Guests: Kaye Young, Ronald Young, James Hirsen, William McGowan, Richard Shelby, Chad Clanton, John Fund, Mindy Tucker, Carl Bernstein
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST: One year ago tonight, President Bush let loose a furious invasion of Iraq aimed at freeing the Iraqi people from a ruthless dictator. And at 10:00 Eastern, bombs were falling in Baghdad as coalition forces began the night‘s second wave of attacks.
You‘re about to enter SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. No passport required, no surrender allowed.
Bush critics say the president should apologize to the world for the war in Iraq. Does he owe America and the world an apology? We‘ve got two U.S. senators here to debate that.
And one year later, many believe the media still doesn‘t get it. They say coverage of the Iraqi liberation is as biased as ever. “Vanity Fair”‘s Carl Bernstein is here to weigh in.
And who could forget Hollywood‘s dire predictions for the war and their anti-Bush rants. Well, tonight, we hold Hollywood radicals accountable and ask Hollywood insiders if anything‘s changed in a year.
And what‘s it like to be a prisoner of war in a foreign land? A brave U.S. soldier that was held captive in Iraq is in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY to tell us all about it.
Boy, it‘s amazing, isn‘t it? One year to the day that America launched its war of liberation in Iraq. America and the world should praise its soldiers for a job well done. It‘s time for tonight‘s “Real Deal.”
Now, over the past year, America‘s been fighting a multi-front war in Iraq. Of course, we‘ve gotten through it with flying colors. First, we fought Saddam Hussein‘s Stalinist regime and we won. Then we had to endure months of second-guessing from the liberal media elites, who cynically said the Iraqi people were better off under Saddam Hussein than U.S. troops.
Then, of course, we had to endure the second-guesses and the scowls from Howard Dean, John Kerry and a lot of people on the radical American left. And if that was not bad enough, last week, Socialists in Spain joined the axis of weasels from France, Germany and the United Nations to take the size of appeasers.
Despite all such obstacles, America‘s fighting men and women liberated a country and helped guarantee the first democratic constitution in the history of the Arab world. Most damning to the radical left‘s claim that Iraq is no better off today than they were a year ago were a flurry of polls showing that the overwhelming majority of Iraqis say life is better today than it was before the American liberation a year ago.
When questioned about education, electricity, clean water, jobs, and, yes, even the safety of their families, by a 2-1 margin, the Iraqi people this week say life is better under American liberators than it was under the brutal tyrant Saddam Hussein. Now, I know Jacques Chirac, Howard Dean and Kofi Annan hate to hear that news. But, guys, it‘s time for you to get over it, because there‘s a brave new world in the Middle East and it has a democratic face on it thanks to the fighting men and women of the United States armed forces.
And that‘s tonight‘s “Real Deal.”
Now, Saddam is custody. His sons are dead. The torture rooms are closed and 25 million Iraqis have been liberated and they‘re living under a democratic constitution. But some critics are saying George Bush still owes us an apology.
Here‘s former Iraqi weapons inspector David Kay on SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY this past week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID KAY, FORMER CHIEF U.S. WEAPONS INSPECTOR: I think it‘s less a matter of an apology, quite frankly, than an admission, an admission that there were errors, that, in fact, weapons of mass destruction do not exist in Iraq and that, as a basis for war, that simply turned out to be wrong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Mindy Tucker, does the president have anything to apologize for?
MINDY TUCKER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: The notion is ridiculous.
First of all, he laid out several reasons why we needed to liberate the people of Iraq. And everybody in America agreed, Democrats and Republicans alike. But now that it‘s politics time and it‘s time for the Democrats to find some reason why they‘re relevant and why they should be elected this fall, they have to turn everything around and make weapons of mass destruction the only reason we went over there and blame the president, instead of faulty intelligence that we got showing that weapons of mass destruction were over there.
We know Saddam has used them in the past. And that alone was reason enough for me to support this president in going in and liberating those people.
SCARBOROUGH: John Fund, I‘ll ask you the same question, from OpinionJournal.com.
Do you think we have any reason to apologize for going to war in Iraq?
JOHN FUND, COLUMNIST, “THE WALL STREET JOURNAL”: Well, Joe, apologize to whom, the Iraqi people, the vast majority of whom are very glad that Saddam Hussein is gone and that infrastructure is being built?
SCARBOROUGH: Wait, wait, wait, wait. We hear in the press that they‘re not, that things are worse off today than they were a year ago.
FUND: ... poll that you cite that things are very good among Iraqi public opinion; 2-1, they say things are better in every range of infrastructure and improvement in education.
Now, apologize to the French, the people who took all the kickbacks and bribes from Iraqis? Apologize to the U.N., who we now know, through the food-for-oil program, were involved in massive corruption?
SCARBOROUGH: And William Safire said may have stole $2 billion to $3 billion from the mouths of Iraqi children, the United Nations, such a noble institution.
FUND: Now, as for the American people, the Bush administration made a mistake. They had four or five reasons to go to war. They probably should have narrowed that down to one or two.
But the bottom line is, the weapons of mass destruction, they still may be eventually found. There‘s no need for apology. And even if they aren‘t found, we got rid of Saddam Hussein and the terrorists are on the run.
SCARBOROUGH: Chad Clanton, you‘re a senior Kerry adviser.
The president‘s making no apologies. And this is what he had to say earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There can be no separate peace with the terrorist enemy. Any sign of weakness or retreat simply validates terrorist violence and invites more violence for all nations. The only certain way to protect our people is by united and decisive action.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Chad Clanton, that seems very reasonable, a very reasonable thing to say. John Kerry can agree with that, can‘t he, that we need to be united as a nation and tell the world we did the right thing to go to war in Iraq?
CHAD CLANTON, SENIOR KERRY ADVISER: Right.
The problem with that is, the president campaigned in 2000 saying he would be a uniter, not a divider, when in fact he‘s pulled this country apart. And the reason he‘s done is because he hadn‘t leveled with the American people on why we went to war, the true cost of the war and weapons of mass destruction that Mindy mentioned just a minute ago.
First, we started with a justification for war saying that there was a link between al Qaeda and Iraq. Then we found out that‘s not true.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, that is still under—in dispute, is it not?
CLANTON: Well, I don‘t think so. I think it‘s pretty clear.
The problem is the justifications for going to war from this administration seem to change as often as the weather. I mean, the president on Iraq, on the economy, on creating jobs, on now Medicare, with the scandal that we‘re seeing in the House of Representatives, where you used to work, Joe, is increasingly wide. And it‘s time for him to level with the American people. It‘s time for him to come clean about the justification for war, why we‘re there, the real cost.
As “The Washington Post” just reported, he hadn‘t leveled about the
cost and it‘s time to come clean
SCARBOROUGH: Mindy Tucker, we‘ll give you the last word.
TUCKER: Well, it‘s impossible to have a reasonable, thoughtful discussion on this topic when we‘re going to have the kind of give-and-take that we have between the Democrats and the Republicans.
You know how it is up there. Just like you just said, you were there. They will not hold an reasonable discussion about what the president said in the State of the Union before he went to war with Iraq and when he laid out exactly why we were going and all of the atrocities and all of the problems over there, our exact reason for going. The Democrats have forgotten all that.
They are right now all about, the president‘s a liar and we want to
win. That is their only
FUND: The Democrats agreed the weapons of mass destruction were there.
TUCKER: Right. But now...
FUND: If there was a mistake made, everyone made it.
TUCKER: It‘s a political year, though. They‘re not responsible for anything. They can say what they want. They can accuse the president of anything. And it‘s all about politics. There‘s no way to have a reasonable discussion.
SCARBOROUGH: We‘re going to have to leave it there. I‘m so sorry.
John Fund, Mindy Tucker, Chad Clanton, thanks for being with us tonight. We greatly appreciate it.
And with me now is Senator Richard Shelby. He‘s a Republican from Alabama. And, of course, he‘s a former chairman of the Intelligence Committee.
Thank you so much for being with us tonight, Chairman, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. RICHARD SHELBY ®, ALABAMA: Thank you, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: And I‘d like to ask you to respond to the latest news out of Spain, where we have a new Socialist prime minister who says that this war was built on lies by George Bush. Was it?
SHELBY: First of all—first of all, that‘s not true. We do have a new Socialist prime minister. And the first thing he says, we‘re going to retreat, that‘s the worst message he could give to terrorists that would kill Spanish people, that is, to give in to them, to play placate them.
And I just think it shows weakness, not resolve. In President Bush, we‘ve got a man of courage, we‘ve got leadership, and we‘ve got steadfastness in a fight against terrorism which will go on a long time.
SCARBOROUGH: But, again, going to his charge that this war was built on a series of lies, did George Bush take America into war under false pretenses?
SHELBY: Absolutely not.
I was very involved in the Intelligence Committee for eight years. I knew what the national estimate was on intelligence dealing with Iraq. Maybe some of it hasn‘t panned out. But there were a lot of reasons to go to war with Iraq. The Iraqi people are much better off today than they were a year ago. And we‘re making a lot of progress there.
But the Democrats know that, but they—as we all know, this is an election year. And even a lot of the Democrats who voted for the war are trying to retreat now because they‘re looking toward November. But I believe the American people are going to back President Bush because he has resolve, he has courage, and he‘s shown leadership.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, stay right there with us, Mr. Chairman.
We‘ll be right back.
And coming up later, President Bush shouldn‘t have to apologize, but I know some people who should, the Hollywood elites who have spent the last year blasting the president and the troops over the war in Iraq.
And there‘s been a lot of good news out of Iraq over the past year, so why doesn‘t it seem like news coverage gets out there to the people and instead it‘s always doom and gloom? Is the media only telling you half the story?
Stick around, because we‘ll be right back with the rest of the story.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thanks, Joe Scarborough and MSNBC, for supporting our troops. And thanks, America. We appreciate it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, welcome back.
Now, throughout the evening, we‘ve been showing you on MSNBC the major events of the start of the war in Iraq one year ago tonight.
At 10:15 p.m. one year ago tonight, President Bush addressed the nation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My fellow citizens, at this hour, American and coalition forces are in the early stages of military operations to disarm Iraq, to free its people and to defend the world from grave danger.
Our nation enters this conflict reluctantly—yet, our purpose is sure. The people of the United States and our friends and allies will not live at the mercy of an outlaw regime that threatens the peace with weapons of mass murder. We will meet that threat now, with our Army, Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard and Marines, so that we do not have to meet it later with armies of fire fighters and police and doctors on the streets of our cities.
My fellow citizens, the dangers to our country and the world will be overcome. We will pass through this time of peril and carry on the work of peace. We will defend our freedom. We will bring freedom to others and we will prevail.
May God bless our country and all who defend her.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Chairman Richard Shelby, when the president made that speech a year ago, he was operating on false assumptions because he got bad information from the CIA, just like he got bad information from the CIA leading up to 9/11. Why is George Tenet still chairman of the CIA? Why doesn‘t the president fire him?
SHELBY: That‘s a very good question, Joe.
I don‘t know why, but I want to just say again that—what everybody knows, that, on the watch of George Tenet, who is a Clinton appointee, who is a Democrat, there have been more massive failures of intelligence than anybody that‘s on the watch as director of the CIA. It‘s inexplicable to me. It‘s inexplicable to a lot of people, but he does obviously have 27 lives, not nine. He‘s still there. But he wouldn‘t be working for me and he certainly wouldn‘t be working for you.
SCARBOROUGH: No, sir, he certainly wouldn‘t.
Well, thank you so much, Senator Shelby. We appreciate you being with us.
SHELBY: Thank you, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: And we had hoped to have you and Senator Richard Durbin debating tonight, but we were having some satellite problems up there. And, of course, Senator Durbin is one of the most articulate spokesman out there actually debating against going to war in Iraq. We wish we would have been able to get him, but satellite problems out of Illinois.
Now, is the mainstream press telling you the whole story in Iraq? Some reporters only seem to find what they perceive to be the downside of America‘s mission in Iraq.
And I want to play you Walter Rodgers giving his perspective on the war earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALTER RODGERS, CNN REPORTER: There are no weapons of mass destruction. And the Americans have acknowledged that pretty much.
As for the Iraqis being grateful for the removal of Saddam Hussein, that‘s one of those things, well, that‘s what you did yesterday. What have you done for me today? And, as can you see, the Iraqis are not overly enthused about the Americans being here because the Americans have not given them security in the post-Saddam era.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: With me is William McGowan. And he‘s the author of “Coloring the News: How Political Correctness Has Corrupted American Journalism.” And Carl Bernstein of Watergate fame, who now writes for “Vanity Fair.”
Let me begin with you, William McGowan.
I was actually watching CNN, flipping over the dial, seeing what everybody was reporting on today. I saw that. And I was absolutely stunned. He makes this statement that Iraqis aren‘t any safer today than they were a year ago and they‘re not glad that we‘re there. And yet a BBC poll just a week said by a 2-1 margin Iraqis say they‘re safer today than they were a year ago under Saddam Hussein. Why don‘t Americans ever hear that on the mainstream media?
WILLIAM MCGOWAN, AUTHOR, “COLORING THE NEWS”: Well, Joe, if I can just preface my remarks, I think this the anniversary, the one-year anniversary of the war, is to give a good, crisp salute to the men and women of the press corps over there, who have demonstrated great courage and dedication in covering this war.
MCGOWAN: That being said, I do think that there‘s a problem in an automatic default setting in the media, is this kind of Vietnam quagmire script that we fall back on. We do accent the negative.
On a day-to-day basis, we‘re getting news stories, we‘re going to news reports that are accurate and reflect events that have happened, and a lot of violent events. But we‘re not—somehow, the whole story is not emerging out of that. And I think some of this kind of a conflict over whether the Iraqis are happy with us being there or whether we actually are helping, contributing to the rebuilding of the country and the installation of democracy kind of get caught up in that.
Iraq is still very messy, but the idea that it‘s a big mess, I think, would be false.
SCARBOROUGH: Carl Bernstein, according to this BBC opinion poll of the past week, 77 percent of Iraqis report that their lives are going well or quite well; 56 percent say life is better now than it was before the war, as opposed to 20 percent. And a whopping 79 percent want a unified central government centered in Baghdad.
But, Carl Bernstein, do you think that the media is—it‘s a lot easier to report on these explosions instead of reporting on how the country‘s being rebuilt and the progress that is being made by U.S. and coalition troops?
CARL BERNSTEIN, AUTHOR/JOURNALIST: I think the discussion that I‘ve heard for the last 20 minutes has very little to do with realty.
The reporting out of Baghdad and out of Washington through this war I think has been absolutely terrific. It‘s been unbiased. There have been questions raised about the question of whether or not Iraq was a terrorist state, whether it had these weapons of mass destruction. Those are all legitimate questions.
In terms of the survey you‘re citing, I‘ve read that survey in every paper, newspaper, today that I‘ve read. Where are we getting this information? Where—I think you‘ve set up a straw man here that doesn‘t exist and that the reporting has been terrific. It hadn‘t been biased. You can put Walter Rodgers up there, who‘s making a quick off-the-cuff remark.
Take a look at all of Rodgers‘ reporting. See if it stands up or not.
My guess is, it stands up pretty well.
SCARBOROUGH: So you don‘t think that there‘s been biased reporting in the media? You think that the broadcast networks, that “The New York Times,” that “The New York Times” editorial page has played this war right down the middle?
BERNSTEIN: No, I don‘t think any editorial page plays this down the middle, not “The Wall Street Journal,” which supports the war or “The New York Times.” That‘s not the purpose of an editorial page.
SCARBOROUGH: What about the front page of “The New York Times”?
BERNSTEIN: I think the front page—John Burns—nobody reported better than John Burns on the front of “The New York Times” about...
SCARBOROUGH: Exactly. And what did John Burns say about the coverage in Iraq?
BERNSTEIN: He—well, what John Burns has said about the coverage in Iraq is that there have been problems.
SCARBOROUGH: Problems? You‘re damn right he said that.
BERNSTEIN: No, no. But what he also said is that, in terms of reaching conclusions about what the difficulties are in terms of how this war was sold, those difficulties exist. And that‘s a legitimate story.
I think there‘s this notion of ideology keeps creeping into this question of the press. Press in Washington always is rough on the incumbent. Look at Lewinsky and Clinton. Look at Whitewater and Mrs. Clinton, a fight that was led by “The Washington Post” and “The New York Times” against the Clintons.
MCGOWAN: Carl, are you saying this question of media bias is joint so
much hokum, that there‘s no substantive base to it, after these books have
· I‘ve written one. Several other people have written them and documented the bias.
BERNSTEIN: So far, the books I‘ve read with—I‘ve not read yours. I looked at a little of it before the broadcast tonight. It seemed to me to be a little off base, but I‘d have to read the whole book. I think Bernard Goldberg‘s...
MCGOWAN: I think you should read it before you call it off base.
BERNSTEIN: I think Bernard Goldberg‘s book is a total red herring about my media bias. I think it really is an issue that‘s ideologically driven by the right. I think that it doesn‘t exist.
MCGOWAN: It‘s a basis of what‘s driven by the facts.
BERNSTEIN: Let me tell you where I think there is real bias.
SCARBOROUGH: Do you really believe, Carl, that if you went through the broadcast networks, “The New York Times” newsroom, “The Washington Post” newsroom, which—actually, “The Washington Post” is a bit more moderate of a newspaper—that, if you went through there, you really don‘t think you‘d have 90, 95 percent of the reporters in there saying they vote for Democrats candidates over Republicans?
MCGOWAN: And back liberal social issues as well.
BERNSTEIN: First of all, I don‘t think the figure would be nearly that high.
Second of all, I think I would find the greatest professionals in the news business. And I think that it‘s very easy for people who aren‘t reporters to denigrate them. What reporters do every day, both those who vote for this president and against him, is they try to find the best obtainable version of the truth. That‘s what real reporting is about.
And in the war especially, we have seen great reporting.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, Carl, I got to agree with you there. We have seen great reporting. And I want to say this, also. And Bernie Goldberg makes this point in his book.
I don‘t think it‘s malicious. I think you have, again, the majority of the people in the newsrooms that I‘ve walked through, whether in print of broadcast, are to the left.
BERNSTEIN: Have you been through the Fox newsroom lately?
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, yes. Yes, I have. Do you want to compare the 35
MCGOWAN: Fox is a straw man.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes. Yes.
You talk about 35 million people that watch broadcast news every night and one million people that watch news on Fox, that is a red herring.
BERNSTEIN: Let‘s look at the real question. If this so-called conspiracy of media bias existed to the left, how is it that we have a Republican president, the most right-wing president we have?
SCARBOROUGH: I‘ll tell you, it‘s very hard.
BERNSTEIN: How it that we have a Republican Congress? Certainly, nobody is listening to these biased people, as far as I can tell.
SCARBOROUGH: You know what? That‘s a good point. It shows how out of touch they are with middle America.
BERNSTEIN: Well, Joe, now you‘re on to something about middle America.
BERNSTEIN: Well, let me finish.
MCGOWAN: Back to the war issue.
BERNSTEIN: There is a bias. And the bias is geographical. We have much too much of Washington-centric coverage, New York-centric coverage, L.A.-centric coverage. That is not about liberalism. It‘s not about conservatism. It‘s about reporters who haven‘t been between the two coasts. And we need more reporters between the two coasts.
SCARBOROUGH: I agree with you again.
BERNSTEIN: Totally different than liberal bias.
MCGOWAN: I would say that has an ideological dimension to it, Carl, but that‘s kind of a secondary factor.
BERNSTEIN: That‘s a problem. But that‘s something totally different.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, thank you all both so much, William McGowan, Carl Bernstein. We appreciate you being with us tonight.
SCARBOROUGH: Just ahead, a lot of big-time Hollywood actors said a war in Iraq would be a disaster. But one year later, Saddam‘s in custody and Iraqis say they‘re better off.
So, do any of the naysayers come forward and say they‘re wrong? I wouldn‘t count on it.
And later, we‘re going to be talking to photojournalist Craig White about his experience covering the Iraqi war from the Bloom-mobile.
But, first, let‘s get the latest headlines from the MSNBC News Desk.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JANEANE GAROFALO, COMEDIAN: We are doomed if we go into this war into the heart of the Arabian with a U.S.-led effort against public opinion. We are doomed if we do this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: That never gets old. I just love her. I really do. Be nice to her if you see her out on the streets, OK? Be nice to see.
Now, even before the bombing of Baghdad, Hollywood stars were preaching doom and gloom about the war in Iraq. Were they genuinely concerned about America‘s interests and the liberation of Iraqis or was it all about their own careers and political agendas?
We have James Hirsen. He‘s the author of “Tales From the Left Coast,” an expose about the politics of Hollywood stars.
James, what‘s the answer to that. Why do we have so many Hollywood stars coming out still bashing the president over this war?
JAMES HIRSEN, AUTHOR, “TALES FROM THE LEFT COAST”: Well, the rhetoric, Joe, sounded very shrill back prior to the Iraq war over a year ago.
But since then, the rhetoric was picked up by the candidates in the Democratic primary. So now Hollywood and these candidates sound very similar. And you‘re right. The loathing for Bush, I think, lies behind this antipathy towards the war. If you notice, Janeane Garofalo, that star that was just on that has a crush on you, she also had said that the reason that they didn‘t oppose Clinton and the war in Kosovo is because it wasn‘t hip to oppose that.
So there‘s a hipness in Hollywood to hating Bush. The Bush loathing has grown. And just recently, Sean Penn was in Latin America. He called George Bush a traitor to human principles and American principles. Michael Moore continues to call Bush a deserter, AWOL, a felon. We have people like Gwyneth Paltrow saying she‘s embarrassed, people like Johnny Depp saying that he‘s not going to live in this country. Cher says she‘d rather stick needles in her eyes than become a Republican.
So I think that there‘s no chance of any apologies coming out of Hollywood soon.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, to be fair, there are a lot of Republicans who would rather stick needles in their eyes rather than have Cher being a Republican.
Robert Davi, you‘re in Hollywood. Obviously, you‘re from “Die Hard,” and most recently on NBC‘s “The Profiler.” You‘re also a big supporter of our troops.
Follow up on what James Hirsen just said. Is it hip in Hollywood to hate George Bush?
ROBERT DAVI, ACTOR: Well, I don‘t necessarily know if it‘s hip. But it seems to be a certain prevailing response.
I know a couple of my friends, quite a few, there is a conservative movement in Hollywood and we kind of stay amongst ourselves. And I don‘t begrudge anyone their point of view, but I totally disagree with a lot of the statements that he mentioned earlier about what people said. I think that the resolve that President Bush has—and it‘s very interesting, because when you take the war on Iraq, it seems that people want to isolate that from the war on terrorism for some reason.
And there‘s a whole bunch of different equations that went into making E equals MC-squared. And the war on terrorism is part of the war with Iraq. So it‘s very interesting to me that there seems to be a disconnect with the resolve that we had after 9/11. You had a president who was in office. And I remember a certain moment that was a turning point, when he was very emotional. And he said—and I‘m paraphrasing—I‘m a peace-loving man, but I‘ve got a job to do.
And there was a click-in to saying, we have to protect America. And I think that, thank God we have this administration and this president.
SCARBOROUGH: Lawrence O‘Donnell, you‘re an MSNBC political analyst and of course you also work as a consultant for NBC‘s “West Wing.”
There are quotes out there, of course. Some actors have complaints like, for instance, Ed Norton said this: “It‘s nice being in Europe this week. I almost forgot what it‘s like to be proud of my government.”
Do you think actors may speak before they think when they go overseas and not understand that it may offend a lot of people that love them as actors in middle America?
LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL, MSNBC SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, a lot of what they‘re saying, Joe, has been said in exit polls of Democratic pretty voters in such weird places as Iowa and New Hampshire and all over America.
And so I haven‘t heard a single quote tonight that you‘ve used on any of them that hadn‘t been said by literally millions of Democratic primary voters.
SCARBOROUGH: Let me give you one, Lawrence, and you respond.
SCARBOROUGH: I‘ll give you a Sean Penn quote. He‘s always good for a laugh.
SCARBOROUGH: He says this: “We have a dictatorship in this country. It‘s not anything close to Saddam, but in terms of destroying American values, our government is presently the greatest threat to our people.”
That doesn‘t sound like something you‘d hear in Iowa, would it? Does it?
O‘DONNELL: Well, look, it—he has a case to make. He has a case with facts that have never existed before, a preemptive war. Now, the president made his case for a preemptive war. Much of that case turned out not to be true. But Sean Penn is talking about a president doing a preemptive war the likes of which we‘ve never seen.
DAVI: A case that was made for 10 years.
O‘DONNELL: On a scale that we‘ve never seen before.
SCARBOROUGH: Does that mean we‘re a dictatorship?
O‘DONNELL: Well, he‘s—he‘s saying—what he‘s saying—let me interpret.
SCARBOROUGH: Oh, come on, Lawrence.
O‘DONNELL: Let me interpret what he‘s saying for you, Joe.
He‘s not going to speak the way people do in the congressional record. But I think what he‘s saying is, in a country where the Constitution says you must have a declaration of war to make war on another country, that was not observed. This president went ahead without the kind of declaration that we‘ve used in the past for war making. This president went ahead to enforce—I‘m just interpreting Sean Penn here now, OK?
SCARBOROUGH: You‘re doing a great job.
O‘DONNELL: He wanted to enforce a United Nations resolution that the United Nations did not want to enforce.
SCARBOROUGH: OK, let me bring in Carl Bernstein.
O‘DONNELL: That people who voted for it. So it‘s not as wild and crazy as you want to make it seem.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, I think dictatorship is a little bit different than what we have.
O‘DONNELL: He doesn‘t mean it literally. And he said—Joe, in the quote, he said nothing compared to Saddam Hussein. But he‘s saying that it‘s not operating the way he wants a representative government to operate.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, Carl Bernstein, you just told an audience in Tampa that journalism should challenge people, not just mindlessly amuse them. Do you think Hollywood may have the same responsibility in the movies they make?
BERNSTEIN: I think that the kinds of movies that come out of Hollywood are good, bad, horrible, indifferent. There‘s a whole panoply of movies. I think it‘s time to stop all these ridiculous generalizations that we keep making.
Let me say a thing about what
SCARBOROUGH: So Hollywood is not liberal either.
BERNSTEIN: Let me just say one thing that Mr. David said that I think is very important and which we saw George Bush saying in the pull quote that you had, the tape, a few minutes ago.
And that was that Mr. Bush said that we were going to war to make our country safer, that we were under attack, basically, from Saddam Hussein, and that he was connected to the terrorist attacks. That turns out not to be the case. The disconnect that Mr. Davi talked about is indeed a disconnect between the facts and what Mr. Bush was saying.
And I just want to point that out. I think that‘s a matter of somewhat fact, that, you know, Iraq was not a terrorist state. It was a Stalinist state. It was an oppressive state. It was an authoritarian, terrible, tyrannical, murderous state. It did not threaten the United States in the way that Mr. Bush said that it did.
But as for setting up this Hollywood straw thing, as if the—that
these people out there in Hollywood have such some huge influence in terms
of what they say politically—and also, as Mr. Davi noted, Bruce Willis -
· there‘s a big right-wing Republican Hollywood now. And it‘s a good thing. Let them have a good debate out there.
SCARBOROUGH: Robert Davi, I‘ll give you the last word.
Well, I would just like to say that, from what I‘ve understood and—didn‘t Saddam Hussein put the Islamic symbol on his flag several years ago?
BERNSTEIN: I have no idea.
DAVI: There was a change in the flag several years ago that started to at least imply to the—I think, to the Islamic terrorists, you‘re welcome in the country.
I think that, down the line—and I may be wrong, but I think that down the line that we were going to see a lot more of al Qaeda coming into Iraq. You found—Abu Nidal died in Baghdad. So he sponsored terrorism. He sponsored suicide bombings. So I don‘t understand—so, to me, it‘s very blatant.
SCARBOROUGH: All right. Well, thank you so much. We‘re going to have to leave it there, Robert Davi.
James Hirsen, as always. Thank you, Lawrence O‘Donnell. And Carl Bernstein, we appreciate you being with us tonight in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
Even though Carl disagrees with me on just about everything I‘ve said tonight, probably just about everything I say every night, it‘s great to have him, very articulate for his side.
Now, Ronald Young was captured by Iraqi militants and his family feared the worst. But he‘s here with us today to talk about protecting his country and being a prisoner of war. That‘s coming up.
And then he and David Bloom took America inside the war in a way no one else could. NBC photojournalist Craig White visits SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY with great stories to tell.
That‘s coming up next.
ANNOUNCER: Tonight‘s SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY challenge: There were 44 nations in America‘s Iraq coalition last year. How many were in the ‘91 Persian Gulf War coalition? Was it, A, 78, B, 63, or, C, 34? The answer coming up.
ANNOUNCER: In tonight‘s SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY challenge, we asked, there were 44 nations in America‘s Iraq coalition last year. How many were in the ‘91 Persian Gulf War coalition? Give up? The answer is, C, 34.
Now back to Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: When his Apache helicopter went down just over a year ago, Chief Warrant Officer‘s Ronald Young‘s family feared the worst. Then his father saw his son‘s face on the television, like we all did, one of seven POWs captured 60 miles southwest of Baghdad. Young returned home safely on April 19.
And he and his mother, Kaye, and his father, Ronnie, join me now.
So great to see you all tonight.
Ronald Young, let me begin with you. What are your thoughts tonight a year after this war began which obviously led to some pretty tense moments for you and your family?
RONALD YOUNG, FORMER POW IN IRAQ: It did. It‘s really a great night for me. I‘ve been thinking. I guess I‘ve been doing a lot of reminiscing all day of kind of what we went through and everything.
And I just have to say, I think that the guys have done an excellent job. And I believe that we‘ve accomplished a lot of our goals out of Iraq. And I believe that it‘s a overwhelming success for us right now. And I hope that the good work keeps up and that the guys keep their morale up and that the nation will keep standing behind them.
SCARBOROUGH: What was it like for you, those first moments after you got captured? What were you thinking?
R. YOUNG: I honestly thought they were just going to kill us right there. But there‘s a lot of things that run through your mind. I‘ve seen some videos of some horrible things that have happened to soldiers in the past that I know a lot of people haven‘t seen.
And the reason they show you this type of stuff is for the training aspect of it to get you ready for what you may have to go through. And I was really prepared for the worst. I prayed that that wouldn‘t happened, that the lord wouldn‘t let things like that happen to us. But, I mean, really, the first moments when we were captured, everything that you would think would happen to a prisoner of war happened to us for the first few days.
SCARBOROUGH: How important was your faith in getting you through those just horrible, horrible days and weeks?
R. YOUNG: It was extremely important. Really, all you have is just four concrete walls, a blanket and God.
For me, I‘ve been a fairly religious person all my life. But it definitely testified to me that the lord does work in mysterious ways and that he was definitely working in my life and bringing me home. You wouldn‘t believe the amount of letters that I‘ve received from people who said they‘ve never prayed in their entire life until they saw us on TV and that we were definitely a witness for them. So, it‘s been a blessing in a lot of people‘s live, I believe.
SCARBOROUGH: That‘s fantastic.
Now, Kaye Young, let me ask you. When you found out that your son was captured, I know it was a horrible time. And, tonight, we‘re all celebrating, a lot of people are celebrating this liberation of Iraq. But I want to ask you, are you going to have a bigger celebration on April 19, which is the one-year anniversary of when your son was born to you again and you found out he was coming home?
KAYE YOUNG, MOTHER OF RONALD: Oh, I‘ll tell you, it actually was the 13th that we found out.
SCARBOROUGH: Oh, it was the 13th. OK.
K. YOUNG: It was the 13th and the 14th was my birthday. So it was a birthday present.
But we actually were reunited with him in Fort Hood on the 19th. And it was the most wonderful day of my life. I can‘t tell you how wonderful it was.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes. What was...
K. YOUNG: I did try to hug him for 30 minutes.
What was it like when you first heard the bad news that he‘d been taken?
K. YOUNG: It was horrible. I had called one of Ron‘s commando‘s wives. And she had told me that, if it was Ron, that they would come to my house.
And so I had just told my daughters and my son that. And my son Jesse (ph) said, the Army‘s coming up the driveway. And your whole life flashes before you. You just feel like that you can‘t stand it. You know, it‘s just the most horrible moment of your life.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes. Well, we‘re so glad that it turned out so well and so glad, Ronald, that God was with you there in that cell and helped you get through that horrible time. God bless you for all you‘ve done for this country and for coming on and sharing your story with America.
R. YOUNG: Yes, sir. Thank you.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, thank you so much. And thank you, Kaye. And also, thank you, Ronnie. You‘re the strong, silent type in the back. We appreciate it.
SCARBOROUGH: Now let‘s bring on veteran NBC photojournalist Craig White. He, of course, brought us amazing images of the war in Iraq while embedded with the 3rd I.D. And he‘s the one who let us see our late colleague David Bloom aboard the Bloom-mobile as they raced towards Baghdad. He was with David when he died.
And Craig is with me tonight.
Thanks so much, Craig, for being here.
And tell me what you‘re feeling like on the one-year anniversary of this war. Where were you a year ago?
CRAIG WHITE, NBC PHOTOJOURNALIST: A year ago, we had just crossed the berm—I guess it was almost a full day now at this point—into Iraq, still alive, glad to be alive, not knowing what was ahead of us. Hour by hour, I keep looking at my watch and reminiscing exactly what was happening trying to compare where are were then vs. now.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, tell us about David and the guys you worked for over there. You and David worked together. You pioneered the Bloom-mobile. Tell us a little bit about that.
WHITE: David knew we wanted to cover this war live. He said, if it wasn‘t live, it was late in a war like this. We knew that it would be an immediate war. People in the United States would see it as it developed.
So we built the Bloom-mobile. And he also decided that he wanted to cover this war from the point of view of soldiers, the common soldier, up close. We wouldn‘t see a war, per se. We would see a slice of a war, a small slice of a war. And I think that he began to respect soldiers as he spent more time with them and he earned the respect of soldiers as well.
You know, after the horrible news that you received and all of America received that David Bloom had passed away, you all made a decision. And that decision was to press on. Why did you do that?
WHITE: Well, we had a choice to make. We could try to get out, but that wasn‘t an option. But, more important than that, more importantly than that, we wanted to do what David would want us to do.
And to a man—there were remaining five of us—we decided to press forth, originally one day at a time. But that just built and we stayed there for another month.
SCARBOROUGH: Some of the more memorable footage that you shot was beneath an underpass the day you and the 3rd I.D. arrived in Baghdad. Tell us about that day while we look at some of the video.
WHITE: This happened 24 hours to the minute after David died. We were in a situation holding three underpasses going into Baghdad.
This is the day that everyone saw palaces falling. In reality, we couldn‘t get out live because we were stuck under a bridge. But soldiers fought valiantly and very hard for seven hours in this firefight. About six hours into it, we were surrounded and I didn‘t think we were going to make it out.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, I know that had to be horrifying for you, especially coming so closely after the passing of your good friend David Bloom.
Give us final thoughts about David. Obviously, he was a colleague of everybody at NBC. He was beloved. And he really was. And I know this meant nothing to him at the time and it means very little today. But he was the star reporter of this war. What he did was just incredible. He brought to it people. What are your thoughts tonight of David Bloom?
WHITE: Before David went into the war, he studied everything. He did exhaustive homework. And one of the things that he read were all of the reports of Ernie Pyle in World War II. And I think David would like to be remembered as maybe the Ernie Pyle of this war, with a soldier at all time.
The day after David died, two other soldiers died. And several days after that, when we had a chance to pause, the three of them were given a soldier‘s funeral.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes. All right, thank you so much for being with us, Craig White. It‘s certainly great to see you again. And thank you for bringing those stories to us.
We‘ll be right back after this message.
SCARBOROUGH: Monday night in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, Rush Limbaugh‘s attorney, Roy Black, is going to join us with exclusive news on Rush‘s legal battle. That‘s Monday night.
But more on SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY straight ahead.
SCARBOROUGH: Over 500 Americans service men have given their lives in this war. Tonight, let‘s remember to keep their families in our prayers.
We‘ll see you on Monday.
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