Guests: Kennedy, David Sterritt, William Donahue, Kirk Cameron, Kirsten Powers, Ann Coulter, Mark Brzezinski, Sarah Eltantawi
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST: Tonight, the United Nations wants to kick Israel around for killing their Osama bin Laden, but the U.S. says, not so fast.
You‘re about to enter SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. No passport required, no appeasement allowed.
America vetoes a U.N. resolution condemning Israel for killing their most wanted terrorist. What is it that the United Nations just doesn‘t get? My “Real Deal” is coming up.
Plus, double-talk from the man who‘s written a book critical about President Bush. We‘ll look at what Richard Clarke is saying now vs. what he said when he was working for the president. It‘s Clarke vs. Clarke in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
And sex may not be selling in middle America. A new study says cleaner movies are making more than those with nudity, drugs and violence. So will Hollywood change its tune with “The Passion” scoring record numbers? Veteran actor Kirk Cameron is here to weigh in.
And it‘s spring break season again, and you won‘t believe what your kids are being exposed to. We‘re going to ask our experts what can be done to keep kids safe while they‘re away from home.
But, first, the United States and the world have been found guilty of hypocrisy in the first degree. It‘s time for tonight‘s “Real Deal.”
Now, the United Nations and the world community have done it again. They have attacked a country for protecting the safety of their own people and for putting a higher priority on national security than international diplomacy. Today, the United Nations Security Council voted to condemn Israel for killing the Palestinian terrorist leader Ahmed Yassin. The Palestinian thug had been responsible over the past few years for the murders of babies, young children, teenagers and senior citizens and other Israelis.
Yassin was nothing less than the Palestinians‘ version of Osama bin Laden. But the only difference being that Yassin actually killed more Israelis per capita than Osama bin Laden killed Americans on September 11. For taking out this beast, Israel was condemned by friends and enemies alike. Britain called the military action illegal. The United States, yes, your government termed it as a serious setback. And the United Nations‘ Kofi Annan called the killing an assassination.
Now, this ugly diplomatic spectacle proves once that while much of the world pays lip service to the existence of a Jewish state, very few are going to do anything to ensure its survival. Anti-Semitism has reached levels unseen in Europe and across the world since Hitler‘s Germany burst on to the world stage in 1933. And if it weren‘t for the United States‘ veto today, Israel would have been sanctioned by the United Nations for doing exactly what the United States is trying to do to Osama bin Laden, to take out a cold-blooded murderer.
It‘s international hypocrisy at its worst. It‘s very dangerous. And it‘s tonight‘s “Real Deal.”
We‘ve got Mark Brzezinski here. He used to work for the National Security Council. We also have Sarah Eltantawi. She is communications director for the Muslim Public Affairs Council.
Sarah, let me begin with you. I know that you are going to have a much different opinion than me on this. Tell me, do you think it was wrong for Israel to take out the lead of Hamas, a terrorist group that had been killing Israeli civilians for years?
SARAH ELTANTAWI, MUSLIM PUBLIC AFFAIRS COUNCIL: I do for two reasons.
One, if you‘re interested in peace in the region, which is why we‘re all here, this killing, this assassination is absolutely the most counterproductive thing that could have happened. Look at the facts on the ground. There were talks happening the week before. There is a United States-backed road map. There is a process that needs to be followed through and both sides need to fulfill their responsibilities.
SCARBOROUGH: And, Sarah, Hamas several times...
ELTANTAWI: That‘s not the point.
SCARBOROUGH: While that process was moving forward, Hamas said, we will not negotiate with Israel. We will drive them into the sea. We will not negotiate.
ELTANTAWI: That‘s actually not quite true.
SCARBOROUGH: That is true.
ELTANTAWI: Actually, no. Hamas has veered here and there. If you look at the rhetoric of Hamas, when it looks like Israel is taking steps to fulfill their end of the bargain—and let‘s not forget that Israel is building an illegal apartheid wall. It‘s expanded its settlements.
It has flown in the face of this administration on our own road map. So if you look at Hamas, there actually is some give-and-take when it looks like the peace process is moving forward. The fact of the matter is that why is it that Sharon has gone in when there is a period of some relative calm and gone in with an Apache helicopter and a missile, blown up the quadriplegic 67-year-old wheelchair-bound leader?
SCARBOROUGH: Oh, please.
ELTANTAWI: No, it‘s symbolic.
SCARBOROUGH: Do not come on my show and make this terrorist out to be a martyr.
ELTANTAWI: Excuse me.
SCARBOROUGH: No, I‘m not going to excuse me.
SCARBOROUGH: Hold on a second. Hold on a second.
ELTANTAWI: I‘m going to let you sit here and tell me that I am defending terrorists.
ELTANTAWI: Excuse me. I am not talking about that.
SCARBOROUGH: Cut her microphone a second. Cut her microphone a second. Cut her mike.
Sarah, hold on. You came on this show and you talked about the Israelis going after a quadriplegic in a wheelchair. This man has been murdering civilians.
ELTANTAWI: Excuse me, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: And I don‘t care if it‘s Israeli civilians or Palestinian civilians or Americans. This guy has been murdering civilians, yes or no?
ELTANTAWI: That is correct.
SCARBOROUGH: That is correct.
ELTANTAWI: But what I‘m talking about is tactics, Joe. And now that this man has been killed, who, whether you like it or not, is highly symbolic to the Palestinian people, is highly loved by the Palestinian people, now that he has been killed in such a brutal way, it is going to result in more danger for Israelis.
As we know, there were lined up for—there were recruits leaning up in Jenin and lining up in Nablus willing to now blow themselves up because this person has been assassinated in this way.
SCARBOROUGH: All right.
ELTANTAWI: This is counterproductive and we need to ask why Sharon is doing this. It is to perpetuate conflict. We‘re dealing with a leader who does not want two states.
SCARBOROUGH: OK. Let me go to Mark Brzezinski. But as far as recruitment going up, they‘re resorting to 11-, 12-, 13-, 14-year-old boys. I don‘t think recruitment‘s that hot.
Mark, I want to read you what “The Jerusalem Post” said and get you to respond.” They said, “Ahmed Yassin was the military and spiritual leader of the terror war against Israel, just as Osama bin Laden is against the West.”
I hear the United States and Great Britain condemning this attack against this terror leader, and all I can think is, what hypocrites. If we had a shot to take out Osama bin Laden, we‘d do it. What‘s the difference?
MARK BRZEZINSKI, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL OFFICIAL: Joe, I‘m concerned about what today‘s vote says about America‘s credibility in the world.
In the past, America was associated in the other countries of the world and by their leaders with principles of justice and fairness and equity. And, unfortunately, today‘s vote shows that the Bush policies in the Middle East and more broadly as well have isolated America; 25 years ago, this weekend, the United States celebrated the signing of a peace treaty between Israel and Egypt, historic enemies who the United States and its presidency brought together 25 years ago.
BRZEZINSKI: And today, America is as isolated as ever and cannot bring its friends, cannot bring its friends in a vote like what happened today.
SCARBOROUGH: Answer my question.
What is the difference, though—and, first of all, this vote today didn‘t even mention the fact that this man was the head of a terror network, didn‘t mention the killings against Israeli civilians. I want you to answer my question.
SCARBOROUGH: Hold on a second. Answer my question. What‘s the ditches between Yassin, who killed civilians in Israel, and Osama bin Laden, who killed Americans?
BRZEZINSKI: The resolution today should have mentioned the Hamas attack on Israeli civilians last week.
SCARBOROUGH: And it didn‘t.
BRZEZINSKI: Because that would produce justice and kind of a parity between the two sides that are in conflict, which the United States should be trying to broker peace between.
SCARBOROUGH: OK, answer my question. OK, so answer my question.
SCARBOROUGH: What‘s the difference between Ahmed Yassin and Osama bin Laden? They‘re both terrorists, aren‘t they?
BRZEZINSKI: Joe, to Americans, terrorism is terrorism. But America has a role in the world to win the war on terrorism, and we can‘t just only crush the terrorists. We should do that, but we have to go after the root causes of terrorism, and in that sense, this administration has been wholly inadequate.
SCARBOROUGH: So are you saying they‘re the same? Are you saying they‘re the same?
BRZEZINSKI: Terrorism is terrorism and we all know that.
BRZEZINSKI: And Israel has a right to defend itself, as does America.
But we‘re not being effective in the war on terror by only attacking the terrorists. That‘s an important part of it. But we have to win the war on terrorism by getting to the political conflict underpinning terrorism. And we should be playing a much stronger role in the Middle East peace process, much like the American presidency did 25 years ago when we brought Israel and Egypt together.
SCARBOROUGH: I‘ll tell you what. It‘s hard to do that when you have a group like Hamas going out there blowing up civilians.
Sarah, I‘ll give you the last word. I obviously disagree with you. Listen, I want to tell you, Sarah, that when I see Palestinian children killed by gunfire, when I see Israeli children, when I see anybody out there dying, it breaks my heart.
SCARBOROUGH: And I know there are Palestinians, just like I know there are Israelis who want their children to grow up in peace.
ELTANTAWI: That‘s right.
SCARBOROUGH: But Hamas has stepped in the way time and time again, have they not?
ELTANTAWI: Well, they have, but they‘re not the only player that has. You need to look at the Sharon government. Why did Ariel Sharon choose such a provocative move right now?
Anybody with any sort of political analysis knows that what Sharon did was a provocation, an escalation in violence. And I am convinced and I think a lot of people are convinced around the world that you are dealing with an Israeli leader that does not want to see a two-state solution, the stated policy of our administration. So we need to look and see, do we really have a friend in the Israeli government, because he has flouted the road map time and time again as well? So we need to look at everyone‘s role in making peace.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, Sarah, thanks for being with us. Thank you, Mark.
I know that Sharon can be provocative. But I have got to tell you, I think what he did is viewed by the Israeli people just like what we would do if we ever had a shot at Osama bin Laden. Mark is exactly right. Terrorists are terrorists. And also, we have to stay engaged, as difficult as that may be.
And still ahead, Richard Clarke says it was President Bush who did nothing about al Qaeda. But it wasn‘t Bill Clinton who had at least three chances to nail bin Laden and never took a shot? Inconsistencies in Clarke‘s statements coming up.
And a new study finds that movies filled with sex and violence don‘t sell in middle America anymore. So why does Hollywood still make the smut? We‘ll tell you what Americans really want at the box office.
Plus, who‘s watching your kids when they head south to the beach? The dangers of spring break coming up.
SCARBOROUGH: Richard Clarke just can‘t get his stories straight. In 2001, he praised President Bush‘s job on terror and now he‘s blasting away at him. We‘re going to talk about the inconsistencies in Clarke‘s testimony and whether, in the end of it, is anybody going to believe anything this guy has to say?
That‘s coming up.
SCARBOROUGH: Former White House counterterrorism adviser Richard Clarke has been firing shots at the Bush administration all week. But now some of his misstatements are blowing up in his face and his credibility is in doubt.
In a 2002 interview, he praised the Bush administration and raised doubts about the Clinton administration‘s handling of the war on terror. Yesterday, under stiff questioning from the 9/11 Commission, he tried to explain those inconsistencies.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD CLARKE, FORMER COUNTERTERRORISM ADVISER: When you are special assistant to the president and you‘re asked to explain something that is potentially embarrassing to the administration because the administration didn‘t do enough or didn‘t do it in a timely manner and is taking political heat for it, as was the case there, you have a choice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: With us now is Roger Cressey. He‘s a longtime aide to Richard Clarke who is now a security and antiterrorism analyst for NBC News.
Thanks so much for being with us again.
And you know this guy. You worked for him. You can vouch for his credibility. But a lot of people are looking at him and saying, was he lying yesterday or was he lying back in 2001, 2002, when he was working for the Bush administration?
ROGER CRESSEY, MSNBC COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Joe, he wasn‘t lying at all. And what he said is the God‘s honest truth. When you‘re a White House senior official and you do a backgrounder, your job is to accentuate the positive and minimize the negative.
SCARBOROUGH: But it sounds like he was lying, though. He‘s told two completely different stories. It seems to me he was telling the truth once and he was lying the other time.
CRESSEY: No, he didn‘t.
Look, Joe, as a former politician, you know as well as anybody about how you spin the press when you are trying to accentuate a story to the benefit of an administration. It‘s the same thing.
But you know what? What you‘re going to look at here is the statement of an objective third party in all this. And that‘s the 9/11 Commission staff statement that came out yesterday, where they reviewed the first eight months of the Bush administration‘s approach to al Qaeda and came up with very much the same conclusion that‘s Dick was making in his statement.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, Roger, I want to go also to what he‘s been saying about the Clinton administration. Of course, he‘s been praising the Clinton administration the past week or so.
But, as you know, in this 2002 briefing that he gave, he said Bill Clinton and Samuel Berger and the Clinton administration did nothing between 1998 and December of 2000. Was that just spinning the press also?
CRESSEY: Well, that‘s not entirely accurate either.
And, look, Dick in his book and in his other statements has been very critical of the Clinton administration for not attacking the al Qaeda infrastructure in Afghanistan when there was an opportunity to do so. As he said yesterday, there was blame to go around on both sides. And that of course is what the 9/11 Commission concluded as well.
SCARBOROUGH: But he is certainly praising, though, the Clinton administration and saying that they were more aggressive than the Bush administration, correct?
CRESSEY: I think when you look at the performance of the Bush administration the first eight months, this was not as high a priority as he would have liked.
And when you looked at his performance during the last part of the Clinton administration, he had a much more proactive approach and he had the support of the White House to do a number of the things he wanted to do. That, I think, is the difference, in his view.
SCARBOROUGH: Now, Roger, you had said that what I said wasn‘t completely correct, but I don‘t know if you‘ve actually seen the statement he made in 2002 while he was something this off-the-record briefing, but he did, in fact, say that they had all of these issues on the table after the African bombings in 1998. He was asked, what did the Clinton administration do?
And he said, well, they remained on the table from the bombings in 1998 until December 2000. Did he not say that?
CRESSEY: No, he said that, according to the transcript.
SCARBOROUGH: That‘s pretty damning, isn‘t it?
What it comes down to is, was there an opportunity to destroy the al Qaeda leadership? And as they went around and around yesterday on this question of actionable intelligence is what it came down to. Again, Dick was critical about the Clinton administration‘s unwillingness to attack and destroy the al Qaeda infrastructure. He was very clear on that point.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, Roger Cressey, thanks a lot for being with us again. We certainly appreciate it. Obviously, we disagree. But you know what? You were there. That‘s why it‘s so valuable to get your input on this.
CRESSEY: Thanks, Joe. We‘ll see you again.
SCARBOROUGH: All right. Thank you.
And with me now is Ann Coulter. She‘s the best-selling author of “Treason,” whose latest article on Richard Clarke can now be read at AnnCoulter.com. And we also have Kirsten Powers, a Democratic strategist who was a Clinton administration appointee.
I‘ll begin with you, Ann Coulter. I must admit, I am confused. Two years ago, Richard Clarke said the Clinton administration did nothing for two years, three years, as bin Laden‘s power grew and grew and grew. Now he‘s saying that the Clinton administration was great and the Bush administration was just sitting around twiddling their thumbs.
ANN COULTER, AUTHOR, “TREASON”: Right.
SCARBOROUGH: Deconstruct this for us.
COULTER: I can‘t keep up with this guy‘s contradictions.
No, I think this is more than a difference in emphasis, as he claims. I think the larger point is, this is, you know, a career chair-warmer who is upset a black woman took his job. It‘s interesting that he accuses Bush and Rumsfeld of being cowboys and war-mongers, but what he says aboutrMD-UL_ Condoleezza Rice, who is manifestly brilliant, that he could tell by her facial expression she didn‘t know what al Qaeda was.
Besides the fact that this is did demonstrably false—there are radio interviews with her talking about al Qaeda the year before Clarke is claiming he‘s reading her facial expression. But I think it shows this guy has a problem with black women, especially black women taking his job.
SCARBOROUGH: OK, let me—and I want to go to that in a minute. But yesterday, Richard Clarke was praising the Clinton administration, and this is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLARKE: Fighting terrorism in general and fighting al Qaeda in particular were an extraordinarily high priority in the Clinton administration.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: But less than two years ago, he had a different take.
And he said this—quote—“There was no plan on al Qaeda that was passed from the Clinton administration to the Bush administration.”
Kirsten, there are just so many inconsistencies here, I don‘t know how anybody could give Richard Clarke credibility. I mean, the guy had to be either lying then or he‘s lying now. Which one was it?
KIRSTEN POWERS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I‘m going to have to agree with the person who came on earlier and say that when you‘re working for a president, you do tend to take the party line of that president.
And I also think it‘s important to remember that the 9/11 Commission has come out with all sorts of information supporting and corroborating what he‘s been saying. So—and to go to Ann‘s point about him being a chair-warmer, this is a person that George Bush put in charge after 9/11. He said, you‘re the point man.
So, if he‘s such a chair-warmer, I don‘t understand why he was in charge of counterterrorism. And he served four presidents. He served Reagan. He served Bush I. This is somebody who‘s been in the administration—or been in government for 30 years and he is a registered Republican.
And what‘s going on is, there‘s a smear campaign against him because people don‘t like what he‘s saying.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, Kirsten, do you believe, speaking of smear campaigns, do you believe that Condoleezza Rice didn‘t know in 2000, as Richard Clarke claims, who al Qaeda was?
POWERS: No, that seems a little implausible.
POWERS: But if his take on it was that was the look on her face, then fine. We‘re sort of latching on to this one thing when there is a lot of other information that‘s a lot more important that he‘s talking about, like that the Bush administration had a lot of information leading up to 9/11 that should have led them to believe and understand that there was some sort of impending attack against American interests and that they didn‘t make terrorism a priority.
And this, again, has been corroborated by all sorts of different people.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, you know, the thing is, I think him saying that about Condoleezza Rice said it all. And, again, for those viewers that didn‘t see the “60 Minutes” interview, you‘re very lucky, but Richard Clarke said he could tell from the look on Condoleezza Rice‘s face, our national security adviser, that she didn‘t know who bin Laden or al Qaeda was.
But, Ann Coulter, I want you to listen way back in 2000 to that tape that you were talking about before Bush was even elected. And this is what she said back then.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
CONDOLEEZZA RICE: You must, with Osama bin Laden, do two things. The first is, you really have to get the intelligence agencies better organized to deal with the terrorist threat to the United States itself. There needs to be better cooperation, because we don‘t want to wake up one day and find out that Osama bin Laden has been successful on our own territory.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: She said that a year before 9/11, before Bush was even president. I mean, come on, does this guy belong in the Ross Perot, Black Panthers conspiracy club, Ann Coulter?
COULTER: Yes. And she said it in a lot of radio interviews. This just happens to be one of the tapes that has come out.
And I think that is the important point here. I mean, quibbling about the many, many contradictions coming out of Dick Clarke I think is the main point. It‘s that they are trying to say that Democrats would be tougher on terrorists than the Republicans are, which is manifestly absurd.
I mean, it really is laughable that people can suggest with a straight face that Democrats are just itching to get in there, so they can control the military, and they‘ll really go after Osama bin Laden and terrorism. I mean, look what these people have argued for after 9/11. Forget before 9/11. They have opposed every single aspect of the war on terrorism, from screaming bloody murder about John Ashcroft, complaining about the detention of terrorists in Guantanamo, and screaming bloody murder about the war with Iraq: Bush lied. Kids died. Bush lied. Kids died.
This is the Democratic Party. And for them to come up with another loser who was demoted about the Bush administration writing another tell-all book to suggest that they would be stronger on terrorism I think is facially laughable.
POWERS: Can we talk about what the Bush administration did? Do this little rundown of the Democrats. Let‘s do a rundown of what the Bush administration did.
They came into office. They are told by the Clinton administration, your No. 1 threat is terrorism and it‘s al Qaeda. And what did they do?
POWERS: Hold on. Now, what did they do? They did nothing.
SCARBOROUGH: You hold on for a second, Kirsten. If Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda was their No. 1 threat, why didn‘t they, in the words of Richard Clarke, do anything about it from the African Embassy bombings...
POWERS: It‘s just not even true. What you‘re saying is not even true that they didn‘t do anything. It‘s completely false.
SCARBOROUGH: I‘m sorry, Kirsten. It‘s not what I‘m saying. It‘s what Richard Clarke said in 2002. He said, the Clinton administration did absolutely nothing from 1998 to December of 2000. Now, either he was lying back then or he‘s lying now.
And all I want to know from this segment is, when was Dick Clarke lying?
POWERS: Look, you guys, you‘re having this whole conversation trying to smear him when you know that the information that‘s coming out is very damming to the Bush administration.
SCARBOROUGH: No, no, no, no, no, no.
POWERS: And this is what you do every time anyone criticizes the Bush administration.
SCARBOROUGH: Please, just answer my question before we go to break.
Was he lying then or he is lying now? It‘s very simple.
POWERS: I don‘t think he was lying.
SCARBOROUGH: OK, so, then, you agree with him then that what he said in 2002, that Bill Clinton did nothing about terrorism and Osama bin Laden from 1998 to December 2000?
POWERS: I don‘t think that‘s what he said.
SCARBOROUGH: That‘s what he said.
POWERS: It may be that he feels that they weren‘t...
SCARBOROUGH: It is what he said.
POWERS: They didn‘t kill Osama bin Laden, but not the same thing.
SCARBOROUGH: No, no, no. He said they did nothing from 1998 to December of 2000. It‘s his words. Go back and read the briefing.
POWERS: No, the point is, he
SCARBOROUGH: That he was lying then or he‘s lying now.
POWERS: He‘s not lying.
SCARBOROUGH: No, lying is not semantics. We cannot deconstruct the language. He was either lying in 1998 or he‘s lying now. And all I want to know is, when was he lying? If you want to say he was lying when he was saying bad things about Bill Clinton, fine, then that‘s fine. We‘ll call him a liar then.
POWERS: I think it‘s his assessment.
SCARBOROUGH: No, it is not my assessment.
POWERS: No, it‘s his assessment. It‘s his assessment.
POWERS: And it‘s not necessarily lying.
SCARBOROUGH: All right.
POWERS: And like I said, he‘s been corroborated by third-party people. This is not—everything he‘s saying is not just his opinion.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, sure. All right, well, you know, OK, well, we got to go.
But I‘ll tell you what. If I went around in circles and said Bill Clinton‘s good, Bill Clinton‘s bad, George Bush good, George Bush bad, well, I‘d be corroborated by people also, because he‘s going around in circles and he is selling his book.
POWERS: He‘s not going around in circles.
SCARBOROUGH: Oh, my God.
POWERS: He has made a clear case and you just don‘t like it.
Well, you know what I don‘t like? I don‘t like people talking out of both sides of their mouth.
Ann Coulter, Kirsten Powers, thanks both for being with us. We‘re going to get you the exact quote, Kirsten. You can look at it tomorrow night on SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY and decide for yourself.
Now, coming up, you‘ve heard the saying that sex sells at the box office, but a new study says that‘s not true. We‘ll tell you how Americans want Hollywood to clean up their raunchy movies.
But sex, drugs and booze do sell at spring break. And that may have led to the deaths of at least three kids last week. The dangers of spring break are coming up.
But, first, let‘s get the latest headlines from the MSNBC News Desk.
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, news flash for Hollywood: Sex doesn‘t sell, that according to a new study which says movies with traditional values have consistently earned two to three times as much money as movies that feature sex, drugs and violence.
Veteran Hollywood actor Kirk Cameron is here. And MSNBC‘s entertainment reporter Dana Kennedy join me now.
Kirk, let me begin with you.
Obviously, when you talk about this study, the first movie that comes to everybody‘s mind is “The Passion,” which has now shot past $300 million. Do you think we‘re seeing a fundamental change in the way people are going to movies and what type of movies and entertainment they want to see?
KIRK CAMERON, ACTOR: Well, to tell you the truth, I think that America has always been sending the message to Hollywood that they want to see clean movies that are focusing on positive, strong moral values.
And so I don‘t think ultimately Hollywood‘s going to change its tune simply because money talks loudly enough. I think it needs to be something more than that. Often, you‘ll hear the line that Hollywood‘s job is simply to reflect society. But I think that that misses a huge opportunity for Hollywood to do a lot of good.
What man who has a son would say: “Son, you‘re young and impressionable. I want to show you the world. I‘m not going to hide your eyes from it. I‘m going to reflect society straight into them. Come on down to the bar. You‘re going to watch a man get drunk, puke, tape off his clothes, rape a woman and murder a man”? No, not if he loves his son.
He is going to work to build up his moral fiber if he cares about him. And I think when people within Hollywood—and there are some who truly care about their viewers and what giving them. They‘re going to more than just reflect society and its depraved desires and the vices that go on out there, and actually give the viewer something that‘s going to build up the fiber because they care about people.
SCARBOROUGH: Let me bring in Dana Kennedy.
Dana, of course, you know this past year there have been a lot of movies that have done extraordinarily well that are G-rated movies, “Finding Nemo.” Of course, also, you have “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy that has just been doing extraordinarily well, and, again, a real good-and-evil type of movie, and, of course, “The Passion,” which we‘ve been talking about for some time.
Let‘s talk about some of the amazing accomplishments of that movie. It is going to break the $300 million mark this weekend, if it hasn‘t already done that. It‘s the highest grossing R-rated movie of all time and the 18th highest grossing film ever. Do you think there‘s a fundamental change out there, that movie viewers want to go to movies like “The Passion,” and also want to go to movies like “Lord of the Rings,” which is a good-vs.-evil, black-vs.-white sort of movie?
DANA KENNEDY, NBC ENTERTAINMENT EDITOR: And “Finding Nemo,” one of my favorite movies of last year, did very well.
Of course, I think Hollywood is very well aware of how well G-rated movies do, and they‘ve been actually listening to that tune.
For example, Joe, in 2002, there were 43 R-rated movies in wide release. That was down 30 percent from 1999. The pioneering studio executive Samuel Goldwyn said years ago, it‘s always better to sell four tickets than two, meaning G-rated movies will bring in parents and children. If “Titanic” had been rated R, teenage girls couldn‘t have gone over and over and over and contributed to that movie‘s incredible success.
So I think it‘s a bit of a fallacy that Hollywood is really churning out all these depraved movies. I think they are churning out plenty of clean movies. It‘s just that nobody wants to see just “Finding Nemo.” And, again, for every “Finding Nemo,” there‘s “Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius” and “Pokemon.” Those don‘t win Oscars.
SCARBOROUGH: Wait. “Pokemon” didn‘t win an Oscar?
D. KENNEDY: Not I can remember, Joe, not I can remember.
SCARBOROUGH: My kids are lying to me. I can‘t believe it.
D. KENNEDY: Kids do that, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: I know that.
Let me bring in Catholic League President Bill Donahue and also David Sterritt of “The Christian Science Monitor.”
Bill, we‘ve been talking about “The Passion” for some time. It‘s shot over $300 million. Are you seeing a sea change there with the people that you represent in the Catholic League? Do you think they‘re starting to step forward and we are bringing some new people to the movie theaters?
WILLIAM DONAHUE, PRESIDENT, CATHOLIC LEAGUE: Well, I think the appetite‘s always been there.
As a matter of fact, if you take a look at this over a period of time, whenever there is some kind of movie, maybe not exactly like “The Passion of the Christ,” but some religious-based movie, they tend to do quite well. And then there‘s a great deal of excitement, which lasts only for a short period of time. Hey, maybe Hollywood has got the message. No, Hollywood hasn‘t gotten the message. They still don‘t have the message.
Oh, they have good and evil like in “Spider-Man” and that‘s all fine and good. But if you good and evil in terms of Satan vs. Jesus, no, that makes them nervous. And you know what I find fascinating about this, you got less than 10 percent of the people in Hollywood who make the movies attend religious services on a regular basis. That, I think, is something we really need to look at, because, to some extent, at least, the movies that Hollywood makes is a projection of the kind of values, or in this case the immorality which inheres in the people who make the movies.
If you‘re going to really transform Hollywood, you‘re really going to have to have different people in there making the movies, so they won‘t be adding anti-Catholic elements to “Cape Fear” in the remake, which wasn‘t in the original one. And yet, when you have a movie like “A Beautiful Mind,” based on an anti-Semitic bigot in the book, what do they do in the movie? They take it out the anti-Semitism, because anti-Semitism offends the people in Hollywood. Anti-Catholicism does not.
SCARBOROUGH: David Sterritt, I want to read you what the president of the National Association of Theater Owners said about who is going to see “The Passion: “rMD+IT_rMD-IT_It attracted a whole group of people who hadn‘t been to a theater in years. They came in droves. I predict we will see those patrons coming back.”
Do you think movies like “The Passion” have changed the way Hollywood does its business and is bringing in new people to the theaters?
DAVID STERRITT, “CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR”: Well, every time there‘s some major development or some movie comes out of nowhere, and it could be a religious movie or it could be a sports movie or almost any kind of a movie and becomes a super hit that nobody expected, then this is going to imitate an enormous amount of imitation, of course. And a lot of people are going to try to ride on the coattails and to accomplish the same thing.
One of the interesting things, though, is that for decades and decades and decades, Hollywood made almost all of its movies—this is maybe up into the ‘60s—with the idea that you could sell tickets to every single person in America of every age, every religion, every everything. And those movies were clean and wholesome and all of that. There was a lot of control exercised over them and a lot of restraint.
But they also couldn‘t deal with issues that might be controversial or that might push people‘s buttons. They had to always be skirting that, because, if you offended somebody, then that person would tell their friends not to buy a ticket. So now we do have much more openness and we have a lot more offensive movies, of course, and a lot more movies that I myself find utter garbage, but that doesn‘t mean Hollywood has stopped making also clean movies and decent movies and the “Finding Nemo”s of the world.
The fascinating thing about “The Passion of the Christ” is that this is arguably the most violent mainstream movie I‘ve ever seen, and yet there it is. People who consider themselves good, decent, wholesome folks going off to see it, even though they would decry that kind of violence in any other context and they would never put up with that amount of sex, even if it were done very seriously.
If Mel Gibson decided that he had the real story on David and Bathsheba, he certainly would not put that on the screen with the same kind of explicitness that he puts the violence of “The Passion of the Christ” on the screen. So Hollywood and Mel Gibson are always feeling their way and testing the waters and trying to tread that tightrope.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, well, we‘ll be talking about the violence in “The Passion” and this breaking news when we come back.
But up next, also, spring break is no longer just a trip to the beach.
It‘s turning deadly. And we have got that story coming up.
And Vice President Dick Cheney seems to be bearing the brunt of Democratic attacks these days. His daughter Liz enters SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY to defend her dad.
ANNOUNCER: Tonight‘s SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY challenge, on average, how many American students visit Cancun for spring break? Is it A, 90,000, B, 170,000, or, C, 240,000? The answer coming up.
SCARBOROUGH: In tonight‘s SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY challenge, we asked, on average, how many American students visit Cancun for spring break? The answer is, B, 170,000.
Now back to Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: Want to go back to Kirk Cameron.
And, Kirk, if you will, respond to the statement that “The Passion” is way too violent, one of the most violent films ever made.
CAMERON: I don‘t think that the movie is at all too violent in the context of what it‘s trying to portray. And that is a violent, tortuous crucifixion of a man. And that‘s what it is.
Now, would I bring my 5-year-old child to see that? No, I wouldn‘t do that. But it‘s absolutely what I believe is probably an accurate portrayal of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
SCARBOROUGH: Would you take your 15-year-old kid to see the movie?
CAMERON: Oh, yes, absolutely. I definitely want him to see it. When my son turns 15, hopefully, before that, I‘d have a chance to explain to him what was going on to have him see that to really help him be able to soak that in and really understand what was going on.
SCARBOROUGH: William Donahue, same question to you. Is “The Passion” one of the most violent films ever made?
DONAHUE: Yes, and I‘m glad that it is, because it‘s integral to the story.
You know, I really begin to question, if somebody‘s really a Christian, does he really get nervous about this? These same people, you go into a video store, all you see are these whole “Terminator” movies, action films, blow them up, kill them any which way you want. “Schindler‘s List,” that is OK. “Private Ryan” is OK.
I think we have kind of a phoniness going on here and everybody knows it. All of a sudden, my God, people are concerned about violence. Next thing you know, they‘ll be concerned about smoking, too.
SCARBOROUGH: That would be something.
Well, hey, thanks as always for being here, William Donahue.
And Kirk Cameron, thank you so much, too. We certain appreciate it.
CAMERON: Thank you.
SCARBOROUGH: Now, moving on, beach blanket bingo is long gone. For today‘s co-ed, spring break means beer binges and girls gone wild. But the scream excess comes with dire consequences. The latest spring breaker to die was found unconscious under a dance floor covered in foam.
MSNBC analyst and former FBI profiler Clint Van Zandt is here.
Clint, the statistics are absolutely staggering on what goes on during spring break.
Let me read this. A study of students going to Cancun for spring break revealed that the average man had 18 drinks per day. The average women had 10 drinks per day. Nearly 50 percent of them engaged in unplanned sex. And even more had unprotected sex. And about 60 percent got into trouble with the police and were injured.
Now, I don‘t think I‘m being a prude to say, that‘s a recipe for disaster. What do we do about it?
CLINT VAN ZANDT, MSNBC ANALYST: Well, it is, Joe.
And part of the challenge is, there are predators, be they in Cancun or Texas or Florida, wherever. There are predators that know these young kids are going to be there, that know they‘re going to be intoxicated and that are just sitting there waiting for their chance to get at them.
And you and I and everybody else as parents, we are scared to death. We take our precious 20-, 21-year-old children, we turn them out there, and sometimes all we can do is pray that they come back to us, because we‘re putting them—we‘re allowing to go into an environment. Kids at that age, Joe, we think we‘re bulletproof. We think we‘re teflon. We think it‘s not going to happen to us.
And, as this case in South Padre Island proved out, this is just one more girl that‘s a victim of the circumstances she was caught up in.
SCARBOROUGH: Just like the young high school cheerleader from New Jersey that we were talking about a couple months ago that went to Hawaii on a dream trip ended up dead.
VAN ZANDT: The same.
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, Kennedy, you‘re a former MTV veejay who obviously -
· you witnessed MTV‘s spring break phenomenon from the beginning. Has it gotten worse or is it more of the same?
KENNEDY, FORMER MTV VEEJAY: It absolutely has not gotten worse.
Before I got to MTV, when I was in high school, there was an uproar because in Daytona Beach, some kid jumped out of a window. Drunk kids jump in front of cars. And, of course, these are horrible tragedies. You don‘t wish that on any parent. However, how different is this from a fraternity party. How different is this from a big college bender? It just happens to be a concentrated group of college students.
And, again, someone who‘s 20 or 21 years old isn‘t a child anymore. And every time they get on the road, they have a risk of dying. So, dumb people have a greater chance of dying. Dumb people on spring break on Ecstasy have an even greater chance than the normal dumb people.
SCARBOROUGH: Aren‘t there just a higher concentration, though, of
really, really dumb people on these spring breaks? And we see people that
· again, 18 drinks a day, that doesn‘t usually happen in fraternities, 10 drinks per day for women; 50 percent of them engage in sex, as we said, that they weren‘t planning on engaging in.
SCARBOROUGH: It certainly seems like a fraternity party on crack or speed, right?
Well, no, obviously, this is an intense atmosphere. But you have to remember, Joe, in defense of the college students, the United States has the greatest university system in the entire world. And these are people, a lot of them, who are working very, very hard. You know, finals are done. They finally get to go out and blow off a little bit of steam. And that‘s what spring break is for most people.
And what are you going to do, shut spring break down? It‘s just going to pop up somewhere else. And my problem is with 15-, 16-, 17-year-old girls out there. But that‘s the parents‘ responsibility. Once you send your child off to school, you know, and they become a college student, they become more responsible. They are leaning toward adulthood. They are going to go out on these trips on their own.
And believe it or not, they‘re going to drink and have unplanned sex at college.
SCARBOROUGH: Clint, you want to respond? Jump in.
VAN ZANDT: Yes, I really do, Joe.
And I think part of the responsibility is on the school and the parents. The schools need to be telling these kids, this is what you‘re going to go into. And it can‘t be a hah, hah, let‘s, you know, I‘ll give you an elbow in the ribs, this is really going to be fun.
And, as you say, these kids aren‘t dumb. They‘re college kids. They‘re learning. But after 15 drinks, you get pretty dumb. And someone needs to be telling them, as a group, this is what you‘re going to encounter. I know you think you‘re bulletproof. But, look, kids have died. Three have died just in Texas at South Padre Island so far in spring break. We lose kids all the time.
Between the parents, between the school, we need to at least make an extra effort to educate these kids, what they‘re going to get into, anything from, don‘t drink from open containers to, be careful when you wind up at some of these foam parties that you don‘t wind up on the floor and can‘t get up again.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, Clint Van Zandt and Kennedy, as always, thanks a lot for being with us tonight in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
And stick around, because we have got more, including Vice President Dick Cheney‘s daughter talking about her dad‘s reelection coming up in a minute.
SCARBOROUGH: No SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY tomorrow night, so me and my family can snuggle up in front of the fireplace and see MSNBC‘s two-hour “Tech Summit” starting at 9:00 p.m. Eastern, hosted by Lester Holt and Lisa Ling.
But we do have more SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY tonight, so stick around.
SCARBOROUGH: Now, there‘s no question that John Kerry and other Democrats have been attacking President Bush over a variety of issues, but the most vicious attacks seem to be aimed at Vice President Dick Cheney.
I was in Washington yesterday and sat down with the vice president‘s daughter, Liz Cheney, about how those attacks affect her and the rest of her family.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LIZ CHENEY, DAUGHTER OF VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY: My dad doesn‘t pay any attention to it. He knows it goes with the turf. And he brushes it off.
But it makes me mad as a daughter. It makes me mad because it‘s not true. It also makes me mad as an American, because, again, the issues this time around are so important. What direction is the country going to go on in the war on terror? What direction are we going to go on? Are we going to be able to continue our economic recovery?
I think the issues themselves are probably among the most important we‘ve ever faced in my lifetime, certainly. And the public deserves to hear those issues debated. And so, when you kind of have a lot of personal and negative attacks lobbed in there, it means that the public is not getting the real facts and the real information they need to make their decision.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Boy, I‘ll tell you what, Liz Cheney was so articulate, we‘re going to have more of her next week on SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
We won‘t be around tomorrow night, but we will see you on Monday, so you and your family have a great weekend. Bye.
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