Guests: David Dreier, Mario Diaz-Balart, Jim Davis, Robert Jensen, Bob Kohn, Bernard Goldberg
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST: Tonight‘s top headlines, CBS stands by its story. The “Real Deal”? They just need to apologize and get this story behind them.
Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, where no passport is required and only common sense is allowed.
So, are they or aren‘t they real? Dan Rather finds himself in the middle of a scandal over what CBS claims are National Guard records showing a young George Bush in a bad light. If the CBS documents turn out to be fake, some Democrats say it could finish John Kerry‘s shot at winning the Oval Office.
And why was the elite media so quick to jump on the National Guard story, but were very slow and dragging their feet when Swift Vets For Truth questioned John Kerry? We are going to be debating that with Bernie Goldberg and much more.
And first it was Charley, then Frances. Now Hurricane Ivan is threatening my home state. We‘re going to bring you the latest on the damage that this storm has already inflicted and what Florida residents are going to do to prepare for this third storm.
ANNOUNCER: From the press room, to the courtroom, to the halls of Congress, Joe Scarborough has seen it all. Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. Hope you‘re having a great Friday night.
I want to ask you a question. What do Capitol Hill politicians and Dan Rather have in common? Their favorite three words are deny, deny, deny. It‘s time for tonight‘s Real Deal.”
Now, Dan Rather showed CBS viewers documents that “The Washington Post” investigators concluded were forged. The documents were reportedly generated by a word processor and fonts that were not even available in 1970. Whoops. Now, Rather said tonight that he is standing by the story and standing by the documents and he is blaming this incident on partisans.
Now, there are two problems with that, Mr. Rather. First, the “Washington Post” is not partisan, unless, of course, you‘re talking about the editorial page being partisans for John Kerry. And, secondly, I believe you‘re only embarrassing yourself by standing by what could turn out to be the most significant case of document fraud since the Hitler diaries were published in the German press in the mid-1980s.
Now, like I have been telling John Kerry for months regarding his Senate testimony in 1971, there is no need to circle the wagons. This story is only going to get worse. Apologize now and get it behind you.
The same can be said of our congressmen and senators and your congressmen and senators who today decided to put bureaucracies in charge, I kid you not, of stopping 6-years-old from committing suicide. Now, this comes from the same Republican leaders who wanted to pay D.C. bureaucrats $2 billion of your tax dollars to help married couples stay together, right after Britney Spears had a 55-hour bender in Vegas and briefly married her high school sweetheart.
So, when did Republicans in Congress start acting so much like liberal Democrats from Massachusetts? And why aren‘t these Rockefeller Republicans, who are betraying the memory of Ronald Reagan, being held accountable? Why are so many party bosses behind me on Capitol Hill so angry at me that my book, “Rome Wasn‘t Burnt in a Day,” is telling the truth about their wasteful spending ways?
Let me tell you something. “Rome Wasn‘t Burnt in a Day” casts a shameful light on their schemes and how they, along with Democrats, have rigged Congress to rip you off, the taxpayer. And, tonight, you know what? We‘re going to tell you how you can fight back. I want you this weekend to go to my Web site, Joe.MSNBC.com and click on the “Rome Wasn‘t Burnt in a Day” scorecard, and you‘re going to be linked to the official congressional Web site. And you can see how your congressmen voted on the most important budget reform act since I left Congress with a $150 billion surplus.
If your representative voted yes on this budget reform bill, then he or she is serious about cleaning out the pig stalls in Congress. If your representative voted no, then their allegiance to party bosses and bigger spending is just that.
Now, I say this because “The Wall Street Journal” reported that party bosses broke arms and threatened reformers that, if they voted yes on this reform, they would be crushed. Maybe that‘s why the reform bill lost in a land slide. Just like lawyers, I‘m finding out that everybody loves their congressmen, but they hate Congress. Maybe that‘s because congressmen lie to their voters and claim to be on the side of reform and responsibility. But let me tell you something, friends. If that were true, America wouldn‘t be $7.5 trillion in debt.
And party bosses and liberal reporters can deny, deny, deny all they want, but, in the end, the facts are stubborn things. You know, Rome wasn‘t burnt in a day, but some day soon, these Washington politicians who are bankrupting America and journalists who may not be telling Americans the truth are going to find their house of cards burned to the ground.
And that‘s tonight‘s “Real Deal.”
With us now, I‘m very honored to have Bernard Goldberg. He is the author of “Arrogance: Rescuing America from the Media Elites.” He also had a 30-year career with CBS News. And I will tell you what. He does great work wherever he goes.
Bernie, thanks so much for being with us tonight.
I want to ask you to give me your thoughts on what Dan Rather has been doing over the past 24 hours.
BERNARD GOLDBERG, AUTHOR, “ARROGANCE”: Well, he‘s been circling the wagons, which is what the big-time media do all the time when they are criticized. These are people who look down everybody else‘s throat for a living. They look down the throat of politicians, business people, sports people, church people.
But when you look down their throat, they circle the wagons. Now, let me just state—and I know this for a fact—that Dan Rather didn‘t come in the other morning and say, I know these are phony documents and I‘m going to put them on the air anyway. There is no conspiracy. It never happens that way. But there is a culture at these big news outlets, like CBS News. And the culture is one where almost everybody in the place, almost everybody in the place is a Kerry supporter.
I had a correspondent call me a while back and said, I‘m the only guy who voted for George Bush around here in the last election. And in that atmosphere, in that atmosphere, something like this can easily happen.
SCARBOROUGH: Bernie, you know what, this is what amazes me. I‘ve got into this news business. Obviously, I‘ve been in Congress before. I know how things work in Congress. And that‘s why I‘m upsetting people right now.
But in the media business, I‘m very fortunate. I‘m not sucking up to the guy that runs MSNBC, but I got a guy who is called a liberal. He comes in. He‘s down the middle, but you know what I found is, even if you have a guy at the top that‘s trying to be fair, almost everybody surrounding me in the newsrooms all across MSNBC, all across all the networks, they all seem to be John Kerry supporters. They‘re good, honest, decent people, people that I like, people I consider my friends, but there is a built-in liberal bias.
When somebody like you goes out and tells the truth, you get persecuted. And yet Dan Rather and CBS News tonight is saying no internal investigation. How can that be?
GOLDBERG: Well, I have said this before, so forgive me for saying it again, but there‘s more diversity inside the Taliban than there is inside CBS News. So that shouldn‘t surprise us.
When Dan Rather says that there‘s no internal investigation, the statement didn‘t just say that. It said, and we don‘t plan to have any internal investigation. I didn‘t call my last book “Arrogance” by mistake. That is why I called it “Arrogance.” They are actually bragging about the fact that they don‘t plan to have an internal investigation.
Having said that, let me tell you that they are having an internal investigation. Whatever they want to call it, they‘re having some kind of investigation, because that‘s—you have to have that, given what‘s going on. But the gut reaction, the instinctual reaction is to circle the wagons and to call whoever is calling you names, to go on the attack against them. If somebody says there is a bias in the news, the knee-jerk reaction is to say, that proves only one thing. That proves that you‘re the one who has the bias.
And if Dan Rather is now saying that this is coming from partisans, that just proves my point.
SCARBOROUGH: Bernie Goldberg, of course, yes, he says it‘s coming from partisans. It‘s coming from “The Washington Post,” who wrote this on the front page, some great reporting by “The Post” reporters, actually doing what Dan Rather didn‘t do. They got investigators to look at these document and look at them closely and find out that the story doesn‘t stack up.
Bernie, I‘m going to ask you a question that sounds obvious, but you have worked at CBS News. You can answer this question in a way that other people that haven‘t been inside CBS can‘t. How would CBS News respond if George Bush decided to pursue a policy and it was based on a forged document, and then George Bush went before cameras, went before reporters and said, we are not going to have an internal investigation?
SCARBOROUGH: How would CBS News respond to him or a corporate leader that said, you know what, Enron has had some stock problems, but no internal investigation?
GOLDBERG: Yes, that‘s a very good point. It‘s not even a question. We both know how they would respond. They wouldn‘t tolerate it if a politician, certainly a Republican conservative politician, tried to pull the very same thing that they‘re pulling now. They would never tolerate it.
And if an oil man or some other person from big business tried to do it, they wouldn‘t tolerate that. They would be doing stories every day for the next year and a half about that. But when they do it, they say, well, we‘re just telling it like it is. Our story was right, and the people who criticize us are partisan, so, sorry, that is why we don‘t have any investigation.
Let me tell you, by the way—since I worked at CBS News for 28 years, let me tell you how it actually works. Magazine pieces, unlike evening news pieces, where, on the evening news you say, somebody says the Earth is round. You find somebody who says it‘s flat. You put it on. It‘s over with.
But magazine pieces have points of view. And this particular piece had a point of view that Bush was a liar, George Bush was a liar, and that he was a slacker. Now, you‘re supposed to reach that point of view based on reporting. But it‘s come out in the last few hours that the CBS News producer, who I‘m sure is an absolutely honest person—but she had the opportunity to put other people into her story, because she spoke to people, including the son of the fellow who was running the National Guard, the lieutenant colonel who was. She spoke to his wife.
And the son directed her to other people who would tell her that this story didn‘t appear to be true. She made a conscious decision not to put those people in. And let me tell you why. When you have stories with points of view, everything that supports that point of view makes it into the story. Anything that doesn‘t support that point of view and makes it, now it‘s a gray area—now it‘s a he said/she said, and they hate those—those things don‘t make it into the story.
That‘s not good reporting, but that‘s how it works in this particular case, I think.
SCARBOROUGH: And, of course, if a conservative like John Stossel at ABC News had done this thing, he would have been fired in a minute.
Now, tonight, Dan Rather said that political operatives were behind the charges of forgery. And CBS News released this statement—quote—
“The documents are backed up not only by independent handwriting and forensic document experts, but by sources familiar with their content.” And, again, they stand by their experts and added they would report any errors if they discovered them.
Is this just a case about crying wolf about bias because the stakes are so high or is this a case of circling the wagons? When is CBS going to step forward and admit that they made a horrible mistake there? Can they do that? Will they do that?
GOLDBERG: Well, Joe, in fairness, at this point right now, I certainly don‘t know if those documents were forgeries. I can tell you that they certainly look suspicious.
But CBS News going to its own expert, who has his own credibility riding on all of this and in effect saying to him, you said these documents were not forgeries before. Do you still say that? And he says yes. Come on. That doesn‘t even pass the laugh test. That‘s ridiculous.
Why not take those documents—why not do this? Why not say, instead of we‘re not going to have an investigation, why not say, we are going to have an investigation and if we find out that we have made a mistake, we‘re going to share this with everybody in our audience. Why not be proud of the fact that you are going to have an investigation? Why not say, we took it to our expert, but here are the documents? We welcome any expert looking at the freshest first-generation copies of these original documents, because I understand CBS doesn‘t have the originals.
But here‘s the freshest copies and send them around. Listen, if CBS News is in the truth business—and it is—then I would imagine they‘d want the truth to come out. But you know what this looks like?
GOLDBERG: It looks like they don‘t want it to come out if it‘s going to make them look bad. That is why they‘re handling this in the worst way possible. They‘re looking very, very defensive and they‘re looking like they‘re hiding something.
SCARBOROUGH: I agree with you, Bernie. I really do. And what‘s so bad about this, I think, is, Dan Rather refused to touch the swift vet story. And yet he immediately jumps in on this Texans For Truth story. And he got burned because of it.
Hey, we‘ll be back with a lot more about Dan Rather, CBS and this growing scandal that one Democrat says could sink John Kerry‘s candidacy when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, you know what? A lot of people are asking out there tonight, did the Democratic Party and the John Kerry campaign forge these documents and pass them on to CBS? One Democrat says, if they did, then the Democratic Party is finished and John Kerry is going to lose.
We‘ll talk about that when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.
SCARBOROUGH: So how is media bias shaping the battle for the White House and will this backfire on Democrats?
We‘re back with former CBS News man Bernie Goldberg. And let‘s bring in Bob Kohn. He‘s the author of Journalistic Fraud: How The New York Times Distorts the News and Why It Can No Longer Be Trusted.” And, also, we have Dr. Robert Jensen. He‘s a journalism professor from the University of Texas. And he‘s the author of “Citizens of the Empire: The Struggle to Claim Our Humanity.”
Gentlemen, thank you for being with us.
I want to read to all of you what Democratic pollster Pat Caddell said earlier tonight. And he said: “I think there are Democratic fingerprints on the CBS forgery scandal. If there are, then Kerry will lose the election.” And he added this: “Democrats have gotten themselves so involved in this issue in the last 24 hours that somebody is going to, if they‘re not authentic, going to be blamed for it.” And that, of course, came off of NewsMax.com.
Bob Kohn, let me ask you, is there a real danger here if Democrats or the Kerry campaign funneled this information to Dan Rather, that Dan Rather looks like an even bigger dupe for the Democrats?
BOB KOHN, AUTHOR, “JOURNALISTIC FRAUD”: Yes.
Well,, obviously, this I think would destroy the Kerry campaign if it came out that someone within the campaign or closely associated with it was involved in forging these documents. But I think we are getting ahead of ourselves, because I don‘t think we can be accusing the Democrats of doing that without any evidence of it.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, I‘m not doing that. Actually, that was Pat Caddell.
SCARBOROUGH: Who is raising questions about it after he talked to Democratic sources.
However, I think the real story is, is whether Dan Rather, with his performance tonight, has become the Jayson Blair of CBS News. He went on the air tonight and said, I did not have sex with that woman. He‘s laid down—he‘s made the same political calculation that Bill Clinton did several years ago, and we know how that turned out. He‘s taking a huge risk here, because he is declaring—Dan Rather is declaring thermonuclear war on the Internet blogging community without really understanding that community at all.
I mean, as you said before, he called partisan political operatives on the Internet as responsible for this. But, as you said, this was “The Washington Post” and ABC News. And he did not even respond tonight to, as you said, the widow and also the son of the people who actually talked to the producers involved in the story. He did not show both sides. So Bernie Goldberg is correct. I‘m not sure whether he said this.
But I think that CBS is not in the truth business. I think they have been in the business of persuading the public and trying to influence them on this election.
SCARBOROUGH: Now, Bob Jensen, you are a journalism professor. Obviously, we have had many discussions before. You don‘t like George Bush‘s policies. You don‘t like the war. You don‘t think he‘s a worthy president of the United States.
But as a journalism professor, would you recommend to young students who are looking at Dan Rather that, if “The Washington Post” is conducting an investigation, they say that they believe the documents are forged, that you and your news organization should not conduct an internal investigation of this story and these documents?
DR. BOB JENSEN, UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS: Well, first of all, just to correct you, I don‘t like George Bush‘s politics. I also don‘t like John Kerry‘s politics. I don‘t like the politics of the American empire, so I don‘t want to be perceived as a partisan.
Is Dan Rather making a strategic mistake? Yes, without a question. Should there be an investigation? Yes, without a question. But I think we‘re missing the point here. The real failures of the U.S. news media are not in this realm. They are degrading the whole quality of American politics with swift boat, George Bush.
The real question is that the U.S. news media has failures and those failures helped take the United States into an illegal and immoral war. This trivia that essentially you are churning right now misses the bigger point. And the bigger point is, the U.S. news media are not liberal and conservative in these traditional terms. What they are is centrist and subordinated to power.
That is, when any administration, for instance, takes the United States off to war, the United States news media tends to walk in lockstep.
And there was no one who did that more than Dan Rather. If Dan Rather had
SCARBOROUGH: You think Dan Rather is a centrist?
JENSEN: He‘s a centrist, right.
But, remember, right after 9/11, Dan Rather was the one who stood up and said, wherever President Bush takes us, I‘m in line. You have to see this in some sort of context. Is Dan Rather liberal on certain social issues? I don‘t know. In a sense, I don‘t think that‘s the important question. The important question is, what‘s been the role of the U.S. news media on this bigger question of the U.S. empire, the fundamental question of the last few years?
And, on that, Dan Rather has been every bit as out front as Fox News in leading the charge and refusing to give the American public the information they need to evaluate the policies both of George Bush and John Kerry.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, Bernie Goldberg, it sounds like the professor is saying that the news media has been the lapdog of this administration regarding war.
I want to talk to you, though, about this story. And respond to that if you want to, because I think it‘s a fascinating point of view. But the quality of this “60 Minutes” story we‘re talking about tonight and the sources was highly suspect even before the question of forgery. This Barnes character allegedly pulled strings to get a lot of people, including George Bush, into the National Guard. And this is what he told CBS.
He said: “I was young. I was ambitious. I was politically driven.”
And then he added this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BEN BARNES, FMR. TEXAS LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR: And I was readily willing to call and get those young men into the National Guard that were friends of mine and supporters of mine, and I did it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Of course, Barnes went on to say he was a Democrat who is also raising money for John Kerry.
Does this raise substantial questions about your primary source for this news magazine piece that ended up being a hit job on George Bush?
GOLDBERG: I think if your primary source is a partisan, that may be OK. That may be OK, but it may not be OK. It would certainly make me suspicious.
One of the things I heard tonight just before I came on is that the producer of the CBS News piece was concerned that some of the people who said these things weren‘t true about George Bush may have been partisans. And she was concerned. Fair enough. Fair enough. And if you‘re going to be concerned that some people who are going to defend George Bush in your television story are partisans, then you ought to be concerned when your main character, the person around whom the entire story is based, is a partisan such as Ben Barnes.
KOHN: That is correct.
And, Joe, I think, look at another thing. Tonight on “Dan Rather,‘ he was interviewing the guy who was, I guess, presenting these allegedly—these alleged documents. And Rather specifically asked him, are these documents genuine? And the answer wasn‘t yes. The answer was, well, they‘re compatible with what this guy, what this soldier was thinking at the time, OK? And Rather didn‘t follow up on that.
KOHN: And he also—one more thing. Dan Rather and his producers apparently don‘t know the difference between a typeface and a computer font, because his main defense was that the typeface was created in 1931. Everyone knows that, but the computer font that was used to generate that typeface wasn‘t developed until the early 1980s.
SCARBOROUGH: Bernie, you wanted to respond.
GOLDBERG: If I could just jump in very—not respond. I want to agree. I know mutual admiration societies don‘t work on cable TV, but I want to agree with every word that Bob Kohn just said.
And here‘s the thing. The reason Dan probably didn‘t follow up, it fits into what I said earlier about how stories have points of view. People go into stories presumably with a clear mind—they don‘t, but presumably—and then they reach a point of view. And the point of view here is that George Bush was a slacker.
The reason you don‘t want to follow up with your own expert when he says something like that is because you may find out something. You‘re going to have to make a decision about putting it on the air or not. So you don‘t follow up on it and you hope it just glides over the heads of everybody in the audience.
It all fits a pattern. It‘s a very discomforting pattern, too, that you‘re interviewing an expert. He may tell you something that‘s important, but you don‘t follow up because you don‘t want to know. Somebody tells the producer, we have lots of people here who will give you another point of view, and they don‘t wind up in the story because that‘s going to injure your point of view on the story. This doesn‘t smell right.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, it certainly doesn‘t.
Hey, Bob Jensen, just to move it‘s not a mutual admiration society, I want to give you the last word. What do you think?
JENSEN: Well, I think it‘s kind of funny. What we do know about George Bush and the Air National Guard, independent of these documents, is that in fact he didn‘t complete his service, that he was a slacker, and that he lied when he signed up for the Guard and said he would complete that service.
Now, what this is going to do is give the Bush campaign a huge gift, because there is going to be discussion about the authenticity of documents, instead of pointing out what we already do know, that he refused to take a physical. He didn‘t complete the service. If that is the real question, then we don‘t even need the documents, because we already know the answer.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, Bob Jensen, thanks a lot.
You know what, Bob? Last night, actually, Pat Buchanan and I were on the show. And we basically said the same thing. We laughed. We said, why are they talking about this? I think everybody admits that people don‘t know where George Bush was back during the National Guard days. We‘re not even sure if George Bush knows. But apparently voters have discounted that and they are more interested about what‘s going to happen over the next four years than what happened 30 years ago.
Bernie Goldberg, Bob Kohn, and Bob Jensen, as always, thanks a lot for being with us tonight. We greatly appreciate it.
Now, coming up next, the third hurricane in a month is on a collision course with the Sunshine State, my home. We are going to show you how Florida residents are preparing for Ivan.
And then, the national debt skyrocketing out of control and the Republican-led Congress is doing nothing to stop it, except for playing ball with Democrats, liberal Democrats. It‘s time to stop them. And we‘re going to talk to one of the leaders in the Republican House and ask him how we do it.
That‘s in a few minutes.
SCARBOROUGH: A hellacious hurricane is headed for Florida. It is going to be the third in a month. I‘m telling you, it‘s total devastation in my state. This one may be the worst yet. We‘re going to talk about that when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.
But, first, let‘s get the latest headlines from the MSNBC News Desk.
ANNOUNCER: From the press room, to the courtroom, to the halls of Congress, Joe Scarborough has seen it all. Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
SCARBOROUGH: Welcome back.
Hey, you know what? A Bush campaign spokesman responded to the report that James Carville and Paul Begala are working as strategists for the Kerry campaign by saying that it seems highly regular that CNN would tolerate two employees openly working and advising and appearing on behalf of the John Kerry for president campaign.
Now, incidentally, CNN said it had no problem with Carville and Begala giving free advice to the campaign. And earlier today, James Carville said he was not working for the Kerry campaign, but then said it wouldn‘t be wrong if he was, because I‘ve got my own show on MSNBC. And, of course, I was seen doing this behind the president a couple of weeks ago. It offended a lot of capital J‘s, those very, very self-important journalists.
But you know what? Everybody knows I‘m a Republican. Everybody also knows I give advice to both campaigns on the air every night, and I don‘t go whispering secret advice to any of my friends in any campaign. You know what, James? Read my book. I take the White House and the Republicans to task, take them pretty hard to task, too. That‘s something you ought to try doing on your Democratic Party. It‘s called telling the truth.
And, by the way, James, I don‘t know if you watch my show very regularly. But if you did, you would know that, in one of my campaign memos to John Kerry, I advised him to hire you a few weeks ago because he needs somebody that understands bare-knuckle politics. And, unfortunately, nobody on the Kerry campaign figured out that they‘re running a Michael Dukakis-style campaign. So I give advice to everybody.
You know what? I‘m not whispering advice behind the scenes. I tell you on the air what I believe, whether it‘s positive for the Republicans or it‘s negative for the Republicans, whether it‘s positive for the Democrats or whether it‘s negative for the Democrats. That is why so many Democrats came up to me in Boston at the convention and said they love watching my show and they think I‘m fair, even though I‘m a Republican. You know what? I greatly appreciate that.
You don‘t know how much I appreciate hearing from people all the time that are Democrats that may not agree with me on every issue, that I give people a chance to talk on this show, that I allow fair and open debate, and that I try to be just as hard on Republicans as I am on Democrats. And, again, if you have got any questions about that, read my book. I go against Republicans and Democrats. I take them both to task. And I tell you how Washington really works.
That‘s why Republicans probably don‘t like me too much tonight.
Anyway, Hurricane Ivan is a Category 4 storm that‘s already responsible for 37 deaths in the Caribbean. And the island of Grenada was ravaged by the storm earlier this week. It flattened houses. It twisted metal. It sparked a frenzy of looting. And now Hurricane Ivan‘s deadly winds and monstrous waves are starting to bear down on the island of Jamaica.
You know what? And, again, I‘m from Florida, so I understand this. When you hear reports like we just heard that the winds are now up to 150 miles an hour, that is bad, bad news. It may be moving toward a Category 5 storm. If that happens, you‘re talking about unbelievable devastation.
Now, earlier, NBC‘s Mark Potter filed this report from the Jamaican capital of Kingston.
MARK POTTER, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Late this afternoon, the leading edge of Hurricane Ivan finally reached the Jamaican coast. Here in Kingston, we began feeling the stiff winds and the rain just a short time ago.
And, of course, it‘s going to get much, much worse than this as the evening progresses. Now, we took a quick drive through downtown Kingston, the capital, not too long ago. And we saw already flooded roads, trees coming down, some destruction already, one road washed out, a telephone pole coming down. That is just the beginning of what many people here—will be devastating damage as the result of this hurricane.
The biggest concern on the part of the Jamaican government is that residents here obey the evacuation order. The government pleaded with half a million people along the coast and in low-lying areas to seek shelter, to go to higher ground, to go to government-operated shelters. Many people did that. We saw many going into an arena here, the national arena in downtown Kingston. But we are also hearing that many people are deciding to stay home, riding the storm out. That may be a very bad decision if this storm continues to build here, as it is predicted to do.
Sixteen years ago, we were all here for Hurricane Gilbert. That hurricane devastated this island, tearing apart homes, businesses, hospitals, killing more than 20 people. This storm coming now is worse than that. That was a Category 3. This is at least a four. And the concern is that it‘s going to get very bad here and that it‘s going to be a very, very long, bad night for the people of Jamaica, especially those who did not make preparations, who did not evacuate.
And everybody is waiting to see what happens when this storm passes.
They hope for the best, but they fear that this island will be devastated.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, thanks a lot, Mark. I will tell you what. I have been talking to Mark every week, it seems, for the past three weeks on these storms. Such bad news for the people of Jamaica. And it‘s going to be bad news for people in the Southeast United States pretty soon.
Now, for the latest on how the state of Florida is readying for yet another storm, I am joined by the Republican Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart of Miami and also Democratic Congressman Jim Davis of Tampa.
You know, guys, we have been both been through this before. All three of us have been through this before. But I have never been through what you are all about to go through.
Mario, let me ask you, what‘s going on down there?
REP. MARIO DIAZ-BALART ®, FLORIDA: Well, Joe, I think the state has done an incredible job preparing for this storm.
I think if anybody had forgotten the lessons of Andrew, I think the last two storms pretty much reminded us rather quickly that this is a serious ordeal.
SCARBOROUGH: But how is Miami and how is Florida going to handle the third hit in a month? That‘s got to be devastating.
DIAZ-BALART: I know that, and particularly those people who have gotten hit twice in central, central-west Florida, that—look, the long-term impact—obviously, the short-term impact, which is not that short, because the recovery is not a short deal. It takes month, sometimes years, to get over economically and emotionally. It‘s such a huge trauma.
But also for the state economy, for the insurance—the situation in the state of Florida. You can‘t have a viable economy without a viable insurance industry. And the problem is going to be not only the cost of property insurance for winds, but also the availability of insurance. Look, but Florida will survive. We will prosper. We will do well. We‘re led by a great governor, by the way, who has done an incredible job. And I‘m extremely grateful to have Governor Bush.
And also, I think we have to be very grateful to the federal government for the way that it has responded. The president has been here personally. And you are starting to see the relief effort, but, again, as you said, look, you know, we hope this third one doesn‘t come, because this is an animal. This is a beast. This is a horrible storm.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes. I‘ll tell you, this one is looking big, 150 miles an hour. It‘s a Category 4. It could morph into a Category 5. We all know that as it gets into the Gulf, sometimes it heats up, speeds up.
Jim Davis, talking about governors, a lot of people are saying they want you to run for governor in a few years. Tell me, how in the world can the state of Florida handle this third storm? Isn‘t it not only going to bring about destruction to property and to people‘s lives, but also economic devastation? Isn‘t this is a nightmare for the state of Florida?
REP. JIM DAVIS (D), FLORIDA: Well, it‘s too soon to judge the economic impact.
But it‘s first things first, Joe. We are a very resilient lot in Florida and we‘ll get through this. But people are tired. They‘re worn out. And a lot of things have been put on hold. School has been canceled Monday. I‘m going to get plywood early in the morning to put on my house. And people are getting ready for this.
DAVIS: But you just do what you got to do. One of the things that binds us together as Floridians is that we appreciate and respect Mother Nature.
SCARBOROUGH: So what do we do economically in the state of Florida? Is the government going to have to handle this, come in and help out on the insurance issues? Is the state of Florida going to handle it? How do you handle a crisis like this, because you basically can‘t buy insurance in the future?
DAVIS: Well, no.
As Mario pointed out, after Hurricane Andrew, the state of Florida set up a trust fund that provides insurance as a last resort. And it can raise the cost of insurance in all products, automobile, malpractice liability if this fund gets short of money. So there will be a basis to fund it, but it may drive insurance costs up. There will be a special session of the legislature later this year. The legislature will have to address some state issues.
And one of the issues we a Floridians I think will raise again in Washington is whether the federal government ought to provide some sort of catastrophic fund not just for Florida, for other states. We have had an unprecedented number of natural disasters this year, just 10 alone in the month of August. It is why FEMA ran out of money a few days ago.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, Congressman, thanks so much.
I appreciate both of you being here tonight. And I want to ask you, we are going to be staying on this story all weekend. I would love for you all to come back in and give us an update. But we wanted to get you here tonight just to tell people what‘s going on out there.
Congressman Diaz-Balart, thank you.
Congressman Jim Davis, we appreciate you being in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
Be safe down there. And I‘m going to be giving you a call tomorrow.
Now, straight ahead, much, much more. The bankrupting of America, we keep talking about it, but I don‘t know if anybody in Washington is listening. I‘ve got one guy that‘s a friend of mine and he‘s also a leader in the Republican Congress. I‘m going to ask him, what can we do to turn those numbers around, balance the budget, and protect our children‘s future?
We‘ll talk about that when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.
ANNOUNCER: Tonight‘s SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY challenge: Which Roman emperor allegedly played his fiddle while Rome burned? Was it, A, Caligula, B, Nero, or, C, Julius Caesar? The answer coming up.
ANNOUNCER: In tonight‘s SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY challenge, we asked, which Roman emperor played his fiddle while Rome burned? The answer is B. Nero watched from a safe distance as the great fire of Rome destroyed two-thirds of the city.
Now back to Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, that‘s just so insulting to the fine people from SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY that they‘re making the questions that simple. What do they think, you‘re all drunk out there or something?
Well, anyway, welcome back, sports fans.
REP. DAVID DREIER ®, CALIFORNIA: ... your book.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, exactly, reading my book.
DREIER: That‘s what they‘re doing.
SCARBOROUGH: With me now is a true champion of fiscal conservatism and a 14-year veteran of the congressional fight game. We have got David Dreier of California.
David, thanks a lot for being with me.
DREIER: You bet, Joe.
And let me just say, first of all, our thoughts are with the people in Florida.
SCARBOROUGH: Oh, thanks.
DREIER: And you as a Floridian. And I have loads of friends down there. I just heard Mario and Jim on that.
And, obviously, I heard—just before that, I heard you give your little commentary about Carville.
DREIER: And I want to tell you, you were a thorn in our side.
SCARBOROUGH: I was always a thorn in your side.
DREIER: A pain in our you know what.
SCARBOROUGH: A pain in your you know what.
DREIER: You really were. And I am looking forward to reading your book. And I encourage everybody out there to get one.
DREIER: I‘m going to get a personally autographed one myself.
SCARBOROUGH: I want you to tell me something, though, OK, because, before Republicans took control of Congress, you were hailed by everybody as a champion of fiscal conservatism. I remember you giving me a lecture, sort of a lecture, saying, you know what, I could do a lot of things when we were the minority that I can‘t do in the majority now.
SCARBOROUGH: But, David, here we have a $430 billion deficit, largest debt ever. And the Republicans in Congress aren‘t doing the job they should doing on balancing the budget. And I know we have got a war, but also, as you know, domestic spending on a lot of things that you don‘t believe in exploded at unprecedented levels.
How do Republicans take control of Congress, keep it and yet go back to the beliefs that got us there, that put us in charge?
DREIER: Let me tell you, I don‘t believe that we‘ve lost those beliefs.
And let me just make a couple of comments. I am a passionate supply-sider. I believe in economic growth. I came here with Ronald Reagan. And Ronald Reagan effectively reduced the rate of growth of federal spending by 17 percent during his tenure. That was a goal that he had, and that‘s something that he vigorously pursued.
We need to do everything we can to generate revenues. And we have done that. We have had $40 billion in unanticipated revenues come into the Federal Treasury between September of last year and May of this year. We just got the reporter that the deficit is in fact $56 billion lower than had been anticipated.
SCARBOROUGH: Hold on. But over 10 years, it‘s $300 billion more.
DREIER: Yes, but let me just say this. I think it‘s important for us to note that, contrary to this view out there, we have actually been effective at bringing about cuts in spending.
Every single appropriations bill that we have passed, Joe, has very rigorous language in there that talks about accountability and reforms within the operations of the federal government.
And now let me get specific.
SCARBOROUGH: Come on, now.
DREIER: Let me get specific.
SCARBOROUGH: Come on. We have the largest deficit ever, largest debt ever.
DREIER: Let‘s talk some specifics, because everybody likes to talk in an amorphous way about spending.
I believe it is important to note that we have cut in the CJS spending $90 million for a prisoner reentry program. We have cut $339.1 million in administrative expense for the Department of the Judiciary. And we have already been able to cut by $2 billion the level of spending that we will see for the next census over the spending we‘ve had in the past.
SCARBOROUGH: I have got to give you some numbers, though, OK?
DREIER: I know that we have seen an increase, and we obviously want to do better. So I give you space that we can do better.
SCARBOROUGH: Let me read this, OK, buddy?
Department of Education, since Republicans have taken control of Congress, spending on the education bureaucracy up 101 percent, the Commerce Department up 82 percent. This in 10 years, Health and Human Services up 81 percent. The State Department skyrocketed by 80 percent, transportation and all those pork barrel bills up 65 percent.
And, as you know, there are more earmarks, more pork-barrel spending than ever before. Now, I know there‘s some champions like you out there that are fighting to balance the budget. I‘m just saying, how long do Republicans have to listen to candidates across the country say, hey, I‘m for smaller government and yet spending is exploding at record rates?
DREIER: Well, Joe, I agree with you that reducing spending is
important not just because of the dollar cost of it, but because we believe
passionately that the reach of government
SCARBOROUGH: Exactly. For ideals, for Reaganesque ideals.
DREIER: Yes. And it actually diminishes the incentive for opportunity for people. But I think we need to look again.
Right now, the deficit is 3.6 percent of the gross domestic product. We have just moved—and Jim Glassman likes to point this out—we have what we used to call a $10 trillion economy in the United States. It is now a $12 trillion economy. And with the kind of growth the we have, we have been able to manage this kind of debt.
And, you know, I would rather be in debt than increase taxes, which can slow economic growth. And that‘s one of the reasons that I think it‘s very important for us to do everything that we can to embrace this vision of expanding growth, because we can, in fact, grow our way out of this deficit. We did that in the 1990s.
SCARBOROUGH: So you‘re saying cut taxes, spend more on domestic programs, spend more on war.
DREIER: I‘m not advocating spending more.
SCARBOROUGH: It‘s what we‘re doing, though,.
DREIER: But I‘m not advocating spending more, Joe. What I‘m
advocating is that we do everything we can to rein in spending. And the
president—and this package that we‘ve got right now that president has
put out, that he talked about, that is available to everybody at
AgendaForAmerica.com, 47 pages of reading, he talks about ways in which we
can bring about greater accountability and bring about some
SCARBOROUGH: Let‘s hope he does it.
David Dreier, we are going to have a town hall meeting on this. I want you to be there.
DREIER: I can hardly wait.
SCARBOROUGH: Because you are a great friend.
DREIER: OK. Thanks, old pal.
SCARBOROUGH: Even though you call me a pain in your...
DREIER: You are. You are. You are. You are.
SCARBOROUGH: And all that stuff.
DREIER: That‘s part of your claim to fame.
SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY will be right back with more biting truth in just a second.
I am. I am.
SCARBOROUGH: Now, if you want to check out whether your congressman is a political hero or a big-spending barbarian, you can check out excerpts of “Rome Wasn‘t Burnt in a Day” on our Web site, Joe.MSNBC.com. You can also of course check it out on Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com.
And, also, go to my Web site this weekend. You see it up there, Joe.MSNBC.com. We are going to actually have a post. You click on it. You‘re going to be able to find out how your congressman voted on the most important budget reform bill in the past three or four years. If they voted for it, they‘re a taxpayer hero. If they voted against it, you know what? They‘re siding with the party bosses in Washington and against you. We‘re going to get to the bottom of this and we‘re going to balance the budget.
And we‘ll see you on Monday when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.
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