Guests: Lee Siegel, Steve Adubato, Dawn Yanek, Bob Kohn, Juan Hernandez, Sara Carter, Jack Burkman, Mike Papantonio
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST: Right now in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, a shock in California, where the Republican wins by bashing the Bush plan on immigration. Will the White House finally get the message? Then Ann Coulter attacks 9/11 widows and sends liberals into a tailspin. Now it‘s Clinton versus Coulter. And “The New Republic” calls Oprah Winfrey, cynical and selfish. Is the end near for the queen of TV?
Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. No passport required and only common sense allowed. We‘re going to have those stories straight ahead, but first, President Bush back on the road today, campaigning hard for immigration reform that many in his party simply do not want.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE WALKER BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don‘t believe we can enforce our border without having a rational way for people to come here to do work that Americans are not doing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Now, the president‘s call to pass his immigration bill plan gained new political urgency today after what was supposed to be a bellwether special election last night. That bellwether election instead turned into a referendum against the president‘s own immigration plan. Republican Brian Bilbray snatched victory from the jaws of defeat by actually attacking the president‘s so-called amnesty plan. That‘s what he called it. Bilbray‘s opponent, of course, Democrat Francine Busby, also helped the former and future congressman by suggesting last week at a campaign stop that illegal immigrants could vote in this election.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRANCINE BILBRAY (D), CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Yes, you don‘t need papers for voting—you don‘t need to be a registered voter to help.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: And despite the fact that the president‘s own party is running from him on immigration reform, a new Gallup poll shows conservative support for the president has actually gone up 9 percentage points since he began pushing for a ban on gay marriage earlier this week. But will those gains be offset as the immigration debate grinds on throughout the summer? And when will the president concede that his plan to let in anywhere from 40 million to 100 million immigrants into America stands absolutely no chance of passing in Congress?
Tonight, I spoke with New York congressman Peter King. He co-sponsored the House immigration bill. And I asked him about the impact of last night‘s stunning Republican primary victory in California.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PETER KING ®, NEW YORK: Joe, I think this is a very key turning point in the immigration debate. It was clear today among Republican House members that we believe Brian Bilbray won that election because of the strong stand he took against any type of amnesty or legalization, by his strong, unequivocal opposition to the Senate bill. That‘s why he was reelected against a—really, a terrible backdrop of Duke Cunningham‘s conviction, of, you know, Republican numbers being down. Everything was going against Brian. The main reason he won, apart from his own ability, is the stand he took on immigration. So...
SCARBOROUGH: Well, indeed, he not only said—he took on immigration, but the stand he took against his own Republican president, against John McCain. He basically told the most powerful Republicans in Washington, D.C., to stick it, and voters rewarded him for that, didn‘t they.
KING: They really did. I mean, this should be a clear signal to the president, and to my good friend, John McCain, that the American people, certainly Republican voters, and I believe the independent voters and many Democrats, are absolutely opposed to any type of legalization of amnesty. Joe, in my district, which twice voted for Bill Clinton and once voted for Al Gore, overwhelmingly—over 75 percent of the voters in my district are opposed to any type of amnesty. The message is clear: Secure the border first.
SCARBOROUGH: But the president‘s claiming that you and other Republicans that are calling this amnesty are just trying to scare people out there, that you‘re not telling the truth.
KING: No, we are talking straight with the American people. This is amnesty. If you have people who are living in the country illegally and you tell them they can stay legally and ultimately become citizens, that is amnesty. They are getting an advantage. They are being allowed to stay in a country where they don‘t belong, where legally, they‘re not entitled to be.
SCARBOROUGH: I don‘t get this. A poll comes up—a Pew poll comes up that says 77 percent of Americans want to either freeze immigration levels or lower immigration levels -- 77 percent! Only, I think, 17 percent want immigration levels to increase. And yet this bill that the Senate and the president is pushing will increase levels by 40 million to 100 million new immigrants over the next couple of decades. Where‘s the disconnect here? Why don‘t doesn‘t the White House get it? Why don‘t Republicans and Democrats in the Senate get it?
KING: Joe, I have never seen such a disconnect. But you know, I think some Democrats even get it. Those who are running for reelection this year in the Senate, you know, a number of them voted against the bill. And I know a number of Democrats in the House who may feel they have to vote for it, but they are not talking about this at all.
No, there is a totally disconnect between the political leadership in the Senate, between the president and the American people. The American people—I‘ve never seen an issue where they are so clearly on one side and you have the house of lords and the Senate being on the other side. This is—I think this is the elite, this is the people who live in their own echo chamber, who say the same niceties to each other all day, but they don‘t speak for the American people. This is a separate class of people.
SCARBOROUGH: All right. Thank you so much, Congressman Peter King.
The fight goes on. We appreciate you being with us.
KING: Thank you, Joe. You‘re the fighter.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: And let‘s bring in right now MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan, investigative reporter Sara Carter and Juan Hernandez. He‘s former adviser to Mexican president Vicente Fox and the author of “The New American Pioneers: Why Are We Afraid of Mexican Immigrants?”
Juan, I don‘t know why we‘re afraid of Mexican immigrants, but I can tell you voters out there are. They don‘t like the president‘s plan. They don‘t like the Senate‘s plan. And they just sent a Republican back to Congress who was predicted to lose because he went against his own president. You have got to admit your plan that some many believe is amnesty, and the president‘s plan and John McCain‘s plan and the Senate‘s plan is dead on arrival! They‘re not going to touch it on Capitol Hill now, are they.
JUAN HERNANDEZ, FORMER ADVISOR TO MEXICAN PRESIDENT VICENTE FOX: No. Haven‘t you seen the polls? George Bush is now going up nine points. He‘s doing the right thing on the...
HERNANDEZ: No, no, no. Let me tell you why I‘m in North Carolina today. I know you‘ll be interested. Today I had a meeting with the people from the Federal Reserve, from the World Bank, from the National Association of Credit Unions, from the BID. These groups are getting together, wondering what they‘re going to do with the 12 million people who are going to come out of the dark and who are going to have over $100 billion in buying power...
SCARBOROUGH: You say $12 million...
HERNANDEZ: ... and I think George Bush does, too.
SCARBOROUGH: You say $12 million, Juan. The White House...
HERNANDEZ: It‘s $100 billion!
SCARBOROUGH: ... 12 million people—I mean, the White House is saying 40 million. The Heritage Institute says maybe 100 million. Pat Buchanan...
HERNANDEZ: Oh, I don‘t know where they got those numbers.
SCARBOROUGH: ... I saw how the Congress works. Pat, I saw how Congress works. People—I mean, look at these elections. They see that this Republican out in California who was going to lose until he turned on the president, until he turned on the Senate and he started campaigning against their illegal, they‘d say, amnesty plan. Doesn‘t that prove that this Senate bill and the president‘s plan is dead on arrival in Capitol Hill?
PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I don‘t know that. I‘ll tell you this. The regime—Kennedy, Vicente Fox, Bush, McCain—the regime is at war with the country! And the Republican Party ought to decide whether to go with the country or with the regime.
SCARBOROUGH: ... at war with the country.
BUCHANAN: What I mean—the whole country—the nation feels it is being invaded, and the regime which has an obligation to stop it won‘t do it! Joe, let me give you a couple of numbers. Hispanics in Arizona voted 47 percent for Prop 200. Prop 187, African-Americans in California, 56 percent for it! This is a making of a new coalition. It‘s a working-class, middle-class coalition. Good-bye to the elites!
HERNANDEZ: Pat, what country do you live in?
BUCHANAN: And the conservatives should stand for it. Bilbray‘s country!
SCARBOROUGH: Well, Sara—Sara, you certainly have seen what‘s been going on not only in California but also on the border. What are they saying about the president down on the border, and the president‘s campaigning? He continues to campaign not only on the border but in middle America. Is Juan right? Is he starting to win the hearts and minds of those people most affected by illegal immigration?
SARA CARTER, “INLAND VALLEY DAILY BULLETIN”: Absolutely not. The president has a big problem on his hands. I know for a fact. I contacted a lot of the sheriffs that work the border areas, and most of them are first responders when it comes to narcotics encouraging (ph), migrants and human smuggling. And what they‘ve told me is that they‘ve been asking the president for weeks, the White House or the president, to meet with them, and the president‘s refused. The president is not meeting with the people who are really affected by this.
They say that the president is just show-boating with the border patrol in order to sway opinion his way, and he‘s not really talking to the people that count. The people that count are the ranchers that live on the border, are the families, are the migrants, and the sheriffs and law enforcement officials who are there every day and will be able to communicate with the president what is actually happening. But unfortunately, he‘s not responding.
HERNANDEZ: ... I‘m so glad that Sara says that the immigrants count. I don‘t know what country Pat Buchanan lives in. Have you looked out your window? Have you gone to a construction site recently?
BUCHANAN: Oh, listen...
BUCHANAN: Have you seen who‘s taking care of our elderly?
BUCHANAN: They‘re everywhere!
HERNANDEZ: And by the way, Pat, do you know who is putting some money into your retirement fund?
BUCHANAN: Well, listen...
HERNANDEZ: You should be embracing this...
HERNANDEZ: Juan, look...
BUCHANAN: I can give you all the numbers, Juan. There is not a single profession almost you can find in America where illegal aliens constitute even one fourth of the labor force.
HERNANDEZ: There are $60 billion...
BUCHANAN: Joe, let me—Joe, let me...
HERNANDEZ: ... in the Social Security that is going to help...
BUCHANAN: ... tell you what...
SCARBOROUGH: One at a time!
BUCHANAN: ... United States, Joe, the president‘s saying, I can‘t solve this problem, I can‘t enforce the border unless you give me amnesty in this. The correct statement the president‘s making is, I won‘t. I won‘t do my duty. I won‘t defend the border unless you give me this package, which the Chamber of Commerce, MALDEF (ph) and Juan want! The president ought to do his duty, and that‘s what everybody‘s demanding!
SCARBOROUGH: Pat Buchanan—hold on, Juan. If you talk to Juan, if you talk to the president of the United States, if you talk to John McCain, if you talk to the Chamber of Commerce, if you talk to people on Wall Street, they will tell you that the American economy simply cannot survive...
BUCHANAN: Oh, for heaven‘s sakes~!
SCARBOROUGH: ... without illegal immigration.
BUCHANAN: We had a mass strike on May Day, and it‘s never been as pleasant as I can recall! What are you talking about, Joe? These folks—
I don‘t doubt that they do good work, hard work. They‘re nice people, many of them.
HERNANDEZ: Oh, thank you, Pat!
BUCHANAN: But they are not Americans! They‘re in our home. They don‘t belong here. They ought to be polite about it and go back where they came from!
SCARBOROUGH: Hold on a second. Let me go (INAUDIBLE) Go ahead, Sara.
CARTER: Well, this is the issue. This is the frustration in the nation right now, the fact that there so many people here illegally, so many people undocumented, and we don‘t even know who they are. And we have to face the reality that this border really is a national security risk. And Juan, you have to be able to understand that. You have to be able to understand that fact.
BUCHANAN: Oh, let me agree with you, Sara, tonight. I think that this nation is divided, and we find one point of view with the House and we find one point of view with the Senate. And you know what? They are both very, very intelligent groups of people. But what‘s the difference? Politics. One group is running again for reelection in November, the other group is not.
BUCHANAN: No, Juan, one group...
SCARBOROUGH: Hold on a second...
BUCHANAN: One group, Juan, is right, and the other is wrong!
SCARBOROUGH: Well, let me put numbers to it, Juan. One group has 80 percent on their side, one group has 20 percent on their side. And that‘s where you have the ruling class in Washington, D.C., being outvoted, you know, 4-to-1. You‘ve got 80 percent of Americans—there it is again. Juan, I just—I don‘t know how you get around the fact...
HERNANDEZ: No, no, no. But 80 percent of Americans...
HERNANDEZ: ... favor legalizing the undocumented.
SCARBOROUGH: No, no, no. Listen to me...
SCARBOROUGH: Look at your screen. You got 77 percent of Americans saying they want to either decrease immigration levels or hold them steady. Only 17 percent support your point of view and the president‘s point of view...
HERNANDEZ: No, no, no, no! These numbers...
SCARBOROUGH: ... and John McCain‘s point of view!
HERNANDEZ: But no, no. But these numbers don‘t reflect how many people want the undocumented to be documented. I don‘t favor illegal immigration. I say those who are already here are already good people. They‘re helping our economy. They‘re giving us—they‘re pressing Pat‘s shirts.
HERNANDEZ: They‘re doing—giving us wonderful strawberries, wonderful vegetables at a good price. They are good people. We should legalize them.
SCARBOROUGH: I‘ll tell you what...
BUCHANAN: You‘re a nice man, Juan, but there has not been a single poll, Joe, in 50 years, since the Immigration Act...
HERNANDEZ: Oh, sure!
BUCHANAN: ... that people want more immigration.
SCARBOROUGH: ... Sara Carter, thanks for being with us. Friends, I just got to tell you, again, you look at those poll numbers. You look at the fact that almost 80 percent of Americans—again, let‘s get this straight. They want to either freeze immigration levels or lower immigration levels -- 80 percent of Americans are there. You‘ve got Washington politicians who want to increase immigration levels to anywhere from 40 million to 100 million over the next two decades. That is a radical divergence from where Main Street America is, and it‘s dangerous any time Washington politicians are that disconnected from Main Street America.
Now, coming up: Ann Coulter attacks 9/11 widows and gets into a—she gets into a war of words with Hillary Clinton. Plus, a “New Republic” author goes into the mind of Oprah. We‘ll tell you what he found out when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.
SCARBOROUGH: She‘s the lady the left loves to hate, Ann Coulter sparking a new round of controversy tonight by attacking 9/11 widows in her new book. Her debate with the “Today” show‘s Matt Lauer only added fuel to the fire. NBC‘s Mike Taibbi has more on the dust-up kicked up by Ann Coulter‘s latest comments.
MIKE TAIBBI, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Conservative pundit Ann Coulter was front-page news today for what she‘s written about some 9/11 widows, that “These broads are millionaires, lionized on TV and in articles about them, reveling in their status as celebrities,” and for what she said about them to the “Today” show‘s Matt Lauer.
MATT LAUER, CO-HOST, “TODAY”: If you lose a husband, you no longer have the right to have a political point of view?
ANN COULTER, AUTHOR, “GODLESS”: No! But don‘t use the fact that you lost a husband as the basis for your being able to talk about it!
TAIBBI: Coulter was on the “Today” show to push her latest anti-liberal book.
COULTER: There‘s an important book that comes out today, Matt!
TAIBBI: Already an Amazon.com best-seller.
(on camera): But the interview kept returning to Coulter‘s attacks on the 9/11 widows. She called them “harpies,” and wondered whether their husbands had been planning to divorce them.
(voice-over): From a statement from four of the widows—“There was no joy in watching men that we loved burn live, no happiness in telling our children that their fathers were never coming home again. We adored these men and miss them every day.”
Coulter says she believes everything she says and writes. But has she gone too far? Former White House adviser David Gergen.
DAVID GERGEN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE ADVISER: It‘s the ugliness of the charge that she‘s making, the ugliness of the words that she‘s using that are drawing attention to her, but it‘s almost as if she‘s a figure in a circus and you‘re saying, Oh, my God. Can you believe that?
TAIBBI: Still, the tempest was a trigger for a red-blue debate today on MSNBC, with criticism for Coulter from both sides, a conservative radio voice...
DOM GIORDANO, WPHT-AM RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I think it was shameful, what she said, Chris, but I think that these widows have attacked President Bush.
TAIBBI: ... and a liberal counter-voice.
SAM GREENFIELD, WWRI-AM RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I think she‘s a sad, pathetic, unhappy person.
TAIBBI: All the fall-out from a television exchange.
COULTER: You‘re getting testy with me!
LAUER: No, I‘m just...
LAUER: I think it‘s—I think it‘s a dramatic...
TAIBBI: Likely to be remembered well beyond the impact of some ill-tempered sentences in print—Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: And later tonight, New York senator Hillary Clinton lashed out at Coulter, saying that it‘s, quote, “unimaginable that anyone in the public eye could launch a vicious, mean-spirited attack on people whom I‘ve known over the past four-and-a-half years to be concerned deeply about the safety and security of our country.”
With me now, Air America and former law partner of mine, Mike Papantonio. He‘s the host of the show “Ring of Fire” on Air America. Also, Republican strategist Jack Burkman.
Gentlemen, I want to read for you what Ann Coulter said back to Hillary Clinton. She responded to Senator Clinton‘s criticism, telling “The Drudge Report, quote, “Before criticizing others for being mean to women, perhaps Hillary should talk to her husband, who was accused of rape by Juanita Broaddrick and was groping Kathleen Willey at the very moment Willey‘s husband was committing suicide.”
Jack Burkman, it‘s getting very ugly out there. Can you defend the comments of Ann Coulter?
JACK BURKMAN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: All the way, Joe! At the risk of being still more controversial this week, if anything, in a lot of ways, I think she understates the point. Ann is telling the truth! Regardless of the language—maybe some of her language is inflammatory. My God‘s sakes, she‘s selling books. These women exploited the deaths of their husbands. That‘s what they did. They did it—they did it before the bodies were cold. They rushed into television, to media, to books...
SCARBOROUGH: Jack, if my family members died...
SCARBOROUGH: Hold on, Jack. If my family members died on 9/11, I would be raising hell, too, if I didn‘t think the government did everything they should have done.
BURKMAN: Well, yes, Joe...
MIKE PAPANTONIO, “RING OF FIRE”: You know, Joe—Joe...
BURKMAN: The issue is that—what I would argue, and I think what Ann is arguing, is that was not their motivation. Sure, they can cut ads for John Kerry. They can have whatever type of political and economic view, and there‘s nothing wrong with selling books. But what is morally wrong is when you exploit the death of your family members to do that and to make money!
You know, Osama bin Laden is sitting tonight in a cave somewhere in the subcontinent, and he‘s amazed. You know why? He‘s shocked because what we have done, what these women have done and others have done with 9/11, they have commercialized him. They‘ve taken 9/11 and...
SCARBOROUGH: Make Papantonio, I ought to ask you. You work for Air America. You‘ve got your own popular show. A lot of people on the right have accused Air America of also being vitriolic in some of their statements.
PAPANTONIO: Let me tell you what—let me tell you what we haven‘t done. It‘s incredible that the responsibility of the Republican Party, Mr. Burkman, comes to this studio, looks in a camera and says, I stand behind Ann Coulter. That‘s what you juts said, Mr. Burkman.
BURKMAN: I stand by (INAUDIBLE)
PAPANTONIO: Now, let me remind you of something, OK? This woman who you stand behind, this woman who really represents your new Republican Party—let me remind you of something. She said of Timothy McVeigh, a man who killed 168 innocent men, women and children...
BURKMAN: Mike, this is off the point.
BURKMAN: Her credibility is not at issue. What‘s at issue is her statements and the facts.
PAPANTONIO: This is a woman who represents your Republican Party.
BURKMAN: Yes, but Joe, I want to point out what‘s going on here.
PAPANTONIO: This is a woman, Mr. Burkman, that you want up front...
PAPANTONIO: ... for the Republicans to divide this country with more hate. Let me...
BURKMAN: I don‘t mean to be unduly cantankerous...
PAPANTONIO: ... tell you what she said.
BURKMAN: I don‘t mean to be unduly cantankerous, but I will tell you...
PAPANTONIO: No, I do, because you, sir, are an embarrassment to your party!
PAPANTONIO: ... studio and support a woman who said it‘s OK to murder 168 innocent men, women and children in Oklahoma...
SCARBOROUGH: Let‘s stop. We want to stay on this 9/11 widows issue and not go back to Oklahoma City. Jack Burkman, Hillary Clinton stepped into the fray, and her comments were that Coulter was vicious and mean-spirited. Can you agree with Senator Clinton that perhaps Ann Coulter should have used her words more—chosen her words more carefully?
BURKMAN: You know, Joe, I really can‘t. In fact, in this society, we have too much PC. You know, Ann had said this. I had that thought five years ago when I saw how breathlessly these women stepped into just the fame thing. You know, they remind me of Cindy Sheehan and so many other people who before the bodies are cold, they‘re out selling and trying to make money.
But I would say this. You know, my worthy adversary today, my opponent, he‘s—he doesn‘t—he has not addressed the charge. He refuses to do that. The only thing he will comment on is Ann Coulter‘s past. And so let me ask him this question. Do you feel—looking at these women, don‘t you have to agree that they were immoral in the fast way in which, the speedy way in which they exploited commercially their husbands‘ deaths?
PAPANTONIO: Sir, I think you‘re an embarrassment, and I think you‘re immoral for defending what...
BURKMAN: You won‘t answer the question...
PAPANTONIO: Let me just—no, let me answer it this way. This is a woman who called these widows harpies. She called them witches. These are women that were married to men for 40 years, raised children, raised grandchildren...
PAPANTONIO: ... burned to death...
BURKMAN: All of that is irrelevant to the discussion.
PAPANTONIO: ... in a building—burned to death in a building. And this 44-year-old Republican...
BURKMAN: But you see...
PAPANTONIO: ... political sociopath—this sociopath has the audacity...
PAPANTONIO: ... to go on the air and insult these women! And you know what?
BURKMAN: All of that...
PAPANTONIO: You‘re one...
BURKMAN: All of that...
PAPANTONIO: ... of them, too...
PAPANTONIO: You are one of them, too!
SCARBOROUGH: I want to play another Ann Coulter clip. She appeared on “The Situation With Tucker Carlson” last night and didn‘t back down. Take a look at what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COULTER: Why can‘t we hear these half-baked liberal bromides from Howard Dean? Why do liberals always choose spokesmen like the “Jersey girls,” like Cindy Sheehan, like Joe Wilson, who, because of some personal aspect of their life, we are not allowed to respond!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Jack Burkman?
BURKMAN: Joe, I think there is a—Ann is right on the money. I think she was eloquent and articulate. I will not shrink from the truth. I will tell you, there is a powerful growing and disturbing trend in this country of people, when their loved ones die, they exploit it, they rush right into the—they rush right into fold, and because—they rush right to the floor (ph) -- and because of this PC thing, where you can‘t criticize someone in the media if there‘s been a death in their family, they get away with it.
BURKMAN: They get away with it, and it‘s...
SCARBOROUGH: I‘ll give you—Mike, I‘ll give you the last 15 seconds.
PAPANTONIO: Yes. Here it is. Here it is. This woman, Ann Coulter, represents everything Mr. Burkman represents, which is the new Republican fringe—crazy, kookie party. That‘s who Ann Coulter represents. That‘s why Mr. Burkman came here tonight to support her. She‘s the voice for this new Republican Party...
BURKMAN: You still didn‘t answer the question.
PAPANTONIO: ... that divides this country with hate!
SCARBOROUGH: All right...
SCARBOROUGH: Going to have to leave it there. Mike Papantonio of Air America, Jack Burkman, Republican strategist, thank you so much for being with us. This debate, I promise you, friends, is not going to back down.
My personal opinion? If my loved one dies, I‘ve got a right to go out and fight for their memory, and I‘m going to want justice. And I may not be logical in everything I say, but I feel like I‘ve got a right to say it.
Now, when we come back, daytime‘s diva, Oprah Winfrey, accused of glamorizing misery and encouraging people to ignore reality. An inside look when we return. Plus, Dan Rather booted to the curb by CBS? Former CBS News producer Mary Mapes says Dan was a victim of CBS soaps (ph). Others say he‘s getting exactly what he deserves. That‘s straight ahead.
SCARBOROUGH: Is Oprah Winfrey bad for America? A new article finds good in the TV show but also says it promotes an empty, cynical, selfish outlook on life. We‘ll talk about Winfreyism with that author when we return, but first here‘s the latest news you and your family need to know.
SCARBOROUGH: It seems CBS would rather not have Dan on their payroll. Former CBS News producer Mary Mapes stands by her man as the long knives come out.
And the Brangelina baby isn‘t even two weeks old and already the picture is worth millions. Tonight, we compare the Brangelina photo fiasco to another famous birth done right.
Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. Those stories in just minutes, but first it‘s time for tonight‘s “Must See SC,” video you just got to see.
First up, Milwaukee, where a nice day at the ballpark turned ugly for this guy. He was going for a foul ball during Monday‘s Padres-Brewers game, and he trampled his own girlfriend in the process. Adding insult to injury, he didn‘t even come up with the ball. Hey, buddy, someone is sleeping on the couch tonight.
The next stop: Amazing video from a military exercise in Colombia. A truck taking part in the event lost control and slammed into an audience of dignitaries and members of the press. The truck‘s brakes reportedly failed, sending it straight into the podium. Luckily, no one was killed, except possibly the driver who was taken out back and shot.
And finally, surprise, surprise, another bear caught up in another tree, this one in Spring Valley, New York, tumbled 25 feet to the ground after officers shot it with a tranquilizer dart. But as Yogi Berra once said, it‘s like deja vu all over again. Animal lovers, don‘t worry, both the California bear and our famed trampoline bear, ow, are doing just fine.
From bears to big-time stars, Oprah Winfrey is once again grabbing headlines, this time as a wedding crasher. Here she is over the weekend in Tulsa, Oklahoma, showing up uninvited, cameras rolling, to a wedding.
But the bride and groom were not complaining, of course. Who would, when Oprah Winfrey showed up bearing gifts? What was Oprah thinking? What was going through her head when she turned a private wedding into a media event for her show?
Well, that‘s the type of question a new piece in this month‘s “New Republic” tries to answer. With me now, the man who wrote that article, Lee Siegel, a senior editor at the magazine. Also, we have Dawn Yanek, editor-at-large at “Life and Style” magazine. And also Steve Adubato, a media analyst who is the author of two books, “Speak from the Heart” and “Make the Connection.”
Lee, you said that Oprah does a lot of good things with her show, a lot of positive comments, but near the end of the article you say this of her. “Winfreyism is an empty, cynical, icily selfish outlook on life.” Explain that to us.
LEE SIEGEL, “THE NEW REPUBLIC”: Well, I think she gives people the impression that they can change their lives merely by sitting in their living room and watching her show. And I think that this very sunny show of hers appeals to a dark side of human nature.
You know, she‘s often spoken of as having a very Christian-influenced show, but there is something pagan about it. I mean, she gives you a weekly or on a daily basis human sacrifice. You know, she shows you people who are literally sacrificed on their pain, impaled on their sorrow and traumas.
And I think that she makes her viewers‘ self-esteem and feelings of well-being depend on the afflictions of other people. And I think there is something very selfish and empty about that.
SCARBOROUGH: Is that why Oprah is so popular with so many people?
SIEGEL: That‘s one reason. There are a million reasons why Oprah is popular. She is very good at what she does. You know, the show is one huge distillation of the American dream. It‘s extraordinary, actually.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, Lee, what I don‘t get is how she can go from doing a story on the Holocaust, where she actually fines grace in the actions of those who committed atrocities, to a story on tsunamis, to the next day doing a story, as you say, on t-shirts that fit just right. How does she whip around like that and still hold her audience?
SIEGEL: Well, I think that‘s why she holds her audience. You know, no one wants to see a week-long program set in Auschwitz. That‘s really a downer.
I think that she holds her audience by sort of blurring all experiences together so that, by the end of the week, if you‘ve watched Oprah every day, you really feel that you have vicariously passed through all the ups and downs of the human condition and you‘ve come out fine, and you can just, you know, go to sleep very nicely Friday night.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, Steve, and there really—what‘s wrong with that? I mean, Ronald Reagan, he became a wildly successful president by simply making people feel better about themselves. Isn‘t that what Oprah Winfrey does every day?
STEVE ADUBATO, PH.D., MEDIA ANALYST: Sometimes, Joe, but she does a lot of other things. I mean, I have to tell you, the beef I have with Oprah—look, she deserves everything she gets. She‘s popular. She‘s worked hard. But sometimes Oprah doesn‘t understand that, with great power, comes extraordinary responsibility.
Last time I was on, Joe, what we talked about was how unbelievably blind Oprah was to the fact that she was telling people on her show, you know, over the lunch hour you can become 10 minutes younger. She had these people on talking about cosmetic surgery, as if it wasn‘t really anything to worry about. There weren‘t any great medical risks. She had nobody else on talking about the alternatives or the downsides.
Here‘s my problem: Oprah sometimes loses perspective on the fact that she‘s not God, she‘s not omnipotent. She‘s powerful, but in fact she needs to be held accountable, like the rest of us. I think she forgets it sometimes.
DAWN YANEK, “LIFE AND STYLE” MAGAZINE: Oh, but, see, I just think that Oprah would be the first to say, “I am not God. I am not the person who should be preaching to you. I am putting out there different products, different experiences, different experiences of pain and suffering, also different medical treatments, different fashions.” You can look at it. You can choose it, but you should not take my word for it.
This is not a launching pad. This is something then you should go out and do extra research on. I just think she inspires people. People aspire to be like her. Why? Because she has gone through adversity in her life. She has overcome so much. And she is very inspirational in that way.
And she‘s saying: Be a little bit better. Be a better person, because I‘ve done it. You try it, too.
ADUBATO: Dawn, you‘re being—and, listen, I appreciate it. And, by the way, you know, every time I‘m on, I have to say this to my wife, because my wife, Jennifer, watches Oprah all the time. But here‘s the problem: My wife, along with millions of others, went out and bought the James Frey book, both of them.
And you know it, Dawn. The problem is Oprah didn‘t have other points of view very often. It‘s not a debate. And that‘s OK. It‘s not MSNBC. But the problem is, after the fact, Joe, look what she did. She‘s such a chameleon, she turned the James Frey situation totally around, had him on, beat the heck out of him on the air, and then she became the heroine. It‘s amazing.
YANEK: But you‘re saying basically she doesn‘t have a different point of view. Of course she does. As new information is brought to light, she changes her opinion. And she says, wow, I thought something different. I‘m showing you now what I believe.
The thing is, we are following Oprah on her (INAUDIBLE) as she is evolving, as she‘s learning, as she‘s changing her mind, and she has the right to do that.
SCARBOROUGH: And, Lee, she has gone through so many changes since she was syndicated in 1986. What does it say about America that this is the most powerful woman on TV? We talk about Oprah, but really aren‘t we just holding up a mirror to ourselves as a culture?
SIEGEL: Well, I think in many ways, Oprah is sort of America‘s unconscious rising to the surface. She does represent some positive elements of American life. You know, it‘s a very—America is the only place in the world where really you can change your life to the extent where you can‘t elsewhere.
But at the same time, I think that Oprah, she has this terrible effect, she‘s a kind of reality-dispelling sunshine machine. So she‘s a blessing and a curse.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, Lee Siegel, we‘ll have to leave it there. Thank you, Lee. Thank you, Dawn. Thank you, Steve, as always. We greatly appreciate it.
And let‘s bring in right now Rita Cosby. She‘s the host of Rita Cosby “LIVE & DIRECT.” Rita, what do you have coming up at 10:00?
RITA COSBY, HOST: Well, Joe, you‘ve been talking a lot about Oprah crashing weddings, Joe. We have the actual tape. And we‘ll show it to you for the first time on our show. Did Oprah catch the bouquet? What happened at the wedding? You‘ll find out.
Plus, a sexual predator is now off the streets, now behind bars for raping and killing Tiffany Souers in South Carolina. We have been doing some digging, and you will be outraged that this man got out of jail early and committed not only this heinous crime, but several others in the last few weeks. We‘ll be talking a lot about this, “LIVE & DIRECT” at the top of the hour—Joe?
SCARBOROUGH: All right. Thanks so much, Rita.
And coming up next here in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, dead man reporting? Dan Rather could be gone from CBS News by the end of the year. So how could the mighty have fallen so far, so fast? We‘ll ask his former producer coming up next.
SCARBOROUGH: Is CBS News ready to dump Dan again? You know, Dan Rather e was pushed out of the anchor chair after a botched report on President Bush‘s National Guard service, but we all heard that he was going to say on with the network as a correspondent for “60 Minutes.” But what a difference a year makes. According to today‘s “New York Post,” Rather could be kicked out of CBS by the end of the year.
I asked Mary Mapes, former CBS News producer and author of “Truth and Duty,” what message she thinks Dan‘s possible departure sends.
MARY MAPES, FORMER CBS NEWS PRODUCER: The thing that concerns me, Joe, is that this is not just about disrespecting Dan; this is about disrespecting journalism. I think Les Moonves is treating Dan and a number of CBS employee who have lost their jobs in the last year and a half, whether it was layoffs after “60 Minutes II” was cancelled, or the political unit being dissolved, or various movements in and around bureaus, international bureaus, I think Les Moonves is treating CBS News employees, journalists, like they‘re extras in some kind of sitcom he doesn‘t want running on his station anymore.
SCARBOROUGH: I know you‘ve seen some of these quotes about Dan Rather lately, the long knives are out. Richard Cohen, a former producer said, “This is a story of Macbeth. It‘s about an anchor, someone who was so seized by his own ambition that he forgot everything else. All he wanted to do was anchor the evening news. In fact, he wanted to be the evening news.”
MAPES: Well, I do agree with Richard on one point. I think Dan did want to anchor the “CBS Evening News.” I think, like a lot of people who work very hard to get at a point in life, whether it‘s a politician, or a doctor, or anybody else, they aim for something, and I think Dan aimed for that because he loves journalism and he loves reporting, he loves telling people what‘s going on.
It‘s the most important thing in the world to him. And I don‘t blame him for that. That was his goal, and he achieved it.
SCARBOROUGH: Can you talk generally about how difficult this time has been for him, again, somebody that served as a journalist for all these years and then went out this way?
MAPES: Well, look, his life is not over. His career is not over. I think Dan has a lot of great work left in him. I have no idea where that‘s going to be.
I think CBS is foolish to handle it this way. And I think they‘re sending a message to every single employee that works for CBS right now that they really don‘t care. Dan worked for 44 years for the company, and he certainly deserves more respect than he‘s being shown.
SCARBOROUGH: All right. Mary Mapes, thank you so much for being with us. We really do appreciate it, again.
MAPES: No problem.
SCARBOROUGH: And with me now, a man with a very different point of view, Bob Kohn. He‘s the author of “Journalistic Fraud: How the New York Times Distorts the News and Why it Can No Longer Be Trusted.”
Bob, don‘t you think Dan Rather deserves better than this?
BOB KOHN, AUTHOR, “JOURNALISTIC FRAUD”: I‘m not so sure. I think clearly Les Moonves at CBS has to restore the credibility of the journalism within CBS News. And by moving Dan Rather off the scene, that‘s the first thing he has to do.
SCARBOROUGH: But Dan Rather still stands by that story. He says the documents may have been sketchy, but that story was still accurate.
KOHN: I think that‘s his problem. I mean, Mary Mapes is the one who presented those documents to him. Even until today, she laughably still contends that those documents are not fake. I mean, a four-year-old can determine that those documents were fake. It was proven to a certainty within days of their presentation.
Dan Rather‘s problem was not the documents; it was the cover-up during the two weeks after it was discovered that the documents were clearly fake. So that was the problem.
SCARBOROUGH: Don‘t you think some of the attacks against Rather, you know, may be going overboard, when people start comparing this guy to Macbeth? Is he really a Shakespearean figure here?
KOHN: If Mary has a good point in the article she wrote today, it‘s this, that every single organization, whether it‘s political or business, has political sniping within the organization. I don‘t think we can hold Dan Rather accountable for statements that were made 40 years ago, 30 years ago by former employees, disgruntled employees.
I mean, he was the boss, in a sense. And just the old Jackie Mason joke, you know, you know who a Jew—you can recognize a Jew in an organization because he‘s certain his boss in an idiot. You know, so Weisman, I think, you know, is taking some shots there that I don‘t think are necessarily deserved.
On the other hand, I do think Dan Rather deserves to leave. And it‘s pretty ironic. I mean, he has been slanting the news for many years. I mean, I know that as a consumer, and Bernard Goldberg knows that as an insider.
And he just got caught. And he said he was sorry, but I think he was sorry he got caught more than anything else. The irony, though, is he—you know CBS News as an organization is institutionally—has an institutional liberal bias. And Dan Rather has simply been carrying the banner of that institution. So I don‘t know why they don‘t give him a ticker-tape parade leaving that institution.
SCARBOROUGH: Bob, I got to ask you, just as we close here, because you made a comment about Jews. I certainly hope you‘re Jewish.
KOHN: Oh, I‘m very—I‘m Jewish. That‘s a Jackie Mason joke.
SCARBOROUGH: Thank God.
KOHN: He‘s been on your show.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, he has. If you were gentile, I would have serious problems with what you just said.
KOHN: It goes to every ethnicity. And everybody knows—I mean, everyone complains about their boss. And somebody at CBS is going to complain about Dan Rather. That‘s not what you hold Dan Rather accountable for. That‘s completely unfair.
Bias in the news and covering up a story when you know the document is fake, I mean, because you believe that George Bush, you know, did something that he shouldn‘t have done when he was in the National Guard, that‘s the problem, and that‘s the credibility that CBS lost. That‘s the credibility it‘s regaining by getting Dan Rather off the scene.
SCARBOROUGH: And as a guy that‘s worked in media and in Congress, I can tell you both Jews and gentiles always love sniping at their bosses.
With that, we‘ve cleared it up. Bob Kohn, thank you so much for being with us.
When we come back, Brangelina‘s baby, Shiloh. Her first picture worth millions, but not so much anymore. You‘ll see why.
And how another famous couple ruined an exclusive by beating the paparazzi at their own game.
SCARBOROUGH: Welcome back. So much for an exclusive. Now, I was hoping to be the first to bring you the photo everybody has been waiting to see of Brangelina, the Brad Pitt-Angelina Jolie production who went into the world among much fanfare last week.
Sadly, this is all we were able to offer you, because they were hiding out in Africa for weeks before the birth. Look at that.
A bidding war broke out over the coveted picture. “People” magazine reportedly paid $4 million for the privilege. Pitt and Jolie, though, made their first public appearance since their daughter‘s birth today in Africa, and it was the same kind of media hoo-hah in 2002 when Sarah Jessica Parker gave birth.
But since she just showed up outside to show the baby off to everybody and since all the media was there to capture the moment, the picture wasn‘t worth a lot and the story died quickly. And that, my friends, is the way to do it. We‘ll be back with tonight‘s mail bag.
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, wake up Auntie Em, it‘s time for tonight‘s SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY mail bag. Let‘s start with Rich in Florida. He says, “Bravo to Pat Buchanan and you, too, Joe. Thank you, thank you. Tell Pat to form a third party. Americans and the rednecks will rise.”
I think Pat has already tried that.
And finally, we go to Melody in Georgia. And Melody writes this, “You know, Oprah has done some good things, but her ego has gone beyond ridiculous. She‘s really become too full of herself, and this wedding crasher antic proves that yet again.”
Hey, I want to hear from you in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. Just send me your e-mails to Joe@MSNBC.com. We keep it pretty simple for you. That‘s Joe@MSNBC.com. And make sure to include your name and your hometown.
I want to thank you for being with me tonight. As always, we greatly appreciate it when you come to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. That‘s all the time we have for tonight, but we‘ll be back here tomorrow night again, live in Washington, D.C.
Now, stick around, because coming up with more information on Oprah and her wedding crasher routine, we‘ve got Rita Cosby with Rita Cosby “LIVE & DIRECT.” It starts right now—Rita?
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