Guests: Michael Crowley, Lawrence O‘Donnell, Matthew Felling, David Kohn, Ashlan Gorse, David Caplan
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST: NBC News declares Iraq to be in a state of civil war. Other news organizations follow our lead, but the president seems to be in denial. This name change is shaking up the White House and packing (ph) the new Congress and underlining the bleakness of the meltdown in Iraq. And most importantly, it may mean that Americans will demand that troops stop officiating a three-sided civil war and come home.
Here political analyst Lawrence O‘Donnell, and in Washington with him, Michael Crowley—he‘s senior editor for “The New Republic”—and MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan.
You know, Lawrence O‘Donnell, a lot of Americans won‘t be shocked. A poll that was taken just a month ago said that over 60 percent of Americans already believed that America was officiating a civil war, 65 percent to 29 percent. But this does have an impact, does it not, on the situation, when news organizations start calling this what it is, a civil war, day in and day out?
LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL, POLITICAL ANALYST: Absolutely, Joe. It has to. There comes a time where you ask yourself, What are we doing in a civil war? And I think, as you say, most of the public‘s already been thinking about it that way. And really, any choice of language in describing this becomes a political choice. The administration has language that they would prefer the news media use. If the news media was using that because the White House wants that, then...
SCARBOROUGH: I mean, if they talk about sectarian violence, that seems like such a clinical term that a lot of Americans are just going to breeze over. But it‘s a big difference, again, night in, night out, day in, day out, reading about or hearing about a civil war. That packs a punch every day, doesn‘t it.
O‘DONNELL: Yes, it does. And I think it is a more accurate phrasing for what we‘re seeing. I‘m not sure there‘s anything that is the perfect phrase for what we‘re seeing, but it certainly—civil war certainly suggests the magnitude of what we‘re seeing. It certainly suggests this is a country that is so unsafe that you can‘t have intergovernmental meetings there. And you have the prime minister of Iraq saying yesterday that politicians are responsible for the violence, that these are political factions. That‘s a change of tune for him, but when you say they‘re political factions that are responsible for the violence, then you are confirming that it is indeed a civil war.
And I think NBC—I understand how this decision was made. It was not an easy decision. It was made very carefully. Steve Capus, president of NBC News, is the kind of person who‘s not going to take this thing lightly, and I think it was the right way to go. I don‘t think there‘s anything premature about it. I think it makes sense.
SCARBOROUGH: And Michael Crowley, but you look at what the White House is saying, what they said this morning—let me read this from the White House and the National Security Council. “While the situation on the ground is very serious, neither Prime Minister Maliki nor we believe that Iraq is in a civil war.”
If that‘s, in fact, what the White House believes, they are alone. And is this more denial from a White House that a lot of people have been accusing of sticking their head in the sands for too long?
MICHAEL CROWLEY, “THE NEW REPUBLIC”: Yes. I mean, Joe, that‘s the issue here. I think that you can debate a little bit about the definition of civil war. There are some people who say, Well, civil war should involve people who are holding territory. A civil war would involve millions of refugees.
The problem is that the White House was in denial about the fact that there was an insurgency going on. The White House was in denial about the fact that we had a continuing war after the mission was accomplished. So I‘m not inclined to give them a lot of benefit of the doubt now in saying, No, it‘s not a civil war. I think we took too long to wake up to the reality of the growing insurgency, of the ongoing war that‘s really ruined our chances of anything good coming out of Iraq. And so I think we shouldn‘t make the same mistake again now and be in denial about the possibility, and at this point, I think the reality of a civil war in Iraq.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, when Reagan got in trouble, Pat Buchanan, when you were there, in Lebanon, he was in the middle of a civil war just like this. You had four, five, six sides shooting at each other. What did Reagan do? He got the hell out immediately. It‘s the same situation—well, not the same situation, but it‘s a similar situation, where you don‘t have two people—two sides killing each other, you‘ve got, four, five, six different elements going after each other. And what are our troops doing in the middle of it now?
PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, our troops have been in there now longer than they‘ve been in World War II, Joe. But I think it‘s more like a war of all against all, as Hobbes wrote. You got a secessionist war in the north, where the Kurds want to break away. You‘ve got the Shi‘a versus the Sunni. You‘ve got al Qaeda versus the Americans. You got the Shi‘a versus the Shi‘a.
Look at this situation. You got Muqtada al Sadr, our great enemy there, whom we had a battle with—he and we support the Maliki government. We‘re together behind it. So it is really—I mean, nobody‘s going to really object if somebody calls it a civil war. But I will say this. Look, this is not a Cronkite moment. We‘re not much different today than we were a week ago, other than a really horrible week last week. It‘s the same war now as it was then.
SCARBOROUGH: And it keeps getting worse.
BUCHANAN: It keeps getting worse. But Where I disagree with some of the—you know, the folks who rushed us in here who now want to rush us out, I think if we walk out, I think you pull the plug on that government. I think the army breaks up into sectarian factions and militias. And I think you really get an all-out horror show, with people killing people on a colossal scale and intervention by outsiders in the middle of this war.
SCARBOROUGH: And the point that you made, Pat, also earlier was the fact that the very people that came to our side, that put their necks out on the line, they will be the first ones slaughtered when we leave.
BUCHANAN: You know, look—let‘s take a look at—I mean, I remember Vietnam very well in 1975. I mean, 50,000 South Vietnamese were killed at once, hundreds of thousands put in reeducation camp, a million boat people. Twenty Cambodians died in the first year of peace for every American killed in that war. These people—all the ones with the orange or purple fingers, all the ones that put their faith in the United States, democracy, all of this, they are goners if we walk out of there.
SCARBOROUGH: They‘re the ones that are killed immediately. And Lawrence, O‘Donnell, it seems to me that, unfortunately, with the situation getting more and more bleak, a lot of Americans don‘t have confidence in the commander-in-chief. You know, a month ago, the president was talking about the administration‘s job and what they were going to do to prevent a civil war in Iraq. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What happens if a full-fledged civil war breaks out?
GEORGE WALKER BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our job is to prevent the full-scale civil war from happening in the first place. It‘s one of the missions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: I mean, Lawrence, again, that may have been their job, but if that was their job, they failed. And now what do we do?
O‘DONNELL: Well, if that was their job, Joe, they were not equipped to do it. I don‘t see this as a military failure, in the sense that the troops who are there are doing a fantastic job of what they‘re capable of doing. But to leave the troops there now, just because, as Pat has pointed out, that if we take troops out of there, obviously, more people are going to be killed in the initial wave, as soon as the American military leaves. But to leave them there without a military mission is not something that you can do. That‘s not what an army is for. An army has to have...
SCARBOROUGH: And Lawrence, I‘ve never accused John Kerry of being prescient, but you go back to the end of his 1971 testimony before the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, what was the last line? What was the question John Kerry asked back then that keeps ringing in my head today?
O‘DONNELL: Yes, Joe, it‘s that question of who‘s going to be the last soldier to die for a mistake. And we are at that stage now in Iraq where we have to ask ourselves, Who is that going be, and why will we have left that soldier there that long? What is it that we think we‘re doing with the military now? You can‘t just put the military in a spot and, say, Look, we want you to be here because if you‘re not, more people will get killed. Well, how many of our soldiers get killed in an exercise that actually, in those terms, does not have a military objective? Without a military objective, we can‘t stay there.
SCARBOROUGH: And you know, the thing is, I‘ll be the first to admit right here, I was against Bosnia. I was against the intervention in Kosovo. I was aggressively against it because I did not believe American troops should be put in the middle of a three-sided civil war, as I said, that had been going on since the 14th century. You‘ve got a situation here that is equally as bleak. It has devolved into a civil war.
And Michael Crowley, let‘s talk about today. To give people an idea of the violence in Iraq, just today at 11:3 AM, gunmen fired on a crowded Baghdad street, killing six Iraqis. At 1:30, gunmen killed a house painter. A half an hour later, assailants fire on a gun—on a car carrying a groom, killing the man and his mother. At the same time, insurgents assassinated a former mayor. At 5:00 PM, militants raided a police station in Baghdad, killing one. Twenty minutes later, a roadside blast killed four civilians north of Baghdad. Ten minutes later, two Shi‘ites were killed in a battle with gunmen in a Sunni neighborhood. And reporters found—or police found 60 bodies with signs of torture. And of course, an F-16 crashed near Baghdad and two Iraqi militant groups claimed that they downed the plane.
Michael, how do we—and again, I‘ve—I‘m just doing the father test. If one of my sons or daughters was over in Iraq right now and this was declared a civil, war and that was going on every day and our guys were running around with targets on their back, there is no way in hell I would sit back and say, Well, you know what? He‘s supporting the flag. He‘s supporting the country. Let‘s ride it out.
CROWLEY: Well, that‘s the problem, Joe. I mean, no one is really putting forward a convincing argument that we can stitch this thing back together. I think the point that there will be horrible slaughter, accelerated slaughter if we withdraw, is probably true. But the problem is, is there some outcome where we hold off the slaughter and then make things work? And I don‘t see anyone making that argument in a way that, you know...
SCARBOROUGH: Some people are saying take more troops in, but even with more troops, it‘s so chaotic...
BUCHANAN: ... the case is this, I think. Look, there‘s no doubt, if you pull out, there‘s going to be a massacre and a slaughter of our people. But that‘s not the end of it. This war‘s not going to end like the Vietnam war ended. This war is just beginning. This is phase one. The Iranians will move to consolidate the Shi‘a in the south. The Turks aren‘t going to let an independent Kurdistan—they will go into there. You‘re going to have in Anbar province a terrorist base camp. You‘re going to have the Jordanians and the others helping the Sunnis in there. You can have an all-out...
SCARBOROUGH: You‘re going to have Turkey invading from the north.
You‘re going to have Iran invading from the east.
BUCHANAN: Iran will consolidate with the Shi‘a.
SCARBOROUGH: You‘ll have Jordan and the possibility...
BUCHANAN: If you pull the plug, Joe...
SCARBOROUGH: ... of Syria going from the west.
BUCHANAN: If you pull the plug, the fear is that the Iraq civil war -
call it that, a war of all against all—turns into a regional war of all against all.
SCARBOROUGH: I guess the question is this. We‘ve screwed up terribly going into Iraq and not managing it better than we have.
SCARBOROUGH: But how long do American men and women, how long do American fathers and daughters and sons—how long do they die over there?
BUCHANAN: Well, look, they should never have sent them in, in the first place!
SCARBOROUGH: I know, so what do we do now?
BUCHANAN: Let me tell you, if you pull them out—if I were the Pakistanis, I would cut a deal with the Taliban. I‘d say, The Americans are going when the going to gets tough. To hell with them. Let‘s go with the Chinese. The Taliban are our friends. They‘re going to wind up in charge. Let the Americans go where they want.
CROWLEY: Joe, can I just make one quick point? Because you mentioned the Balkans. And one of the tragic things here is that there were people who said in Bosnia and Kosovo, those people have been fighting since the 14th century. There‘s nothing you can do. It‘s hopeless. And we did it. It‘s held together. It‘s kind of fragile, but we did it. We had a lot more troops per capita...
CROWLEY: ... based on the population. We were smarter about it. We had a lot more international support, although it was controversial. So it‘s sort of maddening that this—these difficult things can be done, but I think, at this point, it‘s probably too late.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, we tried to win this war on the cheap, Lawrence O‘Donnell, a war that I know you opposed from the very beginning. But even those who...
O‘DONNELL: No, I didn‘t, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: Oh, OK.
O‘DONNELL: I did not oppose this war from the beginning. I actually did not have a view of whether we should do it. I thought...
SCARBOROUGH: So let me ask you...
O‘DONNELL: I reserved judgment to see how it was going to work out.
SCARBOROUGH: So what do we do now? You‘ve heard what Patrick says, and I understand if we pull out, it could cause a regional war. But you know, when it came to Kosovo and Bosnia, I said it‘s a three-sided civil war and it‘s a tragedy and I‘m very sad for these people, but I worry about American troops. I worry about the guys and the women that are going to come home in body bags to Dover. What‘s the answer here?
O‘DONNELL: Well, Joe, that‘s it. I‘m where you are. I‘m sitting there, imagining Joe Scarborough still in the Congress and one of his constituents gets killed in Iraq next month. What is that letter that Congressman Scarborough writes to that family? What does it say? What does it say about why that soldier died? I don‘t know how to write that letter, Joe. I don‘t think you know how to write that letter anymore about what that American soldier would be dying for in Iraq next month.
What Pat‘s talking about is this kind of—it‘s a very similar sound to the domino theory that Pat had about Vietnam, that if we pull out of Vietnam, then, you know, all of Southeast Asia‘s going to fall under global communist control forever. We don‘t know exactly what‘s going to happen when we pull out of Iraq. We do know that we are going to pull out of Iraq. We‘ve seen this before. We pulled out of Vietnam. We‘re going to do this. It‘ll be probably the next president. I‘m sure it‘ll be the next president that does it finally and fully. And what will happen in Iraq when we pull out two or three years from now is exactly what would happen if we pulled out two or three months from now.
SCARBOROUGH: OK, well—I‘ll tell you, I would have been able to write that letter that you were talking about up until the past six months. And words escape me now on exactly what I‘d put on that piece of paper. Lawrence, thanks for being with me. Michael, thank you. Pat Buchanan, as always, I appreciate you being here. And we‘re going to let you answer that domino theory...
BUCHANAN: It was Jack Kennedy‘s theory.
SCARBOROUGH: Oh, it‘s Jack Kennedy‘s theory, another Massachusetts Democrat there, Lawrence!
SCARBOROUGH: All right, thanks so much. And coming up next...
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. BARNEY FRANK (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Chris, I‘ve got to say, you have an odd view of balance.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Fox News under fire as Democrats flex their muscles. Democrats are in power for the first time in Fox‘s reign. Will they pay when Pelosi‘s troops take over? Plus, an NBC investigation shows America is short on Good Samaritans and filled with rude people. That undercover investigation coming up next.
But next, Seinfeld‘s Kramer begs forgiveness from Jesse Jackson while Jackson demands a boycott of Seinfeld‘s new DVD. Is Jackson throwing stones from a glass house?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JERRY SEINFELD, “SEINFELD”: Kramer, he‘s just a dentist.
MICHAEL RICHARDS, “SEINFELD”: Yes, and you‘re an anti-dentite.
SEINFELD: I am not an anti-dentite!
RICHARDS: You‘re a rabid anti-dentite!
RICHARDS: Oh, it starts with a few jokes and some slurs. Hey, denti!
RICHARDS: Next thing you know, you‘re saying they should have their own schools.
SEINFELD: They do have their own schools!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: (INAUDIBLE) Kramer was quick to call Jerry a racist—an anti-dentite, to be exact. These days, it‘s the man who plays Kramer who‘s apologizing to just about anybody who will listen after this now infamous racially charged outburst.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARDS: Shut up! Fifty years ago (INAUDIBLE) upside down with a (DELETED) fork up your (DELETED)! You can talk! You can talk! You can talk! You (DELETED) (INAUDIBLE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: And Richards‘s first apology came on David Letterman‘s show the day the video surfaced. But apparently, that wasn‘t enough, as Michael Richards turned up on the Reverend Jesse Jackson‘s radio show over the weekend to launch yet another mea culpa.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
RICHARDS: I was in a place of humiliation, and I came out with a tirade to humiliate those.
REV. JESSE JACKSON, RAINBOW/PUSH COALITION: You felt you had been humiliated by the audience and you reacted.
RICHARDS: Yes, the heckling and the disruptment of my act, and I went into what I went into.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: So are Kramer‘s apologies hitting the mark? And is he the victim of a double standard? Here now MSNBC analyst Steve Adubato. Steve, he‘s on the apology tour. It reminds me of Bill Clinton in 1999.
Is it going to work?
STEVE ADUBATO, MSNBC MEDIA ANALYST: No. Bill Clinton was a lot better at it and a lot believable—more believable and a likable character. The problem with Kramer—look, I‘m calling him Kramer. I‘m seeing this “Seinfeld” episode—is that Michael Richards is a guy we don‘t know. We know him as this guy Kramer. He has no reservoir, if you will, Joe, of good will, where you have a sense of who this guy is. He‘s been playing a character all these years. He does this insane, insensitive, clearly racist rant in LA, and there‘s no forgiving it. And the bottom line is, he can apologize for the next 10 years, and for most people, black and white, but particularly blacks, it‘s never going to matter because he got caught doing it, and that‘s it.
SCARBOROUGH: The thing is, though, it‘s so interesting that—and this has happened in our culture over the past 20 years—when a white person makes a racist comment or a racially insensitive comment, they always go to Jesse Jackson for apologizes, but Jesse Jackson‘s no stranger to this type of controversy. Back in ‘84, when he was running for president, he was caught referring to Jews as hymies and to New York City as “hymietown.” He apologized, but Jackson himself was lampooned in the press for it and even satirized by Eddie Murphy on “Saturday Night Live” with this musical apology. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EDDIE MURPHY, “SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE”: Don‘t let me down (INAUDIBLE) don‘t let me down. I was your one and only until I read the news. Well, now I‘m sad and lonely since I put down the Jews.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: The incomparable Eddie Murphy. I mean, very funny sketch.
ADUBATO: Funny but sad.
SCARBOROUGH: The sad part of it is that—again, I mean, for some reason, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton...
ADUBATO: A guy who‘s worse.
SCARBOROUGH: A guy—Al Sharpton, a guy—let‘s talk about it for a second...
ADUBATO: Let me put this out there because...
SCARBOROUGH: ... a guy that I like, Al Sharpton...
ADUBATO: He‘s great TV.
SCARBOROUGH: ... personally, but Al has made some racially insensitive comments in the past, too.
ADUBATO: Let me give you one. Let me—let me give you this one. This is ancient history for a lot of our viewers here on MSNBC, but there‘s a name, Tawana Brawley, 1988, 15-year-old young black woman in New York. She alleged that she was raped, beaten. She was found. None of it was true. It was a hoax. In fact, Sharpton held press conferences saying that he and others knew exactly who did it, a guy by the name of Stephen Pagonis (ph), a white law enforcement officer. He said that Robert Abrams, who was the attorney general in New York, should not be able to investigate the case and compared him to, quote, “Hitler.”
Here‘s my point...
SCARBOROUGH: Well, and—and of course...
ADUBATO: This is not a guy who you go to for an apology. He‘s a racial provocateur. He is not someone who is a healer. It takes nothing away from what this wacko did, Michael Richards...
SCARBOROUGH: ... but there are a lot of people out there who will say that right now, Kramer, as we‘ll call him, is living under a double standard, not just from Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, but from other people, too. I mean, my 18-year-old son, who goes to school at NYU, goes to comedy clubs and he was offended by this. But he said, Dad, you should hear what comedians say all the time about Hispanics...
SCARBOROUGH: ... about gays, about—you know, the jokes about Mexicans, the jokes about you name it.
ADUBATO: Let‘s be consistent, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: Asians, everything. And yet—I mean, things are being said in comedy clubs just to shock people.
ADUBATO: Now, here‘s—here‘s the thing, though, Joe. I want to be clear. Nothing that Michael Richards did was an effort to be funny. It was an effort in which he panicked. He acted insane, out of control. And my gut has to tell me that that‘s inside you. At least Mel Gibson, as bad enough as that was, he can say he was drunk. It doesn‘t condone it in any way. Michael Richards has no excuse.
But here‘s the thing. If we only act like racism works one way, whites against blacks, and blacks can‘t be insensitive to Koreans or Mexicans and Hispanics or others, it doesn‘t make any sense.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, Steve, and...
ADUBATO: Whites have not cornered the market on racism.
SCARBOROUGH: We‘ve got to go, though. You know, Steve, we got to go, but I just got to ask you this.
SCARBOROUGH: Oh, just to throw it out there. Sarah Silverman (ph), one of the funnier comedians out there, has a routine where she talks about how Mexicans smell. And she goes through it, and the audience absolutely collapses in laughter and hysteria. Now, if you‘re a Mexican, are you not...
ADUBATO: I‘d be totally offended.
SCARBOROUGH: ... just as offended by that as you are if somebody like Kramer throws the “N” word around like an idiot?
ADUBATO: Yes. My last statement is this, Joe. Absolutely, there is a double standard. The only explanation I have for it, other than hypocrisy, is that blacks have been hurt for so long by whites in this country, that that is the explanation that‘s given. It doesn‘t make it right, and that is not racial healing. And Jackson and Sharpton, in my view, they are not the guys you‘re are supposed to be going to.
By the way, Michael Richards, find the guys you said these things to.
They were on the “Today” show!
ADUBATO: And apologize to them. And by the way, finally, Gloria Allred, their attorney—forget the idea that she‘s going to have a retired judge...
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, yes, yes, yes.
ADUBATO: ... come up with an amount of money...
SCARBOROUGH: That‘s ridiculous!
ADUBATO: ... because where are you going to draw the line with that stuff? It‘s crazy, Joe, and...
SCARBOROUGH: You know...
ADUBATO: I hope this guy, you know, one day works again, a decade from now, but he‘s not the only one.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, Steve, we got to go. Thanks for being with us.
ADUBATO: My pleasure.
SCARBOROUGH: But you know what? Steve really hit the nail on the head here. If you‘re Michael Richards and you want to make things right, don‘t apologize to an entire race. Go to the two guys that you offended and get down on your knees and beg forgiveness, if you feel that in your heart. I mean, again, it‘s—you know, he‘s worrying about his career now instead of worrying about the two men who he slandered.
Coming up next: Can Fox News withstand an all-out assault from Democrats and other media icons? The latest attack on the “fair and balanced” ratings juggernaut. But first, Jimmy Kimmel gives the FCC a run for its money with some unnecessary censorship. My “Must See S.C.” is up next.
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, it‘s time for tonight‘s “Must-See SC,” some video you‘ve got to see. First up, President Bush didn‘t get a warm reception during his trip to the Far East. Craig Ferguson from “The Late, Late Show” asks him why that was.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CRAIG FERGUSON, HOST, “THE LATE, LATE SHOW”: Were you upset that thousands of Indonesians protested your visit?
GEORGE W. BUSH IMITATOR: Oh, is that what that was? I thought they were lining up for the new PlayStation 3. I have one on my plane. Those graphics are dope.
FERGUSON: Do you consider your trip a success?
GEORGE W. BUSH IMITATOR: I accomplished one thing my daddy never did as president: I went to Asia without barfing on a world leader.
FERGUSON: good for you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: That he did. And, finally, Jimmy Kimmel takes another look at what happens when the FCC goes wild. And by that, we mean it gets really, really cautious.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER ®, CALIFORNIA: I just wanted to come here and to say to the firefighters: (Bleep) you. For the great work that you‘re doing, (bleep) you.
PASTOR TED HAGGARD, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF EVANGELICALS:
Discipline me if I need to be disciplined. (Bleep) me if I need to be (bleep).
LUCY, “PEANUTS”: It is so embarrassing to have to ask for something extra for that (bleep) kid, Linus.
KATIE COURIC, CBS “EVENING NEWS” HOST: For our kids and ourselves, no cursing, no vulgarity. My parents wouldn‘t even let me say (bleep).
DR. PHIL MCGRAW, HOST: You should really be (bleep)ing me right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Oh, man. And coming up, first it was Bill Clinton, and now another top Democrat attacking FOX News on the air. But can the left do any real damage to O‘Reilly and friends?
And later, don‘t bother relying on the kindness of strangers. NBC‘s hidden cameras reveal just how hard it is to get help when you need it the most.
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. Is FOX News and its “fair and balanced” motto under attack? First it was Bill Clinton; now Massachusetts Democrat Barney Frank is accusing FOX News anchor Chris Wallace of conducting skewed interviews designed to make Democrats look bad. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. BARNEY FRANK (D), MASSACHUSETTS: I am struck by the tenor of your questions. You advertise this as giving us a chance to talk about what we‘re going to do, but everything is aimed at trying to put us in kind of a bad light and look at the most controversial and not very representative things that we plan to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: FOX News is standing by their man, saying Chris Wallace is a distinguished journalist whose record of fairness speaks for itself. But with the Dems once again getting a taste of power, is a network accused of leaning right prepared to be pushed around?
Here‘s Bob Kohn. He‘s author of the book, “Journalistic Fraud: How the New York Times Distorts the News and Why It Can No Longer Be Trusted.”
And with me now in Washington, D.C., Matthew Felling. He‘s the media director for the Center for Media and Public Affairs.
Matthew, let me begin with you. This is the first time in FOX‘s ascendancy that they‘ve had to deal with Democrats running Washington, D.C., or at least a part of it. Are we going to see a lot more of this?
MATTHEW FELLING, THE CENTER FOR MEDIA AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS: Oh, yes. In the words of Bruce Willis from “Die Hard,” welcome to the party, pal. I mean, this is how it goes. This is...
SCARBOROUGH: Is it fair?
FELLING: This is—well, are they being fair and balanced? I mean, this is just the tried and true method of attacking the messenger. Just like the “New York Times” has become shorthand for liberal media, “We‘ve got to get those guys out, we‘ve got to police ourselves,” FOX News Channel is the big bugaboo for the people on the left.
And if they start getting picked on or if they feel like they‘re getting nudged around and abused or bullied, they‘ll come back at it. And this is a new technique adopted by the left. It started with Bill Clinton, and I really think it was extremely calculated when he took on Chris Wallace back in September or October. I forget. And I think they‘re just following his lead, because it works, and because it actually does create more ink. And it just solidifies FOX as the “not so fair, not so balanced” network.
SCARBOROUGH: And it allows you to go, if you‘re Barney Frank or any other Democratic chairman-in-waiting, it allows you to go on this network and, any time you get asked too many questions that appear to be unfair or one-sided, then you can do that.
And, you know, it‘s not just obviously Barney Frank and Democrats that have been doing this. Actually, “The Daily Show” and other comedians have been doing it for quite some time. This is “The Daily Show” talking about Bill O‘Reilly‘s trip to Guantanamo Bay.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JON STEWART, HOST, “THE DAILY SHOW”: O‘Reilly was there to refute the president‘s critics who clearly don‘t understand the situation down there.
BILL O‘REILLY, FOX NEWS HOST: The Guantanamo controversy is easy to define. The Bush administration sees the 460 detainees as prisoners of war. The liberal press and some human rights groups believe they are criminals entitled to due process.
STEWART: It‘s simple, you stupid (bleep).
The Bush administration sees them as prisoners of war, and liberal commies see it otherwise. Oh, I‘m sorry, Condoleezza Rice, do you have something to say?
CONDOLEEZZA RICE, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: These people at Guantanamo are unlawful combatants; that is, they‘re not prisoners of war.
STEWART: Methinks Bill O‘Reilly needs to pay closer attention to what the White House wants him to say.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Bob Kohn, that‘s been really the left‘s talking points for some time, that Bill O‘Reilly, FOX News is nothing more than the mouthpiece of the White House and Republicans. Now it looks like Democrats that are taking charge of the Hill are saying it, too. Is FOX News in trouble?
BOB KOHN, AUTHOR: Well, I‘m not one to criticize another for complaining about media bias. But if you‘re going to do it, I think you ought to get your facts straight.
You know, when Clinton was on Chris Wallace, Chris Wallace asked him whether you had done enough to prevent 9/11, and that‘s when Clinton blew up. And he complained that Chris Wallace didn‘t ask that question to anyone in the Bush administration.
Well, six months earlier, on March 22, 2006, Chris Wallace asked that exact question to Donald Rumsfeld, OK? So Clinton didn‘t have his facts straight.
And when Barney Frank went on the air this weekend to complain about the same thing, basically using this mantra against Chris Wallace, I think he was really picking on the wrong person. Chris Wallace has been unusually fair and balanced. He asks difficult questions to both sides, no different than Tim Russert.
And I‘ve never seen a Republican or a conservative go to Tim Russert and say, “You know what? You shouldn‘t be asking me these tough questions. You‘re not being fair and balanced.” So I don‘t think, you know, the Democrats are really being fair, especially when they‘re picking someone on like Chris Wallace to FOX News, because FOX News has been unusually fair and balanced compared to the “New York Times,” NBC and CBS.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, you know, though, that message, though, if that is the case, is not getting out, even in pop culture. I mean, David Letterman has taken on FOX News Channel, and again the audience always cheers and screams.
Well, take a look at this exchange he had with Bill O‘Reilly.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, “LATE SHOW”: I‘m not smart enough to debate you point to point on this, but I have the feeling—I have the feeling...
LETTERMAN: I have the feeling about 60 percent of what you say is crap.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: And, of course, the audience laughs. This has been something that, again, late night comedians and now the Democratic Party have been hammering on. At some point, does it have an impact on people listening in, Matthew?
FELLING: Yes, it actually does. And I‘m glad that Bob brought up Tim Russert, because what Tim Russert does on his morning show on this very network, by the way, is he leads people out of their shell. And he says, “Hey, tell me what you think. Tell me how you feel, and explain why.” And then only after they‘ve stuck their neck out does he take out the blade.
Yesterday, I really think that Chris Wallace walked in with an agenda, because he said, “Let‘s talk about the 110th Congress. What are you going to do about the dissent within your ranks? What are you going to do about the extremists?” And he was coming at it automatically.
SCARBOROUGH: There are people, though, Matthew, at FOX News that obviously come at you, and they‘ll tell you they have a conservative agenda. But is Chris Wallace, as Bob Kohn said, really the guy to go after?
FELLING: I think, well, when you‘re a Republican and you say, “Oh, the horrible ‘New York Times,‘ horrible liberal bias,” you don‘t have to name a name. And when you were talking about FOX News, it doesn‘t matter if you‘re talking about Margaret Skinner or you‘re talking about Chris Wallace or Bill O‘Reilly. FOX News equals conservative bias. So it‘s just a brand name argument.
KOHN: I think there‘s a tremendous amount of jealousy out there over FOX News. I mean, the mainstream media has had a monopoly over the news coverage for the past 20 or 30 years or so—or more, actually—and along comes the alternative media, cable news, 24-hour news, Internet blogs. And now they‘re providing this kind of analysis that tears apart the facts that are being put out there by the “New York Times” and the three major networks.
SCARBOROUGH: But, you know, Bob Kohn, part of the problem is that—like, for instance, when it was discovered that Dick Cheney demanded that TVs in his hotel room be tuned to FOX News, or when we heard that FOX News is played all over the place in the White House, it fed into what people on, you know, on the Democratic Party or the “Daily Show” were saying about it. Take a look at this clip and then respond.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEWART: Here is the detail that I found most interesting. “All television sets must be tuned to FOX News.” Wow, wow. Because God forbid he walks into a hotel room, and the TV is on another channel, and he finds out what a (bleep) job he‘s been doing. Imagine that...
... you know, he‘s got to avoid CNN, MSNBC. He‘s also got to avoid Animal Planet, I think is doing stories about that now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: And, Bob Kohn, when Dick Cheney shot his friend in the face, who did he go to? He went to FOX News.
KOHN: Yes, well, you know, I assume that President Clinton and other presidents and other people in public office have given similar instructions that haven‘t been leaked such as that. It is embarrassing, I think, to Cheney, and it‘s probably embarrassing to FOX News, as well. That‘s the way the cards fall.
But, you know, I think someday “The Daily Show” is going to find itself under a lot of criticism, particularly as the Democrats take control of Congress, to see how much they really go after Nancy Pelosi. I know that there are some segments on “The Daily Show” that have gone after the Democrats, but I really haven‘t seen Jon Stewart kind of change his color now.
I haven‘t seen him move to start criticizing the Democrats in congress. We‘ll have to watch that closely, because I don‘t think “The Daily Show” has been fair and balanced. And if they‘re going to maintain their credibility as a reliable source of comedy, they better start being fair and balanced.
SCARBOROUGH: All right. Well, we will see if that happens. Bob Kohn, thanks a lot. And, Matthew Felling, thank you.
And I think the bottom line is, again, Republicans, as Matthew said, Republicans have attacked the “New York Times”—I have myself—and other liberal media outlets for quite some time. I think the same thing is happening on the left now, with Democrats going after FOX News. I think it‘s just part of their talking points. And you know what? All‘s fair in politics. I say more power to them. We‘ll see if it works.
Coming up next, if you think America is getting kinder and gentler, guess again. NBC‘s hidden cameras show just how rude some Americans can be, especially when strangers are in dire need of help.
And later, the third wedding apparently wasn‘t the charm for Kid Rock and Pam Anderson. We have the full scoop on “Hollyweird‘s” latest celebrity divorce.
SCARBOROUGH: Are we as a nation becoming less helpful and less polite? NBC trekked across the country using hidden cameras in an investigation to find out how rude the average American can be. And Matt Lauer takes us through the good, the bad, and the downright ugly.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I like to go on bicycle trips, too. Do you?
MATT LAUER, “TODAY” SHOW HOST (voice-over): Our view of the past is so often idealistic.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you help me put this sign up?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, sure.
LAUER: But is this more movie nostalgia than reality? Can we still count on the kindness of strangers?
We begin our study on the sunny piers of Santa Monica, California. With our cameras out of sight, we sent Noelle and Derrick (ph), two willing rollerbladers, out on a pier to find out if laidback West Coasters would slow down enough to assist a stranger in need.
At first, it looked as though Noelle was on her own. But after that initial fall and some minor scrapes, she started seeing a kinder side of L.A.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thanks.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you good?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, actually. Thank you.
LAUER: Noelle received help on all but one of her falls. Why? For most, the answer was simple.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was afraid she was injured.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was actually very afraid nobody else was going to help her, because I‘ve seen it too often.
LAUER: But did gender play any role?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I saw a pretty young lady down for the count, so I thought I‘d stop and see how she was doing.
LAUER: We found out moments later when Derrick hit the pier.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you OK?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I think I‘m OK.
LAUER: Hardly a big show of sympathy, but better than his next fall, where no one stopped at all.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He didn‘t look like he was in any kind of pain, so I continued on walking.
LAUER: Finally, Derrick tries asking for help.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Could you guys help me up?
LAUER: It looks like Californians did pretty well by our damsel in distress...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you. I appreciate it.
LAUER: ... but when it comes to the guys, it‘s every man for himself...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn‘t feel like even once someone stopped what they were doing to come over and really see if I was OK or even put out their hand.
LAUER: Next, we head south to see if Southern charm is alive and well, and if this Texas grandmother gets a hand with her heavy bundle. On her first trip to the car, Paula McKinsey (ph) doesn‘t even make it to the curb before getting assistance.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wait just a minute, fellow.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If that was like my grandma or like my mom or something, I‘d want somebody to help her.
LAUER: Later, this woman helped load the trunk.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She looked like she needed help. I couldn‘t just leave her standing there by herself.
LAUER: But not everyone felt the same way.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some people, they don‘t even want no help, so...
LAUER: In fact, out of 10 trips to the car, just three shoppers stopped to offer assistance, a disappointing result.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Some people were real nice and real friendly, and some weren‘t. That‘s life.
LAUER: Next, we head north to find out if good, old-fashioned Midwestern values are a thing of the past. Minnesota natives Peg and Doug Kwam (ph) agreed to split up and split their bags in the Mall of America.
In this test, our married couple fared about the same. It was rare that no one offered assistance. Doug was helped 15 out of 20 drops. At one point, an entire crowd jumps in. Peg received 17 offers of help for her 20 drops.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, this morning I determined that I was going to be a better person today.
LAUER: And six new shopping bags...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, that‘s perfect. Thank you so much.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just couldn‘t believe how helpful everybody is.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think I was surprised by the number of people that helped. I thought being a guy that they‘d be less likely.
LAUER: It turns out Minnesota nice isn‘t just a catchphrase.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It would be caring to help somebody.
LAUER: Our final test brings us back to New York City. It may have a reputation for being tough and gritty, but are the streets of Gotham as rough as they say? We asked one of our producers to find out.
It happens to lots of women, tucking a little too much in. With a cool breeze in the air and our intrepid producer feeling bare, we hit the streets to find out those who care and those who, well, just stare. New York‘s bravest admired, but no rescue here. This man took the “rear” opportunity to take a picture. This duo took notice but let our producer walk off. But thankfully, she wasn‘t the butt of everyone‘s joke.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, thanks. I appreciate it. Oh, thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, thanks. It‘s a little chilly back there.
Some people came to my rescue, but I was more surprised about how many people did not. I could hear people laughing.
LAUER: In the end, our results were mixed, but there was one thing everyone could agree on...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If something like that were to happen to me, I would want assistance, too.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If somebody helps, maybe other people will help someone.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: was pretty much doing what I would hope somebody would do for me.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Whatever you do for somebody else, you‘ll get it back at another time.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, thank you very much.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, I‘ve always found Americans are incredibly generous, and thank God they finally found another butt model at NBC instead of me. I was getting tired of having to walk around the streets of New York that way.
Speaking of weird, “Hollyweird‘s” up next.
SCARBOROUGH: You better reschedule your Botox appointment, because it‘s time “Hollyweird.”
First up, blink and you missed it, another “Hollyweird” marriage over. Pamela Anderson and Kid Rock both filed for divorce. Here now, Ashlan Gorse, she‘s editor-at-large for “Life and Style Weekly.” And “Star” magazine‘s deputy New York bureau chief David Caplan.
Ashlan, what happened with Pam and Kid Rock? I mean, they were just in the magazine talking about how much they loved each other.
ASHLAN GORSE, “LIFE AND STYLE WEEKLY”: Well, how much they love each other? They had three wedding ceremonies and then, oh, look, four months later, they‘re getting a divorce. Don‘t these people realize they just shouldn‘t get married? I don‘t understand why they all just want to have a party. They should have a birthday party, not get married.
But on a sad note, this is right after Pam Anderson did have a miscarriage about three weeks ago, so we don‘t know if that had anything to do with the divorce or the relationship going downhill, but, you know, I thought this one was in for at least six-month mark.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, you‘d think this would be a marriage that would at least last a lunchtime, but no such luck.
Hey, David Caplan, speaking of divorces, Jennifer Aniston, the woman divorced from Brad Pitt, but now “Star” magazine is reporting that “Dancing with the Stars” wants everyone‘s favorite friend to hit the ballroom floor. Talk about it.
DAVID CAPLAN, “STAR” MAGAZINE: That‘s right. The producers of “Dancing with the Stars” are really eager to get Jennifer on “Dancing with the Stars.” And Jennifer herself is a huge fan of the show, so it could happen, but I‘ve got to tell you, people in Jennifer‘s camp are saying, “No way. She‘s not ready for it. She‘s not a has-been. She should not go on a show that has the likes of Mario Lopez, Jerry Springer.” So Jen may want it, and it may be her dream, but, you know, her manager, the people around her, are saying, “Don‘t do it.”
SCARBOROUGH: Ashlan, very insulting words from David if you‘re Tucker Carlson. I mean, come on! If “Dancing with the Stars” has her on next year, I may actually put on my dancing shoes. Let‘s talk about two other people that went out and probably did some dancing. Britney Spears, freed from K-Fed, has been spotted with a new friend: partying with Paris Hilton. And TMZ has the video to prove it.
GORSE: I mean, they are new BFF. And I don‘t think this is a good pairing. Britney Spears is actually quoted as saying that Paris is really a role model to her. And if Britney Spears thinks that Paris Hilton is a role model, then she has lots of issues.
I mean, she was out partying all weekend in Vegas. And you‘ve got to remember: Yes, Britney‘s looking good. She dumped her awful husband, but she has two kids at home. So I don‘t think she should be, you know, dancing around on strip poles in Vegas.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, obviously, David, not the best career move for somebody that‘s trying to clean up her act and image, right?
CAPLAN: Yes, no, definitely not. And Britney was all over the place, not to mention Britney was very revealing the last couple of days. On the Internet, there were photos of her wearing very low-cut dresses and photos that showed her nether regions and her breasts. So Britney needs to clean up her act, and Paris Hilton is not the best partner in crime for that.
SCARBOROUGH: No, definitely not.
GORSE: Not at all.
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, thanks so much, Ashlan. Greatly appreciate it. Thank you, David Caplan. As always, great to have you with us. And it‘s great to have you with us tonight. It‘s all the time we have for tonight.
Coming up next on MSNBC, “The Dartmouth Murders.” It starts right now. We‘ll see you tomorrow night in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
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