica gave a great statement today.  She said, what we did was wrong, but it was not disgusting.  And disgusting is the word that Bill Clinton uses in the book in reference to their relationship.  He does revise history the way he talks about their relationship, as though it was just a few little encounters—quote—“inappropriate encounters,” when in fact, as I recall, he was giving her books of poetry.

They discussed a lot of intimate details about their lives, their obese childhood.  This was really a love affair.  Meanwhile, in 2004, Monica is relegated to designing handbags that nobody buys.  Bill Clinton has got the $10 million book deal.  What about the Ryans and their children?  What about Jeri Ryan?  That‘s what I‘m concerned about.

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, I still cannot believe that a judge would release court documents that both the mother and the father did not want released.

BLOOM:  Absolutely.

SCARBOROUGH:  Because, again, because there is a child involved here. 

I want to read you, though, what Monica Lewinsky had to say.  And she responded to Bill Clinton‘s new book, telling the British press that the president destroyed her, saying—quote—“It has been so difficult because of so many of the lies that he has told.  To me, it just confirmed everybody he had said and made it worse.”

Now, Lisa, let‘s not just talk about Democrats here.  Let‘s talk about Republicans.  Arnold Schwarzenegger, during his recount campaign, actually, his team employed some pretty tough tactics against a lady, didn‘t he?

BLOOM:  Well, that‘s right.  And there was a woman who is currently suing him in California—that lawsuit is going forward—who claims that she was defamed, that he smeared her, that he called her a felon and a prostitute, none of which was true, that she lost work as a result of it.

SCARBOROUGH:  Now, did he call her a felon and a prostitute?

BLOOM:  Well, there was a press release issued that made those allegations against her.  It turns out it was another woman of the same name.  It was not the woman who made the allegations, like about a dozen other women did, against Arnold Schwarzenegger.

What happens to women who truthfully come forward and say that I have been fondled, I have been grabbed, I‘ve been the victim of inappropriate conduct?  They end up on the dustbins of history, like Monica Lewinsky, while the men, like Arnold Schwarzenegger, like Bill Clinton, rise to power.  Unfortunately, that‘s still the way of the world in ‘04. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Ana Marie?

COX:  Yes?

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  Respond.

COX:  I guess I‘m a little confused, because I feel like one message I‘m getting from you is that the court documents should have stayed sealed.  We really didn‘t have any kind of right to invade that, but then again, but on the other hand, we should have known all about Monica.  We should know all about what....

BLOOM:  Well, that‘s a very different matter to me because that was a sexual harassment case in the Bill Clinton matter, where he lied under oath. 

As far as the Ryans go, look, this was a marriage.  He wanted to engage in sexual practices she didn‘t want to engage in.  Nobody did anything illegal.  This was a purely private matter.  I don‘t think it‘s anybody‘s business. 

(CROSSTALK)

BLOOM:  I think sex in the Oval Office and then lying about it under oath, there‘s a big difference.

COX:  If you take your wife to a sex club, that is the very definition of like a public act.  You are literally taking it out of the bedroom.

BLOOM:  Yes.  And then she said no, and then they didn‘t do it.  So that‘s really none of my business.  That‘s about their marriage.  It‘s not about a public matter, as far I‘m concerned.  They didn‘t do anything illegal.

COX:  Well, like I have been saying, I think that what‘s important here is, he showed such bad judgment in doing this.  That almost matters more to me than whatever the sex was.  He‘s a politician who took his wife to a sex club.

(CROSSTALK)

BLOOM:  Well, let‘s put it this way.  What if she said yes, what if she consented to it and they did it and they enjoyed it?

COX:  It still would be terrible judgment.

SCARBOROUGH:  What about the judgment of a president who is in the Oval Office and does what Bill Clinton did with an a intern who—what, was she, 23, 24?

BLOOM:  Well, that‘s right.

(CROSSTALK)

BLOOM:  And let me just add something to that, Joe Scarborough.  What I‘m concerned about is the way he lied to the country.  He kept so secretive about it at the time.

Now, to sell his book, his $10 million book advance, now he tells all to get a couple dollars.  I have got a problem with that. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes. 

COX:  Oh, I do, too, actually.  They are both jerks, in my opinion. 

It‘s a case of like how big a jerk.  And it‘s much worse to lie to the country.  I‘m not going to try and defend what he did.  And to go back and rewrite history the way he is doing is pretty disgusting. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Ana Marie, what is the pulse in Washington right now regarding Bill Clinton?  Again, you went out to the Michael Moore movie a few nights ago.  Everybody was talking about Jack Ryan.  What is Washington saying about Bill Clinton and now especially that Monica is jumping back into the fray? 

COX:  Well, I get the sense that people are very worried about him, worried that he is such an egomaniac.  He is so good at attracting attention. 

I think there are mixed feelings among the Kerry people about whether or not that‘s a good thing for Kerry.  Right now, he has been doing so well in the polls because he hasn‘t been campaigning, Kerry. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes. 

COX:  And so maybe it‘s a good thing that Clinton will be sort of the Trojan horse, as it were, of Kerry‘s campaign. 

But there is also a sense that people are a little tired of him.  I think that his personality is so big and people had to put up with him for so long, to have him come back now and just repeat—it‘s this encore performance that no one really asked for. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes. 

It is very interesting that, the longer Bill Clinton was out of the public view, the better people thought of him, because, again, he was acting presidential.  He was playing elder statesman.  He was making policy statements.  But, as Lisa Bloom said, obviously, the guy comes out.  He says all of this stuff about—for $10 million.  He goes on “Oprah,” not very becoming for an ex-president. 

Anyway, Ana Marie, thanks a lot.  Lisa Bloom, we greatly appreciate it.

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  And I know, Lisa, it was tough for you, because you are a Democrat.

BLOOM:  I am a Democrat.

SCARBOROUGH:  And you probably voted for Bill Clinton twice.              

BLOOM:  I voted for him twice, but I thought he should have been impeached when he lied to the country. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, thanks a lot.  We appreciate you joining us tonight in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.

BLOOM:  Thank you. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And coming up next, Michael Moore has a reputation for being a bit of a radical and a rule breaker.  But are the ads for his movie breaking federal election laws?  We‘ll tell you all about that. 

It‘s coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Now, Monday night in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, Lions Gate Film President Tom Ortenberg talks about his decision to distribute “Fahrenheit 9/11” when others wouldn‘t do it.  That‘s Monday.

But we have got more SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY tonight straight ahead. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Michael Moore‘s so-called documentary is opening today, but do the ads for his movie really break federal election law, as some conservatives say they do?

The Federal Elections Commission is already examining the issue and it looks like the ads may have to stop running on July 30.  So here‘s the deal on Moore‘s movie and the McCain-Feingold campaign law.  Corporate-funded ads that identify candidates‘—quote—“name, nickname, photograph or drawing or make it otherwise apparent through an unambiguous reference cannot air within 30 days of a primary election or 60 days of a general election.”

Now, according to “The Hill” newspaper, an advisory opinion of the FEC already states that ads for Moore‘s film should not air in that time frame if they contain references to federal candidates.  But Moore isn‘t being singled out.  A ruling would also apply to “The Hunting of the President,” the film that looks into whether or not there was a vast right-wing conspiracy launched against Bill Clinton. 

There are at least three other films and documentaries opening up this summer that are probably going to face the same restrictions in advertising.  The FEC‘s final opinion hasn‘t been issued yet and they could decide that documentaries get the same exemption as news organizations, which allow them to discuss political candidates freely all the way up to an election. 

Hey, thanks a lot for visiting SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  Visit us at MSNBC.com.  Also, if you have a comment, e-mail me at Joe@MSNBC.com

Have a great weekend.  We‘ll see you Monday, when we talk to the president of Lions Gate. 

Good night. 

END   

Copy: Content and programming copyright 2004 MSNBC.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  Transcription Copyright 2004 FDCH e-Media, Inc. (f/k/a/ Federal Document Clearing House Inc., eMediaMillWorks, Inc.), ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon MSNBC and FDCH e-Media, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,