updated 7/13/2004 9:25:17 AM ET 2004-07-13T13:25:17

Guest: James Rogan, Robert Thompson, Linda Stasi, Tony Perkins, David Pollack, David Frum

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  Tonight‘s top headline:  Free Iraqis begin to take control of their country.  The “Real Deal,” it may not be pretty, but even “The New York Times” is hedging its bets. 

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

Critics said the U.S. handover to Iraq was meaningless.  But did anyone tell that to the Iraqis?  Important new signs emerge that Iraq‘s leaders are gaining legitimacy.  Former Bush speechwriter David Frum is here to talk about the changing face of Iraq and whether the tide is turning.

The debate over gay marriages moves front and center in the battle for the White House, as both sides play to their political base and congress considers a constitutional ban.  But shouldn‘t that be the last resort?  We are going to be talking to one of its strongest backers. 

And each reality TV series tries to be more sensational than the last.  The newest attempt, “Amish in the City,” a show that follows Amish teens during their coming of age rites.  Amish leaders and many members of Congress are outraged.  Is it entertainment or religious exploitation?  We‘ll be debating that, too. 

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

SCARBOROUGH:  Welcome to the show. 

Are liberals cheering against U.S. troops in Iraq?  It‘s time for tonight‘s “Real Deal.” 

Unlike all other news outlets, SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY has been holding Michael Moore accountable for statements that could give comfort and aid to those targeting U.S. troops.  Now you certainly know about how Moore suggested in an April 24 posting on his own Web site that more American soldiers must die since U.S. citizens support the Iraq war. 

The filmmaker says the murder of more Americans could lead God and the Iraqi people to forgive us.  That sick statement is followed by Moore comparing Islamic terrorists like al-Zarqawi to our founding fathers, who were the Minutemen of the Revolutionary War.  Now, funny, my history books didn‘t talk about American soldiers blowing up little children or cutting off innocent civilians‘ heads with a knife. 

That is the insurgency Michael Moore seems to embrace.  Maybe that is why the terror group Hezbollah has offered to help, distributing “Fahrenheit 9/11” all across the Middle East.  Now, the Democratic establishment has sadly embraced this political hate speech.  And Hillary Clinton even introduced Moore‘s movie at an NEA convention last week.  Is this really the face of the new Democratic Party? 

Why do the Democrats continue embracing a man who calls for more American casualties in Iraq, and why won‘t John Kerry denounce this movie or this man?  Why won‘t Democratic leaders step forward and offer hope and encouragement to our men and women in Iraq, instead of preaching doom and gloom?  Things are getting better in Iraq.  There is a new government.  And we may soon see the first democratically-elected Arab state in history. 

Now, I would think that would be a goal that all Americans could embrace.  But, sadly, too many would rather John Kerry win in America this November than have U.S. troops win in Iraq over the next few years.  It is a terrible indictment on some in the Democratic Party, but it‘s tonight‘s “Real Deal.” 

So, is Iraq turning the corner toward peace and democracy.

With me now is David Pollack.  He‘s the president of Democratic Leadership for the 21st Century.  And we also have David Frum.  He‘s a former Bush speechwriter and the author of “An End to Evil: How to Win the War on Terror.”

Now, gentlemen, before we start, “The New York Times”‘ coverage of the war was striking on Sunday.  There was this front-page article on the front of “The Times.”  And it was a top banner talking about how Iraqi insurgents, which, of course, were Saddam‘s Sunnis, were splintering and actually putting a price on Islamic terrorist al-Zarqawi‘s head. 

The front page of “The Times” had that to say.  But you go to the front page of the week in review and actually—and I know that a lot of people were shocked—it actually presented a somewhat glowing account of Prime Minister Allawi.  The paper even quoted an Iraqi journalist who said his fellow countrymen were actually glad that this guy was somebody associated with the CIA.

And nobody can really predict what “The Times” is going to do next, but Sunday‘s edition suggests that the gray lady‘s correspondents in Iraq must be telling their bosses back in New York that something interesting is happening over there.  All indications are now, for now, the interim government is enjoying a honeymoon from Iraqi citizens. 

But now let‘s move on and talk about what George Bush said earlier when he defended going into Iraq. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Three years ago, the ruler of Iraq was a sworn enemy of America, who provided safe haven for terrorists, used weapons of mass destruction and turned his nation into a prison.  Saddam Hussein was not just a dictator.  He was a proven mass murderer who refused to account for weapons of mass murder. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  David Pollack, let me begin with you. 

And I‘m going to ask you, is America and the world better off with Saddam Hussein out of power today than we were a year and a half ago? 

DAVID POLLACK, PRESIDENT, DEMOCRATIC LEADERSHIP FOR THE 21ST CENTURY: 

Joe, the interim government has been in place for about 13 or 14 days.  I think it‘s a little early to start claiming that they either control the country or have legitimacy or are on the path to democracy.  It‘s going to be terribly complicated there.

And either you are just interested in a quick sort of political hit or you really care about the long-term health of the Mideast and Iraq.  And if care about the long-term health, we are not judging anything in two weeks.  We are going to see what happens over the next couple of years.  But one thing is for sure.  The way we‘ve done it so far has made it the most difficult I think for Iraq democracy to eventually succeed. 

SCARBOROUGH:  David, did you read “The New York Times,” these articles I was talking about yesterday?  Were you struck with the tone of those, that you actually had “The New York Times,” which has been harshly critical of this president, the campaign to war, the actual war campaign itself, the occupation, actually talking about how Iraqis were beginning to step forward and actually believed that they had a shot at bringing freedom and peace and democracy to their country?  Wasn‘t that inspiring to you? 

POLLACK:  Well, certainly, some Iraqis may be. 

You‘ve got Sunnis.  You‘ve got Shiites.  You‘ve got the Kurds.  Who knows what other Iraqis are thinking?  I think that it‘s a difficult situation and the feelings there are a blend of emotions.  I think they‘ve been that way from the beginning and they will continue to be that way. 

I think we‘re going to see the road to a democracy in Iraq change many, many times.  Who knows what the electoral outcome is going to be when they eventually have an election.  The point is that this isn‘t a cheap political victory.  You are either committed to Iraq or you‘re not.  And right now, with the way that we are going about this, it is not a long-term commitment to the health of Iraq.  It is really trying to paint a picture of victory after two weeks to try and get ready for presidential election.  And that, it would seem to me, for a conservative, is the most offensive way to go about this. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Boy, I don‘t get that logic at all.  I am just excited that the Iraqi people are glad that they have a prime minister they believe.

David Frum, this weekend, “The New York Times” also reported that there was an urban legend being repeated about Iraq‘s new prime minister.  While interrogating a room of tight-lipped terrorists, he barked to one of his people, bring me an axe.  And “The Times” goes on to write that Mr.  Allawi supposedly lopped off the hand of the one of the Lebanese men and the group quickly spilled everything they knew.

Now, of course, David, “The Times” was shocked that the Iraqi people saw this as a positive development and that they were embracing a man who had a CIA pass.  What is going on in Iraq right now? 

DAVID FRUM, FORMER SPEECHWRITER FOR PRESIDENT BUSH:  Well, there is a question of what is going on with Iraq and what‘s going on at “The New York Times.” 

At “The “New York Times” they have a tension, because they have in Iraq one of the great foreign correspondent of our time, John Burns, a very brave and fair-minded reporter. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Remarkable, yes.

FRUM:  And then they have in Washington one of the most politicized news bureaus that John Kerry is now citing as sort of endorsers of his campaign.  So it‘s the tension between “The New York Times” in Iraq and “The New York Times” in Washington that I think dictates some of this coverage.

But, look, I agree with David, that it is very hard to say moment by moment what is going on.  And there will be good days and bad days.  That is the nature of war.  But what I think is sort of interesting in what he said—David invited us to be concerned about the future of Iraq and be committed to Iraqi democracy.  I couldn‘t agree more. 

And that is why it is so horrifying to me that his party is wrapping itself around this lunatic—and you talked about it at the beginning of this program—this filmmaker.  They have to be ashamed of him, this man who says, well, this whole thing is like a Hitlerian conspiracy.  How can you on the one hand say that are in favor—of course, you criticize the president, you are in the opposition party—but that you‘re in favor of this great commitment of this American nation at the same time that you endorse these people who regard the United States as the Third Reich? 

POLLACK:  David, what does Michael Moore have to do with the John Kerry‘s position on what the United States should be doing in Iraq?  In my mind, once again, you‘re getting back to the politics of the situation, trying to detract from what is really going on there, by bringing up Michael Moore as the new boogeyman of the conservatives.

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  David Frum, I want to interject here, because you and I

·         you answer that question, but you and I were in Bill Clinton‘s Washington.  We saw a lot of Republicans on the extreme right wing go against everything Bill Clinton wanted to do.  I heard some of them quietly cheering against Bill Clinton‘s wars in Bosnia and Kosovo, because they were Bill Clinton‘s wars.

But if anybody came out publicly suggesting such things, they would immediately be lashed.  We of course had “The Clinton Chronicles.”  We had all these hate-Clinton groups that the mainstream Republicans never embraced.

What shocks me is that John Kerry hasn‘t come out and said—Michael Moore suggested more Americans need to die, instead of the U.N. going in there, that al-Zarqawi is a Minuteman.  What is happening with the Democratic Party here? 

FRUM:  And that is why this political question is actually a great national strategic question. 

One of the things it looked like in the weeks after 9/11 was that America had two parties who—they were each in their way committed to the nation‘s security.  And the Americans could choose.  And this is the great strength of democracy that it offers people.  Look, we have a common problem.  We all agree on what the problem is.  And now we are going to competitively look for solutions.  In politics, as in business, competition is the right way to pursue shared goals. 

But the question that has come up in the past few months is, is the Democratic Party now so enraged, so out of control, that it is losing sight of those shared goals?  And the thing about Michael Moore—obviously, I wish I could, with David, dismiss him.  I am so glad he does, because he ought to. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I‘m glad, too.

FRUM:  But the fact is, the majority leader of the Democratic Party in the Senate went to the opening of the premiere and embraced Michael Moore afterwards. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Gentlemen, stay with me.  And I want our audience to stick around, because, after this break, our guests are going to continue to in not only on the war, but “Fahrenheit 9/11.”  And is it being used as a propaganda tool for terrorists? 

I am so glad, though, that David Pollack has come on this show and said that Michael Moore is irrelevant, because so many Democrats are coming on this show and actually endorsing the crazy conspiracy theories that he is putting forward to Americans.  It‘s very frightening. 

Also, George Bush backed a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.  But shouldn‘t this really be a matter for the states?  We‘re going to debate that.

Plus, the newest reality TV gimmick, “Amish in the City,” where sheltered teens are put out into the real world and caught on tape, is this blatant religious exploitation? 

We‘re going to be talking about it in just a minute, so stick around.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Republicans are always talking about states rights, but when it comes to gay marriage, they want to get the federal government involved.  We‘re going to be debating that right after this break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  We are back with Dave Pollack.  He‘s president of the Democratic Leadership for the 21st century.  And David Frum, former Bush speechwriter and author of an “End to Evil: How to Win the War on Terror.” 

David Pollack, let me begin with you again.  I am commending you for not being like some Democrat who have come on and actually endorsed Michael Moore‘s movie seemingly as their platform for this election.  And yet Hillary Rodham Clinton actually introduced “Fahrenheit 9/11” to a cheering crowd at the NEA convention last week. 

What would the Democrats have said if Bob Dole in 1996 had introduced “The Clinton Chronicles” to an NRA crowd? 

POLLACK:  Joe, let‘s go back and be clear about history, because you said something before that was very interesting.  You said, oh, well, if Republicans had said terrible things about Bill Clinton, they would have been totally maligned. 

Let‘s understand that there are elected members of the Republican Party who hold office in this country that called Bill Clinton a traitor, called him a murderer, called him all sorts of names.  And there wasn‘t a peep out of the conservative media. 

(CROSSTALK)

POLLACK:  You are equating Michael Moore with the center of the Democratic Party, which is ludicrous.

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  First of all, David, let‘s not play games here.  Back-benchers for the Republican Party said some bad things about Bill Clinton. 

(CROSSTALK)

POLLACK:  And some of them are still in Congress today. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And right now, we have Hillary Rodham Clinton, front and center of the Democratic Party, a leader of the Democratic Party, I would say the most popular member of the Senate, actually introducing this movie. 

So I will ask you again the question I asked you.  What would you say if in 1996 Bob Dole, then the leader of the Republican Party, had introduced “The Clinton Chronicles‘ to an NRA convention suggesting that Bill Clinton was a murderer?

POLLACK:  You can‘t even compare “The Clinton Chronicles.”

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  You certainly can.  You certainly can. 

POLLACK:  That‘s absurd.

And let me come back to another thing you‘ve said.  You have accused this movie of being Democratic propaganda.  I think it is being used as conservative propaganda.  Instead of talking about George Bush and what he is doing in Iraq, whether or not it‘s working, whether it has been a failure, what his plan is going forward, because he doesn‘t have, we are talking about Michael Moore. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And Michael Moore actually thrust himself onto this debate.  And I wouldn‘t be talking about Michael Moore tonight, I‘ll be quite honest with you, if other Democratic leaders were responsible like you.  But we had Tom Daschle embracing Michael Moore at the Washington premiere of “Fahrenheit 9/11.”  We had other Democratic leaders embracing Michael Moore. 

In fact, I remember Terry McAuliffe going up embracing him and suggesting that the majority of the Democratic Caucus was there opening night. 

Now, I want to read to you what the man that the Democratic Party is embracing said in an open letter in April.  Let me read this quote: “The Iraqis who have risen up against the occupation are not insurgents or terrorists or the enemy.  They are the revolution, the Minutemen.  And their numbers will grow.  And they will win.”

And he went on to say this.  And it is really so shocking that the media has not called him on this and the Democratic leaders like John Kerry have not called him or Hillary Clinton have called him on this: “The majority of Americans supported this war once it began and sadly that majority must now sacrifice their children until enough blood has been let that maybe, just maybe, God and the Iraqi people will forgive us in the end.”

David Pollack.

POLLACK:  Joe, let me run two names to you, Trent Lott and Tom DeLay.  Trent Lott and Tom DeLay embraced and were associated with groups that were filled with such hate for Bill Clinton, such hate for every Democrat, that it puts anything Michael Moore said to shame. 

Now, I did not hear you or any conservative commentator calling them to the mat.  And they were elected leaders, as opposed to this guy, which is a just filmmaker. 

(CROSSTALK)

POLLACK:  You want to talk about Iraq.  It‘s about what George Bush is doing, not what Michael Moore is saying.

SCARBOROUGH:  David Pollack, if any Republican ever came out suggesting that more Americans needed to die overseas, I would be the first one out there condemning that. 

And, David Frum, let me bring you in here. 

Is this not unprecedented, that we have a public figure calling for the death of American troops, and yet Democrat leaders like Hillary Clinton and Tom Daschle are embracing them? 

FRUM:  Well, unfortunately, it is not quite unprecedented.  We saw the same thing in the late 1960s. 

And the topic of the debate here is not Michael Moore and his crackpot theories.  The topic of the debate is the great Democratic Party, the party that stood on the steps of the Capitol with the Republicans after 9/11 to sing “God Bless America,” are they again 30 years later going to allow the left wing, anti-American, outer fringe of American life drag this great party into the muck of lunacy with them?

Or are they going to have some ability to restrain themselves?  And the thing that is horrifying—and I have to say, if I were a Democrat, it would upset me more.  I would be asking, what is it about this organization that, in moments of national crisis, it does not have the kind of internal ballast to be able to say to the hard left, we want nothing to do with you, that we disagree with George Bush about domestic policy, we have disagreements about the way he is conducting the war, we have alternative ideas, but when it comes to the defense of the country, the national political leadership is at one?

And they made that mistake in 1969 and ‘70 and ‘71 and ‘72.  And it cost them and the country for 30 years. 

(CROSSTALK)

POLLACK:  Let me just say, David makes a very, very good point. 

I was one of those Democrats who gave George Bush a standing ovation in the venue where I was watching his first State of the Union after 9/11.  I gave him a standing ovation.  I was ready.  I was on board for unity. 

But then they used silly tricks like the Homeland Security Department to

bludgeon Democrats to death during the midterm elections in 2002, including

questioning the patriotism of Max Cleland, a decorated war veteran who lost

three limbs serving

(CROSSTALK)

POLLACK:  ... country. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Max Cleland, also

(CROSSTALK)

POLLACK:  That‘s where you alienated me.

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Max Cleland of course a great American hero.  He gave three limbs for his country.  He also, though, as a United States senator voted against the Homeland Security Bill. 

POLLACK:  That was a Democratic idea. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Because he could not—hold on.  You know what I‘m going to say.  Because he couldn‘t get provisions in there—and I see you smiling—that would have helped his unions. 

David Frum, final question.  Is John Kerry going to be forced to step back and rebuke Michael Moore, not only for this film, which is filled with lies—he knows it‘s filled with lies—but also a statement suggesting that more American troops need to die in Iraq so God and the Iraqi people will forgive us? 

FRUM:  Is John Kerry going to be forced to take a decisive stand one way or the other on this issue?  Why should this be different from any other issues?

No, he will waffle and flip-flop to the end and have it both ways.  He wants to run both as a pro-war and an anti-war candidate at the same time.  I don‘t think that is going to work for him. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, thanks so much, David Frum and David Pollack. 

I greatly appreciate it.

And here is the tragedy.  I agree with David Frum that there are so many issues that the Democratic Party can run against this president on, whether you agree or disagree with him.  I could make an argument that we shouldn‘t have gone to war, that should have focused on Osama bin Laden.  I could make an argument that we botched the occupation.  David Frum could make those arguments, even with we disagree with them.

Reasonable people can differ on this war.  Reasonable people can differ on the occupation and how it was controlled.  Reasonable people can differ on our war on terror and the Patriot Act.  We don‘t have to resort to this type of gutter politics.  It is the politics of hate and it will lead the Democratic Party into the dustbin of history in the 2004 elections. 

You mark my words.  They must raise the debate and they have to debate real issues that the American people care about.  They are not doing it now it‘s going to cost them. 

Now, two days from now, the United States Senate is going to vote on an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would ban gay marriage in this country.  The amendment says this: “Marriage in the United States shall consist only of a union of a man and woman.”

I am joined now by Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council. 

Tony, thanks so much for being with us.

I‘ve got to ask you a question. 

TONY PERKINS, PRESIDENT, FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL:  What‘s that?

SCARBOROUGH:  I am a conservative.  I voted for the Defense of Marriage Act that wouldn‘t force the state of Florida to accept civil unions in Vermont.  But I can‘t figure out, why should the United States Congress amend the Constitution of the United States to ban gay marriage? 

PERKINS:  Well, a lot has changed since DOMA.  We had the Lawrence vs.  Texas case decision in June of last year, which led up to the Massachusetts ruling which legalized same-sex marriage in that state.  We now have couples from about three dozen states that have married in that state, gone back to their states and they‘re seeking to challenge those laws.

And really what we have, we have 38 states that have already gone on record as defining marriage between a man and a woman.  Now, they‘ve done that through DOMAs on the state level.  We have got potentially nine states will have constitutional amendments on the ballot.  It may reach as many as 14.  That is unprecedented. 

SCARBOROUGH:  OK, Tony, but tell me where I am wrong, though; 1996, a lot of people at a town home meeting in Northwest Florida—I was a member of the Congress—they were very concerned about gays getting married or having civil unions in Iraq. 

And I said to them.  I said, you know what?  I have heard you people talking about states rights, states rights when it comes to education, states rights when it comes to welfare reform, states rights when it comes to crime control.  Why aren‘t you supporters of states rights when it comes to marriage?  If Vermont wants to marry gays, why should that concern us in Northwest Florida? 

PERKINS:  Well, the concern—and, Joe, I am a supporter of states rights.  As a two-term legislator from Louisiana, I often fought issues that were being imposed by the states. 

But, really, this is not an issue of imposing on the states.  It‘s protecting what the states have done, because you know as well as I do, we cannot predict that a federal judge is going to be restrained by the federal DOMA.  There are legal scholars that will give you opinions on both sides, but if we wait until the DOMA is struck down and the damn is broken and these same-sex marriages that have been planned all over the country are recognized, it will be too late at that point to pass a constitutional amendment. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Let me read you—let me play for you actually what the president had to say in his weekly radio address when the subject was gay marriage and the ban.  This is what he said. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH:  When judges insist on imposing their arbitrary will on the people, the only law alternative left to the people is an amendment to the Constitution, the only law a court cannot overturn.  A constitutional amendment should never be undertaken lightly.  Yet, to defend marriage, our nation has no other choice. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Tony, isn‘t the president of the United States using this gay marriage issue just to win votes and create a wedge issue, as “The New York Times” said this morning?  And, by the way, a great picture of you in “The New York Times” this morning. 

PERKINS:  Thank you.

SCARBOROUGH:  But that “The New York Times” said this morning was just a way for him to deliver to conservatives who supported him in 2000 and who they are hoping will support him in 2004? 

PERKINS:  No, I don‘t think so.

The way it‘s been handled, I think the president has done what needs to be done at the appropriate time.  He‘s not done more than needs to be done.  He has not used this issue as some kind of flag to wave.  He‘s been very prudent and judicious.  At points that have been needed, he‘s made statements.  This is really the first time since he called for the constitutional amendment, this past weekend, as the vote is moving toward a vote in the Senate, that he has actually begun to say things more than he said in the past. 

He said it on the campaign trail on Friday.  He used his radio address Saturday.  So I don‘t think he‘s using this issue.  I think he is providing leadership.  I think he is exactly right.  The only way that we are going to restrain these judges, who are out of control and protect, what, 38 states—by the way, that 38, you know that number.  That is the number it takes to ratify a constitutional amendment.

The only way to protect what they have done and preserve the work of all those state legislators is to pass an amendment to the U.S.  Constitution. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And so you believe that the federal government should be involved in this issue?  You don‘t think it should be left at the states?  You don‘t believe it should be left to pastors, to rabbis, to local communities on who should be married and who not be married?

PERKINS:  Well, they can still determine if they want to marry someone.  But when we got involved in the 1800s, the federal government got involved before they would allow Utah into the union to define marriage.

So this is not setting a precedent in terms of the federal government being involved in defining marriage.  It‘s been involved before.  And so it‘s simply saying what has been history, what has been tradition in this country and beyond is that is between a man and woman.  It is absolutely essential for the future of the family and for the well-being of children that we preserve the institution of family. 

SCARBOROUGH:  OK, Tony, we‘ll have to leave it there.

Thanks a lot for being with us.  We greatly appreciate it.

And we‘ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  It‘s been a rough year for Viacom, first slammed for their hit piece on the Reagan‘s and then the Janet Jackson Super Bowl.  Now some people are going after them, saying that their latest reality TV show is stepping over the line. 

We‘ll talk about Amish TV when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.

(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:  It‘s not been a good year for media giant Viacom.  First came the hit job on the Reagan‘s.  And then they tried to buy out Private Jessica Lynch.  And who could forget Janet Jackson‘s performance at the Super Bowl?

Now Viacom-owned network UPN is planning to air a reality TV series about Amish youth, as they venture from the rural homes to the real world.  The series is going to follow five modern teens as they share an ultramodern house in the Hollywood Hills with six Los Angeles hipsters. 

Is “Amish in the City” this week‘s sign that the apocalypse is upon us? 

With me now is “New York Post” media Linda Stasi and Robert Thompson.  He is the founder for the Center For the Study of Popular Television at Syracuse University. 

Ms. Stasi, let me ask you first, is Viacom guilty of exploiting these young people of faith for ratings or is this fair game? 

LINDA STASI, MEDIA CRITIC, “THE NEW YORK POST”:  Well, I think we have to go back to, what is reality TV?  I don‘t know about you, but my reality never included anything like being on a desert island, living with gangsters or being an Amish kid. 

Now, this show I think originated from an HBO documentary on Amish kids.  When they when are 16 years old, they get a year off.  And the HBO documentary was fantastic.  “Devil‘s Playground,” I think it was called.  I think that they are now taking this and making it into something probably sleazy. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And let me bring you in, Robert.  What is your take on this? 

ROBERT THOMPSON, CENTER FOR THE STUDY OF POPULAR TELEVISION:  Well, we just don‘t know what this is going to be.  We haven‘t seen it yet.  If I thought this was going to be a series that was going to put a bunch of Amish people in a zoo for us to laugh at, I would think that would be a terrible idea. 

But there‘s a couple of reasons that leads me to believe that that may not be the case.  For one thing, it‘s got a pretty decent pedigree.  Some of the people who brought us “Devil‘s Playground,” which I agree was a very interesting HBO documentary, are also behind this show as well. 

And when you think about, we were worried that “The Simple Life”—this was the Paris Hilton-Nicole Richie thing that‘s now in its second iteration—a lot of concern that that was going to make this Arkansas family look like rubes and hicks.  In fact, they came off very well, as these good, salt-of-the-earth, yeoman farmer types. 

The only people that looked stupid in that show were in fact Paris and Nicole, who were trying to look stupid in the first place. 

(CROSSTALK)

STASI:  But, in the meantime, Paris and Nicole have been rewarded by becoming exactly what they headed out to be, which is celebutantes. 

(CROSSTALK)

THOMPSON:  That‘s right. 

STASI:  So we are actually celebrating ignorance.  I think it‘s kind of creepy that they are going to put these Amish kids, who get the 16th year of their life off, to find out if they actually want to come back to the faith.  And you are going to put them in a house with a bunch of hipsters in the Hollywood Hills and you‘re giving them a whole unreal reality, so that we can go in and look at them because we‘re—and if you think we are not going to laugh or we‘re not going to think this is creepy or weird or whatever, I just—I think it is—I don‘t know, I can‘t tell you, but it sounds very exploitive to me. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, let me read you what Congressman Joe Pitts said.  He represents an Amish territory in Lancaster.  And he and 50 other congressmen signed a letter asking Viacom to stop production of “Amish in the City.” 

And this is what he said.  He said—quote—“No reassurance that network executives can offer will convince me that this series is anything but exploitation for profit.  Mr. Moonves, do not put our Amish youth in a cage to be laughed at like animals at the zoo.”

Robert, come on.  That is what they are going to be doing.  This isn‘t going to be an HBO documentary.  This is going to be a sleazy attempt to make fun of these kids, isn‘t it? 

THOMPSON:  I am not sure.  No, I am not sure thought that is.  It may be that.  And we can talk after June 28, when we‘ve seen what we‘re actually talking about here.

But let‘s face it.  What we know—the average American knows practically nothing about the Amish.  They don‘t know about Anabaptist theology. 

(CROSSTALK)

STASI:  Well, they‘re not going to know it from being in a house in the Hollywood Hills with a bunch of hipsters.

(CROSSTALK)

THOMPSON:  There‘s Mennonites vs. Amish.  I think most Americans, what they know of the Amish, are the gross stereotypes of shoofly pie, the little buggies, the hats, no electricity. 

(CROSSTALK)

STASI:  But that is not a stereotype.  That is the way they live. 

That is not a stereotype. 

(CROSSTALK)

THOMPSON:  But that‘s all people know.  This idea and this whole rumspringa thing is about the notion that this is a belief system.  And I have studied a lot about the Amish and have been down to Lancaster many times and I have a great deal of respect for this group. 

And this idea that you don‘t simply grow into your religion.  You make a decision, this running around period, that you go out into the world.  You are now exempt from some of the usual rules.  And then you make a decision to be baptized as an adult as part of a rational decision.  I think some of the very interesting questions about faith and decisions and free will could really—and I really truly believe this—could come out, believe it or not, on a UPN reality show. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Linda, what do you think about Robert‘s suggestion that Americans are ignorant of the Amish way of life and this series may take care of that? 

STASI:  I haven‘t seen it.  And no one has seen it.

But, actually, this is like putting kudzu in Nantucket, so that they thought that if they brought in all this kudzu that it would keep the beaches from eroding.  Well, you cannot put something into an equation that wasn‘t there before. 

So this is not about the Amish kids.  It‘s about us laughing at them being with hipsters.  We are putting these kids into that situation, into a Hollywood Hills house, which they would never be able to afford, with four or six hipsters from L.A.  This is not reality.  It has nothing to do with reality.  It is changing the whole equation.  These kids are not going to go back and say, well, I‘ve decided that I want to accept this faith or I don‘t want to, because they are being put into a total other reality that is not real. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, thanks so much, Linda.  We appreciate you being with us, again. 

And, Robert Thompson, thank you also.

And, by the way, Linda, you may not be able to take kudzu up to Martha‘s Vineyard, but you can bring Krispy Kreme doughnuts to New York City.  That‘s quite a twist.

And up next, one nation caves into terrorists in demands—and decides it‘s going to move out of Iraq.  I‘ve got issues with the Philippines and the victory they are giving terrorists over there next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, I‘m back.  I‘m Joe.  And I‘ve got issues.

Let‘s start out with my first issue.  It has to do with Michael Moore.  He‘s blurring the lines, of course, between documentaries.  But there‘s a new strange brand of filmmaking.  It‘s attack filmmaking.  And I have issues with a new entry in that category.  It‘s a film called “Outfoxed:

Rupert Murdoch‘s War on Journalism.”  That‘s as reported exclusively in “The New York Times” yesterday.

It was created by yet another guy who doesn‘t hide behind any claims of objectivity.  Instead, the director states this—quote—“I wanted to use Fox‘s own words and images to show exactly what they do.  Fox is a Republican, not merely a conservative, network.”

Like Michael Moore, this filmmaker used what information fit his thesis and cut everything else out, such as Fox memos that are in his possession that promoted balanced coverage, one reminding staff members to balance times for speeches by Bush and balance speeches for Kerry, another memo about a guest who has been very critical of John Kerry‘s service record. 

And this memo reads this, again, in his possession: “Let‘s not overdo the appearances by Kerry‘s swift boat mate John O‘Neill.  He represents one side of the 30-year recollection of what Kerry did or didn‘t do in uniform.  Other people have different recollections.”

The news here doesn‘t have anything to do with the content over at Fox News.  The real news is that “The New York Times” is getting an exclusive story with an organization that billionaire George Soros put out on one of his pet projects to do a hit job on a media outlet.  And come on.  Who‘s kidding who?  Traditionally, have the media people gone left or gone right?  It‘s not even a close call.

This is what Murdoch had to say today.  He said: “Some of the sources for this documentary never worked for Fox News Channel.  Some left because of incompetence, and none expressed concern about editorial policy while they were employees.”

And you know what?  I have also got another big issue with media‘s double standards.  “The New York Times” editorial page today called on Vice President Cheney to release all of his medical records because his doctor was hooked on prescription drugs.  Yes, they actually devoted an editorial to this pressing national issue. 

But they‘re champions for disclosure, right?  But what about John Kerry‘s refusal to release his wealthy wife‘s tax returns, which could help him buy the presidency of the United States?  No editorial that I have seen.  And what about “The Chicago Tribune” and the local ABC station that went to pry open the sealed divorce records of a little-known Senate candidate named Jack Ryan, saying the public had the right to know?

But what about John Kerry‘s divorce records?  Even though this guy is running for president of the United States, I guess “The Tribune”‘s right to know doesn‘t apply to John Kerry.  Either of these private sealed records being opened is wrong, I think, but the hypocrisy is unbelievable. 

Now, one last thing.  Why don‘t the champions of disclosure call on Kerry to give up a copy of the video his friend Whoopi Goldberg had in her nasty Bush tirade and when all the others joined in bashing Bush, called him a thug, a murderer, a hate-monger?  Of course, Kerry got up and said they represented the best that America had to offer. 

We need to see the videotape and we need to see “The New York Times” demanding that videotape on the editorial page.  If you are for full disclosure for Republicans, you‘re for full disclosure for Democrats.  I do it that way here.  You should do it that way also. 

And you know what else?  I have got issues with the Philippines.  Late today, word came that their government caved in to terror demands by announcing the pullout of their 50 troops from Iraq.  Al-Jazeera reported that the Philippines‘ deputy foreign minister said his country would remove its humanitarian contingent in Iraq as soon as possible in response to the threatened beheading of a Filipino truck driver, this just a day after the Philippines‘ president said the country wouldn‘t give in to the terror threat.

There appears to be some confusion over the pullout promise, and the government is neither confirming or denying Al-Jazeera‘s report.  But talk about setting a gold standard in flip-flops.  Let‘s hope here that we have denial.  Otherwise, we are going to have to score it another victory for the terrorists. 

We‘ll be right back in one second, after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  He refers to himself as the bastard son of a cocktail waitress on welfare.  He was a high school dropout who had a fateful meeting with an up-and-coming politician that changed his life and put him at the center of one of the nation‘s biggest political scandals.

With me now, former Representative James Rogan, author of “Rough Edges: My Unlikely Road From Welfare to Washington.”

James, great to see you again. 

JAMES ROGAN, AUTHOR, “ROUGH EDGES”:  Good to see you, Joe.  Thanks for having me on. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Now, because we served in Congress, I knew this story.  Tell us about your life in the late 1970s, your trip to Memphis, and the very fateful meeting you had with a very young Bill Clinton. 

ROGAN:  Joe, I think it‘s probably one of the great ironies of my life.

Just by way of background, my mom was a single mom, raising four kids on welfare and food stamps.  I was working part-time jobs.  And my big dream in life was to go to college and law school and some day be in Congress.  And back in those days, I was an active Democrat as a young guy, so I was at this Democratic function in 1978.  And I saw this fellow that was moderating a health care symposium.

And I had read an article about him earlier.  He had come from a background very much like mine.  There had been alcoholism in his family, a very dysfunctional family.  And here he was at the top of his game back home politically.  So I walked up to him when this was over.  I actually waited around for him.  I walked up to him and I said, look I am trying to get into law school.  I‘m thinking about going into politics someday.  I would love to run for Congress. 

Do you think that would be a good background for me?  And Attorney General of Arkansas Bill Clinton stood there very, very graciously and took about 10 or 15 minutes and urged me on.  He said, yes, law school is a great background.  He told me about how he had parlayed his law degree into a run for Congress and then for statewide office and wished me luck.  And he told me to stay in touch.  And the ironic part, of course...

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  You stayed in touch, buddy.  And you tell the story in “Rough Edges.”  And, of course, again, we were—I think we were right across the hall from each other. 

You actually took this guy‘s advice, got involved in law, got involved in politics.  And you did stay in touch because you helped run the impeachment proceedings against him.  Tell me about that. 

ROGAN:  Well, I was one of the 13 House managers.

And the great irony is, it was 20 years later almost to the hour of my meeting him in Memphis in 1978 that I was facing my vote on Article 1 of the impeachment of President Clinton.  So here we ended up being reunited in Washington 20 years later in a way that neither of us ever could have imagined.  It was personally very tough for me.  I was fond of Bill Clinton.  I never forgot his kindness to me.

But as a former prosecutor and a former judge, when I looked at the evidence of obstruction of justice and lying under oath, I just didn‘t feel that I had any other obligation.  I had no other choice but to oblige my oath to the Constitution. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Did you ever get a chance to talk to him?  Did you get a chance to talk to him during impeachment, and, say, hey, I am the guy that you encouraged to get me into politics? 

ROGAN:  Not during impeachment. 

He and I actually were at a luncheon together about a year before that whole impeachment thing came down the road.  And he remembered the day.  He certainly remembered the event.  It was a big deal in his career at that time.  And we did talk about that.  And although, as you know, I voted to impeach the president, I have always been very appreciative of his kindness and his graciousness.  He didn‘t have to do that for me. 

And that made it especially tough for me personally to find myself on that side of the fence. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, now, in the 30 seconds we have remaining, tell me, why did you write the book and do you think it might encourage other people to get involved in politics? 

ROGAN:  Most people never think of congressmen having had jobs like bartender on the Sunset Strip or bouncer in a porno theater, being expelled from high school.

And a lot of kids who come from my background, they just think there‘s no hope for them.  And so I he wrote this book.  It‘s not about Congress.  It‘s really not about politics.  It‘s about the American dream.  And I want kids to know, I want people to know that, because they have been dealt some tough hands, they don‘t have to give up.  They can pursue their dreams and work really hard.  I hope the book is an inspiration.  I think it‘s a fun read.  And I‘ve tried to make it an exciting one. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, James Rogan, thanks a lot for being with us.  And it‘s great to see you again.  You are looking great.  All right, we appreciate it.  And, again, the book is “Rough Edges.”

We‘ll see you tomorrow night on SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. 

END   

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