Guest: Myrna Blyth, Jack Burkman, Jennifer Giroux, Marvin Kalb, Ann Coulter
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAN RATHER, CBS NEWS: The failure of CBS News to do just that, to properly, fully scrutinize the documents and their source, led to our airing the documents when we should not have done so. It was a mistake.
After nearly a quarter of a century as the anchor of this broadcast, I have decided it‘s time to move on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAT BUCHANAN, GUEST HOST: Is it the end of an era for network news or just the end of the career of Dan Rather, whose resignation from the anchor chair at CBS was front page in almost every newspaper in America? Will Rather‘s exit change anything at CBS, which has yet to apologize to President Bush for airing a story based on forged memos designed to bring him down, or will it change nothing in the embedded culture of the big media?
Then, and there goes the neighborhood. The women of “Desperate Housewives” are lying, adulterous, drug-addicted narcotics. Is this Sunday prime-time show a realistic portrayal of the life in suburban America or just ABC‘s attempt to win the ratings game by approximating the sleaze of the unregulated cable channels?
ANNOUNCER: From the press room, to the courtroom, to the halls of Congress, Joe Scarborough has seen it all. Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
BUCHANAN: I‘m Pat Buchanan, in for Joe. He is recovering from a back injury, getting better by the day. He thanks you for your kind notes and your prayers, and we expect him right back here soon.
First up, it‘s Richard Nixon‘s famous warning about political scandal. The cover-up is almost always worse than the original crime. Is that the case for Nixon‘s old nemesis, Dan Rather, in the now notorious forged memo scandal that threatened to bring down President Bush, but instead brought down Dan Rather and backfired in the face of CBS?
My panel tonight, syndicated columnist Ann Coulter. She‘s also the author of “How to Talk to a Liberal (If You Must).” And Marvin Kalb joins us also. He‘s a former correspondent for all three network news organizations.
Let me start with you, Ann Coulter.
Even though Dan Rather has been considered—and rightly so, I think an antagonist of Republican presidents and conservatives for some 24 years, even longer, all the way back to the Nixon White House, is there not an element of sadness, that someone who has put in 40 years, 25 years, in an anchor chair and goes out on a blunder like this?
ANN COULTER, AUTHOR, “HOW TO TALK TO A LIBERAL (IF YOU MUST)”: No. No, I don‘t know. Maybe you think so. I was as sad about this as I was with Arafat‘s passing.
No. This is the end of the dominance, the monopoly on news, of liberals presenting the news as objective hosts. It‘s not the end. It‘s been coming for some time. This is one of the milestones along the way. I would say the Jayson Blair reporting in “The New York Times” was another important milestone, but all three big networks have been losing news as soon as they got a little competition.
BUCHANAN: All right, Ann, tell me, what do you think was the root cause of what is still to me inexplicable—is that first CBS would put this out on the air, when it‘s right in the middle of a campaign, a tremendously explosive story, not do due diligence on the documents, and then when they were exposed in 12 hours as almost palpable frauds, to stand by that story and to stand by those memos for two weeks, when even the opponents of Rather were saying, throw in your hand.
COULTER: OK. I take it back. It is sad that he is leaving. That was a lot of fun.
COULTER: No, you said at the beginning, is the cover-up worse than the crime? No, actually, I don‘t think so. I think it‘s pretty outrageous what Dan Rather and his producer, Mary Mapes, did. This was in the middle of a very important presidential campaign.
They used absurdly fraudulent documents to try to bring down a president. It didn‘t work. This is why I am not really sorry to see Dan Rather going, and I am certainly not sorry to see the new media coming out and presenting a little competition for these propagandists. And it turns out their propaganda doesn‘t stand up to the light of day.
BUCHANAN: All right, Marvin Kalb, you were a colleague, I am sure, of Dan Rather‘s at one time.
MARVIN KALB, FORMER NETWORK NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, very proud colleague.
BUCHANAN: Proud colleague. All right.
KALB: Let me also point out, before you go any further, that I did not work for all three networks.
KALB: I worked for 25 years for CBS, alongside Dan, met him in 1962.
I worked for seven years for NBC. Never worked for ABC.
BUCHANAN: All right.
BUCHANAN: All right.
KALB: I would have been happy to do so, but I didn‘t. Just want to correct the record.
BUCHANAN: OK. You didn‘t get the offer. OK.
KALB: Never got the offer.
BUCHANAN: All right.
All right, let me ask you this, because it does remain inexplicable. First, tell me this. On these “60 Minutes” shows, how much work does the anchor, the fellow who puts it on the air, who is the face of it, do? Does he just—does he take a lot of material? He has got to rely on his people, his field producers and others, and then go out?
And Rather went out and said, we have an unimpeachable source here, and the individual turned out to be the same erratic wacko who has been on Bush‘s case for years.
KALB: OK. It depends on the reporter. It depends on the executive producer. It depends on the producer doing the story.
Sometimes, the producer does most of the work. And a big anchor such as yourself right now would come in at the very last minute, big-foot it.
KALB: Do the on-camera stuff, and walk away. And that means the reporter could be there sometimes for a day on a major story and walk away. But most of the time, most of the time, the producers do the legwork.
KALB: And in this particular case, let‘s remember that Mary Mapes has a phenomenal reputation at CBS and throughout the industry. She is the producer who, a couple of months this most unfortunate event did produce the Abu Ghraib film and broke that story for Rather.
BUCHANAN: Marvin, look, this is more than unfortunate. Mary Mapes has been on this story five years. She comes across these memos, which her experts say they look little fishy to us. They rush this stuff on to the air. It turns out 12 hours later, the bloggers have got the fact you couldn‘t have produced them unless you had a $20,000 computer in Colonel Killian‘s office.
And Dan Rather and Mary Mapes and CBS stand by this night after night for two weeks until the whole country is laughing. And they finally admit that what we have here, we apologize for. We didn‘t do due diligence.
KALB: Dan Rather said that he was—he made a mistake. He apologized for that, which is a lot more than a lot of other people have done in similar situations.
BUCHANAN: Should he have apologized to President Bush?
KALB: No, I don‘t think it‘s matter of—look, if you want to get me in here to defend CBS on putting that story on the air, you are going to fail, because I don‘t agree with what they did. I think they made a terrible mistake. Rather acknowledged that it was terrible mistake.
But at this particular point, let us also remember that there were two issues involved here. One was doing a story on the basis of phony memos. They acknowledge that was a huge blunder. The other was the overall point of the story. And one of the things that the secretary, an 80-year-old woman, whom Rather did interview, said—you mentioned Colonel Killian a moment ago.
BUCHANAN: Eighty-six, she is.
She was the one who worked for the colonel. She is the one who said, that is exactly—those memos are wrong, but that is exactly what the colonel believed and wrote other memos on. You just had the wrong memos.
BUCHANAN: All right, well, let me ask you this. Why did not CBS say:
“Ben Barnes now says he used political influence, but before, under oath, he said he didn‘t. A couple of our experts are questioning these memos. We believe they are authentic, but there‘s questions about them”?
Why was it just the prosecution‘s case against Bush that was presented, and the defense not only didn‘t get case; it wasn‘t even heard? And so what you had, I think, in that—let me say, Marvin, when I saw that, take out the fact that they are forged. This is an attack ad on an ancient story, and at the same time, CBS, to my knowledge, didn‘t even look into the swift boat stuff, which was fresh.
They had affidavits from POWs, admirals, veterans, decorated people, hundreds of people, and CBS didn‘t look into that. And they are after this ancient story that has come up in every campaign against Bush.
KALB: Pat, the election is over. Bush won. Bulletin.
BUCHANAN: All right. He won. One reason he won was because this thing was exposed a fraud.
KALB: That is not the reason he won. He won because he got 3.5 million more votes. And it didn‘t have anything to do with this. You are making a big deal out something that was in passing a mistake in somebody‘s career, and, let me quickly add, in a first-rate career as a reporter.
The man is now in his fifth decade covering the news. You are jumping on one illustration of bad journalism. You are making a big deal about it. Ann has already discussed this as propaganda, as an effort to bring down Bush. I think she doesn‘t understand what happens in a newsroom. It‘s wrong.
BUCHANAN: Ann Coulter, you respond?
KALB: Bang. Hit it over the ballpark.
COULTER: I think Marvin has just told us what happens in a newsroom. He said it all by saying Mary Mapes is one of the most respected producers in network news. Yes, I agree with him. That‘s probably true.
We keep hearing about all these kooks on the Internet. Well, wow, Matt Drudge never made a mistake like that. It took the kooks on the Internet to expose that a document written on Microsoft Word was not from the ‘70s. Yes, Mary Mapes is probably one of the top producers and one of the most honest at ABC, NBC, and CBS. I wholeheartedly agree with Marvin on that. And that‘s why fewer and fewer people are watching ABC, NBC, and CBS. And, by the way, most of them are over 60.
KALB: It has nothing to do with the reason for it.
COULTER: They are losing their audience as it dies off, and people can get the truth on the Internet and on cable news, where there is a competition of ideas.
BUCHANAN: We‘re going to talk about new media.
All right, but, Marvin, let me tell you why—quite obviously, why we are bringing this up. It‘s because Dan Rather has resigned his anchor chair. And all the stories I read, “New York Times,” its front page, every one of them in the subhead.
KALB: That‘s an amazing thing, by the way, Pat.
BUCHANAN: They all got on the front page.
KALB: That this story, it is front page. In “The Washington Times,” it is a banner story across the entire front page of the paper. Why? Why?
BUCHANAN: Well, let me concede something. “The Washington Times” is a conservative newspaper. It is interested in Rather. Its readers are. We will admit that.
KALB: What, they got his scalp? Is that the idea?
BUCHANAN: We will admit that if you will tell me that “The New York Times” and “Washington Post” are liberal papers, and they tend to downplay news that they do not like.
KALB: I am quite sure there are many stories in “The Washington Post” and “The New York Times” that you would describe as liberal. But I don‘t believe either newspaper is a liberal newspaper. I do believe that “The Washington Times” is a conservative. And I do believe the network of Fox is conservative.
BUCHANAN: Go ahead. Ann, come on. Go ahead.
COULTER: The question of why we should interested in this story, liberals show a curious lack of curiosity in who was behind these documents, something we still don‘t know. I mean, with Enron, you got to get every last accountant and accountant‘s assistant who ever worked on it.
With Abu Ghraib, we have a military of 1.6 million people. So far, seven malefactors. Oh, but we‘ll never end getting to the bottom of that.
COULTER: Even O.J. said he would look for the real killer.
But when it comes to Dan Rather, oh, well he is gone. The election is over. Everybody shut up and go home. Who gave him these documents?
BUCHANAN: Marvin, let me follow up on this.
She makes an excellent point. What bothers me somewhat, I mean, tremendously about CBS is, look, I don‘t think Dan Rather knew those things were forged. I don‘t know that Mary Mapes knew they were forged. They might not have done due diligence.
But what happened, then, somebody forged and fabricated these things in a criminal conspiracy to damage the president of the United States and hopefully bring him down, and they used and exploited CBS News, used their reputation.
KALB: They did. They did.
BUCHANAN: Damaged Rather, destroyed or damaged his career, ended his career. They got a horrible black mark on CBS News. And we got no outrage from CBS News, no investigation of the villains who did this.
Now, if this were done to me, I would be running that guy down. I would grab him, collar him, bring him out, and say, look, I might have been had, but this is the guy that did it. He lied to us, and he is the fellow responsible. We take responsibility for being patsies, but he did it. Why have they not done that?
KALB: I haven‘t a clue. I haven‘t clue.
But I will bet that one of the things that Rather will do—I haven‘t talked to him about this.
BUCHANAN: He will hunt that guy down the rest of his life?
KALB: But I‘ll bet that one of the things he will do, Pat, is follow up on this story.
KALB: I think one of the things Rather will do when he gets sprung of the responsibility of the daily broadcast is go back to the story and really dig into it, as he can. He is a very good investigative reporter. He has been doing this for decades. It‘s very easy for you and other people to talk about this in this way, but he has done it.
We have got to take a break now, but when we come back, some are calling Dan Rather‘s departure the end of an era, but does it also mark a victory for that new media? We will talk about what‘s in store for the future of TV news in just a minute.
BUCHANAN: With two of the three veteran anchors steeping down this month, Rather and Brokaw, what does the future of network news look like? That‘s coming up next on SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
BUCHANAN: Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
The “USA Today” editorial board says whoever takes over Rather‘s chair faces a new world of journalism—quote—“Viewers now take their news how they want when they want it. They choose outlets that focus on their issues and in some cases reflect their biases. And if viewers are fewer, they are noisier. The Internet has spawned a legion of critics, skeptics and ideologues who monitor every move, not entirely a bad thing, but certainly more challenging.”
We are back with Ann Coulter, Melvin Kalb. And joining us, Adam Buckman is also here. He is the media critic for “The New York Post.”
We don‘t have—I guess we do not have Adam Buckman. And we didn‘t change my prompter.
BUCHANAN: And I want to apologize for that, for CBS News.
KALB: But will you retire now, Pat? Will you retire?
BUCHANAN: I‘m all through at SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
All right, seriously...
KALB: That‘s a great example.
BUCHANAN: Well, we already got you at another network you weren‘t at.
Now, OK, all right. All right, let me ask you, it is clear now, it seems to me—and you go back as far or further than I do. And it seemed that, with the op-ed pages, you had a lot of columnists laterally coming into the media, outside the media, Buchanan, Will, Safire, these folks. And then you have the rise of talk radio. And then you have got the rise of the Internet and all of these, and cable TV.
And it does look like people are looking for news sources, sources of their news and information, at the kind place they think is going to deal with issues they care about in ways they care about it.
Is that fair? And is all these, if you will, little fish eating up the big fish of the network news?
KALB: Pat, it‘s not a matter fairness. It is simply the eruption naturally of technology, new technology.
We have been living in a communications business in my lifetime through any number of things. And you have already ticked off a number of those major changes. The idea that this is the beginning of the end of an era, no. Is this the end of an era? Yes, but it‘s been aborning this end for many years now.
I think it really started when CNN came on board in 1979.
KALB: That‘s when it really began. And it‘s just picked up a head of steam.
What we have now is a continuation, in my view, of the evening news programs. They will continue, but they will continue at a much lower level of centrality and importance, because of the explosion of all of these other sources of information. Some of these sources information end up providing people with the news that they already believe. The people go to listen to somebody who is going to give them what they already know.
BUCHANAN: All right. All right.
KALB: They feel good about that. They are not going really to get just straight news.
BUCHANAN: Let me get Ann Coulter.
Let me follow up on what Marvin says.
At the Boston convention, I was surprised. And we were following it, obviously. We were up there. But the network, the cable network that won the coverage of Boston was CNN. And Fox did not do well, and people were wondering why. And I said, it‘s because people who watch Fox don‘t care about Democratic Conventions. They are not interested in Democratic Conventions.
As soon as you got the Republican Convention, Fox set all kinds of records. Isn‘t it true what we have just been talking about, that folks are turning to sources, and the sources are in a way responding to their audiences and constituencies?
COULTER: A little bit, to some extent, though I think the way you put it and the way “USA Today” put it sounds a little ominous for just having more news sources.
I think what Americans are most interested in is getting the truth. And you do get the truth from competing perspectives, competing outlets. I mean, I think Marvin is absolutely right that this is process that began with Ted Turner and CNN. He really—Ted Turner is the apotheosis of Ayn Rand‘s point that greed is good. Through absolutely no intention trying of breaking the left lock on the media and the dissemination of information in America—Ted Turner just wanted to make money, but he showed that a 24-hour news station could work.
And now you have MSNBC and you have Fox. And the lock that ABC, NBC, CBS, and, of course, C-SPAN, “The 700 Club,” various others, the lock that the three big networks had on the dissemination of news, at least over TV, has been completely broken. And the Internet has just broken that infinite number of times on top of a few stations.
And I don‘t think it‘s an ominous thing. You might have some—I suppose more liberals watch CNN, by your accounting, and more conservatives would watch Fox. But, mostly, you just have a lot of sources information now. And I think that is a good thing and shouldn‘t be seen as Americans trying to segment themselves or withdraw from the larger information world.
BUCHANAN: All right.
When we worked on the Agnew speeches in 1969, two-thirds or 64 percent of the American people said their primary source of national and international news was the network news, ABC, CBS.
And I notice Dan Rather is—CBS is third now. But it had a 5.8, I guess, rating, which was 7.5 million viewers for CBS. That is an enormous shrinkage from what Cronkite and those folks had back in 1964.
Now, if you got a John Roberts or a Scott Pelley—they are talking about them as the anchors—isn‘t that era over? Will they ever again have that...
KALB: Yes, absolutely. It is definitely over.
And, Pat, if you go back to the numbers, you take a look that, in 1991, CBS, for example, was at 14 million viewers a night. And the other two were below that. CBS has dropped the most. It‘s now down to about six or seven. NBC is now higher up, but they are only higher up at eight. All three have dropped down in the last 15 years.
And that is because of what Ann was saying, the explosion of the new technology, the search for different, I would say different truths.
KALB: Let me just finish it.
The decentralization act, the Communications Act of 1996, left everything wide open. And so we are now in the midst of capitalism at its best and worst in a way. It‘s at its best because it gives people an opportunity to invest, to do all kinds of incredible things. At the same time, we talk a great deal about the democratizing effect of the Internet.
KALB: We have to be careful about that because the Internet is never truly monitored. It‘s too new. The stuff that comes out may be dreadful. It may be totally unreliable. But some of it is probably very good. We have got to pick and choose carefully.
BUCHANAN: All right. I am going to get back to this issue of liberal bias, if you might.
BUCHANAN: All right, CBS fixture—this is Andy Rooney. He‘s on “60 Minutes” at the end of the show, says his network ran that National Guard story because—quote—“It would be damaging to the president.”
Here‘s his direct quote: “There no question they wanted to run it because it was negative towards Bush.”
Now, Marvin, isn‘t that conclusive proof?
KALB: No, it‘s not proof. It‘s Andy‘s opinion.
BUCHANAN: He has been there a couple of years.
KALB: Oh, he has been there decades.
I would say, if that is true, it is wrong by every standard of good journalism. It shouldn‘t happen that way. I believe that Rather—and I know that I might upset you and Ann.
KALB: But I believe that Rather is a first-class, hard-hitting journalist who made a mistake.
Pat, have you ever made mistake? Ann, have you ever made mistake?
BUCHANAN: I will ail admit, look...
BUCHANAN: The swift boat story interested me.
KALB: You haven‘t made a mistake? God bless you.
COULTER: Could we get back to me?
KALB: You are pure and perfect. Right.
BUCHANAN: Go ahead, Ann.
COULTER: Could I say, I think Dan Rather is the living Ted Baxter. And how come the mistakes are always made against the same party? I mean, if you go back over Dan Rather‘s career—and I don‘t either have time or all of it in my head right now, there‘s so much of it.
Bernie Goldberg has certainly covered a lot of it in his book “Arrogance.” It‘s always the same mistakes. It‘s always very anti-Republican, very pro-Democrat, to the point of talking about Bill Clinton after the entire impeachment thing, to say nothing of after eight years Bill Clinton, as being a very honest man, an honest man. Yes, I think he‘s an honest man, a honest man who lies a lot, but an honest man.
It‘s always the same idiotic things out of his mouth. He would not have made that mistake if it were promoting swift boat veterans.
BUCHANAN: All right, now, let me make the same point differently to Marvin.
I do think Dan Rather—I think he is a patriot. I think he loves his country. I think he is an emotional patriot.
KALB: He sure does.
BUCHANAN: I think he‘s a hard-working guy. He‘s a tough customer. He is a tough adversary, but he—his flaw is that he does have this hang-up about conservatives and about Republican presidents that causes him to make egregious mistakes again and again and again.
And when you see him out there say to Bill and Mrs. Clinton, if we could just have one-hundredth of all the wonderful things you are doing, he would never do that for Nixon, Reagan, Bush I, Bush II. He has a built-in bias, as do we all, but some of us will concede it.
KALB: No. Some of us won‘t concede it.
BUCHANAN: Well, see, that‘s the problem with liberals.
KALB: No, no.
You were saying that Dan Rather has a hang-up on conservatives. I would say that conservatives have hang-up on Dan Rather. And it goes back really to the Vietnam War. And you were there with Nixon at the time, Pat. You remember the venom that you felt toward CBS, toward the instant analysis on CBS, toward the enemies list that Nixon had put together. I am a proud member of that enemies list, by the way.
BUCHANAN: There was about 10,000 guys on that.
KALB: There were a lot of people on there.
But my point is very simple. That is where it goes back to. It goes back to the fact that the conservatives could never accept the idea that one of theirs, President Nixon, was being kicked out of office. He left because he had done something terribly wrong, one step ahead of impeachment. The United States lost the war in Vietnam. CBS did not lose the war.
BUCHANAN: Well, we could debate who lost that war. It wasn‘t the troops in Vietnam, Marvin, who lost it.
KALB: I never said the troops did.
BUCHANAN: It was lost in the United States of America.
KALB: Not by the media.
BUCHANAN: That‘s one debate. Well, we have some dissent here on that.
KALB: Yes, we do.
BUCHANAN: We‘ll get to that debate later.
Ann, Marvin, thanks very much for joining me.
After the break, does “Desperate Housewives” maliciously slander stay-at-home moms? Coming up, we will talk to one stay-at-home mom who says, absolutely. That debate next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi. I‘m PFC Foster (ph).
I just got back from Iraq. I am here in Freiburg, Germany. And I just want to wish everyone back home in Dallas, Texas, a happy Thanksgiving.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BUCHANAN: Will the anti-conservative culture at CBS change with Rather‘s departure? We‘ll debate that in a minute.
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.
BUCHANAN: The latest popular culture rage in both the red and blue states is that new ABC series “Desperate Housewives.” The program chronicles depravity in the suburbs and is commanding over 25 million viewers every week. Is this a reflection of what is happening in our neighborhoods or just another insult to homemakers and stay-at-home moms?
Here to help us dissect it are Myrna Blyth, author of “Spin Sisters:
How the Women of the Media Sell Unhappiness and Liberalism to the Women of America,” Jennifer Giroux, director of Women Influencing the Nation. And Republican strategist Jack Burkman is also with us.
Myrna, let me start with you.
MYRNA BLYTH, AUTHOR, “SPIN SISTERS”: Yes.
BUCHANAN: Excuse me, but this looks like it‘s about the level of a soap opera. And somebody has got an idea to get out there and grab some of the audience that cable has been picking up by sort of making a dash and a run for the bottom to compete with cable and there‘s not much more to it than that. Is that right or wrong?
BLYTH: Well, it‘s a very well written and very entertaining show.
And I think that‘s part of the basis of its success. And, you know, it isn‘t as depraved as people writing about it say. It‘s really about four middle-class women living on a lane in suburbia, and most women watching the show find them likable. The stay-at-home mother, the one who is the real heroine is the stay-at-home mother with difficult kids. And, in fact, it kind of is appealing because it really reflects the tough life that raising kids are. It is more about homemaking than it is about sex.
JACK BURKMAN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: People find them appealing, Pat, because the culture is falling apart. People like trash because our culture and our intellect and our society are collapsing. Sure, they find them appealing.
Look, this is almost one step from raw porn, particularly if you see it in conjunction with what ABC did on the “Monday Night Football” opening a couple weeks ago. The real question is, if you let the networks get away with this without penalty—and I think some of our so-called conservative friends—and I really wonder who is conservative anymore, because everybody on the Hill talks.
Michael Powell at the FCC talks, and they are scared to death to take any action. It‘s a bunch of people who issue statements. If the networks can get away with this, they are point-blank range from raw porn, and they will do it, and it will sell. And unless somebody stops—the networks argue that this is what the culture demands, so we just do it. That‘s wrong. They are dragging the culture down and into the trash can, dragging the society and the country into the trash can for their own purposes. That‘s what‘s going on.
BUCHANAN: Hold it.
Let me bring Jen Giroux here.
Isn‘t this just another example of Hollywood pouring more toxic waste and sewage into the popular culture, from which we all drink? But it has an audience for these sorts of things, Jen, does it not?
JENNIFER GIROUX, DIRECTOR, WOMEN INFLUENCING THE NATION: It absolutely does, Pat.
And the thing that is so scary, 9:00 on a Sunday night, teenagers and grade school children are still up. It follows a family show. And the bottom line here is, they are trying to draw women in by the camaraderie among the women.
Myrna, I cannot disagree with you more. It is not about anything but exploiting women. It is disrespectful not just to housewives. It is disrespectful to all women. But if I can cast a wider lens here, the biggest concern is exactly what Pat said. They are pouring this filth out of our TVs, reaching targeted audiences that surely is 12 -- 12-year-olds to 25-year-olds.
If someone was pouring sewage into the water system, it would be a state of emergency because people would be sick and dying. And our culture, our children growing up, our women in high school and college, they are sick psychologically, mentally, and morally because of what is being fed to them constantly.
BUCHANAN: Myrna Blyth, go ahead.
BLYTH: Have you guys seen the show or have you seen the commercial?
BLYTH: And, first of all, these women—there‘s only one woman on the show, and that may be enough, who is having the affair.
But let me tell you, the other three women would think she was awful, and I am sure you are going to see that. I wrote a column about this show. And I said, if a pollster had to Wisteria Lane, three out of four of those women would have voted for George W. Bush.
BURKMAN: I don‘t know how you can argue that. You have got almost full nudity in the program. And, like I said, this is really one step away from raw porn. The network has chosen—they are promoting, A, promiscuity, B, semi-porn, soft porn.
BLYTH: They are not promoting it.
BURKMAN: C, adultery.
GIROUX: They absolutely are, Myrna.
BUCHANAN: All right, let‘s take a look—let‘s take a look at how far we have come.
Now, there was a time not all that long ago when stay-at-home moms were noble characters on prime time, honored by society at large. We can go back to Margaret Anderson, loving wife of Dr. Anderson on “Father Knows Best,” June Cleaver, Beaver and Wally‘s mom who was always home on “Leave It to Beaver” in the early ‘70s. Carol Brady managed six kids from two marriages. Marion Cunningham was a mother even the Fonz could love on “Happy Days.”
Now, does this not show, Jen Giroux, that culture—the popular culture is headed straight downhill in terms of sleaze, in terms of language? I think cable, frankly, is leading the way. I have seen “Deadwood.” I cannot believe the language on it. But they are leading the way, and they are making money. And these networks say, we have got to get part of this pie. Let‘s start chasing them. And it‘s all headed right for the bottom.
BLYTH: Oh, come on, Pat. Come on.
GIROUX: Absolutely. Absolutely, Pat.
And let me say this to Myrna.
I guess you have no problem with your 14-year-old son or grandson having sex with a woman.
BLYTH: He is supposed to be 17. He is supposed to be 17. And he doesn‘t like it.
GIROUX: Let me finish.
BURKMAN: You know what that is? That is statutory rape.
BURKMAN: You said he‘s 17. You are arguing about the difference between 14. Are you aware that is a felony, that is statutory rape?
BLYTH: But nobody on the show is saying this is good.
In fact, the deepest relationships on this show are the women and their children. The stay-at-home mom with the really difficult children, she is trying very hard to be a good mother. It is really about women trying to be traditional wives and mothers and having difficulty doing that.
BUCHANAN: Jack, go ahead.
BURKMAN: Pat, I will tell you, the real question is, what do we about this? You and I, let‘s you and I right now, together with brother Scarborough, issue a call to the House Republican leadership.
All these guys who think they are conservatives, I want to see against ABC. They let the Janet Jackson, the CBS trash, they got away with that. Michael Powell makes statements. Nobody takes action. I challenge my so-called conservative colleagues in the House to take action against ABC. Unless—particularly for the”Monday Night Football” thing.
Unless there is action, they will do more and more and more until you slide into raw porn. I challenge—and I want you to join me—a call to arms to the House. Let‘s get a bill on the floor that will penalize ABC, a bill specific to penalize the network.
BUCHANAN: All right, Jen Giroux, let me get in on—ask you this question.
I happen to agree with Jack. I think these—the fines of $30,000, $50,000, that is nothing to these folks. They put on that ad on “Monday Night Football.” It seems to me what you are going to have to do, you are going to have to have legislation. When these guys cross a line, some of these big corporations, take away the license of one of their television stations, a hundreds of millions of dollar property, or a billion dollar property, and I think that will stop it.
But I think, in the absence of that, do you have any thoughts yourself, Jen, on how you pull this stuff off?
GIROUX: Absolutely. Absolutely. Two words. Kmart and Target.
Every viewer and everybody that is out there supporting the smut, that are supporting boycotting the smut, not to do any Christmas shopping at Kmart or Target, because they are the two sponsors that will not pull their ads, No. 1.
No. 2, it is so sad for me to look around at teenagers and college-age kids, and they are so lost. They are so morally deprived of good things that lift them up. And then to continue to feed them with this is absolutely irresponsible of the adults in charge at ABC, and it‘s time for it to stop.
And I totally agree with you and Jack. We have got to draw the line.
And they push the envelope. They push the envelope.
BURKMAN: I will tell you, I will certainly join. I think that‘s a great suggestion by your other guest.
I would certainly join in that boycott and want to promote it. However, I don‘t think that goes nearly far enough. I would say, why can‘t the Congress of the United States—Michael Powell, the FCC, they are useless. They will never do anything. Why can‘t the Congress of the United States—and if George Bush wants to join the culture war, this is his chance. Why can‘t the Congress of the United States suspend ABC‘s broadcast license for one week, make the network go dark for one week.
That‘s the kind of penalty you have to administer, cost them billions, stick it to Eisner, cost him $2 or $3 billion. That‘s the way you do it.
BUCHANAN: OK, more with my panel after a quick break.
And, Friday, we have got a real fascinating story.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I turn around, there‘s a gun in my face. Give it up or we‘re going to kill you and rape your girl.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BUCHANAN: A dad in his SUV runs over and kills the man who robbed him and threatened to rape his daughters, is he a hero or a crazed killer? We‘re going to have that debate and that amazing story straight from the dad himself on Friday.
More SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY straight ahead.
ANNOUNCER: SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY challenge: Which president once moved Thanksgiving to the third Thursday of November? Was it, A, Calvin Coolidge, B, Warren G. Harding, or, C, Franklin D. Roosevelt? The answer coming up.
ANNOUNCER: In tonight‘s SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY challenge, we asked:
Which president once moved Thanksgiving to the third Thursday of November? The answer is C. In 1939, Roosevelt moved Thanksgiving to create a longer Christmas season. In 1942, after a public outcry, FDR changed it back to the fourth Thursday of November.
Now back to Pat.
BUCHANAN: Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
The creator of “Desperate Housewives,” Marc Cherry, says he is a bit miffed at all the uproar. When he was asked about the premise of his show, this was his response—quote—“I‘m calling them Housewives. How dare I? And the fact that a lot of their personal unhappiness revolved around men in their lives, I thought, have you met any women? A lot of the women know. That‘s why they‘re complaining about either the man in their life or the lack of a man in their life. “
Still with us are Myrna Blyth, Jennifer Giroux, and Jack Burkman.
BUCHANAN: Now, Myrna.
BUCHANAN: Come on.
This guy, Cherry, what are you talking about? He is not putting on sociology here.
BLYTH: But, first of all, I don‘t believe the 25 million Americans watching the show are watching it because it‘s so depraved or they are so depraved. They are watching it because basically it‘s entertaining. But, in truth, what‘s interesting about the show...
BUCHANAN: Are there entertaining things that aren‘t good for you? Aren‘t there entertaining that are bad and wrong and we really ought not to be putting into living rooms of America?
BLYTH: You know, I refuse to believe that you have really watched the show, because in truth, it is—the characters are likable.
BURKMAN: Let me ask you this. I must tell you, I am shocked. You with “The Ladies Home Journal” and a long history there, as I understand it, that‘s a publication committed to family, and home, and the promotion of family values.
BURKMAN: And traditional values.
BLYTH: And the women in this show...
BURKMAN: And here you are advocating this trash.
BLYTH: Wait a second. The women in this show believe in family values.
BURKMAN: All right, let me ask you this. The show—earlier, it was mentioned that the show featured sex with a teenage boy. Yes or no, do you think that‘s a OK?
BLYTH: No, I don‘t, and I don‘t think the other housewives on the show do either.
BLYTH: I think she is going to be punished. I think—drama sometimes has people who act badly that teach us lessons just as much as people who are good. I think the wicked housewife will get in the end, I‘m sure.
BUCHANAN: You think there‘s going to be a sense of social and moral justice in “Desperate Housewives,” Jen?
GIROUX: Absolutely not.
Here we are in an era where we need to again raise the respect of
women that has been destroyed by the empty advocacy of the NOW women and
Planned Parenthood, telling that sexual freedom will bring you peace and
happiness. I see the devastation in these young girls. It is not sexual -
· sexual fulfillment does not come from that. It comes from the confines marriage.
The women on this show are promiscuous, immoral and desperate. That is not the message we want to send to young girls to view the state of marriage.
BURKMAN: I would argue—I would take it a step further. If you want to see a deep, dark plunge into cynicism, here it is.
I would argue that a network like ABC wants to do that because they want to make the society more depraved because they want to sell more of these products. I think—I would go so far as to suggest it‘s deliberate.
GIROUX: Jack, I think Hollywood and Disney clearly continues to send the message they hate the traditional family. They hate it. They continue to pour this out to us. And we have got to take stand now, because what is coming next? Are they going to end up having bestiality in the final episode of the show? We have got to stop somewhere.
BLYTH: Millions of women like this show because it‘s really about women trying very hard today to be traditional wives and mothers. As I say, the most important relationships on the show are between the mothers and their children.
BUCHANAN: All right.
BLYTH: Trying to be good mothers. That‘s the appealing part of the show.
BUCHANAN: We are going to have to cut it right there.
Myrna Blyth, Jennifer Giroux and Jack Burkman, thank you all for joining me.
Up next, what am I most thankful for this year? Find out after the break.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My name is 1st Lieutenant John Colin (ph). I‘m stationed here in Freiburg, Germany. I‘m from Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Our unit just returned from Iraq back in July. Happy to be back in the lovely weather of Germany.
I just want to say hello to everybody back at home, all my friends and family, and happy Thanksgiving.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BUCHANAN: Friday night in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, did this New Jersey man commit a crime when he chased down, ran over, and killed the burglar that had threatened his family? We will talk to him about it Friday night. Don‘t miss it.
BUCHANAN: Families will gather around a table tomorrow for a great American tradition, our national day of Thanksgiving.
For everybody in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, we are grateful for the proud service of the United States military. We also want to take a moment to thank the families of our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines, the unsung heroes in the war on terror. And while every family will miss their loved ones serving abroad this Thanksgiving, please know that, even though they may not be across the table, they are close to all our hearts and in all our prayers.
That‘s all the time we have for SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving. We‘ll see you back here Friday.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
Copy: Content and programming copyright 2004 MSNBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2004 FDCH e-Media, Inc. (f/k/a/ Federal Document Clearing House Inc., eMediaMillWorks, Inc.), ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon MSNBC and FDCH e-Media, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.