Guest: Mark Brzezinski, Jay Carney, Bob Kohn
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST: Tonight‘s top headline: The connection between Iraq and al Qaeda has been made. Osama taps Zarqawi. The “Real Deal” on Iraq: the shocking truth the mainstream media is not going to tell you.
Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, where no passport is required and only common sense is allowed.
Bad news from Iraq fills TV screens and newspapers daily, while the media elite predicts civil war U.S. defeat. Tonight, we‘re going to tell you how the elite media is misleading viewers sometimes and we‘re going to prove to you that our military strongly support this president and the war.
And the largest earthquake in 40 years shakes and shocks the entire planet. The death toll now has shot past 20,000 and more people will die from disease and contamination than from the 20-foot waves that pounded Southeast Asia. We‘re going have the very latest news and the pictures and tell you about the tens and thousands who were killed.
And then, Michael Moore, Mel Gibson, Jim Carrey and Oliver Stone are in our list of winners and losers for 2004‘s year in movies. Find out who‘s on the top and why Hollywood gave Alexander the Great Fabio‘s hair in a gang of boyfriends.
ANNOUNCER: From the press room, to the courtroom, to the halls of Congress, Joe Scarborough has seen it all. Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, I‘m Joe Scarborough. Welcome to the show.
I‘m of course filling in for Pat Buchanan tonight. Actually, I want to thank Pat Buchanan for filling in for me so long. Pat has done a great job. Monica Crowley, others have done a great job filling in, while my back has been—I‘ve been on my back for some time with some back problems. I want to thank all of you for your thoughts and your prayers. It‘s really meant a lot to me, meant a lot to my family. We appreciate it.
But we‘ve got a lot of news tonight. And let‘s start telling you how the media has failed miserably to tell all of us the truth about what‘s been going on in Iraq. Now, if you don‘t believe me, take this simple test in tonight‘s “Real Deal.”
Now, did you know that the overwhelming number of Shiites and Kurds support America‘s efforts to bring democracy to Iraq in the form of elections this month? And did you know that the Shiites make up 60 percent of Iraq‘s population? Did you know that Kurds make up 20 percent of Iraq‘s population? That‘s 80 percent supporting us. Did you know that the Sunnis, who have been dictators over Iraq for generations, only make up 20 percent of the population?
And many of those Sunnis support our vote in January. And did you know that the overwhelming majority of Iraqis support the U.S.-backed elections that are going to be coming up next month? Did you know that the most powerful Shiite leaders in Iraq are telling their followers that participating in the American-led elections is a religious duty on par with fasting?
Did you know that the Kurds in the north, great people, have fought alongside Americans in this war and often are in front of U.S. troops? You don‘t hear about that, do you? Did you know that the overwhelming majority of soldiers and Marines that are fighting in Iraq support the president‘s handling of this war of liberation?
And did you know that the overwhelming majority of troops in Iraq believe that this war of liberation is a noble cause? You probably don‘t know many of these facts if you get your information from the mainstream media, because, for whatever information, these powerful outlets spend a disproportionate amount of time reporting on the treachery of terrorists, instead of the great works of those Americans and Iraqis building the first Democratic Arab state in Middle East history.
You know, there‘s a great quote from U.S. House Speaker Sam Rayburn, former House speaker who once said that any jackass can kick down a barn, but it takes a carpenter to build one. Well, sadly, American media remains fixated on the jackasses who continue kicking down barns. And instead of this remarkably important story, it just seems to me that they don‘t think freedom sells newspapers or at least they don‘t think it lines up with the media giants‘ ideological bent.
Hey, you can see it in Ukraine and you‘re going to see it in Iraq. Freedom is inevitable. And the media mavens may not like it, but it‘s tonight‘s “Real Deal.”
Now, we‘re going to be getting to the media‘s coverage of the Iraqi elections in a moment.
But, first, breaking news out of the Middle East today. Osama bin Laden says al-Zarqawi is his main man in Iraq. If Osama says there‘s a connection between al Qaeda and Iraq, will “The New York Times” believe him?
With us tonight talking about is MSNBC military analyst General Wayne Downing. And we also have MSNBC terrorism analyst Steve Emerson.
Gentlemen, welcome to the show.
I want to begin with you, General Downing.
What did you make of the breaking news that Osama bin Laden has tapped Zarqawi as his man in Iraq?
RET. GEN. WAYNE DOWNING, NBC MILITARY ANALYST: Well, they‘ve always had a close relationship. And of course, Zarqawi is one of the disciples.
Also, though, Joe, he‘s always been a disciple that‘s been somewhat independent. And, in many cases, bin Laden has not been able to control everything that he‘s done. So, you know, it is news. And, quite frankly, I‘m surprised that he created that link, because it may cause him some problems.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, one of the problems that it may cause him is, obviously, it will cause great animosity between bin Laden, al Qaeda, and the Shiites, who not only dominate Iran, but let‘s talk about Iraq; 60 percent of the Iraqis are obviously Shia. And Zarqawi has openly said—we‘ve intercepted memos where he said that he‘s going to kill as many Shia as possible to create a civil war between the Sunnis and the Shia.
Doesn‘t this undermine bin Laden‘s support throughout a great part of the Middle East?
DOWNING: Well, I would think that it does.
And, of course, when they created those two attacks here in the last week or 10 days down in Karbala and An Najaf, they were suspected of being the so-called foreign fighters under the control of Zarqawi. So with this Zarqawi-al Qaeda link attack on the Shias, we are kind of bringing to the surface here, Joe, something that‘s been under the surface all along.
And this is this tremendous tension and this hatred between the Sunnis and the Shias, which go not only in Iraq, but also in many other places in the Islamic world.
SCARBOROUGH: Steve Emerson, are you surprised by today‘s breaking news, that there is now is a very definite link between al Qaeda and between the terrorist in Iraq?
STEVE EMERSON, NBC TERRORISM ANALYST: I‘m not really surprised, because, as General Downing said, there‘s always been linkage. And Zarqawi has always been a disciple and has always sort of operated at an arm‘s length relationship, but with the tacit support of bin Laden.
What I‘m interested most significantly today was by the anointment of Zarqawi as the emir of al Qaeda, this is a traditional appointment that‘s been made only by bin Laden‘s consultative council, or his majlis al-shura.
And it suggests to me that bin Laden now has been able to able resurrect his board of directors, if you will, to make this appointment. He‘s never made these things personally. It suggests, together with the fact that he has released three of these tapes in the last eight weeks, that he‘s feeling much more comfortable, much more secure, much more operationally safe than he‘s ever felt in his last three years. So there‘s some worry there on that score.
In terms of alienating the Shiites, frankly, he‘s looking a the larger picture. He recognized that the Sunnis dominate the Muslim world and that‘s really his big market.
SCARBOROUGH: But if he loses support in Iraq, if al Qaeda becomes a dirty word in Iraq, as certainly it will with Sistani, with the Shia, then obviously, he loses Iran. He loses Iraq. He loses the epicenter of what was terrorism in the Middle East.
EMERSON: Yes, but, Joe, the question is whether al Qaeda will ever become a dirty word.
Look, we thought that it would become a dirty word throughout the Muslim world after 9/11. It didn‘t. There‘s still a lot of support for bin Laden. And the fact is, even in Iran, there‘s been support. Iran has been harboring major supporters of bin Laden for the last three years. So, the question is whether Sistani will formally come out and whether, even if he does, whether people in the street will really believe that it‘s al Qaeda, as opposed to many of the conspiracy theories, as you know, floating, that it‘s really the United States or the Israelis that are inside doing these car bombs.
Those types of conspiracy theories are rampant throughout Iraq.
There‘s really been a failure to confront the reality, sad as it is to say.
SCARBOROUGH: Now, General Downing, I want to go to that issue, because it seems to me that, early in this war, whenever there were bombings, when there were bombings in the Shiite parts of Iraq, you would hear on the street angry Iraqis claiming that this was in fact the United States or the Israelis doing the bombing.
It seems to me, though, over the past several months—take, for instance, the invasion of Fallujah. There were predictions that, when the United States went in and flattened Fallujah and got rid of Zarqawi and the terror network inside Fallujah, that there would be an uprising in Iraq, there would be an uprising in the Arab street. That never happened.
And a lot of people are saying that never happened because, again, as I said at the beginning, you‘ve got 60 percent of the Shia that want this election to go off. You‘ve got 20 percent in the north, the Kurds, that want this election. You basically have 90 percent of the Iraqi population who is supporting this election.
So, are we reaching a point where Zarqawi and the terrorists have actually lost the battle for the hearts and the minds of the Iraqi people?
DOWNING: Well, Joe, we‘re going to have to find out, but, certainly, there‘s a lot of indication that the Iraqi people are fed up with the so-called foreign fighters. And we might call them al Qaeda, but, really, they‘re jihadists.
They are people who agree with bin Laden, agree with what he‘s trying to do, which is really an insurrection across the Islamic world for control of these Islamic states. But, in many cases, the Iraqi people are fed up with the jihadists, the foreign jihadists, because they brought all this violence to the communities in which they live.
Now, there‘s another dimension to this, Joe. And that is, we‘re starting to see now homegrown Iraqi jihadists, who have the same political aim, the same radicalized motivation, radicalized through this wild interpretation of their religion that leaves them to believe they must fight a holy war. So we‘ve got both of these going in Iraq.
Certainly, one of the things that could come out of this, if it‘s possible, is, you could see a civil war. I mean, that‘s one of the cases that could come up. I don‘t think it‘s going to happen, but it‘s going to be interesting to see how this political power goes after this election. That‘s why, Joe, you have got some options out there now to actually save some seats for the Sunnis, even though they may not be able to vote in this election.
SCARBOROUGH: And, you know, one of the things that offends me so much about the news coverage is the fact that Zarqawi announced several months ago that his plan to bring civil war to Iraq was to blow up and kill as many Shia as possible.
And you have the Shia who are actually being restrained.
SCARBOROUGH: You have Sistani saying, don‘t fight back. We‘re going to go about this. We‘re going to win in democratic elections. And yet, there doesn‘t seem to be any sense of perspective. You‘ll hear on a network, well, there was this bombing or this Shia leader got blown up. That Shia mosque got blown up. But nobody seems to talk about the fact that this is an orchestrated effort to start a civil war in a country where, again, the overwhelming majority of people want to go to the polls in January and want to vote in these U.S.-backed elections.
DOWNING: Right, Joe. Listen, you‘re exactly right.
And we‘re kind of hammering the Western media. And I‘m kind of glad we‘re doing this and we‘re going to get into this more in-depth. But, you know, the Muslim media, the Arab media, Al-Arabiya, Al-Jazeera, these are the channels that ought to be going after some of these arguments we‘re talking about right here and get this out into the Islamic world.
And I don‘t think they want to do this, Joe, because they don‘t want to bear to the world this tremendous rift between the Shias and the Sunnis. If you think we‘ve got problems with the Western media, the Islamic media and the Arab media specifically are not doing a good job of covering what are some very complex and important issues.
SCARBOROUGH: It‘s disgraceful.
Now, Steve Emerson, one final question to you. You talked about how bin Laden may be back, how they‘re getting these tapes out more regularly.
But it seems to me something very interesting has happened this holiday
season. For the first time since 2000 -- remember the millennium. When
the millennium turned, we had terror alerts then. We had terror alerts in
· on Fourth of July, 2001, I remember a lot of people decided not to go to Washington, D.C., because they were afraid of possible terror attacks.
And, of course, after September 11, every Christmas, every new year, every Fourth of July, terror alerts, warnings, people backed up at the airports. And yet, something strange has happened this holiday season. We have very little chatter out there, very few warnings. It seems to me that al Qaeda is in retreat. Am I reading this wrong?
EMERSON: No, I think you‘re right, Joe, that al Qaeda itself is in retreat. And I think the president and his advisers deserve a lot of credit for decimating most of al Qaeda.
The only problem really with projecting the stability is the franchise operations in other countries, as evidenced by the attacks in Spain and the killing of the filmmaker in the Netherlands a month ago.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, Steve Emerson, thanks so much for being with us. We greatly appreciate it.
General Downing, stick around, because we‘re going to be right back in
Coming up right after the break, we‘re going to be talking about the media. Plus, we‘re going to show you those horrendous pictures from Southeast Asia.
Be right back in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
SCARBOROUGH: An overwhelming number of Iraqis want to take part in elections next month. So, why is the mainstream media never talking about it? The news you don‘t get to hear coming up next in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, there‘s good news about the upcoming Iraqi elections, but you wouldn‘t know it if you just listened to the mainstream media.
With me now again is MSNBC military analyst General Wayne Downing. And we also have Bob Kohn. He‘s the author “Journalistic Fraud: How The New York Times Distorts the News and Why It Can No Longer Be Trusted.”
Bob, let me start with you. We obviously—you heard us in the last segment talking about the fact that 60 percent of the population are Shiites in Iraq; 20 percent are Kurds in the north. Now, these two groups support the election. That‘s 80 percent. About half the Sunnis, it seems, if you just judge by the number of Sunni candidates that are out there, support this election, though many are afraid to go out and vote because they‘re afraid their own people will kill them.
Here you have—and this is the thing that I‘ve found so remarkable while I‘ve been on my back listening to NPR, watching the news, watching the mainstream media, reading “The New York Times” and “The Washington Post” every day. It‘s stunning to me that 90 percent of Iraq supports this election and yet, when you watch the news every day, you get no perspective whatsoever.
You just get this bombing from Zarqawi against this Shia mosque or this Shia leader when, of course, Zarqawi said he was going to do that to start a civil war. Where‘s the breakdown here? Why is the media doing such a horrific job in giving Americans perspective about what‘s really going on in Iraq?
BOB KOHN, AUTHOR, “JOURNALISTIC FRAUD”: You know, Pat—I mean, Joe, our troops also...
KOHN: Our troops also support the war.
You know, the mainstream media, they want to use as an excuse, look, we‘ve always reported bad news. They like to have bad news on the front page, not good news, and that‘s their explanation for it. But I‘m not buying that. You‘ve written about this on your blog. I think, if President Clinton, if this were his war, this would be a major advancement of liberty around the world.
And successes like the election in Afghanistan wouldn‘t be buried on page 10. They would be on the front page. Setbacks that we‘re having in Iraq would be buried on page 10, rather than being on the front page. So I think there‘s a lot more going on here. The basis seems to be this hatred towards George W. Bush. They hate him so much, they would almost rather see us lose in Iraq and—rather than see George Bush win. And the mainstream media...
SCARBOROUGH: I‘ve got to correct you there. A lot of these people would not almost like to see us lose. They would like to see us lose. You can look at certain columnists, whose names I will not mention, but you can go back to the beginning of this war and see that 99 percent of their editorials have been negative.
There is no doubt they are cheering against, rooting against America‘s efforts overseas, as much as they were pulling for America‘s efforts in Kosovo and Bosnia and some of these optional wars that we had.
KOHN: That‘s true.
SCARBOROUGH: I‘m going to read you something from the “New York Times” editorial page.
They wrote this—quote—“There may still be time for Washington to try to salvage the election in January, but that would require paying much more serious attention to”—and I‘m saying—I‘m quoting here—
“legitimate Sunni grievances and showing an openness to postponing the election for several months.”
This is what gets me, Bob. You have got “The New York Times” concerned about a minority in Iraq who have oppressed 80 percent of the Iraqi people for years. It seems to me that would be like being concerned about the Ku Klux Klan of the 1960s in America and saying we can‘t have interrogation in the Southeast unless the Klan supports it or talking about apartheid in South Africa.
And this is not hyperbole.
SCARBOROUGH: This is just like “The New York Times” saying we can‘t have elections in South Africa and get rid of apartheid until the white South African people go along with it.
KOHN: You‘re right. It‘s not almost with respect to the columnists. It‘s not almost with respect to editorials, like the editorial page of “The New York Times.”
They are—they want to see America lose, at least from what we‘re seeing with their writing. But my real complaint is, is not what you‘re seeing on the editorial pages and the columnists. You know, Joe, you‘re on the air saying the opposite. You have radio talk show hosts, you have Internet bloggers saying the opposite.
What‘s really bad is how they‘re slanting their news pages, how they‘re burying the good news and—or not reporting the good news and highlighting all of the bad news. That‘s where I say almost. I can‘t get into their motivations here. But it just seems awful strange that the Afghanistan election was not—the first democratic election in the history of Afghanistan was not on the front page of “The New York Times.” It was buried in the middle.
KOHN: So that‘s the insidious way that...
KOHN: Go ahead.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, or the “USA Today.”
The fact that you have the inauguration of the first democratically elected Afghanistan leader buried in the middle of these newspapers I think speaks volumes.
Now, General Downing, I want to bring you in here.
I hear—I hear from men and women that are fighting over in Iraq all the time. Obviously, when I was in Congress, I represented a very strong military district. And to a man and woman, they all tell me what you‘re hearing on the radio, what you‘re seeing on TV does not reflect what‘s going on, on the ground in Iraq.
The media is not giving you the full picture. Is that what you‘re hearing from troops over there?
DOWNING: Right, Joe.
I mean, I get this on the e-mails that I get from overseas and the ones that other people forward to me. And not only, you know, are we not hearing it. The soldiers, the Marines, the sailors and the airmen are upset about it, because they feel there is a lot good that‘s going on.
And, you know, Joe, personally, I have no problems with the media covering, you know, these big events. But there‘s so much else going on in the country. As you‘ve hammered here, you know, probably 85 percent of that country wants this election. And probably in at least 75 percent of, it is probably going to go fairly well and fairly smoothly.
I hope all of America is watching your show tonight, Joe, because I‘m telling you, people don‘t know this. And they‘re surprised. I do some public speaking. I talk about these kind of things. People will come down later and talk to me and say, how come I don‘t know this? How come people aren‘t telling me this?
SCARBOROUGH: And you‘re right, General. I talked to educated—I talked to very educated people who watch the news every day, and I asked them. I said, the Shia, what percentage of the population are the Shia? And they say, we don‘t know. I said, well, you believe 60 percent and their leaders support this election? What percentage are the Kurds? Twenty-three.
And so you start there and you tell them that 80 percent of the country are behind these elections and they‘re absolutely stunned. And it‘s the news that‘s not getting out there.
KOHN: Joe, this is Bob.
SCARBOROUGH: Go ahead, Bob. Final word.
KOHN: There was an interesting exchange the other day between a soldier and Donald Rumsfeld in Mosul. And it wasn‘t widely reported in the U.S., but you can find it on the Internet blogs.
And, essentially, the soldier asked, why all this propaganda in the U.S., with all the bad news about what is going on here? And Rumsfeld joked. He said, it doesn‘t sound like a reporter fed you that question.
KOHN: And the entire place—they just—there was an uproar of laughter. The troops know exactly what‘s going on here. The American public, unfortunately, does not.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, well, gentlemen, thanks for being with us.
SCARBOROUGH: General, go ahead.
No, Joe, the one thing we shouldn‘t lose sight of either, and that is the popularity of this president, President Bush, with the armed forces. They really love this guy. They have great respect for him. And, you know, he‘s a true wartime president to them. He‘s their leader.
SCARBOROUGH: They love this guy.
DOWNING: They do.
SCARBOROUGH: I‘ll tell you, most of them that I talk to love Rumsfeld. The fact that there was that dust-up a few weeks ago was seen as a joke by the troops. There‘s a poll out today that said well over 60 percent of the troops support this president, support this war. It‘s not the news we get.
General Wayne Downing, Bob Kohn, I want to thank both of you for being with us tonight.
And I want to add just a very quick caveat. Probably the best story I‘ve read this year on Iraq came from “The New York Times” by Dexter Filkins. It was a remarkable story. We‘re going to tell you more about that tomorrow night. There are some guys out there and women out there that are putting their lives on the line for “The New York Times” and other publications. And they‘ve done some great reporting. Unfortunately, a lot of people stateside have not.
Now, coming up in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, the Ukrainian election makes Watergate look like a cocktail party. You‘re not going to believe the latest twist in the tale of the poisoned politician.
Plus, this year, Hollywood taught us that, if you can dodge a hammer, you can dodge a ball. But can Michael Moore dodge the SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY Hollywood losers list? You may be surprised.
SCARBOROUGH: There was no warning or preparation and no one was ready when the devastating tidal wave hit Southeast Asia. Could this have been avoided and could it happen here at home? That‘s coming up next.
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: The devastation is being described as biblical, after the worth earthquake in 40 years, 9.0 on the Richter scale, set off a chain reaction of tsunamis and it sent walls of water rushing in and destroying everything and everybody in its wake.
The death toll has risen to nearly 24,000 and hundreds of thousands are homeless, looking for loved ones in makeshift morgues. Now the questions. Could the death toll have been lower and could more people have been saved?
With me now is Alan Boyle. He‘s the science editor of MSNBC.com.
Alan, thanks for being with us.
ALAN BOYLE, SCIENCE EDITOR, MSNBC.COM: Thanks.
SCARBOROUGH: And let‘s start with the question that a lot of Americans are asking today. How in the world does something like this happen?
BOYLE: Well, it‘s because the Asian nations in the Indian Ocean where this took place aren‘t as well situated as we are in the United States. We have a system that can monitor these tsunami and the earthquakes that generally cause them and get an advance warning.
In the Asian nations, they haven‘t come that far along, but they‘re seriously thinking about this after this catastrophe.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, explain how this actually happened. Start with an earthquake and describe the chain reaction for our viewers.
What happens with the earthquake, it happens in the middle of the ocean, and that displaces a huge amount of water. It‘s kind of like, I don‘t know, opening a drain or just slapping God‘s hand on the surface of the water. And this huge wave just emanates from the center of the quake and inundates shorelines. You might not feel it if you‘re in the middle of the ocean. But, as you can see from the video, it just has a devastating impact when that wave hits the shore.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, reading “The Washington Post” reporter‘s account, who was actually out in the water when this happened, it sounds so dinner from hurricanes. With hurricanes, obviously, you have a 40-, 50-foot storm surge that actually will come in and look like a huge wave that will lift homes and buildings and throw them across.
This reporter talked about how he was actually floating and didn‘t know what was going on because there was no huge wave. Just, the whole ocean rose and brought him on shore and then took him back.
BOYLE: You‘re right, Joe. And it‘s a good comparison to the storm surge from a hurricane.
In this case, it‘s a little more unpredictable, because there‘s no storm above the ocean. You can be on a clear sunny day and all of a sudden, this wave comes at you. And it‘s not just one wave. These tsunami series of waves can go on for 12 hours. And that‘s what was particularly deadly about this one is that, if the people came back to see what happened to their homes, they were caught up in the next surge.
SCARBOROUGH: And, Alan, one final question. Do residents of San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, New York, Philadelphia, have any reason to worry that this could happen to them?
BOYLE: Actually, the scenario that people talk about affects Washington, Oregon, and Northern California, that there is a possibility of a magnitude 9 quake that could generate a similar wave in that area. But I think, on the East Coast there, you don‘t have quite so much to worry about.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, Alan Boyle, thank you so much for being with us tonight. We greatly appreciate it.
BOYLE: Thank you, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: Now, another form of tidal wave hit Eastern Europe over the past 24 hours, this one political, as the Ukrainian people went to the voting booths to vote once again for president.
The winner by a landslide, Viktor Yushchenko. Now, of course, as you know, the people of Ukraine have had to endure enslavement from Russian czars, invasions from the likes of Napoleon and Hitler, and the bitter operation of Stalinist Russia. But over the past few months, a liberal Western reformer has been promising a new chapter for the embattled land and one that includes closer relations with the United States.
With me now to talk about it is Jay Carney of “TIME” magazine and Mark Brzezinski, former director for Russia and Ukraine on the National Security Council.
Mark, let me begin with you. Obviously, you followed Ukraine for quite some time. Talk about the impact of Yushchenko‘S victory.
MARK BRZEZINSKI, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL MEMBER: Well, the impact is a tremendous tribute for Ukrainian democrats who braved the cold and their own personal security by coming out in the streets and demanding that a free and fair election consistent with international standards be held.
Think about it, Joe. In the last month and a half, the majority of Ukrainian voters came out to vote not once, but three times, three times to get a result that‘s consistent with their wishes. And the result in this final round was a democrat who‘s much more oriented toward the West. But as the old “New York Times” columnist Abe Rosenthal used to say, now is when the hard time again.
Yushchenko is going to have to work hard...
JAY CARNEY, DEPUTY WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, “TIME”: Exactly.
BRZEZINSKI: ... to ensure that the significant percentage of Ukrainian population who didn‘t vote for him feel included and part of Ukraine‘s future. And he will also have to work to ensure that outside actors, perhaps Russia, don‘t try to seize defeat from the jaws of victory if the West looks the other way.
And, you know, Mark, as some of our viewers may not know, there really is a split right down the middle of Ukraine. If you go to the Western part of Ukraine, you have Russian-speaking people that obviously relate to Russia and want close relations to Russia. You go to the eastern part, Kiev, you‘ve got very progressive, pro-Western, liberalized areas.
SCARBOROUGH: And that‘s where we were seeing all the protest over the past month and a half, which, Mark, I‘ve got to say, were remarkable. There are some of the more uplifting photos I‘ve seen since 1989, when the wall came down.
What caused all these events to come together to cause the remarkable outpouring of democratic activists in the streets of Kiev in Ukraine?
BRZEZINSKI: Well, if you look at map, Ukraine is in the heart of Europe. And the countries immediately to Ukraine‘s west, Rumania, Hungary, Poland, were all part of the Velvet Revolutions of 1989 that set free countries that had been behind the Iron Curtain.
Now, in the last 15 years, some of the 26 countries that became free after the collapse of the Soviet Union have become successful economies and successful political democracies. Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary are examples of those.
But others have continued to stumble along, countries like Ukraine, Belarus, even Russia. Former Soviet apparatchiks became the new political elite of those countries. And that political elite had no interest in seeing democracy flourish or seeing kind of transparency and the rule of law put in place, because they probably assumed that they would be out of office in a short amount of time.
And it‘s interesting to see how Russian democrats now, Boris Nemtsov, former Russian Prime Minister Yegor Gaidar have written pieces that have said, the success of Ukrainian democrats portends very well for any future for a Russian democratic movement.
SCARBOROUGH: It‘s very fascinating, what‘s been going on over there.
Jay Carney, let me bring you in. What are the political implications in the United States? What does this mean for President Bush‘s foreign policy?
CARNEY: Well, what it means, Joe, is that President Bush has another difficult issue entered into his relationship with President Putin of Russia. As we all know, Putin strongly supported, actively supported, even campaigned for the loser in this race, the pro-Moscow crony who initially was declared the winner in the first run-off in that campaign that was so rife with fraud and is now the loser.
And Putin has made it clear over the last few weeks that he doesn‘t appreciate the West‘s intervention. He didn‘t appreciate the comments by the Bush administration declaring the initial round of voting fraudulent. So, you know, it makes things difficult. But you have to admire, I think, the way the Bush administration handled this, very deftly, making clear that it stood with a free and fair election, without, you know, overly antagonizing Putin.
And it left Putin somewhat isolated. We‘ll have to see, like Mark was saying, how—what Moscow‘s next move is. I noted that Yushchenko, the winner of this election, has already said that his first visit as the newly elected leader of Ukraine will be to Moscow to try to smooth over that relationship, because even though Yushchenko is dedicating towards looking West and democratizing and Europeanizing Ukraine, he obviously has to deal with a situation where Russia is the big neighbor to the east.
Russia provides almost—a large, large portion of Ukraine‘s energy supplies. And Ukraine cannot get along successfully without normal relations with Moscow.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, Jay, Mark, thanks a lot for being with us and enlightening our viewers with what‘s going on.
And, obviously, you‘re exactly right, Jay. Actually, Ukraine‘s top trading partner is Russia. So, certainly, Yushchenko is not going to be able to turn his back on Putin or the Russian people any time soon.
Now, coming up next, Michael Moore may have been on Santa‘s bad list this Christmas, but you may be surprised where he lands on the SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY winners and losers list.
Stick around to find out. We‘ll be right back.
SCARBOROUGH: What a long, strange trip it‘s been in 2004 for those of us who closely follow the movie industry.
Now, the two most discussed films of the year were a bloody accounting of Jesus‘ final hours and a political hit piece on George W. Bush. The first movie greatly offended liberals and blue-state provocateurs like Frank Rich. And the second greatly offended conservatives and caused squeals of delight from blue-state provocateurs like, well, Frank Rich.
If you want to understand the shrill culture wars that dominated the headlines of 2004, forget gay marriage and abortion. Just bring up these two movies at any family gathering and enjoy hour upon hour of hateful debate. Because of their cultural relevance and the gobs of money that both of them raked in at the box office, you got to include Mel Gibson and Michael Moore as two of Hollywood‘s big winners in 2004.
But my pick for Hollywood‘s movie of the year is the slightly off-kilter “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.” Despite the fact that some of my family members suggested that the writers and directors of that movie had to be ingesting massive quantities of drugs while making it, I‘m one of those helpless romantics that believes that love conquers all, even mad scientists with brain-scrubbing technology.
By the time that remarkable Kate Winslet lines when she whispers “meet me in Montauk” into Jim Carrey‘s ear, I was bought and sold by this movie. The supporting cast also gets four stars, with great performances by Mark Ruffalo and Kirsten Dunst. And, by the way, I think I‘m the only person in America who thinks Jim Carrey‘s last serious effort, the almost universally scored “The Majestic,” was one of his best efforts.
Anyway, “Eternal” is yet another reason why Mr. Carrey should leave his contorted faces behind and continue making movies, like “Eternal Sunshine.”
Now, for a look at the worst movie of the year, we go to Dana Kennedy
· she‘s MSNBC‘s entertainment editor—to talk about Oliver Stone‘s “Alexander.”
Dana, thanks for being with us. And, God, it is so great to be talking to you about something other than “Fahrenheit” or “The Passion.”
Let‘s talk about “Alexander.” I have got to tell you, I have yet to read a positive review of this movie. And it tops most people‘s list as one of the worst movies of the year. What want wrong with Oliver Stone‘s vision of Alexander the Great?
DANA KENNEDY, NBC ENTERTAINMENT EDITOR: I really think the question was, what was right about it? There really was so little. And it cost so much to make, Joe.
It cost $150 million for this spectacle, which run three hours long.
And if you actually sat through all three hours, you felt all three hours. It‘s only made $34 million so far. It‘s a big flop for Oliver Stone. It‘s a big disappointment for him.
I was never engaged in this movie. And I think I speak for a lot people who saw it. Not only was I not engaged by Colin Farrell as Alexander the Great—he just seemed too much like a boy. He seemed too effeminate. And, apparently, Alexander the Great was bisexual, or reportedly bisexual. And the movie didn‘t shy away from that.
But I think, in Oliver Stone trying to be honest, he made it into almost like an unfortunate gay fest. Jared Leto played his best friend in the movie.
KENNEDY: And the two of them—the scenes with the eye liner on Jared Leto, all that was missing was Liza Minnelli and Cher.
SCARBOROUGH: It was unbelievable.
KENNEDY: It was embarrassing.
SCARBOROUGH: The thing is, Oliver Stone—Oliver Stone, actually, when you read his interviews after the flop, is actually trying to suggest that America is just not progressive enough to handle a gay or bisexual Alexander the Great.
I‘ve talked to a lot of people that went in there wanting to root for Oliver Stone and his vision of Alexander the Great. And, of course, the Greeks claimed 2,000 years later, he was not gay. But the people that I talked to that saw the movie that were actually cheering for Stone came out saying, God, I don‘t care if he was gay or straight or bi. It was just an awful, awful movie.
KENNEDY: I couldn‘t agree with you more, at least this time, Joe.
I just sat there looking at my watch. People were looking over me and saying, “What time is it?” hoping it was close to the end of it. As I said, you just didn‘t get engaged in this thing. You need a Russell Crowe, who played the lead, of course, in “Gladiator,” to make one of these sword-and-sandals epics really take off.
KENNEDY: Colin Farrell just didn‘t have it. And then there‘s Angelina Jolie playing his mother in what sounded like a Bela Lugosi accent. Everyone had a different accent. I don‘t know where that was coming from either.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, you know what? What I‘ve read in both “Troy” and
what I read about in this movie, “Alexander, that there were actually
laughs from the audience at inappropriate times, looking at Brad Pitt, who
· I absolutely love Brad Pitt. He‘s one of my favorite actors. But seeing Brad Pitt in this long, Fabio-type hair and also seeing Colin Farrell in his Fabio hairstyle, you kind of sit there and wonder who dreamed this up.
Now, I want to read you some of the top moneymakers in the movies in 2004 and get your comments. You have “Shrek 2,” “Spider-Man 2,” which I thought was a great movie, “The Passion,” which made $370 million, “Harry Potter” and also “The Incredibles.”
Do you have a favorite this year that Hollywood made?
KENNEDY: I have many favorites. I have a top 10, but I will say that “The Incredibles” is right up there. I also loved “Collateral” with Tom Cruise. It was just—see, Joe, my idea of a great movie is if it doesn‘t bore me, if I like it. I‘m not all about artistic masterpieces.
If it just grabs me and I love it, to me, that‘s a great movie. But I will say that “The Passion of the Christ” is one of my favorite movies of the year, too. And I think, in retrospect, when you see Alexander, you realize what Mel Gibson did with “The Passion of the Christ.” Forget the political debate. The fact that he had these people speaking in Aramaic—and no matter what you think about the movie, it seemed genuine. It really did. It seemed like you were there.
And, in “Alexander,” it looks as if you are on a back lot in 1940 in Hollywood.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes. Exactly. You‘re exactly right.
KENNEDY: I really felt that “The Passion”—yes.
SCARBOROUGH: I think what Mel Gibson did, whether you love the movie, whether you hate the movie, I still think it‘s just such a remarkable achievement that he made this movie in Aramaic about a topic that most people in Hollywood simply did not believe was going to sell.
KENNEDY: No, I‘m amazed, yes.
Dana, as always, thanks for being with us. And we look forward to seeing you a lot in 2005 in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
KENNEDY: Thanks, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: Still ahead in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, he was one of the NFL‘s fiercest players on the field and one of the most devoted humanitarians off the field. We‘re going to take a look at the life of NFL great Reggie White. That‘s coming up next.
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, you can sign up for the SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY newsletter and read my editorial of the day at Joe.MSNBC.com.
SCARBOROUGH: We all know that the world of sports has been ugly in 2004, baseball players on steroids, basketball players beating up fans, and football players concerned with showboating.
In this world, Reggie White was a man out of time. White, the former Green Bay superstar defensive lineman, was a man of great character both on the field and off the field. He pushed himself every day to be a great person. And, in an era that predated sports figures pointing to the heavens after every moderately successful play, Reggie White publicly proclaimed Jesus Christ as his personal savior.
And all those who knew Reggie said that the gentle giant not only talked the talk, but he also walked the walk. White actually studied Hebrew to gain a deeper understanding of God‘s will in his life. And his life was cut short in the early hours after Christmas.
But God used Reggie White in death, as in life, as an example of a man who learned and leaned more on the word of God than the trappings of fame. SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY mourns Reggie White‘s passing. And pray other athletes will follow his legacy of faith and humility. And, certainly, Reggie‘s family is in our prayers tonight.
Now, he died at a hospital in Huntersville, North Carolina, at the age of 43. And he left behind his wife, Sara, son, Jeremy, and daughter, Jecolia.
And our condolences, as I said, go out to his family and friends. And for more information about his funeral, you can log on to ReggieWhiteFoundation.org.
That‘s all the time we have for SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY tonight. Chris Matthews is coming up next.
I‘m looking forward to seeing you tomorrow. Have a good evening.
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