Guests: Matthew Felling, John Ridley, Pat Buchanan, Danny Bonaduce, Carmen Rasmusen, Jill Dobson, Alexandra Wentworth
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST: Tonight, a bitter backlash against NBC News and America‘s media for running the pictures, the videos and the sick manifesto Virginia Tech‘s assassin sent between Monday‘s killing sprees. Now, NBC‘s decision to show part of the rambling manifesto last night caused anger outside the media world, and not just at NBC—ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox and every other major news organization ran the same images, and those haunting images ran hour after hour after hour on TV screens across America throughout the night. And then this morning, those same images were plastered across newspapers front pages not only all across America but across the world.
NBC News president Steve Capus made the difficult decision to release a very small portion of the killer‘s rants, a tough call that he explained earlier this evening.
STEVE CAPUS, NBC NEWS PRESIDENT: I think it was the right thing to do. It‘s a difficult decision. We did not want to cause any pain to anybody. But in the end, we believed that we had an obligation to let people know who this person was and what was inside his—his dark mind.
SCARBOROUGH: It was obviously a news decision that editors and producers across America and the world made. Still, victims‘ family members were understandably upset. Who can blame them? And some even refused to show up on the “Today” show this morning.
MEREDITH VIEIRA, CO-HOST: I will tell you that we had planned to speak to some family members of victims this morning, but they canceled their appearances because they were very upset with NBC for airing the images.
MATT LAUER, CO-HOST: And let‘s be honest. There are some big differences of opinion right within this news division as to whether we should be airing this stuff at all, whether we‘re taking the right course of action. But we made the decision because by showing some of this material, perhaps it‘ll help us understand or answer the question, Why? Why did it happen?
SCARBOROUGH: You know, there are no easy answers in this very tough media question. So did NBC News and all other major media outlets do the right things by running parts of the killer‘s manifesto? Here now to talk about it, MSNBC analyst Craig Crawford. We‘ve got John Ridley. He‘s a frequent commentator on National Public Radio. He‘s also the author of “The American Way.” And Matthew Felling, media director for the Center for Media and Public Affairs.
Craig, let‘s start with you. Did NBC do the right thing?
CRAIG CRAWFORD, “CONGRESSIONAL QUARTERLY,” MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I
don‘t think they had any choice as a news organization. The question here was, was it newsworthy? I don‘t think anybody can say it was not newsworthy, and that‘s about the only question, in my view, a news organization needs to ask and answer. (INAUDIBLE) other things, but it‘s not the job of a news organization to protect society from information. It‘s called NBC News, not NBC your mother.
SCARBOROUGH: John Ridley, it was newsworthy, so didn‘t the public have a right to know?
JOHN RIDLEY, SCREENWRITER/COMMENTATOR: Well, actually, the definition of news is that which advances the story. What he had, this killer in the manifesto did not advance the story. The story was that he mailed these items to NBC News, NBC News received them and then passed them along to the proper authorities, which they could have reported without showing these images and these words.
In a word, it‘s appalling that this individual was built a public dais by NBC News which he could rant from when bodies have not yet been buried and when individuals who have been injured are still in the hospital recovering. A week ago, NBC News told us that Don Imus was not appropriate for television, and you‘re telling me that this individual and his words are? There‘s nothing in what he said that shed any light on his sick acts.
SCARBOROUGH: John, how do you not run a part of the story that tells us who this killer is? I mean, 150 years after Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, we are still reading books, like “Manhunt,” that take us into the mind of John Wilkes Booth. It is a legitimate part of that story. Finding out who this guy is, is a legitimate part of this story, is it not?
RIDLEY: Absolutely. But then turn this material over to psychologists, sociologists, FBI profilers and let them disseminate the story. Again, the advancement of the story is when this was mailed, that it was mailed to NBC News, that they received it and moved it on to the FBI.
You know, Colonel Steven Flaherty of the Virginia state police said
there was nothing in that material that shed any light on the actual
incident. So you‘re absolutely right, there is—there are things to be
learned from this individual, but the lunchtime crowd that is watching this
I don‘t believe anyone picked anything up except that Mercedes Benz and cognac were somehow responsible for the deaths of 32 people? No. Excuse me. Nothing in...
CRAWFORD: I think there‘s answers...
RIDLEY: ... what he said...
CRAWFORD: I think there‘s an answer to a real significant question about who this guy was. I mean, he very clearly...
RIDLEY: That he‘s nuts?
CRAWFORD: ... was mentally ill. And I think that‘s...
RIDLEY: We didn‘t know that from the shooting?
CRAWFORD: ... an answer worth knowing.
RIDLEY: Not really. I don‘t think so.
CRAWFORD: Well, OK, John, you just talk.
RIDLEY: Absolutely. I take the opportunity to talk. If you‘re going to give a stage to a sick individual, who—by the way, who said in this that the shooters in Columbine were martyrs—NBC has lit a fuse, and I don‘t know whether it‘s going to be another week or a month or another eight years, almost eight years to the day since Columbine, that we‘re going to see this again.
SCARBOROUGH: Craig Crawford...
MATTHEW FELLING, CENTER FOR MEDIA AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS: Ding, ding, ding! Actually—actually, he makes a great point, which is getting into the copycat angle. But I‘ll argue—first of all, I‘m glad that MSNBC is allowing us to have this conversation because I think it‘s very important. It‘s very open-minded for us to, you know, actually have conflict on air about this.
I don‘t think this advanced the story. Craig Crawford, you‘re right, it gives us a view into this guy‘s sick and twisted mind. But you know what? I read two plays that he wrote for some horrible English class yesterday, which gave me everything I needed to know. I saw interviews with his two former roommates, where he talked about having some imaginary supermodel girlfriend...
SCARBOROUGH: You know, I...
FELLING: ... which told me a lot of things I needed...
SCARBOROUGH: I must say...
CRAWFORD: ... advances the story.
SCARBOROUGH: I mean, I don‘t understand this at all. Here you have a guy that shot a couple of Virginia Tech students, and then in between the two killing sprees, he goes in, he may have taped some of this manifesto, he mails it off, and then he goes and kills another 30 people. I don‘t know how that isn‘t part of a news story in 2007...
SCARBOROUGH: And quite frankly, I don‘t know who wouldn‘t want the opportunity to see be able to see this guy. Before we saw these disturbing images last night, all we heard about this guy over and over and over again was he mumbled, he looked down, he never talked. You just wondered if he woke up yesterday morning and snapped. By looking at this crazed manifesto, Craig, don‘t we get a better understanding that this was very calculated? This guy knew what he was doing all along, and he was the face of evil.
CRAWFORD: I thought it was interesting, and even many of those in Blacksburg who—Blacksburg, who were understandably upset with seeing this at such a difficult time—but I thought it was interesting how many of them clearly watched it and reacted to it. And many students, like you say, have reported that they knew nothing about this guy. This filled a great big void about who this person was. And you know, the question about whether it advances the story—I mean, it advanced the story in a way that I found something I needed to know about and that I was looking for...
CRAWFORD: And in one way, it was almost reassuring to see just how mentally ill he was. This wasn‘t just some troubled kid that happened to snap, this was someone clearly ill.
RIDLEY: Did it advance the story, or did MSNBC become a publicist for this sick mind?
CRAWFORD: I mean, the man is dead! What—why—how do you—how do you be a publicist for a dead man?
RIDLEY: You‘re advancing...
SCARBOROUGH: John Ridley, I want to ask you—I mean, using this argument, couldn‘t we say that all those news organizations that showed the film of John Kennedy getting his head blown off in November of 1963 were engaged in what some people have called NBC‘s decision “video pornography”? I mean, it seems—what did we learn by watching John Kennedy‘s head get blown off by Lee Harvey Oswald‘s bullet?
RIDLEY: Let‘s remember, Joe, that back then, in 1962, when it happened, and they showed the Zapruder film, they removed the frames of Kennedy being assassinated, those actual frames. A lot of people didn‘t see that until much later. It was actually—I believer it was a “Nova” documentary with Walter Cronkite when they actually—the first time they aired those frames.
Joe, you just reported the story, by the way, a moment ago Without using any of the images and without using this individual‘s words. Again, I don‘t think it‘s about pretending that it didn‘t happen. But why give a platform to this individual? And if nothing else, forget about the news for a minute. What happened to dignity? You know, barely 48 hours after this happened—you know, Craig, I asked you during Don Imus—you know, sometimes I think people in the media don‘t react as individuals. Can you imagine if a family member of yours was involved in this situation and somebody showed up at the funeral with videotape of what happened to them? I mean, just in the sense of dignity—for God‘s sakes, what happened to that?
CRAWFORD: The news is—the news is often not dignified, not pretty, ugly...
CRAWFORD: There‘s plenty of things we report we wish we didn‘t have to. But that‘s what news organizations do. And when you start putting these filters on it and asking for, you know, executives to make decisions like this, we get back to the old days when three networks decided what everybody knew or what everybody saw, three networks...
RIDLEY: ... five media companies, as opposed to five media companies?
CRAWFORD: And the other thing about...
CRAWFORD: I don‘t understand all this piling on the mainstream media in these cases, when, you know, so much of this—there‘s so much worse stuff out in the rest of the blogosphere. And then people want to bully mainstream organizations into reporting less news, putting out less information...
RIDLEY: Because the mainstream media...
CRAWFORD: ... and there‘s all this other stuff out there that I don‘t hear the hue and cry about so often.
FELLING: This is not about—this is not about the three networks. It is not about the blogosphere. This is about a singular opportunity that NBC had to show a little bit of restraint. Nobody else—nobody else had access to this video. You know what...
CRAWFORD: ... nose in the tent. I mean, once you do it, then you do it the next time, then all of a sudden, there‘s no standards for this stuff, and everything‘s being restricted.
FELLING: Craig, I would—I would suggest, if you‘re going to make money on this, if you‘re going to draw on the ratings and draw on the eyeballs, why not—because NBC had the platform to itself—since NBC had the videotapes on its own, no Youtube worries, no other concern, give it a week. Give it a “DATELINE” special. Give it a...
FELLING: Let some bodies be buried first!
CRAWFORD: I don‘t want the suppression of the news, and I—and particularly...
RIDLEY: It‘s not suppression!
CRAWFORD: ... when at a time when...
RIDLEY: They could have made...
CRAWFORD: The public was asking this question. All of us were. Who was this guy? Why did he do this? And we got other information, but this was also useful information...
SCARBOROUGH: I mean, John Ridley, isn‘t self-suppression just as bad, if—and who is NBC News to sit back and say, We have all this information, we‘re going to hold it and not run it for a week?
RIDLEY: But Joe, I say again, you just a moment ago reported the same story in your own words without this individual‘s image. Why...
CRAWFORD: It‘s already been put on the record! He doesn‘t need to do it again!
SCARBOROUGH: You knew what I was talking about, though...
RIDLEY: So why can‘t you just say this? Why do you have to...
SCARBOROUGH: ... because you saw the images last night.
RIDLEY: ... show the images? But why do you have to show the images?
I mean, there was a time when these images could not have been broadcast. I don‘t understand the idea that NBC taking the high road, making this choice on their own—which, by the way, Craig, you‘re being disingenuous. News organizations every day, by what they put in the lead, by what they bury, by what they put on page one, by what they put over the fold or beyond the jump, make these kinds of decisions. Don‘t pretend that news organizations...
CRAWFORD: Yes, and the decision is what‘s new or...
CRAWFORD: ... the most newsworthy story you‘ve got in your hands.
And I don‘t think NBC News yesterday had anything more newsworthy in their
in their hands.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, you know, there are a lot of news organizations, though, that have decided—“The New York Times” is one of them that‘s decided not to run certain stories, and they regretted it later on, time and time again. These are just decisions that people have to make.
I‘ve got to say, though, the fact that every news organization, be it NBC or ABC or CBS or Fox News, which, of course, is interesting—and I want to get to that in a second, Matthew Felling—but all these news organizations decided it was newsworthy, decided they were going to run it. I can‘t believe that you have all these people running all of these networks that are somehow deficient when deciding whether what they‘re doing is in good taste or not.
Now, Matthew, I want to talk about Fox News for a second because a Fox News anchor took aim at NBC‘s decision to run these tapes. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GREG GUTFIELD, FOX NEWS HOST: For me, running that tape was repulsive, and I—you know, I‘m in the media and I ran it on my own show, and I‘m disgusted by it. And I don‘t like even mentioning the guy‘s name. NBC apparently agonized over the decision of running the tape. I thought “agony” was the worst word to use because the real agony is the families that suffered the death of their children.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Matthew Felling, I mean, does any news organization out there have a right to attack NBC, considering that all of them, including Fox News, ran the same material? Fox News was told and everybody was told not to run this material until 10:00 o‘clock. They ran it two minutes into their prime time.
FELLING: Yes. No. You are right in this case. Nobody who actually starts wallpapering their broadcasts with this video has any right—you know, It‘s fine for me but not for thee. No. NBC opened up Pandora‘s box, but everybody else took a dip. And Fox news—anybody who says otherwise, that they—they felt like they were forced into it, it‘s just not so. And I think I would like to ask the question to the viewers and to you—we‘re talking about assassinations. We‘re talking about newsworthiness—
Craig Crawford was. What happens if an al Qaeda assassin takes down 20 soldiers? What happens if somebody shoots a political figure in America? Are we really going to be that hungry for inside the mind of the shooter?
Will there be the appetite for that? This is...
FELLING: Why is there a double standard?
SCARBOROUGH: I tell you what, we will answer that when we come back. I just know that, you know, right after 9/11, copies of the Koran sell at a faster rate—sold at a faster rate than every before in American publishing history. That‘s exactly what Americans were trying to do in 2001 and beyond, what we‘re still trying to do, figuring out why they hate us so much.
Craig Crawford, John Ridley, Matthew Felling, stay with us. We‘re going to continue this debate in a minute.
Also coming up: How could somebody that the court called an “imminent danger” to others buy enough handguns to kill 32 students? Americans want to know, and so do we. And the right in the middle of that debate, Rosie O‘Donnell. Pat Buchanan on the coming gun control showdown. And later, the remarkable lives of two of those gunned down on Monday, a loving mother and wife, a caring husband and two dedicated teachers, an emotional look at lives cut short by a madman coming up.
Plus: Is the war in Iraq unwinnable? Tonight, the Senate majority leader says yes, it is unwinnable. We‘re going to hear what Bill Maher has to say about that when we return.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROSIE O‘DONNELL, “THE VIEW”: I was shocked that NBC played the video that this man left.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why?
O‘DONNELL: Because I feel it is buying into every single reason why he did it. He wanted to become famous.
O‘DONNELL: He wanted to go down in the history books. And I don‘t think we‘re going to learn one thing about a mentally ill man‘s rambling on video, holding the gun. It‘s like violence perpetrates violence perpetrates—and you know, I question...
O‘DONNELL: Yes, but I question...
O‘DONNELL: I question whether or not it was responsible of the news networks to play it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Still with us, Craig Crawford and John Ridley and Matthew Felling.
Craig Crawford, Rosie got a lot of cheers there, and obviously, this decision has caused an outpouring of raw emotions against NBC and all media outlets. Could it not be that the American people know something that we don‘t?
CRAWFORD: Well, the last person who should be advocating restricting what goes over the airwaves is Rosie O‘Donnell, I would think. She‘ll be next. She makes a point that is going to be popular with a lot of people. It‘s just a disconnect, often, between the media and the public about what our role is in society. But I just firmly believe it‘s the role of media to get the information out there and for society to figure out what to do with it.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, Craig, I want to read you an e-mail that we got, and I‘ll guarantee you—I mean, we were flooded with e-mails, as were a lot of news organizations. But one reader—one viewer said, “Airing that material from the Virginia Tech shooter was unethical, unconscionable, in very bad taste, greedy, horrifying and totally unacceptable. I will watch no more news until the news media straightens it out.”
Craig, if most Americans think the press overstepped their bounds, are we arrogant to suggest that we know what‘s best for them, when they say, No, it‘s not?
CRAWFORD: Because if we make those decisions and decide not to put
things on they do need to know, that is the road, I‘m telling you, you get
you start going down when you start making distinctions and you start setting standards and having watchdog groups try to tell you, you know, what should or shouldn‘t go on the air. I mean, it—let it all be told and let society deal with it. And the public is making, many of them, their views known about how wrong they feel it was for them to do this. And to them, I say, Just turn it off.
FELLING: Craig Crawford, you‘re describing what happens every single day in every newsroom. It‘s called the editorial meeting, where you decide what goes on the front page, what goes in the front section and what gets left out.
CRAWFORD: And the answer in those meetings is something this newsworthy has to be reported.
FELLING: OK, I‘m going to make one—I apologize for the analogy, but when I was a little kid, we used to watch baseball, Monday night baseball. And there used to be, you know, every other week, there used to be a streaker who would come across the field. And they would show it. And they stopped showing it. And you know what? The streakers stopped coming across the street. I think the copycat angle in this story is something that we cannot ignore because here is a guy who tried to represent all of those who were unheard, who compared himself to Jesus Christ, and who even invoked the names of Ryan (SIC) Klebold and Dylan (SIC) Harris in his on-air speech. And I think to myself, You know what? He‘s desperate. He‘s off...
CRAWFORD: The copycat angle, that‘s a serious question, I‘ll grant you that. But here‘s what I say to that. I mean, I think that is something we actually learned in these videotapes, how mentally deranged this man was, and I just think anyone this deranged out there is going to end up doing something like this, regardless of what NBC put on the “Nightly News” last night.
SCARBOROUGH: John Ridley, let me give you the last word.
RIDLEY: Well, listen, I think the last word—I completely disagree with Craig and I disagree with the decision that NBC News made. And also, I would say, you know, the last word I give to Brian Williams, who said after those tapes ran last night that this is a sick business, putting these things on the air. That‘s the face of NBC News saying this. That‘s beyond me.
SCARBOROUGH: All right. Let‘s go ahead and play what Brian Williams said tonight. Let‘s roll that tape right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIAN WILLIAMS, ANCHOR, “NBC NIGHTLY NEWS”: We could not change the fact that a major development in this national tragedy had, as we‘ve said, arrived on our doorstep. It forced us into a painful decision to air what was by any conceivable standard news. We did so only in conjunction with law enforcement and mindful of those families who have suffered the worst possible loss.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: And I would agree with Brian Williams if he worked for any news organization. I think self-censorship on an issue this big, on a story this big is just wrong.
Thank you, Craig Crawford. Thank you, John Ridley and Matthew Felling. Greatly appreciate your time here.
And coming up next: Friends and colleagues remember those who died in Monday‘s shooting rampage.
Plus: It‘s been a bloody week in Iraq, hundreds of Iraqis, nearly a dozen American troops killed. Now the Senate majority leader is saying the war in Iraq is unwinnable and the president‘s setting up the next commander-in-chief for failure.
And Bill Maher is back with us for his take on George Bush and the war in Iraq. Stay with us.
SCARBOROUGH: As we piece together the details of the Virginia Tech shootings, we‘re also learning a lot more about the brave professors who were killed Monday morning. Peter Alexander talked to two professors who are making sure that the legacies of their fallen colleagues will live on.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did it sink in? Is it sinking in?
PROF. JESSICA FOLKART, FRIEND OF JOCELYNE COUTURE-NOWAK: Going through Jocelyne‘s photo album last night, as I was looking for pictures of her, I looked at 17 years of photos in an hour-and-a-half.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They shouldn‘t have been there. It was almost random that they were in that place and that this happened on that day. Jocelyne you‘ve spoken to me about her. We saw her smile as she stood in this gorgeous place with just this grin that was contagious.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She is a force of life. When you meet her, she‘s—she‘s Jocelyne!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As we look at the photo, his glasses, his smile, his long hair—this was Jamie.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. I‘m really coming to realize that art was, in a way—it was more than a passion, it was almost I think an ideology for him. I think he saw it—it was a way not just to look at the world but to make a difference in the world.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With the scholarships you guys are setting up, the desire is that their legacy is not lost. Their desire was to affect people‘s lives, and your hope is that in their names, you‘ll continue that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely. Absolutely.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: We‘re going to get information on how you can help contribute to those scholarship, to continue those legacies of two incredible people from Virginia Tech.
And still to come tonight, a top Democrat, the top Democrat, declares the war in Iraq is lost, and he says the White House knows it. We‘re going to get Bill Maher‘s take on Iraq and the president coming up next.
SCARBOROUGH: Boy, so you can shoot your husband and get three years of prison. Talk about sending a message.
Well, while the Virginia Tech massacre dominated headlines and newscasts this week, Iraq has been enduring one of its bloodiest weeks in years. Today, a dozen people were blown up by a terrorist just 300 yards away from NBC‘s Baghdad bureau. And earlier, a string of terror attacks killed 230 people in one of the war‘s deadliest killing sprees.
And tonight, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has declared that America‘s soldiers and Marines cannot win the war in Iraq, suggesting that this White House knows our troops are doomed to lose, but is pushing ahead with the surge anyway so the loss comes on another president‘s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: I believe myself that the secretary of state, the secretary of defense—and you have to make your own decisions to whether the president knows that this war is lost and that the surge is not accomplishing anything, as indicated by the extreme violence in Iraq yesterday. Now, I said this is how I feel, but in addition to my feelings, a majority of the United States Senate and a majority of the United States House of the Representative have said the surge should not go forward.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: So here to talk about whether the Senate majority leader is right that America has already lost this war is MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan.
Pat, have we lost the war? Is Harry Reid right?
PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Harry Reid, obviously—
I mean, I take the man at his word. He believes the war is not winnable and the war is lost. But, Joe, if you believe that, it follows that you‘ve got to cut off the funds, because we‘re just getting American soldiers killed for nothing. If it is lost, there is no argument for funding the war, and yet his party, Joe, as we‘ve talked about, and as you know, his party is going to fund this war without a deadline after that veto.
SCARBOROUGH: Why, Pat? I mean, because his argument is that the president, the secretary of state, the secretary of defense are all abandoning our troops, they‘re letting our troops sit out there in Iraq and get shot at and get killed. If they believe that this war is lost, and Harry Reid is the leader of the Senate, he‘s the most powerful Democrat in Washington, D.C., why don‘t they just cut off the funds?
BUCHANAN: Well, that‘s what—I mean, it‘s logical. Harry Reid, and if they believe—Harry Reid believes that and the Democrats believe it, they should cut off the funds. I don‘t believe the vice president and the president of United States believe that. I think they‘re honest in thinking there‘s a chance that we can win this thing. And, secondly, I think they‘re honest when they say, if we pull out, it is going to be far worse than the horrors we‘re seeing now, far worse for the United States.
I think they believe that. But the ball is in Harry‘s court. If you believe it‘s lost, Joe, you‘ve got to stand up and say, “Cut off the funds.”
SCARBOROUGH: Now, you know, Pat, a couple of weeks ago, we were talking about how this surge might be working. A lot of experts were saying some very good things were happening in Iraq. But over the past two weeks, Don Imus and these Virginia Tech murders have pushed Iraq offer the front pages when they‘ve had some of the bloodiest weeks in recent memory.
Is that evidence that the surge is not working, that Harry Reid is right, that the Democratic Party is right, that the majority of Americans are right that this surge should have never gone forward?
BUCHANAN: Well, the surge hasn‘t even been completed yet. It‘s completed when all the troops are in there in June, and Petraeus has said we will know by September whether it works or not. It appeared to be working, as you and I—or at least the violence was down, as you and I have talked, and it now appears it‘s back up.
So I think it is really—the jury is still out on this, Joe, but I understand Reid‘s doubt and other Americans‘ doubt. I was opposed to this thing. But I think the country is going to give this a shot until September. I think the Democrats are going to fund the war right up through September, and I think McCain is right. If it‘s not clearly working for all of us by then, McCain says there is no Plan B, and I don‘t think the president has got a Plan B.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, that‘s right. And then I think everybody steps out. And, unfortunately, I think what we‘re finding is, now that the Shia death squads have been held down in check to stop going after the Sunnis, now you have the Sunnis running across Iraq and committing any random acts of terror that they want to commit.
Hey, Pat Buchanan, as always, thank you for being with us tonight.
BUCHANAN: Well, thank you, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, now, while politicians aren‘t holding back, neither is comedian Bill Maher, especially when it comes to Iraq. Before the tragic events at Virginia Tech this week, I asked Bill about the president and the war, and this was classic Maher.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL MAHER, HOST, “REAL TIME”: New rule: Traitors don‘t get to question my patriotism.
What could be less patriotic than constantly screwing things up for America? George Bush likes to claim that he doesn‘t question his critics‘ patriotism, just their judgment. Well, let me be the first of your critics, Mr. President, to question your judgment and your patriotism?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: You recently called him the worst president in the history of America. We‘ve had a lot of bad presidents. What has George Bush done that‘s made him the worst president ever?
MAHER: What hasn‘t he done? I mean, where do we begin? I mean, Iraq alone I think ought to do it.
SCARBOROUGH: Let‘s start with the economy. How‘s the economy doing?
MAHER: Well, the economy‘s doing good, if you‘re rich. Corporate profits are through the roof. Everybody else is about even. But it‘s not about what George Bush is doing now with the economy; it‘s about the time bomb that he‘s leaving in the future. Let‘s talk about the economy in a few years, or five years, or 10 years, when this debt comes home to roost. George Bush has not been good for the economy.
But even if he was, it doesn‘t matter. What he‘s done simply in Iraq, taking this war on terror—and, yes, there was a problem we had before 9/11. And then, of course, after 9/11, it got worst, but he took the wrong approach.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAHER: After 9/11, President Bush told us Osama bin laden could run, but he can‘t hide, but then he ran and hid. So Bush went to Plan B: pissing on the Constitution and torturing random people. Conservatives always say the great thing Reagan did was make us feel good about America again. Well, do you feel good about America now? I‘ll give you my answer, and to get it out of me, you don‘t even have to hold my head underwater and have a snarling guard dog rip my nuts off.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MAHER: The Army is basically broken. I would think, if there was one thing conservatives would care a lot about, it would be our strong military. Colin Powell said in December—he said this Army is basically broken. Our ready brigade—we‘re supposed to have at least one ready brigade. They‘re not ready, because they‘ve been used already in Iraq and Afghanistan. What if something happened over here that we needed defense for?
They send troops to Iraq now without the proper equipment, without the proper training. You know, there are Humvees in Iraq that do prevent deaths from bombs going off underneath. John McCain rode in one, I believe, when he was in Baghdad a couple of weeks ago. They could have prevented a lot more of the deaths in Iraq if they‘d gotten the right equipment there.
But, of course, George Bush, the reformer with results, this guy never, of course, challenged the military industrial complex, never went after industry to provide the people with the right equipment. In World War II, we were not ready when that war started. In a year‘s time, they were producing one plane an hour, and yet somehow we can‘t get the right equipment, after four years of war, to our troops that George Bush always holds up as the people he loves so much.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAHER: New rule: President Bush‘s dog, Barney, has to run away from home. President Bush has said he won‘t pull out of Iraq even if Laura and Barney are the only ones supporting him, and we know Laura isn‘t going to leave, which means the country is depending on you, Barney. Run, boy, run! President Bush doesn‘t love you anymore. He‘s found a new pet who will roll over on command.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Couldn‘t disagree with him more on so many issues, but he‘s always provocative, and Americans always want to hear what Bill Maher has to say.
Now, coming up next, “American Idol” loses it‘s biggest star. Will the show actually be worst without Sanjaya? And what‘s next for this national punch line? We‘re going to be talking live to somebody who knows about life after teen stardom, Danny Bonaduce.
And later in “Hollyweird,” TomKat‘s favorite song is “Gold Digger”?
Gee, I wonder why.
SCARBOROUGH: My fellow Americans, our long national punch line is over. Last night, America finally got it right and voted off “Idol‘s” joke of the season. Yes, it may be hard for some people to comprehend, but Sanjaya is going home.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RYAN SEACREST, HOST, “AMERICAN IDOL”: America voted. After the biggest top seven vote in “Idol” history, over 38 million votes, Sanjaya, you are going home tonight.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: He didn‘t believe it. He will be missed, I guess.
But he‘s still a star. The androgynous kid with a creepy smile and the questionable voice is actually going to be on Leno tonight and at the White House Correspondent Dinner as “People” magazine‘s guest.
Here now to console us all is former “American Idol” contestant Carmen Rasmusen. Her new single is “Nothing Like the Summer.” And Danny Bonaduce from the “Partridge Family,” VH1‘s “Breaking Bonaduce,” and “The Adam Carolla Show” on 97.1 Free FM on the West Coast.
Danny, did “American Idol” just get hurt when Americans voted off the singer that they loved to hate?
DANNY BONADUCE, RADIO HOST: I don‘t know that it got hurt. I think it “American Idol” will get hurt when America comes to its senses. Did you hear what Ryan Seacrest said? After our biggest vote ever, 38 million. With 38 million votes, you could be a senator anywhere. The priorities are so askew in this. And you can‘t—if you do care about the show, you can‘t have the punch line win, and I think what happened is, it stopped being funny, and they went for the talent. They decided the last two remaining talented contestants, one of them should win.
SCARBOROUGH: But, you know, Carmen, this guy may have been a lousy singer, but he seemed to be the only performed this year with personality. Now that Sanjaya is gone, who‘s left with any spark at all?
CARMEN RASMUSEN, FORMER “AMERICAN IDOL” CONTESTANT: There really aren‘t many, Joe. And a lot of people have said that this season isn‘t as interesting as past seasons. And I agree with you, Sanjaya was a spark on “American Idol.” He was their star. And I think that he‘ll have a good career after this as an entertainer or, you know, doing great hair commercials or whatever.
But as far as the other contestants go, I don‘t know. I think that it comes down to Jordin Sparks and Blake. I think those are the two that have the most personality out of anyone, however talented they may be. I‘ve said this over and over again. It‘s about having the entire package. And I think that “American Idol” will definitely hurt after Sanjaya leaves, because what are we going to talk about? You know, what are we going to talk about now?
SCARBOROUGH: Well, there really is nobody else to talk about that‘s really that interesting. And, you know, Sanjaya may be gone, but his performances are always going to be remembered. Here are some of the highlights of his not-so-brilliant career.
They don‘t make them like that anymore, Danny. Thank God.
BONADUCE: No, they don‘t.
SCARBOROUGH: The question is, though, Danny—and then I‘ll let you say whatever you‘re going to say—does this guy have what it takes to turn this into an acting career or a singing career?
BONADUCE: No, what he has is what it takes to turn it into an act. You don‘t have to be that good to have an act. Let‘s say they put him together with Clay Aiken and collectively they have enough testosterone between them to make one real guy, they could do a one-man show.
SCARBOROUGH: That is awful.
BONADUCE: You could just turn it into an act.
SCARBOROUGH: That is awful. So does he go to Vegas with that act?
BONADUCE: Absolutely he‘s a Vegas act. He was a lounge singer, and now he‘s in the main ballroom, man. They made him a star. You don‘t have to be good. Pat Paulsen made a career out of making bad jokes, jokes that didn‘t work. Carson‘s best moments were went his jokes weren‘t funny and he just mugged. Sanjaya is not a performer. He‘s not a singer. He‘s now an act. And if he milks it right, he‘ll be a very wealthy young man.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, Carmen, “American Idol” producers always brag about the fact that they show people what Hollywood‘s really like, what the record industry is really like. And, unfortunately, as you found out, Sanjaya is a perfect example of that, you‘ve got a guy who‘s not really that talented, and yet he‘s probably going to get a record contract. You‘re extremely talented. It took you four years. I mean, doesn‘t that tell you, what‘s important in Hollywood?
RASMUSEN: Oh, yes, it definitely does. I mean, I worked so hard to get where I am today. And a lot of people, as soon as they get their 15 minutes of fame—and especially out here in L.A., you can. As Danny was saying, you can become an act, you can be on funny TV shows. I mean, he could star in a movie like “Napoleon Dynamite” or something funny like that. However, I do disagree somewhat. I think that Sanjaya is only 17, and possibly he has a lot of growing to do, a lot of learning to do. And who knows? I mean, maybe a couple of years down the line, we‘ll see a Sanjaya CD.
SCARBOROUGH: “Sanjaya Dynamite,” who knows? Hey, Danny...
RASMUSEN: Who knows?
SCARBOROUGH: And, Danny, finally, what do you think about the future of “Idol,” the future of Simon?
BONADUCE: The future—first of all, Simon owns the show. He‘s not going anyplace. There were some questions about some reactions he has had, if that‘s what you wanted to know about, but I think Simon is fine. I think it‘s a game show that caught fire. It‘s nothing but “Star Search,” and they just cut out the spokesmodel.
SCARBOROUGH: All right. We‘re going to have to leave it there.
Danny Bonaduce, Carmen Rasmusen, thank you so much for being with us.
And coming up next, Donald trump reunites his feud with Rosie by sending kinky underwear to Barbara Walters? Time to get your freak on, baby. “Hollyweird” is next.
SCARBOROUGH: Tell the plastic surgeon, “More Botox, a lot more Botox.” It‘s time for “Hollyweird.”
First up, Donald Trump. The billionaire just won‘t let his feud with Rosie O‘Donnell die, and this time he‘s involving underwear and Barbara Walters. It sounds very ugly, friends.
Right now, editor-at-large for “Star” magazine Jill Dobson and Alexandra Wentworth. Her show, “Head Case,” airs Wednesdays at 11:00 p.m. on Starz.
I must start with you, Jill Dobson. Please tell me, Barbara Walters, underwear, Donald Trump. It sounds ugly. What‘s the story?
JILL DOBSON, “STAR” MAGAZINE: Yes, well, yesterday on “The View,” Rosie started off by saying, “Do you know what Donald Trump sent Barbara?” And Barbara said, “Wait a minute. This was something sent to me, and it‘s up to me whether to tell it, and I‘m not going to say what happened.”
But the report came out today that what Donald sent Barbara was the undergarments that Rosie wore on the film “Exit to Eden,” a black bustier and black underwear. And, of course, Donald describes them as gigantic, as gross, as disgusting. And I just don‘t like Donald insinuating, calling Rosie fat. It‘s never OK to call a woman fat, Donald, never. It‘s not OK.
SCARBOROUGH: Exactly. But, Alexandra, thank God that ABC made the decision that NBC did not make, and they decided not to show those undergarments. What‘s going on here? Why can‘t Donald Trump just let it drop?
ALEXANDRA WENTWORTH, “HEAD CASE”: Well, he‘s an angry man, I think. But the bigger question is, who is the person that originally bought this underwear and had it encased in a frame? That‘s the bigger question. Somebody actually paid money for this. And at the end of the day, didn‘t Donald Trump basically just send lingerie to Barbara Walters? I think there‘s a much deeper meaning in all of this.
SCARBOROUGH: And it is very disturbing.
Speaking of disturbing, TomKat‘s wedding DJ says “Gold Digger” is Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes‘s favorite song. Allie, that seems appropriate to me. What about you?
WENTWORTH: You know what? I don‘t think she‘s a gold digger. I really don‘t. I mean, I think what would be more appropriate is a song like, you know, “Crazy” by Patsy Cline. But I don‘t think she‘s a gold digger. I really don‘t. I think that—if she is, she‘s paying her dues, believe me.
SCARBOROUGH: Boy, she really is. There‘s not enough money in the world, is there, Jill Dobson, to have to hang out with that crazy guy for four or five years?
DOBSON: You know, it seems like a very odd relationship. I‘m still having trouble coming to terms with it. But, yesterday, Suri celebrated her first birthday, so I‘m imagining them dancing around with Suri to this song yesterday at their big party.
SCARBOROUGH: Oh, no doubt about it. I mean, we play this song full volume, even post-Imus, around our house and dance with our 3 ½-year-old girl.
Now, “Star” magazine‘s reporting that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie may be looking to separate. Jill, what‘s going on here?
DOBSON: Well, Angelina very famously said that she was going to be a stay-at-home mom for a while after adopting the most recent kid, and then now she‘s actually heading off to Prague this month to start filming a movie. So sources are calling this a so-called trial separation for the two. And in the latest issue of “Star” magazine, which is on newsstands tomorrow, we also mention that she‘s filming two more movies back to back after this one, plus another two movies in 2008. So she‘s very busy, not so much of a stay-at-home mom like she promised.
SCARBOROUGH: Working hard, no doubt about it.
And, finally, Justin Timberlake wants to bring sexy back to the PGA.
Allie, I don‘t want to see this dork in pink and green. What‘s going on?
WENTWORTH: Well, what‘s going on with your anger towards Justin, is the bigger question?
SCARBOROUGH: He‘s just a dork. Look at him.
WENTWORTH: Do you have a little crush on Britney Spears or something?
Did you lose out in the big battle?
SCARBOROUGH: No, I‘ve got no problem with dorks. Just I don‘t want them telling me that they‘re bringing sexy back.
WENTWORTH: Sexy to golf, my friend.
SCARBOROUGH: OK, well, there you go. And that‘s not very hard to do, is it? Allie Wentworth, Jill Dobson, thank you so much. That‘s all the time we have tonight in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. We‘ll see you tomorrow.
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