Guest: Dennis Prager, Hugh Hewitt, Rachel Maddow, Dan Burton, Steve Adubato, Brent Bozell
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST: Millions of your tax dollars are paying for public television. Do you think that‘s a good investment? I don‘t.
Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, where no passport is required and only common sense is allowed.
Public TV features attacks from Bill Moyers and cartoons with lesbian moms. Welcome to your tax dollars at work. But can the system be reformed?
And Michael Moore has been putting out hit pieces for years, but now a new report sets the record straight on the man and his myth. A special report you‘re not going to want to miss.
And then, the tragic story of a Marine recruit who went to boot camp and wound up dead. What happened to Jason Tharp? Could a shocking videotape be the key to this mystery?
ANNOUNCER: From the press room, to the courtroom, to the halls of Congress, Joe Scarborough has seen it all. Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, welcome to the show. I‘m Joe Scarborough.
Appreciate you being with us tonight.
Now, tonight‘s top story, should your tax dollars continue to fund public education? We learned this week Pat Mitchell, the president of PBS, is going to be stepping down, this at a time when the station is weathering major funding problems and a recent dust-up involving “Postcards From Buster.” It‘s a cartoon where—had a recent episode that made a lot of people angry because it featured a couple of lesbian moms in Vermont.
Let‘s remember, PBS receives private money from corporations and donors, but also it gets a lot of its money from taxpayers like you and me. So, as I said, the big question tonight, should our money continue to go on supporting PBS, despite some of its offensive and politically biased programming?
With me now to talk about it is the founder of Media Research, Brent Bozell. He‘s also the author of “Weapons of Mass Distortion,” a great book. And also we have Steve Adubato. He‘s a PBS host and the author of “Speak From the Heart: Be Yourself and Get Results.”
Great to have both of you on here tonight.
SCARBOROUGH: Let‘s start with you, Steve.
STEVE ADUBATO, AUTHOR, “SPEAK FROM THE HEART”: Sure.
SCARBOROUGH: You work for PBS.
Why should taxpayers continue to fund programming that some of us find offensive, like, for instance, the Bill Moyers program in the past and a lot of other programs that seem to slant far to the left politically?
ADUBATO: You know, Joe, a lot of this is how you position it. And let me just say that I work for the PBS affiliate in New York, WNET 13. It‘s the flagship.
And let me just say, after 15 years, I am proud of everything I have done in public television. I have had a relationship with commercial TV. But I will tell you this. When you take a couple of instances and say, look, look at PBS, they are moving to the left, look, you are playing the perception game, Joe.
Here‘s the reality.
SCARBOROUGH: That‘s not reality?
ADUBATO: When PBS does a documentary—I will tell you another reality. When PBS does a documentary called “Slavery” and what it really means to America, “The Making of America,” looking at slavery, looking at it in context, what I am saying is this.
That is a story, that is a documentary, along with the Civil War stuff that was done by Ken Burns, all the programming on AIDS, that‘s not left. That‘s not right. That‘s not conservative. That‘s not liberal. That‘s meaningful programming that, 16 percent of it, Joe, comes from the federal government; 84 percent of PBS funding comes from corporations, from profit organizations.
SCARBOROUGH: You know what, Steve? I got absolutely no problem with what you are saying. A lot of good stuff goes on with PBS. In fact, every time I go to New York, I always watch 13. It‘s a great station. You‘ve got great programming.
ADUBATO: You have good taste, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: I think Ken Burns has wonderful documentaries.
SCARBOROUGH: But why should I pay for that? They are so good. My wife buys me usually a Ken Burns documentary set every Christmas.
SCARBOROUGH: Why shouldn‘t people like me pay for it? And my next-door neighbor that doesn‘t want to pay for Ken Burns‘ documentaries, why should he have to pay for them?
ADUBATO: Joe, you know, in theory, what you say makes sense, but here‘s the problem with it. As someone who has been producing public television programming for a long time, I can tell you, producing a week‘s worth of AIDS programming in Africa is important to us to understand, but let‘s face it. We are not talking about commercial appeal.
And if you judge everything based on ratings, in terms of how many people watch, how much sponsorship and advertising you can sell, aren‘t there enough other stations out there that do that, Joe? And my position is this. If only 15 percent or 16 percent of the funding comes from the feds, it‘s a darn good investment, because let me go—you go down the slippery slope, then why not do away funding to libraries, federal funding to libraries and museums, if you disagree with an exhibit or a book there?
This is a very slippery, dangerous slope that you are going down.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, Brent Bozell, are we going down a slippery slope here or do you think...
BRENT BOZELL, MEDIA RESEARCH CENTER: No. I wish we would.
SCARBOROUGH: There are two issues that I want to talk about. The first issue is this. Steve said that I was generalizing when I talked about how PBS slanted to the left. Am I wrong on that?
BOZELL: No. Look, look, the—I think we are talking about two issues here. One, where the bias of PBS is concerned, there‘s no question about it. There is no conservative equivalent to Bill Moyers on PBS.
ADUBATO: That‘s not true.
BOZELL: There‘s no question—hold on. Let me finish. I listened to you. I listened...
ADUBATO: William F. Buckley was there for 25 years.
BOZELL: I listened to you. Let me—just be quiet and let me finish.
No. 1, there is no equivalent to Bill Moyers, who is a lunatic on the left. Secondly, secondly, if you look some of the other programming, of course, there‘s wonderful programming on PBS. But the question is, is it need? PBS was founded in the 1960s when there were three networks and there was a need for cultural programming. You have got over 100 networks today. The good programs that are on PBS would find a home instantaneously on other networks.
BOZELL: You know they would. People say that Big Bird would suffer. There would be a bidding war like you would not believe if Big Bird was put on the market.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes. It would be unbelievable.
ADUBATO: Joe, I respect Brett and I respect his opinion, but I have to tell you, to say that we are looking for a right-wing Bill Moyers, it‘s ridiculous. Tucker Carlson has come on board.
You‘ve got folks like William F. Buckley who were on for years. You‘ve got conservative commentators. The point is this. There is a balance there, diversity of opinion. And, by the way, not everyone falls in to the left and to the right, Brent. There are people who have complicated opinions.
And, frankly, it is largely on PBS where you find that, as opposed to the food fights on television talk fests that you often find, which may get ratings, but, frankly, don‘t enrich us, don‘t teach us.
ADUBATO: That‘s what PBS is about.
SCARBOROUGH: Hold on a second. You talk about food fights.
SCARBOROUGH: All you have to do is look at a series of quotes that Bill Moyers made on his—on his air. I mean, you can‘t even begin to compare Tucker Carlson on the right, who is extraordinarily nuanced compared to Bill Moyers.
Brent, I don‘t think there‘s a comparison.
ADUBATO: Joe, look, you can disagree with Moyers. Moyers—you have a right to disagree with Moyers. He doesn‘t represent everything on PBS.
BOZELL: I thought the question was to me. Was the question to me?
SCARBOROUGH: Brent. It‘s Brent‘s turn.
BOZELL: Look, the reality here is, one, he is far, far left.
Two, there is no equivalent on the right. And, three, if there were an equivalent on the right, I would say the same thing. It is unnecessary. It is unnecessary for the American taxpayer to be spending hundreds of millions of dollars on an obsolete concept that simply is not needed. And now you have got PBS putting programs on for 4-year-old children to indoctrinate them on lesbianism.
ADUBATO: You know, I have to tell you something. I am going to take back the comment about respecting your opinion, because you are taking the situation where you have got this character in a morning show.
And, by the way, I have three children, all of whom have been educated, inspired. They‘ve learned from PBS in the morning. And thank God for public television in the morning. I have to tell you, because you have got two parents in Vermont on this trip who happen to be two moms, now, what you are saying to me is, how dare you show that there are different types of parents who love their children? How about this?
SCARBOROUGH: No, what I am saying is—no, no, no, hold on, Steve.
ADUBATO: That‘s exactly what you are saying.
SCARBOROUGH: You are mischaracterizing it.
SCARBOROUGH: And let me tell you what I am saying. What I am saying is, run that. I believe in the free marketplace of ideas.
ADUBATO: As do I.
SCARBOROUGH: But I believe that those ideas are free.
SCARBOROUGH: I don‘t want to have to subsidize them. I don‘t want to have to pay for them. If it‘s good programming, it will exist on its own.
ADUBATO: What about libraries, Joe? What about libraries?
BOZELL: And, look, that‘s missing the point. That‘s missing the point. What is far more offensive is that that program is being aimed at 4-year-old children.
Steve, look, face it, the vast majority of this country is offended by their children being indoctrinated on lesbianism when they are 4 years old. Period.
ADUBATO: You know, I have to tell you. You know what you are saying, Brent? You are saying that if a significant number of Americans find it distasteful for PBS to do a documentary on slavery and the making of America, what you are saying is that the marketplace should dictate, and even though it‘s important program and it teaches us about ourselves and it may help us understand each other better, hey, 51 percent of the people are uncomfortable, then take it off the air.
SCARBOROUGH: The marketplace, that‘s America.
BOZELL: What would be your reaction, Steve, if Barney came out and he said, my lord and savior is Jesus Christ?
ADUBATO: Say that again?
BOZELL: What if Barney came out and said, my lord and savior is Jesus Christ? How would you react?
ADUBATO: I would talk to my children about it, and we would talk about our religious feelings...
BOZELL: Oh, come on, Steve. You and every liberal in America would go ballistic.
BOZELL: You would go ballistic over that.
ADUBATO: I got to tell you something. You know what, Brent? You know what it is? You ask me a question and then you tell me what my answer is going to be because I am a—quote—“liberal.”
That game of conservatives and liberals is boring and old. It‘s about a lot of people who don‘t fall into those categories and who are inspired by the music, by the theater, by the culture, by the programming at PBS who are conservative, liberal, and some of whom are not even political.
BOZELL: And so it‘s wrong that there would an uproar if Barney came out and said he was pro-life? Wouldn‘t there be...
ADUBATO: Barney is not going to do it. You know. Listen, this is a red herring. You know it and I know it.
BOZELL: OK, then what‘s the difference between that and characters on PBS advocating lesbianism? Tell me the difference.
ADUBATO: I think what you mean is—and, by the way, I am not here to advocate or argue what “Buster” did or didn‘t do. But I will say this.
We have three children, three small children. If our children are watching that show and they Buster going on a trip and in Vermont there are two moms raising a kid, and our kids ask about it, I have to tell you, we have family values in our family, Brett, that allow us, my wife and I, to be open and honest and say, there are different types of people. We respect other people. That‘s what diversity is. You know, that‘s actually what you learn on “Sesame Street.” How American could that be?
BOZELL: That‘s terrific, but the vast majority of parents do not want that message being given to their 10-year-old children and to their 4-year-old children.
ADUBATO: Then you tune it out. Then you tune it out.
BOZELL: In Cartoons.
ADUBATO: Then you tune it out.
BOZELL: Oh, wait a minute. But they are paying for it.
SCARBOROUGH: Hold out.
ADUBATO: You just tune it out.
SCARBOROUGH: And exactly. That‘s the point.
Well, Brent, Steve, thanks for being with us.
But that‘s—you know what? That‘s the point. What Steve is saying is, you are going to pay for this programming. I am going to pay for the programming. If it offends us, then we just turn it off.
You know what? I don‘t want to turn it off if I am paying for it. And I don‘t want to pay for it. Great point by Brent also. What if Barney came out, what if “Sesame Street” came out and talked about Jesus Christ and talked about you had to believe in the lord Jesus Christ or you weren‘t going to heaven? Oh, so many liberals would be greatly offended.
Now, when we return, is George Bush about to betray his base by raising taxes? We will be talking about that coming up.
And, also, Michael Moore exposed, an important truth-telling report that may change the way people view Michael Moore.
That‘s coming up, so stick around.
SCARBOROUGH: Why is propaganda filmmaker Michael Moore now a scorned man in his hometown?
Stick around to find out when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.
SCARBOROUGH: Celebrated throughout much of America for cutting taxes, is President Bush now preparing to do an about-face and raise your taxes in order to save Social Security?
This today from “The Los Angeles Times”—quote—“In an important shift from a hard-line stance against tax increases, President Bush has said he is open to raising taxes on wealthier Americans to cover the costs of transforming Social Security. In telling the regional newspapers that he was open to raising the $90,000 wage cap, Bush appeared to contradict previous statements by himself and his staff.”
Is the president about to tread the same path that his father walked when he reneged on his pledge of no new taxes back in 1990 and saw his administration crumble?
With me now to talk about this is Republican Congressman, good friend of ours, Dan Burton.
REP. DAN BURTON ®, INDIANA: Hey, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: Dan, thanks a lot for being with us.
I know you support the president‘s plan to privatize Social Security.
BURTON: I sure do.
SCARBOROUGH: That sounds like a conservative concept. But this president today is putting tax increases back on the table, just like his father did back in 1990, which led to the end of the first Bush administration. How could he do this?
BURTON: Well, yes, I can remember very well when his father, for whom I have great respect, said, read my lips, no new taxes, and then they had the tax increase.
And I think that was something the people perceived as breaking faith with them. I don‘t believe that the president will do that. I think what he is saying to the American people and to the people up here on Capitol Hill that are negotiating, look, everything is on the table. We are willing to discuss anything. We want a plan that will work. We want one that will help the young people in the future, but protect the people who are on Social Security right now or are going to be on Social Security.
And I think he is saying to the people who are going to be negotiating and coming up with different plans, we are willing to listen to you on everything. And that‘s something you have to do.
SCARBOROUGH: But, Mr. Chairman, you know, the one thing that‘s united
Republicans over the past four years, despite the fact that president
hasn‘t vetoed a bill, while spending has increased at record levels, is the
fact that he cut taxes. You
SCARBOROUGH: You and I both know, if this president tries to raise taxes on Americans, Republicans are going to be slaughtered in the House, going to be slaughtered in the Senate, and a Democrat will be elected in ‘08. How could the president put that ticking time bomb on the table?
BURTON: I don‘t think it‘s a ticking time bomb, Joe. I think, really...
SCARBOROUGH: It‘s all right to raise taxes?
BURTON: I don‘t—no, no, no, it‘s not. I am not going to vote for a tax increase.
SCARBOROUGH: But that is what the president is saying he is going to do.
SCARBOROUGH: He is supporting the option of possibly raising taxes.
You and I would never do that.
BURTON: Joe, you were a congressman. And you know that the first step is to get a bill on the floor, get it into the committee, so you can start negotiating.
I think that he is saying we are going to listen to everything, including the possibility of taking the lid off on the income level. But the fact is, I don‘t think you are going to see that happen. I think that tax increases of any kind are something that is abhorrent to this president and to the Congress. You will probably see more cuts before you see something like that.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, Representative Dan Burton, I know you have got to go for a vote. We appreciate you being with us.
I can say this to our viewers. I know this for a fact. Mark it down. Dan Burton and other conservative Republicans will not vote for a tax increase.
And, Congressman, will you take that message back to the president for us?
BURTON: I am sure he is going to hear it loud and clear, Joe, from you and others.
SCARBOROUGH: All right. Thanks a lot, Congressman. We greatly appreciate you being with us.
BURTON: Thanks, buddy.
SCARBOROUGH: Moving on now, many people believe that everything in Michael Moore‘s documentary “Fahrenheit 9/11” is fact. Why wouldn‘t they? It‘s called a documentary.
Now we have heard that Moore has made the facts fit his story. You knew that all along, but there‘s report from investigative reporter Eric Flack at NBC Louisville, our NBC Louisville affiliate. He gets specific with the facts.
Take a look.
ERIC FLACK, WAVE REPORTER (voice-over): A newspaper headline in the opening scene isn‘t a newspaper headline at all. It‘s a letter to the editor Moore changed, in both font size and print style, to make it look like a headline. The paper asked Moore for an apology, but didn‘t get one.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “FAHRENHEIT 9/11”)
MICHAEL MOORE, DIRECTOR: Bringing natural gas.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FLACK: Then there‘s Moore‘s assertion the U.S. invaded Afghanistan not to combat terrorism, but to build on oil pipeline.
DAVID KOPEL, INDEPENDENCE INSTITUTE: The proposal for a pipeline in Afghanistan was something the Clinton Administration supported in 1998, but it was abandoned long before George Bush ever became president.
SCARBOROUGH: And of course it was.
Eric Flack is here to give us more.
Eric, give us some more examples of what you dug up about Michael Moore.
FLACK: Well, I think what Michael Moore does a lot of times is edits and cuts video to make things look worse than they actually are.
Remember that famous scene from “Fahrenheit 9/11” with Congressman Mark Kennedy, where he went up to the congressman and said, hey, I want you to help me get members of Congress to send their kids over to the war in Iraq? And then the congressman gives him that, what can only be considered kind of a goofy look. And Moore cuts away from it.
Well, what Moore cuts out of the movie is the rest of the conversation, when Kennedy went on to say, sure, I will help you, especially those who voted for the war. I would love to ask them to support this, because I myself have a nephew on the way to Afghanistan. He makes Iraq seem like a kite-flying, coffee-drinking nation, when, in fact, it‘s not.
He doesn‘t talk about the torture chambers and the mass graves and so forth. And I think there‘s just a lot of examples of that throughout all his movies, to be, honest, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, let‘s talk about “Roger and Me.” You actually dug up some information about Flint, Michigan, which, of course, was supposedly abandoned by GM and destroyed. But, in fact, GM has pumped $2 billion into Flint, according to your report, and some residents say they weren‘t betrayed by GM. They were betrayed by Michael Moore.
We are going to now show our audience more of your report.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He wasn‘t even raised here in Flint. He was born and raised in Davison.
FLACK (voice-over): A white-collar town 13 miles away.
(on camera): If somebody grows up in Davison and they ask them what their hometown is?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They would say Davidson.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “ROGER AND ME”)
MOORE: In my hometown of Flint, Michigan.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FLACK (voice-over): Where, even at old high school, Moore‘s name evokes anger. A $2,000-a-year scholarship he was funding ended a couple years back, when Moore stopped returning calls from the school.
(on camera): This was supposed to be kind of a positive thing. Did anybody think it would create controversy?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We get a lot of e-mails about the controversy.
FLACK: And earlier this year, a nomination to put Moore in the Davison High School Hall of Fame was shot down.
KEVIN LEFFLER, FORMER MOORE CLASSMATE: Mike is always out for Mike.
FLACK: Kevin Leffler, a high school classmate of Moore‘s...
LEFFLER: Mike hasn‘t changed at all.
FLACK: ... is releasing his own documentary.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Michael Moore smells pretty bad.
FLACK: Aimed at exposing the truth, called “Shooting Michael Moore.”
LEFFLER: I have no problem with someone saying you know what? I‘m going to make a lot of money. And, by God, go do it. And to me, that‘s the American way. But don‘t tell me you‘re out for the little man, when, in reality, when you have the chance to help the little man, you screw the little man.
SCARBOROUGH: Now, actually, Flint, Michigan, feels like it‘s been screwed, using your interviewee‘s words, by Michael Moore. How is that?
FLACK: Well, especially the economic development people there think “Roger and Me” has left Flint, Michigan, and really the surrounding area with a legacy it just can‘t shake.
Sure, 30,000 jobs did leave Flint, and it crippled the town. It certainly did. But GM never left town completely. And that‘s the part that people there are really upset about, because the movie gives the impression that, in fact, it did. They have always continued to produce car parts.
They were at a low of 3,000 jobs. But they have slowly been building back. And GM, for whatever reason, had to leave, but the town is trying to build back. Michael Moore gives you the impression in “Roger and Me” that the town shut down when GM left. And he gives examples of evictions and things of the sort that he says were tied to GM leaving.
But he shows evictions that had nothing to do with GM and families who were evicted that had nothing to do with GM. And there are examples of Michael Moore twisting facts, quite honestly, to advance his own agenda.
SCARBOROUGH: What does Michael Moore say to you?
FLACK: He said nothing. He said absolutely nothing, which I, honestly, as a reporter, found a little bit hypocritical, to be quite honest with you.
We e-mailed him over and over and over again for a month. That didn‘t work. We got no response. We contacted his distributors. No response. We contacted his media consultant. No response. We got ahold of his address in Michigan. And we went to his home and we knocked on the door basically. He wasn‘t there, but we talked to a member of his staff.
We said, we are doing this report. We would love him to answer some of these critics. And the person said, we are give you—I can‘t get you up with him right now, but if you give me a card, and I will pass it on.
SCARBOROUGH: And, of course, you never heard back from him. Yes, not surprised at all.
Eric Flack, thanks a lot for being with us, and thanks for your good work. Now, let us know if you ever hear back from Michael Moore. We will get you back on the show.
And coming up, the tragic death of a Marine and the shocking video that may unravel that mystery. Reporter Heather Brown will be with us. So, don‘t go away.
SCARBOROUGH: Dan Rather brings shame to the tiffany network. So, what do they do? Fire him? No. They give him a one-hour prime-time special tribute. We‘ll have that and much more with our political roundtable.
But, first, here‘s the latest news that your family needs to know.
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: Is George Bush going to raise your taxes? Is Dan Rather going to get his own tribute in prime time? And what about radical college professors who have tenure? I‘ll tell you what. It sounds like a radio talk show to me.
And with me to kick around those subjects and more are three radio talk show hosts, some of the best. We got Hugh Hewitt from Salem Radio. We got Rachel Maddow of the Air America radio network. And we also have Dennis Prager. He‘s host of his own show based in Los Angeles.
Hugh, let me begin with you.
George Bush sounding kind of like the first George Bush, won‘t take tax increases off the table. What did you make of it?
HUGH HEWITT, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Joe, I am not as alarmed as you are.
And, in fact, if he made a good deal on Social Security that required a raising of the payroll tax amount, I would be OK with that. If there were private accounts established, if people could keep their money, raising the limit on the amount that was taxed would not bother me. I wouldn‘t view it as breach of faith with the American people.
I think your prediction of a dire consequence politically is just wrong. I think people want to fix Social Security for themselves and especially for the next generation. And they would pay to do so, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, Let me write this down. Hugh Hewitt, OK with tax increases.
SCARBOROUGH: I will remember this when there‘s a Democrat in the White House.
Let me go to you, Dennis Prager. You‘re another conservative. Are you ready to bow down to Emperor George and say it‘s OK for him to raise taxes on his serfs?
DENNIS PRAGER, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Well, given the nightmare that his father went through, this is a little scary, I have to say.
I have such respect for Hugh Hewitt that perhaps what he says may come to fruition, because the president believes—and it‘s a really noble belief, because it goes against all political common sense—that we do have to fix something for the future. I mean, the irony is that progressives, people who call themselves progressive, have no plan.
I had people on my radio show from the left. They had to plan to fix Social Security. They only know how to attack the president on it.
PRAGER: Nevertheless, having said all that, I am worried about anything that says tax increase.
SCARBOROUGH: Rachel, I want to ask you a question.
RACHEL MADDOW, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: OK.
SCARBOROUGH: Isn‘t this what Republicans were warning America about with John Kerry; if you vote for John Kerry, you are going to get a tax increase?
MADDOW: Oh, well, the Republicans were warning everybody that, if you voted for John Kerry, there was going to be a nuclear bomb in an American city. So, I suppose, compared to that, this is not that big of a deal.
But the thing about this tax increase, right, if that‘s what you can call it, we are talking about people who make more than $90,000 a year. That‘s where the cap issue comes in. But, really, the overall issue here is that Bush is tanking on what he is proposing on Social Security so far, so he needs to come up with something that will actually do something for the fiscal health of Social Security.
The private accounts do nothing for the fiscal solvency of the system, and that is the hard reality he is running up against.
SCARBOROUGH: He is also running up against a hard reality on Capitol Hill, is he not, that a lot of Republicans don‘t like this plan, and he doesn‘t have any Democrats he can count on. So, it looks like the Social Security plan may be dead on arrival unless he throws a Hail Mary like this, talking about raising taxes.
MADDOW: That‘s exactly right. The only thing that he has actually talked about that would fiscally shore up Social Security at all is the thing that he is very quietly saying, which is that benefits are going to be cut when personal accounts go into effect. Yes, if you cut benefits...
HEWITT: That‘s not true.
MADDOW: ... you‘re spending less money, you are putting out less money and then you‘re making yourself more solvent.
HEWITT: Rachel, that‘s not true. Rachel, that‘s simply not true.
MADDOW: Raising taxes would also do that. He is not going to cut benefits on anybody?
SCARBOROUGH: All right, Hugh Hewitt, respond, Hugh.
HEWITT: What the president has proposed is the rate at which benefits would increase would be altered to reflect a more fiscally solvent approach.
MADDOW: Right. Sure.
HEWITT: That‘s not a benefits cut. That‘s a very prudent plan.
What Dennis was saying is in fact true. Republicans led by George W. Bush are laying out reasonable alternatives to fix a major problem that will affect everyone‘s children and grandchildren. Democrats are back throwing stones. And the reason we didn‘t vote for John Kerry is, he would have fixed it with only taxes, without changing benefit formulas, without looking at private accounts, and continue, for example, to shortchange African-Americans, who are really badly used by this system.
To the extent that they get anything at all, they get less than most Americans do because of their shorter life expectancy. This is a big problem. People have to approach it seriously and with a mature approach.
And, Joe, you know that. You know this has got to be fixed, so everything has got to be put on the table. That‘s what the president is doing.
MADDOW: That is such spin, though. That is such spin.
SCARBOROUGH: I know it doesn‘t need to be fixed—I don‘t know—I know it doesn‘t need to be fixed by raising taxes on Americans that are already paying too many taxes.
You worry about African-Americans. I worry about African-Americans.
But I worry about all Americans having to pay more taxes.
And it just...
SCARBOROUGH: Again, Dennis Prager, it seems to me that Republicans will get beaten if they go out and promise to cut taxes, just like they promised to cut spending. They didn‘t cut spending, but most Americans put up with them because they cut their taxes. So, we have the largest tax increases—I mean largest spending increases in American history.
SCARBOROUGH: And we follow it up with a tax increase on payroll taxes?
PRAGER: Yes. Whatever the good reason might be, it‘s not politically possible. I agree with you on this. It—and especially having lived—this is Groundhog Day for Republicans. And we have to move on. We can‘t raise taxes, whatever the tax might be.
As responsible as it might sound, a Republican doesn‘t do that. We believe in smaller government and people knowing what to do with their own money, period. That is our policy. And that‘s what the president has to stand by.
PRAGER: What he should do—what he should do is say, you know what, the Democrats do not wish to address a serious moral issue, that younger workers will be hurt financially, period, end of issue. Democrats, what is your plan?
They don‘t have a plan. All they know is that they hate George Bush.
SCARBOROUGH: Rachel, what is the plan?
MADDOW: The plan is to call a spade a spade. And when George W. Bush says that Social Security is exhausted and it‘s collapsing and it‘s in a crisis and we need to do something about it immediately, he needs to level with the American people about the numbers that he is using.
He needs to explain why the Congressional Budget Office, nonpartisan, doesn‘t agree with him about the claims about the crisis. And he needs to talk about the fact that these personal accounts, the privatizing part of it, doesn‘t fix Social Security, doesn‘t make it any more fiscally solvent. So why is he proposing those? That‘s for an ideological reason, not a fiscal reason. That‘s the reality here.
SCARBOROUGH: Hugh Hewitt.
PRAGER: So the Democratic answer is, there‘s no crisis.
SCARBOROUGH: Let‘s move on. Let‘s move on. Let‘s move on. That appears to be.
Hugh Hewitt, let‘s move on and let‘s talk about CBS. You know, CBS News continues to pay the people responsible for the embarrassing investigation. And now they are planning an on-air tribute to Dan Rather. And, of course, Rather has finally talked about the whole affair. Has he backed off? Has he admitted he made mistakes? Of course not.
HEWITT: No. In fact...
SCARBOROUGH: This is what he had to say to “Texas Monthly.” Let me read it to you and have you respond.
Dan Rather says: “I‘ve always prided myself in being fiercely independent, maybe too independent. I don‘t back up. I don‘t back down. I‘m hard to herd and impossible to stampede.” Yeehaw. “But because I wouldn‘t adopt other people‘s biases, in their minds, that made me biased.”
Of course, I can‘t say it with the same Texas accent as Dan, but respond to that. Is Dan Rather just misunderstood?
He‘s a very sad case, the shell of a former newsman. And when they run the special on him, it will be equivalent of the crowd that gathered at El Toro to welcome Richard Nixon after he resigned the office. It will be like the parade route to San Clemente when he went into exile.
It‘s a nice show of affection by some people who knew him when he was a journalist. But that “Texas Monthly” interview ought to be read by everyone in America, because it is a statement that CBS really doesn‘t believe it did anything wrong with its fanatical attempt to bring down the president. They have not reformed themselves. They haven‘t fired Dan Rather.
They still have Les Moonves up there, who is responsible for it, and Andrew Heyward, who is responsible for it. It is still a broken brand that nobody trusts, least of all, Dan Rather.
SCARBOROUGH: Rachel, you are wincing. Respond.
MADDOW: I‘m wincing because I feel like, if you are upset about the Memo-gate phenomena, if you‘re upset about the thing that happened right before Dan Rather stepped down and you are willing therefore, to say, we are not going to look at anything else that happened in his career in his decades on the air and say, he is completely disgraced, he is not a journalist anymore, then I think that you guys are in glass houses and throwing stones.
PRAGER: All right, I will tell you something that disgraced him that is from the past that actually bothered me more than this.
And that is that he went to Saddam Hussein and acted like his shoeshine boy.
MADDOW: Like a journalist.
PRAGER: And asked him namby-pamby questions to one of the most bloodthirsty tyrants of the 20th century.
MADDOW: What should he have done, shot him? What should he have done, shot him there?
PRAGER: What should he have done?
MADDOW: How about interviewing him as a journalist?
MADDOW: How about going...
PRAGER: He didn‘t interview him as a journalist. A journalist would have said to him, sir, how do feel about—how do your daughters feel about the fact that you killed their husbands? That‘s what a real journalist would ask, instead of, his excellency, Mr. President, I am curious, do you have weapons of mass destruction?
PRAGER: How do you—what cereal do you have for breakfast?
MADDOW: What‘s tough to hear is to say, you know what? We have got to worry about real journalists over at CBS.
PRAGER: That‘s real journalism.
MADDOW: Yes, real journalism? You want to talk about real journalism right now, with what‘s been going on in the White House briefing room? You want to talk about what‘s going on with real journalists? We have got Armstrong Williams, Maggie Gallagher, Mike McManus, the fake news organizations and fake newscasts that are sent out to local reporters.
We have got Jeff Gannon or J.D. Guckert or whatever his name is. If you want to talk about real journalism and politics in this country, you got to start asking some questions yourself of the White House on this.
PRAGER: OK. There‘s a very big difference between Armstrong Williams, who acknowledges that he is a conservative, and Dan Rather, who claims that he is centrist. If Dan Rather would admit he is a leftist, there would be no issue. I have no problem with left-wing...
MADDOW: The problem is not Armstrong Williams being a conservative.
Armstrong Williams was paid by the Bush administration to advertise.
SCARBOROUGH: All right.
PRAGER: You‘re not addressing my point, though?
MADDOW: A real journalist? Come on.
SCARBOROUGH: We are going to have to leave it—we are going to have to leave it there.
Hugh Hewitt, Rachel Maddow and Dennis Prager, thanks a lot for being with us tonight in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. You were great.
Now, coming up next, incredible video that may help uncover the key to a terrible tragedy. We have got this remarkable story for you coming up next about a Marine that tragically died.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, Maureen Dowd and I may—we may have this thing for each other, that we don‘t—we really don‘t like to talk about that much, but I have still got issues.
First of all, I have got issues with the Web site called IDisagreeWithMaureenDowd.com. Now, every time “The New York Times” columnist writes an op-ed, the Web site posts a rebuttal. My preferred way to fight with Ms. Dowd is taken by a Southern gentleman like Karl Rove.
Now, according to today‘s “Washington Post,” the White House deputy chief of staff, often is an object of ridicule in Dowd‘s columns, hand-delivered a bouquet of flowers and a handwritten note to Maureen earlier this week. The note read, “Just remember, your family does love you, and not everyone hates you.”
Hey, Maureen, there are some of us in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY that love you, too.
And I have got issues with a big-screen remake of that ‘80s classic “Miami Vice.” That‘s right. Crockett and Tubbs will be on the big screen next year in a 21st century update of the cheesy “Miami Vice.” It‘s going to be starring Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx. Now, Foxx is going to go from a probable Oscar win for his work in “Ray” to playing Tubbs. No word yet on what role linen suits, pastel shirts and sockless loafers will play. Nice.
But ‘80s must be back. That‘s why I was shocked to hear that Wham singing superstar George Michael announced his retirement from pop music at a press conference in Germany yesterday. Shocked? Yes, I was, because I thought George Michael retired 10 years ago.
And, finally, I have got issues with the P.C. police on college campuses. Now, a food truck at Rutgers University had to cover the names of certain sandwiches because they were deemed as being too racist, too sexist, or too anti-gay to display. The oversize sandwiches, which were all named by students, each start with the word fat.
Outlawed names include fat Indian, fat drunk and fat ass. You know, with more calories than two Big Macs, I would say the fat names sound pretty accurate.
And just down the Jersey Turnpike from Rutgers, the P.C. police also attacked at Princeton University. A campus paper published “The 10 Top Holocaust Movies I Have Never Seen, But Would Like To,” which included titles, such as, “Dude, Where‘s My Family?”
Now, the two students are being forced to apologize in print. But come on. This was a satire that was written by two Jewish students in an unofficial school newspaper. Maybe the P.C. police need to get over it.
Now switching gears, a disturbing mystery out of a Marine training camp. NBC affiliate WIS was at Parris Island and shot video of Marine recruit Jason Tharp last Monday, just 24 hours before his death there. Tonight, his family speaks for the first time about their son and his troubles at boot camp.
Heather Brown reports.
HEATHER BROWN, WIS-TV REPORTER (voice-over): We caught Jason Tharp in a tense interaction with a drill instructor. We were far away and couldn‘t hear what was going on. A few minutes later, we saw this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They usually want to get back to training...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Really?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because a lot of them have never been (OFF-MIKE)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And sitting up in the brig and realizing that, oh, my God...
BROWN: Jason disappears. When he comes back—and that‘s where our video ends. Twenty-four hours later, Jason dies. Preliminary reports say he drowned at this pool.
JOHN THARP, FATHER OF JASON THARP: Oh, let‘s see. Yes.
BROWN: We traveled to West Virginia to show Jason‘s family what we saw at Parris Island. Johnny Tharp told us about his son, a quiet young man who loved art and worked at Wendy‘s before heading to boot camp.
THARP: He was just the kindest, gentlest person I ever knew. We can‘t understand why, and my little girl, all she knows is her big brother‘s in heaven.
BROWN: There‘s a lot the family doesn‘t understand about Jason‘s death. They were especially upset about the drill instructor grabbing and having other contact with their son.
THARP: I don‘t know how they could treat my son the way we saw in that video. He never hurt nobody. He would do anything anybody asked him. It‘s just not right.
BROWN: A different drill instructor told us that day that Jason was being belligerent and refusing to train. He also told us Jason wanted out. Jason‘s parents say that‘s true. That he sent home seven letters during his five-week stay telling his parents he‘d made a mistake.
THARP: We just wanted to go down there right then and get him and bring him home.
BROWN: The last letter Jason sent was postmarked February 2. In it, he wrote he was starting the swim qualifications the next day.
(on camera): Did Jason know how to swim?
THARP: Not very good, but they assured us, the recruiter said that nothing would happen, they have enough people in the pool where nothing would happen to him.
BROWN (voice-over): But something did. The Tharps won‘t know what until the Marine‘s investigation is complete. That could take weeks. Right now, they are too sad to be angry. The heartbreak is still so raw.
THARP: That just—I swear to God, I don‘t want this to happen to another family. It‘s the hardest thing we‘ve ever had to do, bury our son.
SCARBOROUGH: Heather is with us now.
Heather, tell us what‘s going on with this investigation.
BROWN: Well, we have new information from Marine Corps officials in Washington, D.C., about the investigation into Jason‘s death.
They tell us that, the day Jason died, he voluntarily entered the pool and that he was swimming 25-meter requirement at the time. They say drill instructors on deck did what they could to try and rescue and resuscitate then. They also say that the Marine Corps officials who saw the tape say that the grabbing and striking Jason appears to be in direct violation of Marine Corps regulations.
So, in addition to the Navy investigation into the circumstances surrounding Jason‘s death, there will also be a separate Marine Corps investigation into the conduct of the drill instructors the day before he died.
SCARBOROUGH: Have the parents decided to take any recourse against the United States Marine Corps or against anybody that was involved in this incident?
BROWN: Well, right now, they have hired a lawyer, but they are not quite sure what they are going to do yet. And, as you can see from the story, they really just are so upset.
SCARBOROUGH: All right. Thanks so much, Heather. We greatly appreciate you bringing this report to us.
And I got to tell you, I am from Pensacola, Florida. This same thing happened at the Navy base about 10, 15 years ago, a young man afraid to swim, forced to go into the pool. And he drowned. A great tragedy.
We‘ll be right back.
SCARBOROUGH: Stick around, friends. We will show you the biggest draw at rodeos across the country. It‘s Whiplash, the dog-riding monkey. He‘s taking America by storm.
SCARBOROUGH: The biggest draw at rodeos across the country these days has nothing to do with bulls or horses. It‘s Whiplash, the dog-riding monkey, who is taking America by storm.
The nattily dressed rodeo king sits on a specially trained sheepdog and a custom-made saddle. Whiplash tours rodeos around the country and herds sheep for his adoring fans. He even has corporate sponsors. How professional.
And, also, another reason to smile tonight. I want to take a moment to extend my best wishes to Candice Bendek. Now, Candice a year ago was hit by a drunk driver. Doctors didn‘t think she would live through the night. While she is getting better every day, she is still fighting every day of her life.
I want Candice and her family to know tonight that SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY‘s prayers are with her. And we thank God that she is doing so much better.
Good luck, Candice. We‘re praying for you.
And good night to all of you. We will see you tomorrow night in
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