Guests: Joan Walsh, Arianna Huffington, Jackie Gallo, Jill Dobson, Matthew Felling, Rachel Sklar
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST: And tonight: As the president heads for a desperate Mideast mission, he says Americans will stay in Iraq until the mission is completed, while blaming al Qaeda for chaos that‘s ripping that country apart at the seams. Today, reports that Hezbollah is funding death squads in Baghdad, while Iran‘s mullahs are demanding the U.S. get out now, meanwhile, “The Washington Post” saying the war in western Iraq is unwinnable. Quote, “Coalition troops are nor longer capable of militarily defeating the insurgency. The steady rise in attacks from mid-2003 to 2006 indicates a clear failure to defeat the insurgency.”
And all across Iraq today, more death, more destruction, more despair. With the president determined to stay the course, the White House is looking more isolated every day from Congress, from the country, and from the world community.
Here now to talk about it, Arianna Huffington, founder of the Huffingtonpost.com, Joan Walsh, editor-in-chief for Salon.com, and with me in Washington, MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan.
Arianna, let me begin with you. Does the president risk looking out of touch by telling Americans we have to stay in Iraq until we achieve victory?
ARIANNA HUFFINGTON, HUFFINGTONPOST.COM: He really sounds delusional, Joe. There is no possibility of achieving victory. That, after all, now has been said even by people like Henry Kissinger. And to keep sounding so delusional, it‘s as though he‘s been given last year‘s talking points and he‘s still using them.
He has not been able to define what the mission is for a long time now. It‘s been changing from finding WMD to spreading freedom and democracy to, We are going to stand down when they stand up. The bottom line is, we cannot define the mission. We need to bring our troops home. That‘s what the 2006 election was about.
SCARBOROUGH: And you know, Arianna, the thing that the president‘s facing right now is the fact that, you know, maybe a year ago, a lot of the Democrats would say that he‘d be delusional for thinking he could win the war, but most of the Republicans were with him. Now doesn‘t he risk a civil war within his own party by claiming that he can win this war?
HUFFINGTON: You‘re are using that term again, “civil war.” It‘s spreading within the Republican Party. Clearly, people like Chuck Hagel, who‘s written an op-ed recently that very, very powerfully argued about the reality of what‘s happening in Iraq, as opposed to what the president insists on describing in his own terms (INAUDIBLE) of course, Republicans like Pat Buchanan who have spoken the truth about Iraq for a long time. There have been divisions within the party for a while, but right now, they are becoming very difficult to hide.
SCARBOROUGH: But Arianna, what do Democrats do to stop this White House Iraq policy? Do they dare de-fund the war?
HUFFINGTON: Well, they have really two major powers. They have the power of the purse and they have the power of oversight. So I think they need to do two things right away when they become the majority in January. They need to start oversight investigations about the war profiteering that‘s going on. Robert Greenwald‘s movie, “Iraq for Sale,” very powerfully demonstrated what‘s going on. After all, even in the Second Word War, we had the Truman committee to look at that. Even for people who are in favor of this war, they should be clamoring for some real investigations about how taxpayer money is being spent. And they also need...
SCARBOROUGH: So do Democrats de-fund the war, though?
HUFFINGTON: Well, they—it‘s not about de-funding the war, it‘s about demanding some clear benchmarks, some clear timetables before any more supplemental appropriations continue to basically fund a war that is putting our own troops at risk for no conceivable reason anymore.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, the president, of course, is still refusing to call this crisis a civil war. Take a look at how “The Daily Show” addressed this delicate issue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JON STEWART, “THE DAILY SHOW”: Getting back to the civil war in...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Uh-uh-uh-uh~~! The ongoing scuffle between sectarian insurgent groups.
STEWART: OK, but that...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hold on. Hold on. The internal sovereignty challenge, or the faith-based melee.
STEWART: All right. Why can‘t we just say and call it a civil war?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because to American ears, the phrase “civil war” conjures horrible, jaw-dropping images of bloodshed, panned across slowly by Ken Burns.
STEWART: Three thousand Iraqis died just this month. To argue over what to call it seems like semantic quibbling.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Semantic quibbling? Well, I wouldn‘t call it that.
STEWART: What would you call it?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A minor linguistic flare-up between two parties with differing terminological points of view.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Joan, the audience is laughing, but a lot of people are laughing at the president for not calling this a civil war. Does the president risk starting a war of sorts in his own party, if he keeps insisting on keeping U.S. troops on the ground until the bitter end?
JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM: He absolutely does, Joe. Arianna‘s right, Chuck Hagel looks like a hero on this and the president looks delusional. I think the most disturbing thing about what he said today is the fact that this is supposed to represent a new diplomatic initiative. The administration is afraid of being outflanked by the Baker-Hamilton group, the Iraq Study Group, so the president is out there acting like, I can talk to foreign leaders, too. Jim Baker isn‘t the only one who can fly around the globe. And then he comes out with this utterly delusional statement about al Qaeda being behind the sectarian violence.
So I think he‘s really risking becoming irrelevant, becoming a laughingstock, and dividing his party. Absolutely.
SCARBOROUGH: And having, of course, more and more Republicans out there who again will refuse to stand by this president the further they move forward. Because, you know, I would say, Joan, that it is easier for hawks, GOP hawks to step away from this war than it may be for some Democrats after they take control because the Republicans can say, Hey, we‘re hawks, but this president is mishandling this war terribly, right?
WALSH: You know, I think everybody can say that. I really don‘t think we can put this off on the Democrats or make this Nancy Pelosi‘s problem to solve, as so many Republicans seem to want to do. This is, unfortunately, a national crisis. It will probably take bipartisan leadership.
And I think that the president is trying to outflank Jim Baker on this. Dick Cheney does not want to see a regional solution that includes talking to Iran and Syria. And so you have this laughingstock of conversations with Prime Minister Maliki, which—you know, asking the poor man, What do you think we should do, which is what the president said he was going to do today. He can‘t win and we can‘t win, and it‘s going to take a bipartisan effort to get us out, I think.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, Pat, I—you look at the situation in Iraq, and I could go down the list of things that happened today—it‘s just absolutely horrible—including five young girls being killed in a firefight between Americans and insurgents. But what‘s the answer? You‘ve got the president going to talk to the prime minister of Iraq, who is bought and paid for by al Sadr, the thug, the most dangerous thug in all of Iraq. What do we do?
PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think—well, the president‘s going to talk to him, but you‘re exactly right. Maliki really doesn‘t have any real power. And the force behind the throne is Muqtada al Sadr. But Joe, I‘ll tell you this. When push comes to shove with the president, I don‘t believe the Congress of the United States has the guts to stand up and de-fund the war.
SCARBOROUGH: They can‘t de-fund the troops. Again—and here...
SCARBOROUGH: Here‘s is a situation—and I agree with Joan...
SCARBOROUGH: ... I want to see Republicans and Democrats coming together on this. Even if it was the president and Republicans that got us into the mess, both sides have to come together. But it is difficult for Democrats to step out there and de-fund the troops because then they‘ll be blamed for it over the next 25 years.
BUCHANAN: Well, they will—look, if you de-fund the troops and you force a precipitate withdrawal, I think you are responsible for what happens, and I don‘t know why they would do that. My guess is—I agree they ought to investigate how we got into it, were we lied into it, how money is being wasted. These are all legitimate things, and even resolutions stating a sense of the Congress. But I don‘t think the Congress should, quite frankly, de-fund these troops except as an utter final measure, where they say, Let‘s cut and get out, to hell with the consequences. And they don‘t have the nerve up there on Capitol Hill to do that.
SCARBOROUGH: And the last step to do. I just think that would be difficult, very difficult for them to do.
Pat, I want you to take a look at another “Daily Show” quote, but this time, it‘s Tony Snow, how as in a very difficult position, answering some of these questions about the civil war.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEWART: So Iraq has become a civil war by almost anyone‘s definition. Well, almost anyone.
TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think the general notion is a civil war is when you have people who—use the American civil war or other civil wars as an example—where people break up into clearly identifiable feuding sides clashing for supremacy within the land (ph).
STEWART: So Iraq is in a civil war.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Pat, you know, I think that guy is as good a press secretary as anybody since Mike McCurry, but he‘s in a no-win situation here.
BUCHANAN: Well, look, they‘re arguing over these words. I‘d almost -
I mean, I would say, as I heard Terry Jeffrey today—look, whoever—you want to call it civil war, fine. You want to call it a war of all against all, you want to call it a sectarian war—it‘s got all these features in there. And I agree with you, really, battling over the phrase I think is probably a mistake because more and more people are going to use it and are using it.
SCARBOROUGH: And Arianna, most Americans believe that Iraq is in a civil war, almost 70 percent.
HUFFINGTON: And almost 60 percent want our troops to come home. And I‘d like to go back to what Pat said because how we frame this debate about de-funding the troops is going to be the key. “De-funding the troops” is becoming the new phrase, the new “cut and run”...
HUFFINGTON: ... the new way to avoid some really tough decisions. It‘s very important to remember the congressional responsibility, above all other responsibility, is to do everything they can do to protect the troops. Protecting the troops means having a clear timetable for bringing them home. There is no other way to protect them. And constantly...
SCARBOROUGH: And Arianna, constitutionally, that is...
HUFFINGTON: ... is irresponsible!
SCARBOROUGH: Arianna, constitutionally, that is the power that the House of Representatives has.
SCARBOROUGH: I mean, they‘ve got the power of the purse, as you say, and if they want to force an issue, that really is the most effective way for them to do that, correct?
HUFFINGTON: Yes. And if the president continues to remain delusional, continues to ignore to look at what is really happening, then they will have to force the issue, if they want to actually...
BUCHANAN: But Arianna...
SCARBOROUGH: ... remember the lesson of 2006.
BUCHANAN: All right, but Arianna, look, just as the folks—you can‘t deny this has got aspects of civil war and it‘s a horrible mess, as you mention, like Lebanon. But when you say de-funding the troops or de-funding the war...
HUFFINGTON: I am not saying de-funding the troops...
SCARBOROUGH: But de-funding the war is exactly what‘s being done. I mean, folks are hiding behind other phrases. That is exactly what they mean, put an end to American involvement in this war. I think you got to look right in the eye and say that means an American defeat in Iraq on a scale far larger in its consequences than what happened in Vietnam because the consequences...
WALSH: So what‘s the answer? Pat...
BUCHANAN: Well, the point is, tell the truth! Tell the truth.
WALSH: Tell the truth that...
BUCHANAN: If you cut off money, whatever you call it, you‘re inviting an American defeat and a complete disaster and a victory for the terrorists in the Anbar province, for Muqtada al Sadr in the Shia area, for the Kurds who want to get Kirkuk...
WALSH: But there...
BUCHANAN: ... and I don‘t know who for it in Baghdad!
WALSH: There‘s no strategy for victory, Pat. There are no more troops to send in.
BUCHANAN: Look, I know that, but we got to tell the truth of what happens...
SCARBOROUGH: And if you...
BUCHANAN: ... if you cut off money!
SCARBOROUGH: And Joan Walsh, this is the question. We could talk about this for hours. What do we do? You‘ve got a war that we cannot win at this point. It cannot be won.
WALSH: It can‘t.
SCARBOROUGH: At the same time, if we withdraw, then chaos reigns across the region. It seems to me like we‘re in a no-win situation. What do we do?
WALSH: I think we do, sadly, start with a regional convening and with regional talks. You know, there‘s—Iran is no friend of anybody in this situation, but quite honestly, Iran doesn‘t want utter chaos on the border, either. Iran is enjoying the situation with us in there losing our troops.
SCARBOROUGH: Oh, they love us being bled every day!
WALSH: Exactly. Exactly. And so...
BUCHANAN: Look, we...
WALSH: There are...
HUFFINGTON: And also...
BUCHANAN: Well, let me say, we can‘t win the war. I‘ll tell you why. Because we don‘t have the will to win it. We don‘t have the desire to win it. We are unwilling to make the expenditures necessary to win it. If we can defeat Germany and Japan, both of them, in less time than we‘ve been in Iraq, you could defeat them if you really wanted to!
WALSH: Are you calling for more troops?
BUCHANAN: I‘m not calling for it, I‘m saying that we‘re not winning the war not because we don‘t have the power but because we don‘t have the will. That‘s quite obvious.
HUFFINGTON: ... you know, this is the most confusing statement I‘ve heard you make.
WALSH: I‘m with Arianna.
HUFFINGTON: I have actually...
BUCHANAN: Let me see if I can straighten it out...
HUFFINGTON: ... listening to you—can I just finish...
HUFFINGTON: ... because I‘ve been listening to you for years, you know?
WALSH: Making sense.
HUFFINGTON: And you‘ve been—you‘re making sense. Exactly. And right now, I have no clue what you are saying.
BUCHANAN: What I‘m saying is...
BUCHANAN: What I‘m saying is very simple...
BUCHANAN: We didn‘t think it through going in.
HUFFINGTON: Well, we know about...
BUCHANAN: Think it through going out~! Think it through going out!~
HUFFINGTON: OK, what...
WALSH: We agree on thinking it through.
HUFFINGTON: What do you recommend?
SCARBOROUGH: And that‘s what we need to do. And IO think all of us
agree with this. Republicans and Democrats need to think it through going
out and not short-circuit it, the way Don Rumsfeld wanted to short-circuit
it or do it on the cheap going in. We do have to think it out. We have to
and I do want to say this in Pat‘s defense, on this point that we don‘t have the willpower. When you let al Sadr determine where the prime minister is going to allow you to set up roadblocks, deciding to allow—when we capture terrorists and then he tells the prime minister we‘ve got to let them go and we let these terrorists go again, it‘s very obvious that we‘ve given up on winning a war. And you know what? If we‘re not going to win the war, we need to get the hell out.
WALSH: Then we should get out.
SCARBOROUGH: And I think that‘s...
HUFFINGTON: But Joe, this is the whole problem. This is the democratically-elected government of Iraq. We‘re supposedly there to support them.
SCARBOROUGH: You‘re exactly right.
HUFFINGTON: This is the same government—this is the same government that did not allow the American military to place roadblocks to find our kidnapped soldier.
SCARBOROUGH: You‘re exactly...
SCARBOROUGH: That is my point, and it goes back to what I think Krauthammer wrote in one of his columns earlier. He had that quote from Benjamin Franklin, What do we have sir? You‘ve got a republic, if you can keep it. Well, obviously, the Iraqis can‘t keep it, and we can‘t keep our men and women in the middle of it, getting shot at every day, like they are now.
Arianna, thank you. Joan Walsh, Pat Buchanan, appreciate you being here.
Coming up next: Why is the government providing what could become terror blueprints to anybody who wants them? NBC‘s hidden camera investigation shows just how easy it is to access some of the nation‘s most sensitive security information. Plus Fox and CNN declare war on penguins! We‘ll look at why those networks say the top film in the country‘s promoting a secret agenda aimed at your children. Later: Taylor Hicks gets revenge on Simon by trash-talking “American Idol.” And is he right when he says the show‘s glory days are over? We‘ll ask a former “Idol” favorite coming up. And Pat, you can stay around, if you want to, also!
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, it‘s no secret that al Qaeda‘s very interested in targeting U.S. nuclear power plants, but is our government making it easier for terrorists? An NBC News hidden camera investigation shows that thousands of sensitive documents about U.S. nuclear plants are easily available for anybody to see across the country and the world. This is information that could be a deadly road map, in fact, for terrorists.
NBC News senior investigative correspondent has that exclusive hidden camera investigation—Lisa.
LISA MYERS, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Joe, after 9/11, the federal government scrubbed the Web sites, removing thousands of sensitive documents that might be useful to terrorists. But we discovered the Nuclear Regulatory Commission left thousands of these documents in libraries. We had no trouble finding them. Why would the terrorists?
(voice-over): What if an airplane were to crash into a nuclear plant? The U.S. government actually studied that catastrophe and published the results in this 1982 report. How long would it take terrorists to penetrate security barriers at a nuclear facility? The government ran drills like this and published the answers in this database.
These and thousands of other sensitive documents, considered virtual blueprints for terrorists, were removed from the Web site of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission after 9/11. But an NBC News hidden camera investigation found those same documents are still readily available at public libraries across the country. And accessing them was as easy as finding the right files, printing them out, and walking out the door, no questions asked.
We shared our findings with the former chairman of the 9/11 commission.
THOMAS KEAN, FORMER 9/11 COMMISSION CHAIRMAN: Well, it‘s appalling
because what it means is we‘ve given the terrorists an easy map in order to
find ought about our nuclear facilities. And that‘s the worst possible
thing we could be doing
MYERS: Dave Lauchbaum (ph), a nuclear safety expert, recently bought thousands of sensitive NRC documents from a public library, including the report on the impact of a plane crash.
(on camera): So this would tell you exactly where you needed to hit on a nuclear plant to cause a meltdown.
DAVE LAUCHBAUM, NUCLEAR SAFETY EXPERT: That‘s correct. It basically draws a bullseye in the plan.
MYERS: How could this happen? E-mails and letters obtained by NBC News show that after 9/11, the NRC did compile a list of extremely sensitive documents to be pulled from public collections. But it seems that request was never passed on to libraries and the documents never removed.
(voice-over): In fact, we were able to obtain documents from that very list at all four libraries we visited. And federal investigators recently found them in all 25 libraries they checked. For security reasons, we will not reveal the location of the libraries or the exact content of the documents. However, the NRC insists only a limited amount of sensitive is still in the public domain and claims the usefulness of this information is minimal, given its age and subsequent changes in the nuclear plants. But engineer Dave Lauchbaum strongly disagrees.
LAUCHBAUM: The information is very explicit, it‘s very detailed, and it would be very useful to the terrorists planning out such an attack.
MYERS: Useful, and, oh, so easy to find.
One other point, Joe. One of the country‘s top nuclear safety experts had requested some of these documents from the NRC and been refused access to them on grounds of national security. So it seems odd that the NRC would remove documents from Web sites, deny access to scientists and then claim it purposely left the documents in libraries because they were of minimal use to terrorists—Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: Thanks so much, Lisa. Great work. Disturbing, so disturbing.
Here now with me in Washington, MSNBC terror analyst Roger Cressey. Roger, what‘s going on here? We have drawn blueprints for terrorists, telling them, in effect, where to strike nuclear power plants to cause the most damage.
ROGER CRESSEY, MSNBC TERROR ANALYST: Well, Joe, the real problem is the government didn‘t follow through on what they were trying to do. They said, Let‘s take this stuff off the Web, but at the same time, they didn‘t then instruct the libraries to remove it from their stocks, as well. So that was the breakdown, so it‘s a breakdown in implementation. They had the right idea...
SCARBOROUGH: It was just negligence.
CRESSEY: Well, it‘s—partly, yes. It‘s—absolutely, because the government made a number of decisions after 9/11. They said, There‘s too much information available on the Internet and elsewhere that could give the terrorists a road map, so we need to pull that information in. That‘s the right idea.
CRESSEY: But the breakdown (INAUDIBLE)
SCARBOROUGH: They just didn‘t implement it. And what‘s so ironic here is, of course, the Bush administration has been accused of being one of the most secretive administrations in recent American history, and yet, again, they leave blueprints out for terrorists attacking nuclear plants. Let me—let me ask you about that. Is, in fact—I mean, are the terrorists watching us at all time? You look at those World War II posters and they always show Nazis peering down...
SCARBOROUGH: ... at Americans. Are terrorists looking at us all the time?
SCARBOROUGH: Is this the sort of stuff they pick up?
CRESSEY: Well, they are looking at us all the time because they watch what we say, they read what we do. They‘re always on the Internet, looking for vulnerabilities. They do strategic reconnaissance. For example, a Government Accounting Office report was found in Afghanistan after the Taliban fell, talking about vulnerabilities in critical infrastructure. So they do pay attention to what we produce. So we got to think about how can we do a better job safeguarding this information so we don‘t make it so obvious and available to them that they can then learn from it.
SCARBOROUGH: And do terrorists want to hit a nuclear plant? Is that on the short list?
CRESSEY: It is. In the September 11 attack, Mohammed Atta had real documentation about looking at a power plant north of New York City. And we‘ve had other examples where terrorists have talked about nuclear power plants. It‘s not just a symbol. Obviously, there‘s tremendous damage that could be caused if they did conduct an attack. So yes, it should be a priority for security.
SCARBOROUGH: Is this—finally, is this a limited problem in this situation only with nuclear power plants, or it is just indicative of a much more—much broader problem?
CRESSEY: There are a number of areas in our critical infrastructure where we need to do a better job in protecting them from potential attacks. In the nuclear industry, there‘s something called design-based threat, which is you develop a capability based on a particular terrorist threat, design your defenses around that. That‘s where we need to do a better job. Got to take this information off the Web, but also got to have better security at the plants, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: All right. Great. Thanks a lot, Roger.
SCARBOROUGH: Greatly appreciate you being here.
Coming up next: It‘s “Must See S.C.,” when Jim Lehrer tries his hand at fake news. His interview with Stephen Colbert coming up. And later:
When did Al Gore turn into a talking penguin? We‘re going to look at why some at Fox and CNN say the family film “Happy Feet” is filled with inconvenient propaganda aimed at children.
SCARBOROUGH: It‘s time for tonight‘s “Must See SC,” some video you got to see. First off, David Letterman shows us how President Bush stacks up, compared to some of the great presidential speakers of the past.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRANKLIN DELANO ROOSEVELT, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ...
the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.
JOHN F. KENNEDY, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He didn‘t like the way the cotton shirts that he wore absorbed, you know, his bodily fluids.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: And finally, Stephen Colbert takes on Jim Lehrer and asks him straight up if he‘s liberally biased. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, “THE COLBERT REPORT”: You‘re adding some, you know, Jim Lehrer flavor to what you say. There‘s no way to avoid that.
JIM LEHRER, HOST, “THE NEWSHOUR”: Well, but it‘s a favor of neutrality.
COLBERT: Oh, that sounds delicious.
LEHRER: You have an obligation every evening, five nights a week, to be serious and funny. I have an obligation five nights a week to be serious and boring.
COLBERT: Mission accomplished.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Mission accomplished. And coming up, the war on penguins. Do FOX News and CNN need to chill out over “Happy Feet”? It‘s the number-one movie in the country, but they‘re saying it‘s brainwashing our children with propaganda.
And later, Taylor Hicks bites the hand that feeds him. Why the “American Idol” winner is now trash-talking the very show that made him a star.
SCARBOROUGH: Coming up, Taylor Hicks slams “American Idol,” saying there‘s no chance he‘d watch the season of the reality hit, and he‘s not the only one trash-talking the show. We‘re going to have reaction from former contestants coming up.
Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. That story in a minute, but first, it‘s the number-one movie in the country, billed as family-friendly entertainment. So why are FOX News and CNN attacking “Happy Feet,” saying it‘s, quote, “propaganda intended to indoctrinate children” and calling it “an animated version of Al Gore‘s ‘Inconvenient Truth‘”? Well, you look and see what they have to say and then judge it for yourself.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NEIL CAVUTO, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: In the movie, the penguins are starving. The fish are all gone. And it‘s clear that humans and big business are to blame. Is Hollywood using kids‘ films to promote a far-left message?
You can make a political statement all you want, adult movie and all. I just think it‘s a little tacky and big-time objectionable when you start hoisting it on kids who don‘t know any better. I thought it was like an animated “Inconvenience Truth.” I half expected to see an animated version of Al Gore pop up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Here‘s Rachel Sklar. She‘s the media editor from the “Huffington Post.” And with me in Washington, Matthew Felling, media director for the Center for Media and Public Affairs.
Is it a fair point? Are they trying to indoctrinate children?
MATTHEW FELLING, THE CENTER FOR MEDIA AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS:
Indoctrinate is a really strong word, Joe. And I think that all “pot calling the kettle black” anecdotes aside, because those would be way to easy, I think that they‘re blowing something out of proportion.
I think that FOX News Channel liked what they had going last year with the war on Christmas, where they got to cherry-pick, “Oh, this happened in Indiana. This happened in the Midwest. There‘s a war on Christmas, everybody! Watch out, dogs and cats!”
I mean, now we‘re looking at—you know, there‘s this scene where there‘s a very low shortage of fish, and there‘s this scene with this penguin has his snout caught up in one of those—you know, the 12-pack of can like little plastic things. And so that‘s what they‘re interpreting as propaganda.
And if you want to look at a little bit here, a little bit there, I mean, “The Little Mermaid” could have been sponsored by PETA if you really wanted to look at it.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, the question is—and a lot of people may wonder whether sometimes some of these shows take small issues and blow them up for ratings. Stephen Colbert had his own take on the threat to kids. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COLBERT: Threat number five: The Hundred Hoops Basketball Counting Game for kids from ages 3 to 6 years. Now, this thing claims to teach your children counting and physical coordination. But check this out. I‘ll tell you what it teaches them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cien canastas!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Uno, dos...
COLBERT: It teaches them Spanish! This is just a sneaky way of teaching our kids to be soft on immigration. “Oh, please, Daddy, don‘t built a fence to keep out the Mexicans! I want to play half-court with them in their native tongue!”
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Rachel Sklar, he makes a bigger point. Sometimes you have some of these people going on trying to make this point like there‘s some great conspiracy that‘s not even there?
RACHEL SKLAR, HUFFINGTONPOST.COM: It‘s patently ridiculous, and that‘s why I love Stephen Colbert, because he shows how ridiculous it is with his own ridiculous approach.
I mean, I think even the fact that the words “propaganda penguins” are running across the bottom of the screen, that means that Neil Cavuto has put it out there as a legitimate question. It is not. Global warming is not a question of opinion, OK? It is happening. It is totally happening.
And by the way, I think it‘s interesting that you mentioned CNN at the beginning. I only saw clips from FOX. I actually just came from a talk hosted by CNN where Al Gore was there, and Al Gore was speaking specifically about all the issues he brought up in the movie and all the facts he brought up.
There are no two ways about it: It‘s happening. So Neil Cavuto is saying that he‘s outraged that this far-left propaganda is being inflicted on his kids? I feel worse about the world that‘s being inflicted on his kids.
SCARBOROUGH: Let‘s show for you CNN, a guy that CNN pays. His name is Glenn Beck.
SKLAR: Ah, him.
SCARBOROUGH: And Glenn Beck on CNN Headline News had this to say about the same movie.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GLENN BECK, CNN HOST: The director of the film publicly has said that he changed the original screenplay to amplify the environmental themes and that, quote, “You can‘t tell a story about Antarctica and the penguins without giving that dimension.”
Call me crazy, but, yes, you can. And if you‘re going to include those themes, the least you could do is tell me, a parent. Tell me about it first, OK, so I know I‘m walking into propaganda.
I‘d like to teach my children how to think for themselves about the issues, including global warming and the environment, instead of having them indoctrinated by some Hollywood director.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Rachel, is that a fair point?
SCARBOROUGH: Do the parents have a reason to be concerned that their children are being indoctrinated?
SKLAR: Indoctrinated about what, the fact that global warming is happening, about the fact the science is there, about the fact that we all have to do something? This stuff drives me crazy, because we don‘t have time to dilly-dally here. We really don‘t. Everybody has to take this seriously. This is a major issue. It‘s more important than ratings, and it‘s more important than partisan hackery.
SCARBOROUGH: And, Matthew, I want to show you really quickly, because you talked about the war on Christmas. I show you this, of course, the famous battle between O‘Reilly and David Letterman. And this is what Letterman had to say to Bill O‘Reilly when he tried to talk about the war on Christmas.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, “LATE SHOW”: I wasn‘t aware that this had happened.
BILL O‘REILLY, FOX NEWS HOST: You weren‘t aware of the big, giant controversy over Christmas?
LETTERMAN: Well, I ignore stuff like that. It doesn‘t really affect me.
O‘REILLY: Ridgewood Elementary School in Dodgeville, Wisconsin, the song, “Silent Night”? You know, the song? Knocked out the words and told the little kids to sing, “Cold in the night, no one in sight, winter winds whine and bite. How I wish I was happy and warm, safe with my family, out of the storm.” They replaced the words to “Silent Night” with that. Now, with all due respect, I even think the baby Jesus would say, “Give me a break.”
LETTERMAN: Isn‘t this the kind of thing where like once or twice every 20 years somebody gets outraged and says, “Oh, by God, we‘ve got to put diapers on horses?” Isn‘t it just about—it‘s just like, “So what? Let it go It will take care of itself”?
O‘REILLY: No. There is a movement in this country by politically correct people to erode traditions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: You know what? Matthew, everybody jokes and laughs at Letterman and talks about this war on Christmas. But I guarantee you most Americans would agree with Bill O‘Reilly there and there would be some Americans—with apologies to Rachel—that would say, “Hey, you know what? I don‘t believe in global warming. If my kid wants to have a scientific debate about it, he can do it in science class and not on cartoons watching Captain Planet in the morning.”
FELLING: Well, at the same time, let‘s talk about this movie. I mean, how many scenes actually—do they sit down and discuss, like it‘s an Al Gore classroom, like this lecture that Rachel was just at tonight? I don‘t think that many.
It‘s a musical, on the firsthand, and they also—the kid is born without a singing voice, and he has to dance. That‘s why it‘s called “Happy Feet.” It‘s not about dancing away global warming. It‘s a nice, innocent, fun movie with a couple little things that everybody likes to look at and blow way out of proportion.
This is what happens when you have 60 teenagers turn into TV blowhards. It‘s like the “Abbey Road” cover, where Paul is dead because he‘s barefoot. It‘s what happens when they become TV pundits and start finding things everywhere. The truth is out there, “X-Files.”
SCARBOROUGH: What does the 28-F on the Volkswagen mean?
SCARBOROUGH: Twenty-eight, it‘s still alive. You know what?
Actually, I think people need to just chill out and relax. Anyway, I‘m going to take my kids to go see the movie this weekend.
Coming up—Rachel, thank you for being with us. Rachel Sklar, Matthew Felling, thanks.
And coming up next, is Taylor Hicks a sore winner? The “American Idol” champ is now slamming the show that made him a star. We‘re going to have reaction from former “Idol” favorite Carmen Rasmusen.
And later, Borat is being blamed for breaking up Pamela Anderson‘s marriage. The full scoop in “Hollyweird.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RYAN SEACREST, HOST, “AMERICAN IDOL”: Taylor Hicks!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, believe it or not, it‘s just a matter of weeks before the ratings juggernaut “American Idol” returns to the airwaves. And while millions are expected to tune in for the sixth season premiere in January, the current “Idol” won‘t be one of them.
Taylor Hicks tells “Relix” magazine that, “‘American Idol” for me is fizzling out. I want to take that opportunity and exposure. You can either come and see me, buy my album, or you don‘t. I‘m not trying to meet expectations. You know what? I don‘t watch it, either.”
Such disrespect. So why are some “Idol” winners so quickly turning on the show that made them famous? And it‘s happening more and more. Let‘s bring in former “Idol” contestant Carmen Rasmusen and also editor-at-large for “Star” magazine, Jill Dobson.
Carmen, I start with you. Taylor Hicks trashing “American Idol,” saying he doesn‘t even watch it anymore. Well, it‘s second verse, same as first. What‘s going on here? Why do some “Idol” stars turn on the very hit-making machine that made them famous?
CARMEN RASMUSEN, FORMER “AMERICAN IDOL” CONTESTANT: You know what? I wonder the same thing. I can see why he would want to differentiate himself from “American Idol,” because as a reality star myself, it‘s hard to be taken seriously after being on a reality show.
People don‘t—they kind of pigeon hole you into that compartment and say, “Well, you‘re just a reality singer,” so I could see where he would say, “I‘m a musician. I‘m talented. I want people to know me for who I am and for my music.”
But on the other hand, it‘s not like people are going to watch Kelly Clarkson or Taylor Hicks perform and not know that they‘re an “American Idol.” You‘ll always know that Kelly Clarkson was the first winner. You‘ll always know that Carrie Underwood was “American Idol” winner four, and Taylor Hicks was “American Idol” winner five.
They chose to go on that show because they knew that it would promote their careers. They knew that they would have a huge leg up. And I think personally that thanks should have been given where thanks is deserved. And I think that Carrie Underwood displayed it perfectly when, at the CMA Awards, she thanked producer Simon Fuller for her experience on “American Idol.” I think that was very classy, and I don‘t know why Taylor Hicks is doing this.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, you know, the thing is, though, Taylor Hicks isn‘t the first “Idol” to snub the show that made him famous. You were talking about Kelly...
RASMUSEN: You‘re right. Kelly Clarkson did that, as well. Exactly.
SCARBOROUGH: She didn‘t mention “Idol” when she won two Grammy awards earlier this year. And let‘s take a look at that clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KELLY CLARKSON, SINGER: Thank you to everybody that has supported me this year, including my record label and my management, I love you, Jeff Evans. And thank you to my (INAUDIBLE) Ashley Donovan (ph), my first producer in my closet back home when I was a kid.
Thank you to my mom. Thank you so much, mom. I‘m sorry I‘m crying again on national television. But thank you to the fans. Thank you for everyone that worked on my record.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: “Thanks to my dog. Thanks to my cats.”
RASMUSEN: I know.
SCARBOROUGH: “Thanks to my third-grade teacher.” Jill Dobson, she thanked everybody. I think she even thanked me, but she didn‘t thank “American Idol.” She would not have been there but for “American Idol.”
JILL DOBSON, “STAR” MAGAZINE: Exactly.
SCARBOROUGH: Why is she ungrateful?
DOBSON: Well, I certainly think that what Carmen said was right.
People do try to distance themselves and don‘t want to be seen as just a reality show winner. On the other hand, that‘s the risk you take when you sign up for a reality show.
SCARBOROUGH: I mean, are they embarrassed, Jill? Are they embarrassed to be an “American Idol”?
DOBSON: I think it‘s just like a movie star who tries to pretend they weren‘t on a soap opera 15 years earlier.
DOBSON: People try to distance themselves. However, what America loves is the rags-to-riches story. We love seeing that. So don‘t hide it. Be proud of who you are. And all these people who voted for Taylor are thrilled that he‘s an “American Idol.” They were glad that he won, and now he‘s kind of alienated all of them.
SCARBOROUGH: So, Carmen, they‘re ashamed of their past, right? I mean, for the most part, it‘s just like Jill said, just like soap opera stars become movie stars...
RASMUSEN: Well, they shouldn‘t be.
SCARBOROUGH: ... they don‘t want that to be any part of their history.
RASMUSEN: Well, and they shouldn‘t be. I mean, I will forever be grateful for the opportunity I had to be on the show. It‘s because of that show that any of us have a leg up in this business. That‘s why thousands of people try out for “American Idol,” because they know that it can push people to success.
So I don‘t know why you wouldn‘t turn around and say, “Thank you so much for this opportunity that only one in millions ever get.” I will always be grateful for the opportunity. And, like I said, I think thanks should be given where thanks is deserved. And I definitely think that he should be thanking “American Idol” and not distancing himself from it.
SCARBOROUGH: And, you know, not all “Idols” want to distance themselves from the show. And, again, as you said, Carmen, Carrie Underwood had this to say after winning a country music award.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARRIE UNDERWOOD, SINGER: It took so many people to make this past year be as successful as it was. You all know who they are. They only gave me 40 seconds to talk, but thank you so much. Thank you, country radio. Thank you, fans. Thank you, Arista. Thank you, Simon Fuller (INAUDIBLE) thank you, “American Idol.” Thank you, fans. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: There‘s somebody who‘s grateful, Carmen. She did it right.
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, Carmen, thank you so much for being with us. I know we‘re going to be seeing a lot more of you coming up in the coming weeks.
RASMUSEN: Thank you.
SCARBOROUGH: Jill Dobson, stick around with us, because “Hollyweird” is next.
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, tell Britney and Paris to save you a spot in the limbo, because, friends, it is time for “Hollyweird.”
First up, new details of the Pamela Anderson-Kid Rock divorce. The “New York Post” reporting that Borat could be behind the split. Still with us, Jill Dobson. And here‘s senior news editor for “InTouch Weekly,” Jackie Gallo.
Let me start with you, Jill. What in the world‘s happening here with Borat and the break-up of Pam Anderson from Kid Rock?
DOBSON: Well, the report is that they were at a screening for the film. And when they got to the part where Pam was in the movie, Kid Rock got very upset and said, “This is ridiculous. You‘ve made a fool out of yourself,” which I hope that this is a misquote, because this makes absolutely no sense.
Pamela Anderson has done a lot of things that would make any man who‘s married to her a little uncomfortable, but this is the one thing she‘s done that‘s totally OK. She‘s fully clothed. It‘s funny. It‘s a great scene.
SCARBOROUGH: Fully clothed and in a very hip movie, the hippest movie of the year.
Jackie, now only in Hollywood could we hear that PETA may have had a hand in this break-up. What‘s the story there?
JACKIE GALLO, “INTOUCH” MAGAZINE: Well, we have learned that she was at a screening at Ron Meyer‘s house when this huge blow-up occurred. And it was because of Kid Rock‘s seething jealousy that had been building for so long, and this one incident was emblematic of all of that.
SCARBOROUGH: Oh, very good. Very exciting there. I‘m sure we‘re going to be hearing more from Borat on this break-up.
Let‘s talk about another break-up. Heather Mills is telling “Extra” she wants to make a cameo on “Desperate Housewives.” Jill Dobson, isn‘t it just time for Heather Mills to go away and take her $200 million?
DOBSON: Yes. And the interesting thing is that there are reports that Marc Cherry, the executive producer of the show, is considering it. And I‘m just thinking to myself, “All you have to do is say you‘re a fan to get on the show?” In which case, Marc Cherry, I love your show. I‘d love a walk-on role.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, exactly. But, Jill, I mean, does she have any background in acting?
DOBSON: Not that I know of. She‘s got her modeling background. And I would be very surprised if we saw her on the show. The other thing is, while she‘s hugely famous in the U.K., she‘s not that famous in the U.S., unless we see her next to Paul McCartney, and I doubt he‘s going to want to come on and be her co-star.
SCARBOROUGH: No, I‘m thinking that‘s not going to happen.
Speaking of the U.K., Britain‘s “Daily Star” is reporting that TomKat may be hitting the airwaves. The tabloid reports the couple may record an album together. Jackie Gallo, please, say it ain‘t so.
GALLO: Big news. Hopefully it‘s not a definite truth yet, but they are being courted by music companies to do a duet of “You‘ve Lost That Loving Feeling.” Not only have they displayed their talent for singing this song in their respective movies, but they reportedly serenaded one another with it at their November 18th wedding.
SCARBOROUGH: Oh, I just died a little bit inside.
And also, Jackie, tell me about Lindsay Lohan. I understand she‘s telling “Elle” magazine that the HBO show “Sex and the City” inspired to her to be promiscuous?
GALLO: Well, Lindsay does have a reputation for being quite the dating queen, and she‘s now come out and said that the show inspired her to not settle down into one monogamous relationship because the characters on the show never felt pressured to do that.
SCARBOROUGH: Jill Dobson, not really good news for her career, right?
She‘s trying to straighten up and fly right.
DOBSON: Well, yes, the interesting thing is she has a younger sister who‘s trying to break into show business. And while Lindsay says it‘s OK to, you know, be seen with a lot of guys for herself, she says she wouldn‘t want her little sister to be attached to all the men she‘s been attached to.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, very good. All right, thanks so much, Jill Dobson. Thank you, Jackie Gallo. Greatly appreciate it, and I appreciate you being with us tonight. Stick around, because “Diagnosis Murder” starts right now.
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