Guest: Dave Silverman, Jerry Johnson, Debbie Schlussel, Barbara Lippert, Jennifer Giroux, Ivana Ma, Jennifer Berman
PAT BUCHANAN, GUEST HOST: Red and blue states alike continue to cope with the rising tide of sex and sleaze in the sewer we call American popular culture. But at least one woman has found her limits. Tonight, we‘ll talk to Ivana, “The Apprentice” who was fired by Donald Trump for crossing the line.
Then, you may not be wished a merry Christmas at Macy‘s this year. The department store says substituting phrases like seasons greetings and happy holidays is more inclusive. Some Christians say they‘re simply removing Christ from Christmas. Don‘t miss that debate.
And more attacks on the Christian faith; 79 percent of Americans believe in the virgin birth, so why does the mainstream media continue to question the immaculate conception?
That and much more tonight.
ANNOUNCER: From the press room, to the courtroom, to the halls of Congress, Joe Scarborough has seen it all. Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
BUCHANAN: Has America lost her moral compass and where if anywhere will we draw the line? Raw sex, gutter language, cheating in marriage and sports. But when hitting the shock button means a P.R. windfall and a ratings explosion, how do we say enough is enough?
Last week, they drew a line on “The Apprentice.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE TODAY SHOW”)
DONALD TRUMP, DEVELOPER/BUSINESSMAN: What did you think, Carolyn?
CAROLYN KEPCHER: I can‘t agree with what Ivana did at all; 100 percent, I can‘t agree with it.
TRUMP: You mean stripping.
KEPCHER: Yes. That‘s horrendous.
TRUMP: Did she strip or almost strip?
KEPCHER: This is somebody who is going to run one of your companies, period.
BUCHANAN: Joining me now, the contestant herself, Ivana Ma, along with Jennifer Giroux of Women Influencing the Nation, Dr. Jennifer Berman of the Female Sexual Medicine Center at UCLA, and Barbara Lippert of “Adweek.”
Let me start with you, Ivana.
Why did you do it?
IVANA MA, FORMER “APPRENTICE” CONTESTANT: You know, I think I didn‘t
· well, first of all, let‘s just say that I don‘t think it‘s stripping. I didn‘t think—I didn‘t feel like I had crossed a line when I had done this particular act.
I sort of saw what our competition was doing in the episode and I didn‘t see how it was any different. And also, you know, if I had been—if I had been one of the guys on the team wearing short shorts, would that have been a different issue? Would I have been criticized for doing it? If I had won this particular task, would I be criticized for taking my skirt off?
You see here, they‘re not panties. It‘s not underwear. It‘s short shorts.
BUCHANAN: OK. You‘re wearing short shorts. That tells me you might have been planning this stunt before you got out there. Had you planned it ahead of time or did you just decide to do it when you realized you were going to lose and be fired anyhow?
MA: I actually had, yes, started out the day wearing those short shorts, thinking that if we had to come up with a gimmick, that would be one way to do it.
And especially seeing the girls wearing low-cut tops, I didn‘t any have any low-cut tops in my wardrobe at the time. So I knew that I had these pair of bikini shorts that I could have worn. And maybe things would have been different if I had just started out the day wearing the short shorts from the get-go and just not even taken the skirt off. What I don‘t agree with is how the show has in particular sensationalized what I‘ve been doing.
There‘s a promo that had aired which had a blue cloud over my bottom, so it was sort of pixelating what was underneath the skirt. And I think they were doing that to make it more than what it was.
BUCHANAN: You can‘t believe, though, Ivana, that Donald Trump, after that performance, was going to hire you, did you? Were you trying to go out a little bit like Omarosa with a famous clip?
BUCHANAN: Be famous for what you did?
MA: That never entered my mind.
And, actually D.T. himself commended me for actually taking the initiative in the boardroom. Unfortunately, people didn‘t see that in the episode, but...
BUCHANAN: D.T.? I gather that‘s the great man himself, right? You say he complimented you for your initiative?
BUCHANAN: We may be breaking news here, Ivana.
BUCHANAN: Let me bring some of the other ladies in here.
Jennifer Giroux, have you—first, let‘s—I think we‘ve got the scene in question from last week‘s “Apprentice.” Let‘s everybody take a quick look at it and then I want to get all of your takes on it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, AD)
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: Doesn‘t Miller Lite taste great?
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: Yes, but I drink it because it‘s less filling.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: Great taste.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: Less filling!
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: Great taste!
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: Less filling.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: Great taste!
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Oh, man, now, that would make a great commercial.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Who wouldn‘t want to watch that?
NARRATOR: Life is best told over a great tasting Miller Lite at a place called Miller time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BUCHANAN: As you can see, that was not Ivana in the swimming pool or whatever it was. That was a Miller beer ad we were going to show a little later. But we guess you all have seen it.
Jennifer Giroux, what is your take on this, on what Ivana did?
JENNIFER GIROUX, DIRECTOR, WOMEN INFLUENCING THE NATION: I find this a very sad development for women in the workplace.
And I think it is all about ratings. And now the networks are trying to out-smut each other. The message that is sent out to a huge especially college audience that is watching this is, forget about your brains, ladies. Use your sex. And that is a very, very bad message to send out. And as much as folks like to deny it, standards of modesty are starting to come back. People are starting to fight for that.
And by continuing to flood the college and the teenage kids that are watching this with—enticing them with the sexuality only lowers the standards further and gets it more down into the gutter.
BUCHANAN: Jennifer Berman, let me follow up on that. This is clearly not what feminism had in mind when it began, at least at its best, its ideal. It said, women deserve to be respected not only for beauty or looks, but also for intelligence, brains and the rest. And it seems like we‘re heading backwards.
DR. JENNIFER BERMAN, FEMALE SEXUAL MEDICINE CENTER: Well, I think that what is being missed is women feeling empowered and entitled and expressing themselves sexually.
In the boardroom—there are limits to the propriety of where you do it—in the boardroom, in an office situation, that‘s not appropriate. However, in a beer commercial or in the media or in the cinema, in the movie theaters, women expressing themselves sexually can be a good thing.
BUCHANAN: Barbara Lippert, what is your take?
BARBARA LIPPERT, “ADWEEK”: Well, first of all, my take is how screwed up is our culture when Donald Trump is giving us lessons in feminism? Which he has from the first part of the show last year, too.
LIPPERT: The women have always used sex and he‘s always told them to tone it down. It‘s completely shocking.
And the fact that Ivana that made fun of Jennifer the previous week for using her fembot charms and then went ahead and did that was a little bit hypocritical. The idea that something like Miller beer ad is empowering to women is insane. First of all, they tried to cover their behinds by making a commercial within a commercial. So basically they claimed it‘s a commercial about sexism because the women were looking and making faces. So that was having your cake and eating it, too.
That commercial is not on the air anymore. This year‘s Super Bowl had nothing to do with women mud wrestling. It was all about men getting their genitals attacked or pills to keep their genitals up in four-hour erections, and that was very troubling, too.
BUCHANAN: Jennifer Giroux, let me ask you something. You have a traditionalist take on this. And, as a practical matter, there‘s no doubt, it seems to me, you have a combination basically of a paganized, increasingly paganized and de-Christianized culture, which celebrates this sort of thing, and you have got capitalism combined with it, which is interested only in making money.
And the two together, it seems to me, you‘ve got a race to the bottom where the pot of gold is, or they believe it is. What kind of deterrent or sanctions can there be?
GIROUX: It‘s time for their to be a big one, because I really—you start to think, can it get any worse? And then it gets just a little bit more on down to smut, smut, smut. They keep pushing the envelope. They keep offending people that have moral standards.
And people can say, turn your TV off in your house. Well, you know, that doesn‘t solve the problem, Pat, because the future husbands of my daughters are watching that. And their expectations of sex and what it should be and what they want from girls when they date them are being completely distorted. And to say that sex is good sometimes in a beer commercial, I totally disagree with that.
Where is the respect that these young women have their for themselves? And really Donald Trump is accountable. There really was not that much difference in the girls were dressed as twins, the M&M twins, with their low-cut shirts and their short skirts and what they were doing and a little bit more extreme of what Ivana did.
BUCHANAN: That‘s a very good point.
Barbara Lippert, is this not a case, look—everyone knows that when a comedian, when he‘s no longer got the audience laughing in a nightclub, they immediately go for the dirty jokes because they‘re sure to get some kind of laugh. Is this “The Apprentice” really losing the red-hot ratings they used to have and sort of headed downhill to sleaze in order to get them back?
LIPPERT: I think, first of all, reality television, you know, is sort of going down in general. People are tired of it. There‘s been so much of it.
And that‘s why a show like “Desperate Housewives” is so hot now, because it‘s a soap opera and it‘s also showing women who are housewives, another cartoon of themselves, but something that they enjoy, rather than the usual sitcom where a doctor is married to a fat slob and she loves having sex with him.
MA: I don‘t mean to interrupt. I agree with all the points that are being made in this discussion.
I do feel like, obviously, TV, the media is using sex to sell. But I think it‘s interesting that when a woman does it, that she is criticized for doing it. Yet, when a man does it, he doesn‘t really go under the gun so much.
MA: Just examples from our show have been, you know, Raj, he stripped down to his undies, ran around Arthur Ashe Stadium, trying to get a date with Anna Kournikova. We all thought that was charming and funny.
GIROUX: Well, maybe both the men...
BUCHANAN: Ivana, let me follow up on your point about men. In their back-to-school promotional magazine last year, Abercrombie & Fitch put out these ridiculous photos and had consumers up in arms. This year, they‘re offering in-store male models topless. And for one dollar, you can get your picture taken with one of them. Some of this money, they say, goes to charity.
BUCHANAN: Let me ask you, Barbara—Jennifer Berman, I think we haven‘t talked with you.
What is your take on Abercrombie & Fitch? They have been doing this for years, these very pretty boys, sexy, sleazy type in their ads.
BERMAN: Pretty boys, pretty girls. They need to get over it. Sex sells.
BUCHANAN: All right.
BERMAN: And whether a man does it or a woman does it, the issues related to sexuality, the women having ulterior motives or using it, there‘s something sleazy or cheesy or slutty about that. The bottom line is, women can use their sexuality.
And what I was saying about feeling empowered and entitled, us needing to feel like chastised and stagnant and asexual, is wrong. Feeling sexual and using our sexuality is not a problem.
BUCHANAN: Isn‘t all your talk about empowered and all the rest of it really just, you know, a euphemism for just what you were saying? This is about money. And sex sells. And so let‘s do it. And there are no standards in much of modern America and so let‘s do what we have to do to make money.
BERMAN: And it‘s pleasant to look at.
BERMAN: If I were in Banana Republic or wherever, Abercrombie & Fitch, and saw some hot blonde guy with a great chest, believe me, I‘d walk up to him as well.
There‘s nothing wrong with appreciating something that‘s beautiful or attractive. It‘s on “The Bachelorette.” It‘s on “Survivor.” It‘s everywhere. The issue, my concern is giving women false messages of, A, what are body ideals or what to expect sexually, where they have false expectations about themselves, their bodies or their own sexuality. That‘s what concerns me.
But showing their bodies or feeling comfortable showing their bodies or appreciating something beautiful or attractive is not wrong. And there are limitations, believe me. The media pushes it just so far, not to the point where it‘s inappropriate or obscene.
BUCHANAN: Yes. Go ahead.
LIPPERT: This is—it‘s photography by Bruce Weber, who has done all of the Calvin Klein campaigns since the early ‘80s.
He always does the same thing. There‘s always a homoerotic thing to it. This is nothing new. And this is toned down from some of the previous stuff, as a matter of fact. For whatever reason, Abercrombie & Fitch got cool by homoeroticizing the view of it.
But the interesting thing in advertising in general and bigger advertisers on TV, since this isn‘t on TV, is that men have become the new women. Advertisers are very afraid in general of offending women. So if somebody has to be objectified, it‘s a man. If somebody has to look stupid, it‘s a man. You really can‘t find, other than the Miller beer ad or in the Coors ads, huge examples of women objectified like that.
MA: I just still find the very interesting that the response, though, to men vs. women of justifying themselves is very different. It‘s just...
GIROUX: How about the fact that it‘s...
GIROUX: ... offensive?
BERMAN: Why do you say they‘re objectifying themselves? Why is that objectifying themselves?
BERMAN: By modeling and...
LIPPERT: Well, if you‘re posing as a sexual person and you‘re posing in the nude, you are an object. You could be a beautiful object and your skin could look gorgeous.
BERMAN: Are you kidding? They love it. Those who guys who do that love that.
BUCHANAN: OK, Ivana, thanks for joining us.
The rest of you, please stick around, because we‘ll be talking more about America drawing the line, if anywhere.
It‘s not just sex on TV pushing our limits. What about latest outrage in sports, cheaters taking steroids to give them an edge? How much will the American people take? A lot, we know.
But that‘s next.
BUCHANAN: Sex and sleaze on prime time and steroids in America‘s favorite pastime. Has America lost its moral compass?
More on that when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns. Like
BUCHANAN: Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. I‘m Pat Buchanan, in for Joe.
We‘re back with our panel, Jennifer Giroux, Jennifer Berman, Barbara Lippert. And joining us now is columnist and attorney Debbie Schlussel.
Debbie, let me talk to you. And I want to take up another issue now. It deals with a different kind of cheating, if you will. We‘ve talked about boundaries in media and boundaries in marriage. We‘re going to talk about that. Now, the biggest story in sports is about cheating, players on steroids. Even Hank Aaron, who has always supported the great Barry Bonds, now said he‘s disturbed by Bonds‘ statements to a grand jury about illegal steroids.
Quote—this is Hank Aaron—“At that age, 40, you have to ask, did he accomplish all of this by rejuvenating his strength from day to day with those substances? I know that when you reach a certain age, you just don‘t bounce back as quickly as you think you can when you‘re playing all of those games. Drugs won‘t help you hit the ball. But can they make you recuperate consistently enough to hit the kind of home runs that these guys are hitting? Let me say this. Any way you look at it, it‘s cheating.”
Do you think Barry Bonds is a cheater and what do you think about this
· do you agree with Hank Aaron and what do you think about the report of steroids by that New York Yankees hero as well?
DEBBIE SCHLUSSEL, ATTORNEY: Pat, it‘s definitely cheating.
Listen, I represented an NFL player who was on steroids. And it is cheating. It‘s inexcusable. These kids are taught this from high school. And the fact is that, in Major League Baseball, when you had this home runner race between Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire, it appeared that both of them were on steroids. They were big guys. And now you don‘t see those home run bases. Major League Baseball needs that to stay alive.
These players need that to stay in pro sports and be successful. And it‘s all really a symptom of the death of outrage in our society, where honesty and hard work really have died a very slow death, but they are—they‘re rigor mortis.
BUCHANAN: You know, I think you have got a very good point, it seems to me.
Let me ask the rest of the panel here. It seems to me, what we have seen is really a general decline in any kind of standards of behavior and conduct. And there‘s a number of reasons. One of them is, the nature of the culture, I think, has changed dramatically. It‘s been thoroughly de-Christianized. On the other hand, you have got capitalism. People are going after ratings in TV. They‘re going after sales at Abercrombie & Fitch. They‘re going after home runs and filling up the ballpark and all the rest of it.
And if you got a general decline in civilization—and I‘ll start
with you, Jennifer Giroux—is there really anything government can do or
· can do about it?
GIROUX: Well, I support what John McCain says. They should absolutely regulate it if baseball is not going to handle it themselves.
I grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, where Pete Rose was kicked out of baseball for betting. And by doing that, a lot of Cincinnatians were outraged, but they were trying to uphold the integrity of the sport. What the message is being sent to our young men who look up to these baseball players is, you can‘t do it on your won. You need performance-enhancement drugs to do it. You can‘t succeed without help.
And it really brought to mind, Pat, a movie that I remember, a great line out of the movie “Hud” from 1963, where a young boy was looking up to a man that was cheating his way through life. And in that movie, they said, the look of the country changes by the men we admire.
And we have our boys—I have two boys in college that are lifting and they‘re athletes. I‘m constantly talking to them about not using anything, because we‘ve got to let people know they can succeed on their own. If they admire and hold these men up as heroes and see that they‘re cheating, they‘re going to emulate it. And we have to put a stop to that, and government should step in.
BUCHANAN: Dr. Berman?
BERMAN: Yes. Cheating is one thing. Betting is one thing. Taking steroids is another.
There‘s a huge amount of pressure on these athletes to succeed, to perform, to outdo. So I think that, more than anything, it‘s up to us, up to the manager, up to the sports industry itself to educate them.
BUCHANAN: There‘s a huge amount of pressure on students to do well and on SAT exams and other things like that. Does that justify cheating?
BERMAN: No. It does not justify cheating. But is...
BUCHANAN: Well, was this not cheating?
BERMAN: ... performance enhancing cheating? What should be emphasized to these guys and to the youth of today is that they are major health risks for taking steroids, infertility, bone demineralization, stroke, all sorts of things. And if we emphasize health risks...
BUCHANAN: Barry Bonds might say 73 home runs and however many millions he gets a year is worth taking a minor risk like that.
BERMAN: It‘s not a minor risk. It‘s a major health risk.
SCHLUSSEL: ... Barry Bonds to look at Lyle Alzado, who took that kind of risk now he‘s six feet under.
BUCHANAN: He‘s dead.
GIROUX: I don‘t think, Pat, that we can understate, though, the moral issue here.
Yes, we can see the physical effects. We can see the tumors that affect people that are now finding out that their health is bad because of this. But it continues to add to the moral decline and the temperature of the moral decline in this country. And that...
BUCHANAN: Let me get Barbara Lippert in here now.
BUCHANAN: Go ahead.
LIPPERT: I think what‘s happening in sports is very sad.
But there is something similar. If you look at a media creation and a media monster like Paris Hilton, there‘s the no-shame aspect of it.
LIPPERT: There‘s a videotape of her engaging in sex. It‘s on the Internet and it makes her a star overnight. And she has—she‘s shameless and she will go on and promote it and get even more famous.
The basketball fight that broke out in Detroit.
BUCHANAN: Artest, right?
LIPPERT: That Monday, he was on “Good Morning America” plugging his C.D. And it was the same sort of thing.
BUCHANAN: He‘s plugging it while he‘s not playing, though. He‘s out for the year.
SCHLUSSEL: We also have somebody on this panel who—she and her sister have show about sex and about sexual health. And they‘re out in the public, and any kids can watch that.
SCHLUSSEL: It‘s the death of values all over the place.
BERMAN: Let me interject here.
SCHLUSSEL: You‘re open to kids after school.
BERMAN: Listen, information does not mean permission.
BERMAN: Teaching youth, teaching women about safer sex practices, with condoms, safer sex practices such as that...
BERMAN: ... they can make some harder choices and safe choices.
LIPPERT: I think actually that Berman‘s show is great. I think it‘s necessary. This is Barbara speaking.
And it has nothing to do with Ivana stripping or any of the other sort of manipulated or...
SCHLUSSEL: I think little kids shouldn‘t be able to see that on TV when they come home from school.
BERMAN: The show is on at 10:00 at night.
SCHLUSSEL: ... “Oprah” after school.
BERMAN: And they shouldn‘t be. Put your kids to bed. And on “Oprah,” we were talking about menopausal health. Menopausal health is what we talked about.
SCHLUSSEL: Well, you‘ve also talked about a good deal of other things.
BUCHANAN: Let me talk about a different subject. Let me bring up a different subject.
In this week‘s “New York” magazine in an article titled “The Meaning of a Naked Finger,” Amy Sohn writes: “David, a 32-year-old trader and naked finger, says he often gets attention from women who assume he‘s single.” He says, “I like messing around with that a little bit, where you can flirt a little and not mention that you‘re married. My wife doesn‘t care. She‘s usually at the same party chatting it up with some guy without even realizing she‘s being hit on.”
The theme of this article—and I‘ll go back to you, Jennifer—was that men don‘t wear—a lot of men don‘t wear wedding rings, because they like to run around. And many women, it seems, are so dumb, they don‘t ask them whether they‘re married or not. And the issue is whether or not someone who is married, a man, should have to wear a wedding ring.
BERMAN: All right, well, listen, the one thing you said, women are not dumb. Women are far smarter than you know. And actually wearing a wedding band is more of a draw to women. So them not wearing a wedding band isn‘t going to be more attractive. Wearing the wedding band is more attractive.
BUCHANAN: That‘s more attractive to single women?
BERMAN: To women, to single women.
SCHLUSSEL: Pat, I don‘t think the women are dumb. I think that women are starting to emulate men.
You talked about in the first segment of this show how women are starting to emulate men, because as we have unfortunately blurred the gender roles, women are starting to behave in this kind of way, where they are having more and more affairs, and they really don‘t care, I don‘t think, if men are married, whether they wear a ring or not.
BUCHANAN: All right, let me talk to Jennifer Giroux.
I‘m going to take that back. I don‘t mean—I said that sort of tongue in cheek, that women, when they are out and they‘re meeting somebody, quite naturally, they‘re going to ask him, have you been—and they‘re out on a date. Have you been married before? Are you married now? It seems to me that‘s quite normal.
But let me ask you about this—since I don‘t wear one myself, the wedding ring, because I don‘t—frankly, I‘m not big on jewelry. I‘ve never worn a watch. I do a lot of typing. And I find it—that that‘s just a bother. What is your take on that? Is that an old tradition or do you think it‘s a good one that ought to be maintained?
GIROUX: Well, I think that there‘s a lot of behavior that goes along with how a woman responds to any man at a party. I agree that women aren‘t dumb. Some of them actually set out to go after married men.
So, Pat, I think it‘s all about behavior. I think what I really observed here is what you would call plain out of the culture war, because some of the things coming out of the mouth of some of these women do not reflect what I see in the America that I live in. I see women that are adhering to a higher moral standard, not bragging about the fact that extramarital sex is empowering. We find that immoral.
LIPPERT: OK, well, let‘s not pit women against women, Pat.
LIPPERT: The other thing I wanted to say about that piece is that all the men in that piece said the same thing you do, that they don‘t like jewelry and that‘s the reason that they don‘t wear a wedding ring. So maybe should you rethink that.
BUCHANAN: I haven‘t worn one for 45 years.
LIPPERT: How does your wife feel?
BERMAN: And do you get hit on more often?
BERMAN: Do you get hit on more often with or without your ring?
BUCHANAN: Not for 45 years.
LIPPERT: Pat, maybe you should start talking to your wife.
BUCHANAN: OK, Dr. Berman, Barbara Lippert, thank you all. Couple of you, Jennifer, stick around.
And we‘ll be back with more on SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
BUCHANAN: Macy‘s wants to be more inclusive of American shoppers. But is de-Christianizing Christmas the way to do it? That debate coming up.
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: Santa Claus, Macy‘s and the miracle on 34th Street at the heart of Christmastime in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
But is that national retailer trying to take the Christmas spirit out of the Christmas season? And is Santa Claus being sacrificed on the altar of political correctness?
Joining me now, Dr. Jerry Johnson, who is president of Criswell College, and Dave Silverman, national spokesman for American Atheist. Still with us, Jennifer Giroux of Women Influencing the Nation.
Let me start—talk—start with you—excuse me—Dr. Johnson.
Federated Department Stores, I guess, has given an option to all its stores whether or not they want to use merry Christmas or happy holidays or whatever. And Macy‘s has sort of decided that maybe merry Christmas is something they ought not to use because it is not inclusive. What is your take on that?
JERRY JOHNSON, PRESIDENT, CRISWELL COLLEGE: Well, I think this may be the greatest bait and switch of all time, Pat, because retail America for some years has been adding first to Christmas.
They have been adding to the meaning commerce and marketing and sales, so that we‘ve accepted now Christmas and commerce. But now they want to subtract. And they‘re subtracting Christmas now, so that all we‘re left with is commerce. And I think we‘re going to feel kind of empty. And all we‘ll be left with is the toys. And even the children after two or three days are bored with the toys.
BUCHANAN: All right.
Well, let me read you—Federated Department Store‘s issued this statement today: “As America‘s department store, Macy‘s is representative of America, embracing all cultures and peoples. To be more inclusive and speak to all of our customers, we use phrases such as seasons greeting and happy holidays, in addition to merry Christmas.”
Let me ask you, Dave Silverman.
DAVE SILVERMAN, AMERICAN ATHEIST: Yes, sir.
BUCHANAN: What is your take on that? Do you think that—what is the problem, frankly, when you consider that this holiday does celebrate the nativity, the birth of Jesus Christ? There must be 80, 85, 90 percent of Americans believe that Jesus Christ existed; 80 percent I think believe he was the son of God. We‘ll show the numbers later.
What is wrong with having this one day when the state doesn‘t demand that it be done, but that the department stores and private institutions, that they celebrate the birth of Christ at the same time they‘re selling all those goods?
SILVERMAN: Well, Pat, in the last segment, you mentioned that it was all about money. When you were talking about the baseball, you said it was all about money, and it is all about money.
SILVERMAN: And the money is that this is not a Christian nation. This is a melting pot and there are substantial amount of people out there who shop during this season, the Solstice, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Christmas season, that buy things. And if you exclude a portion of those people, those people will go somewhere else. This isn‘t discrimination. It‘s capitalism.
BUCHANAN: Dave Silverman, look, let‘s take Israel.
SILVERMAN: Yes. Yes.
BUCHANAN: Eighty percent of the Israeli people are Jewish. About 18 to 20 percent are Muslim or Christian, Arabs. And Israel is a Jewish state. And it‘s going to celebrate Jewish holidays. And, quite obviously, it‘s going to celebrate those. What is wrong with that?
BUCHANAN: And what is wrong with America, which is 80 percent Christian, having a Christian holiday and having that—in effect, have some of these department stores and others recognize this fact and tell their Christian customers, in fact, this day is special for you, but all others can come in?
SILVERMAN: Well, Pat, you asked a couple of questions there. You asked, what‘s wrong with Israel having a Jewish holiday? Nothing. That‘s their country.
America, on the other hand, is not a Christian nation. We are a free nation, a nation of a whole bunch of different people, Muslims, Jews, atheist, pagan.
BUCHANAN: We‘re 80 percent Christian.
SILVERMAN: I don‘t agree with those numbers. And I‘m sure, if you look at the 80 percent number, you‘ll find a heck of a lot of atheistic Christians in there and people who are not endowed with the belief of Christianity.
Now, let me make an important point. You asked me what‘s wrong. I‘m going to agree with Jerry, OK? The problem is that Christmas has been too commercialized. And the reason that Christmas has been too commercialized is because it‘s a national holiday. And everyone is supposed to celebrate it. Everyone is forced to celebrate it. I can‘t work on Christmas. I wish I could.
If I wanted—if somebody wants to take pass over or Ramadan off, they have to take a vacation day. But everybody has to take off Christmas. And when you have people being forced to celebrate a holiday in which they do not believe, you are going to get commercialization. So I agree with Jerry. It is too commercialized. The best way to decommercialize Christmas is to make it a religious holiday, which is what it is.
BUCHANAN: All right, let me—before I to go Jennifer Giroux, Dr. Jerry Johnson, do you think it‘s wrong to force people to take a day off on Christmas?
JOHNSON: Well, look, this is political correctness gone amuck. Without Jesus Christ, you don‘t have Christmas. Without Christmas, you don‘t have a holiday on the 24th and 25th.
SILVERMAN: Actually, the holiday on the 24th and 25th...
JOHNSON: Please don‘t interrupt.
Without that holiday, you‘ll not have sales the week before and the month before. And what Macy‘s wants is the sales without the substance. And...
SILVERMAN: I will correct you. I‘m going to jump in here. First of all, the holiday of December 24th and 25th predates Christianity by about 500 to 700 years in all of the different pre-Christian mythos that Christianity kind of robbed.
JOHNSON: But Western civilization chose the 24th and the 25th to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. And that is an historic national holiday for the United States.
SILVERMAN: Yes, they picked it.
BUCHANAN: All right, let me get Jennifer Giroux in here, Dave. Just a second.
Jen, what do you think of what Macy‘s is doing? It appears to be a trend? And in the next segment, we‘re going to show how much of a trend it is? But this, too, appears to be very much a trend.
GIROUX: Macy‘s is begging Christians to shop elsewhere, for starters.
It‘s amazing to me that people are so offended by merry Christmas.
This is a Christian nation. That seems to offend some people. But in the most tolerant country on the Earth, the only thing we can‘t tolerate is Christianity? This is what I have a problem with. We have the same problem in my little community, life-size nativity set that was on the firemen‘s property. And one person complained to city council. They removed it.
And but for some cheerful firemen that I think had a little too much Christmas cheer, that would not have been moved back to where it was on Christmas Eve.
SILVERMAN: Yes. We all feel badly for the Christians in this country who are forced to obey the same laws that everybody else is. I really feel for you, because we can‘t—because the Christians just can‘t have a monopoly. They can‘t have their own way all the time. You have to obey the laws. I feel so bad for you, Jennifer.
GIROUX: Dave, can I ask you a question?
GIROUX: Why is it that you feel that the minority in this country of atheists should enforce and mandate secularism in this country? That is wrong.
SILVERMAN: That‘s a very good question. And it is wrong to mandate secularism. We are not mandating secularism.
GIROUX: That is what you are doing.
JOHNSON: It is being mandated.
SILVERMAN: We are not mandating secularism.
What we are doing is fervently defending the separation of church and state, which makes me just as free as you, just as the founding fathers, like Thomas Jefferson, wrote about.
GIROUX: Let‘s talk about that, Dave.
BUCHANAN: Well, hold it. We‘re going to talk about it—we‘re going to have to talk about it in a minute.
Coming up, the birth of Jesus, was it God‘s plan for the salvation of mankind or an elaborate myth? That‘s a question “TIME” and “Newsweek” are asking in their current issues. And it‘s our SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY showdown next.
ANNOUNCER: Tonight‘s SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY challenge: What was the first Macy‘s Thanksgiving Day Parade Called? Was it, A, the Christmas Day Parade, B, the Macy‘s Spectacular, or, C, the Easter Parade? The answer coming up.
ANNOUNCER: In tonight‘s SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY challenge, we asked:
What was the first Macy‘s Thanksgiving Day Parade Called? The answer is A. In 1924, the parade was called the Macy‘s Christmas Day Parade, despite taking place on Thanksgiving.
Now back to Pat.
BUCHANAN: Is it time for Scrooge to declare victory?
In Maplewood, New Jersey, a high school band cannot play music containing references to Santa Claus, Jesus or any religious symbols. The Salvation Army has been given the boot from Target stores nationwide. And, in Denver, the mayor declares merry Christmas is out, happy holidays are in. And in that city‘s 30 annual Parade of Lights this year, all representations of the Christian faith were banned from floats. However the float of an American Indian group that considers homosexuality to be holy was permitted in the parade.
Still with us, Dr. Jerry Johnson, president of Criswell College, Dave Silverman, spokesman for American Atheist, and Jennifer Giroux of Women Influencing the Nation.
Dave, let me ask you that.
The Indians, I think it was some kind of holy spirit type float, they consider homosexuality holy. And they are a little religious group and they had a float in the parade. And the Christians were not allowed—the Christian church was not allowed to have a float in the parade representing the nativity scene with Christmas carolers. Why is that not nasty anti-Christian bigotry?
SILVERMAN: Well, I don‘t know the whole story, Pat. But I will tell you that if, indeed, one religious float was allowed, while another float was not allowed, that would be considered religious discrimination.
BUCHANAN: All right. Would you allow both of the floats in?
SILVERMAN: I would allow floats in that did not promote hatred. And if I allowed all the floats in, you have to allow all the floats in, the Scientologists, the pagans, the Jews, the atheists, everyone. You‘ve got to—you can‘t...
BUCHANAN: Do Scientologists have a lot of floats at Christmastime?
SILVERMAN: Hey, you know what? In this country, we have a separation of church and state. And the reason that we have this separation of church and state...
BUCHANAN: And we are a Christian country and a secular nation.
SILVERMAN: ... is that everybody is equal in this country, not just Christians. Everybody has the same rights.
BUCHANAN: It‘s also a country where majority rules.
SILVERMAN: It‘s not a country where majority rules. It‘s a country where the Constitution rules.
BUCHANAN: Hold it. Hold it. You got your say.
Dr. Jerry Johnson, what is your take on what‘s going on out there in Denver?
JOHNSON: Listen, Pat, a teacher recently required the students to substitute the word winter for Christmas in the Christmas caroling.
And as a Christian, I‘m excited about the fact that Jesus is the light
of the world. And I‘m afraid, if we take Christ out of Christmas and
Christmas out of this holiday, we‘ll be where C.S. Lewis said, in a land
where it‘s always winter and never Christmas. What kind of world will it
be if we secularize this holy day/
SILVERMAN: It will be a free world. That‘s the whole concept, a free world.
BUCHANAN: OK. Hold it, Dave.
BUCHANAN: Dr. Johnson, I have got a question for you.
When Christians are, let‘s say 75 or 80 percent of the country, why have they been allowing courts—in some cases, my judgment, unconstitutionally—but, anyhow, courts to formally de—secularize the public square and the public schools of the nation to where any Christian idea or symbol in a school is automatically expunged? Why do they take it?
JOHNSON: Well, I‘m not sure why they do it.
But I know this, Pat, that the “Newsweek” magazine poll that we‘ve been talking about...
BUCHANAN: All right. Dr. Johnson, hold it right there. I‘m going to read that poll.
JOHNSON: All right.
BUCHANAN: Some of the results. And you give me the others; 93 percent of Americans polled say they believe that Jesus indeed lived.
JOHNSON: That‘s right.
BUCHANAN: Eighty-two percent believe he is God or the son of God.
JOHNSON: That‘s right.
BUCHANAN: Listen up, Dave; 67 percent believe in the entire Christmas story, while 55 percent believe every word of the Bible is literally true. And 52 percent say Jesus will return.
However, when asked if American society reflects true Christian values, only 11 percent said yes.
SILVERMAN: I can explain that.
BUCHANAN: Dr. Johnson, your take.
JOHNSON: The minority is forcing their view on the majority, Pat.
BUCHANAN: They‘re using the courts to do it.
JOHNSON: They‘re using the courts to do it.
BUCHANAN: Before we get to you, Dave, Jennifer has got...
GIROUX: This is what is happening. This is what is happening.
This is a judicial creation, this separation-of-church-and-state argument. It was not intended by our forefathers that we are to be kept from religion. As a matter of fact, nine out of 13 of the original colonies embraced religion in their individual colonies. It was meant that the whole country was not to be mandated with the religion.
It‘s almost surreal to me that we‘re discussing whether or not we can
recognize the infant Jesus. This is a Christian country. And in the same
way that the Supreme Court has invented the right to abortion, they have
now had this judicial creation that they‘re going to enforce separation of
church and state. And they keep pushing the envelope. And Christians are
going to be standing up stronger and in more numbers to say, the minority -
· the minor people—the minority in this country cannot mandate what they feel and squelch God out of society.
It‘s coming to a clash, Pat. It‘s not only a battle for the soul of the country. It‘s a battle for the soul of our children and what we want them to grow up in, in a godly country.
BUCHANAN: All right, Dave, stay. Hold on, Dave. We‘ll give you chance to respond when we come back.
SILVERMAN: Very good.
BUCHANAN: Stay tuned. More of the debate straight ahead.
BUCHANAN: Are televangelists preying on the hopeless and the elderly? Christian leader Ole Anthony thinks so. And he joins us tomorrow night to defend his controversial stand.
But stay tuned. There‘s more SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY straight ahead.
BUCHANAN: Final thoughts, uncontradicted.
Dave Silverman, go ahead. You got 30 seconds.
SILVERMAN: Well, Pat, the founding fathers of this country remembered what we have forgotten today. And that is that true religious freedom only comes when the government stays out of it, neither pushing for, nor against religion, neither pushing atheism, nor pushing theology.
Separation of church and state means every single person has an equal right. And that‘s not what you get in a Christian country and that‘s not what you get when one holiday is separated more than another. We welcome Macy‘s and we‘re glad that they‘re including everybody in the country.
BUCHANAN: All right.
JOHNSON: Well, the founding fathers also celebrated Christmas, and most Americans still do as well. And most still believe the Bible is the word of God.
And the angel said to Joseph, you shall call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins. And that is the message of Christmas, Pat. We are all sinners in need of a savior. And that‘s why Christ came, to die on a cross for our sins, to be raised from the dead, that we might be changed and forgiven.
Jennifer, I‘m sorry. We are not going to have time for your final thoughts. I think Dr. Johnson did fine.
Amen, Dr. Johnson.
Jennifer, thank you very much. Dr. Johnson, Dave Silverman, thank you all for joining us.
Make sure to catch Imus tomorrow when he talks to Senator John McCain.
“HARDBALL WITH CHRIS MATTHEWS” is up next. See you tomorrow.
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