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Transcript from Scarborough Country 9/14: WIMN’s Jennifer Pozner & Huffington Post’s Rachel Sklar debate Jack Burkman, GOP sex scandal king

jpozners Icon Posted by Jennifer L Pozner

September 18th, 2006

Below, as promised, is the transcript from my second appearance on MSNBC’s Scarborough Country, Thursday, 9/14 [copied from the Nexis database, with some corrections to transcription errors]. Watch the segment here. Some of you have emailed asking what my thoughts were about the segment, and while I don’t have much time right now, the nutshell is that it went much, much better than the train wreck of the previous night: the segment was longer, the discussion was livelier, and overall it was a far more balanced debate.

Host Joe and guest Jack Burkman (a GOP strategist who defends Christian values on national TV but offers to pay young women to have sex with him in his off-air hours) shared the arch-conservative opinion that framed the show, while the articulate and insightful Rachel Sklar of Huffington Post and I represented a progressive feminist counterpoint. There was the typical amount of beltway-boy bluster and loud attempts to shout down progressive viewpoints but, in fairness to Scarborough’s producers, this was the first cable news segment in recent memory to book not one but two women on the same show — and two strong, progressive, feminist women, to boot. The resulting fireworks illustrate how much deeper and more interesting news discussions can be — and how many more issues get addressed that are usually unheard in broadcast news — when informed, reasoned, progressive women’s voices are give equal airing in the public debate.

How do I know that my message came more effectively, and that the debate had more depth, on Thursday night? Because I got tons of supportive email on Wed. evening and Thurs. morning from MSNBC viewers who thanked me for speaking out and expressed anger about Scarborough’s and Adubato’s bullying treatment of me, and somehow (oddly enough) ended up positively plugged by the LonelyGirl15 weirdness, but after Thursday night’s show my inbox was full to bursting with rightwing hate mail. Conservative bloggers began trashing me on rightwing websites. Because I attempted to broaden the media debate to investigate and take seriously all forms of violent religious extremism, I’ve been threatened (”We won’t let you get away with it!” was how one emailer ended his ominous message), my organization’s integrity has been condemned (apparantly, WIMN is not qualified to critique media despite our staff and board’s decades of journalism experience and the collective wisdom of our bloggers), and I’ve been personally attacked: I’ve been called a liar, insane, stupid, unthinking, brainwashed, a lover of terrorists, a supporter of Sharia law, a bigoted aetheist (I’m Jewish, thank you very much), a shill for the Democratic party (amusing, since I have written quote critically about the Democrats for many years), ugly and many things too obscene and vile to mention here. One fine, upstanding Christian Scarborough viewer, by way of denouncing my supposed “bigotry and intolerance,” wanted to know if my “support of Rosie go so far that she can imagine her head between Rosie’s sweaty fat thighs. Just picture that.”

Lovely.

A friend suggested I create a form email to send in response to this mail: “Dear So-and-So, Thank you for proving my point. Respectfully yours, Jennifer L. Pozner.”

But while Thursday’s segment was more balanced than the previous night, as FAIR founder Jeff Cohen says in his new book Cable News Confidential: My Misadventures in Corporate Media, that was “a high jump over a low hurdle.” There were many frustrations: I was never allowed to answer questions about the media though my media expertise is ostensibly why I was booked on the show, nor was I able to redirect the debate to challenge Scarborough’s, Burkman’s or previous segment’s guest Steve Adubato’s contention that Rosie is entitled to free speech but should be fired for it, entitled to speak her view but not on The View. The format of cable news soundbite-and-scream fests rarely allow for dignified discussion or reasoned debate; complexity and nuance are lost, meaning that as much as I tried (and as Rachel tried) we were unable to break through Scarborough’s false dichotomy that portrayed us as supposedly “siding with violent Islamic terrorists” because we condemned violent Christian extremists in addition to violent Islamic extremists… despite saying for two nights in a row that there is absolutely no justification for the extreme and devastating terrorism carried out against my home city on 9/11.

There’s so much more to write, but I’m going to try to save it for a commentary or op-ed on this topic. For now, here’s the transcript.

As I posted here the other day, MSNBC’s producers pay attention to viewer mail. Let Scarborough Country know what you think about their coverage of Rosie O’Donnell’s statements, and tell them you would like to see them discuss media and public affairs with progressive women guests more often. Praise what’s praiseworthy, and tell them what you’d like to see them improve — especially with regards to respect for freedom of speech. Send in those viewer letters to Scarborough Country: joe@msnbc.com – as always, remember that letters to editors are taken most seriously when they maintain a firm but civil tone. For tips on writing effective letters to the editor, see WIMN’s Action Center.)

MSNBC
SHOW: SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY 10:00 PM EST
September 14, 2006 Thursday
SECTION: NEWS; Domestic
HEADLINE: SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY For September 14, 2006 MSNBC
GUESTS: Jennifer Pozner, Jack Burkman, Rachel Sklar, Clint Van Zandt, Pat Lalama, Michelle Lee, Katrina Szish

HIGHLIGHT:
When new “The View” co-host Rosie O`Donnell said on the show that radical Christianity was just as threatening to America as radical Islam, was she displaying bigotry and intolerance towards Christians, as some are charging? Is CNN crime show host Nancy Grace, one of whose guests committed suicide just before her interview aired on the show, continuing to pound the grieving mother of a missing child after her death?

BODY:

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST: Right now in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY: Rosie O`Donnell takes on Christianity. Is it a religious war brought to you by ABC? A media firestorm has erupted since “The View`s” new host compared Christians to Islamic terrorists. Could advertisers force ABC to fire Ms. O`Donnell since Christian groups are now up in arms?

[SNIP UNRELATED SEGMENT TEASE]

Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. No passport required, and no liberal judges allowed.

We`re going to have all that and more, but first: Rosie rants against Christians, saying followers of Jesus Christ are as dangerous to America as radical Islamic terrorists who attacked us on September 11. Rosie also accused Christians of dropping bombs on foreigners.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROSIE O`DONNELL, CO-HOST, “THE VIEW”: We are attacked not by a nation, and as a result of the attack and the killing of nearly 3,000 innocent people, we invaded two countries and killed innocent people in their countries.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But do you understand that the belief funding those attacks, OK, that is widespread. And if you take radical Islam and you want to talk about what`s going on there…

(CROSSTALK)

O`DONNELL: Just one second. Radical Christianity is just as threatening as radical Islam in a country like America…

(APPLAUSE)

O`DONNELL: … where we have a separation of church and state. We`re a democracy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`re not bombing ourselves here in the country. We were attacked.

O`DONNELL: No, but we are bombing innocent people in other countries, true or false?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But — but…

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Christians are not threatening to kill us~!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, we`re talking about…

(CROSSTALK)

O`DONNELL: Well Iran never threatened to kill us, and Iraq — Iran is a danger. Iraq and Afghanistan never threatened to kill us, ever.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH: Oh! The reaction was swift, with one Washington minister calling the comments dangerous and demanding an immediate apology from Rosie and ABC. Now, I was flooded with e-mails agreeing with O`Donnell and suggesting she was being attacked because of her sexual orientation. Of course, were Rosie O`Donnell to deliver such a rant in an Islamic republic, chances are very good she`d be flogged for her words and stoned to death in a soccer stadium for being a lesbian. Here, we can all thank God that even people like Rosie O`Donnell have the right to say what they want, as do we, which we`ll do right now with Jennifer Pozner. She`s a media analyst and founder of Women in the Media. We also have Rachel Sklar. She`s media analyst for the Huffingtonpost, and Jack Burkman. He`s a Republican strategist.

Jack, I`ll start with you. Your take on Rosie`s comments.

JACK BURKMAN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Boy, Joe, I think it`s one of the most mindless and terrible things ever said on American television! I think this is so serious, I`m shocked that she`s still on the air. I`m shocked that that show is still on the air.

SCARBOROUGH: Wait, wait, wait! Wait. Hold it a second. Why are you shocked? Because after she said — well, first of all, I got a lot of e- mails last night from people who supported Rosie O`Donnell, and when she made that statement — there you go. You hear that audience applauding?

BURKMAN: Well…

SCARBOROUGH: The audience actually applauded.

BURKMAN: You have a lot of very sick and mindless people in that audience and perhaps in that area. You know, I saw your interview with Bernie Kerik Monday night. What a good job. She`s spitting on the graves, Joe, of the thousands of people who died in the World Trade Center. Just thinking of my friend, Barbara Olson, of those people…

SCARBOROUGH: Well, how is she doing…

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH: How is she doing that? Because, I mean, she`s attacking Christians, but…

BURKMAN: Al Qaeda! Al Qaeda, Joe, is a group that killed thousands of people. They would, if they could, nuke every city in the United States, perhaps the Western world. If bin Laden could, he would…

SCARBOROUGH: Well, no doubt…

BURKMAN: … he would kill — he would kill tens of millions of people!

SCARBOROUGH: No doubt about that. You`re arguing — you`re not — you`re arguing a point that I think most of us would agree with, that they want to kill as many of us as possible.

BURKMAN: But the comparison. And that`s on the one side. For her to suggest that people who would attack abortion clinics of whatever kinds of things they`re doing in this country, for her to make the equation, my goodness gracious! That`s the moral equivalent of coming out on national television and saying you love Adolf Hitler!

SCARBOROUGH: Well, there is…

BURKMAN: Joe I would — I would…

SCARBOROUGH: … absolutely — there`s no absolutely — there`s absolutely no moral equivalence there. But Rachel…

BURKMAN: But she has made that!~

SCARBOROUGH: No, I know she has.

BURKMAN: She has made that.

SCARBOROUGH: I know she has. And Rachel, I want to ask you, you analyze the media a good bit for the Huffingtonpost. I mean, that`s your job. Do you think Rosie O`Donnell`s words rose to the level of bigotry by today`s media standards?

RACHEL SKLAR, HUFFINGTONPOST.COM: Not at all. I mean, she did not come out against Christianity. She came out against radical Christianity. She came out against radical extremism of all forms, and…

SCARBOROUGH: What is radical Christianity?

SKLAR: … that is the common denominator. Radical Christianity is someone like Fred Phelps (ph), standing at military funerals and holding up signs saying, “God hates fags.”

SCARBOROUGH: OK…

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH: OK, hold on a second. Rachel, fine. That is extraordinary offensive. It`s offensive because he`s using those funerals, basically, blaming American troops that have died for…

SKLAR: But we`re talking about the extreme. We`re talking about the extreme…

SCARBOROUGH: I know we`re talking about the extreme. But idiots like that aren`t responsible for the death of 3,000 people on 9/11 or 2,000 people injured in Madrid or…

POZNER: Yes, but Joe…

SCARBOROUGH: … or 55 people killed in Britain or…

POZNER: But Joe, idiots like that on the extreme side of the fringe bastardizing Christianity…

SCARBOROUGH: Right.

POZNER: … who consider themselves and call themselves and are very well funded radical Christians are responsible for the deaths of many people over a number of years…

BURKMAN: But Rachel, are you –

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH: Hold it a second. Let me stop right here. Hold on. Jennifer…

JENNIFER POZNER, MEDIA ANALYST: Yes?

SCARBOROUGH: Give me numbers. I don`t want speeches. I don`t want stories. How many Americans have been killed by Christian extremists this year?

POZNER: This — I — the statistics that I have are between 99 and 2000, there were — you know, I had them at my fingertips yesterday, but there were somewhere between 20 or so bombings and somewhere around 8 attempted murders and deeply, gravely wounded people…

SCARBOROUGH: OK, OK…

POZNER: … but over decades, 500 — you remember — Joe, do you remember after 9/11, when we in the media were all in a panic about the anthrax letters that had been sent to [media outlets]…

SCARBOROUGH: Right.

POZNER: … media outlets? Well, for — if we in the media had paid attention to the terrorism on America — on American soil, home-grown terrorists have…

BURKMAN: Joe, let me…

POZNER: … sent 500 anthrax letters before 9/11 [to women’s health centers]…

SCARBOROUGH: OK, I want to…

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH: OK, guys, I want to — OK, hold on, Jack. Here`s my point. It`s certainly not that Christian extremists should be forgiven. They are — Christian extremists that go out and threaten to bomb abortion clinics are despicable. But at the same time…

POZNER: Right. We all agree.

SCARBOROUGH: Hold on. But at the same time, we`re talking about Rosie O`Donnell saying that Christian extremists are as much a danger as Islamic extremists, and “The New York Times” just reported a few months ago that Muslim radicals killed on average 110 civilians every day, on average, in Iraq. That`s 110 people killed every day not by American bombs but by Muslim extremists.

POZNER: So…

SCARBOROUGH: And if you add up all of the people that have been killed by Muslim extremists through the years, there is just no — there`s no proportionality. There`s no balance~!

BURKMAN: But Joe, I think we should get a “yes or no” answer from your guests. Are they suggesting — are they arguing that there should be a direct comparison between al Qaeda and radical Christians who would bomb abortion clinics? And I want a “yes or no” answer from each of them~! Is that what they`re saying?

SCARBOROUGH: Well, before they answer that question, Jack, let me ask you. Do you think radical Christians who blow up abortion clinics are doing a morally reprehensible thing?

BURKMAN: Oh, absolutely…

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH: OK, so you agree with that. But…

BURKMAN: Oh, there`s no question.

SCARBOROUGH: But we`re talking about proportionality there. Do you think, Rachel Sklar, that there`s a proportionality between Islamic extremists who just, again, kill thousands of people every month, and radical Christians, a few scattered freaks that blow up abortion clinics maybe once every two or three years?

SKLAR: I`m not going to get into proportionality discussions…

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH: Hold on. That`s what this is about because…

SKLAR: I don`t think that is what this is about!

SCARBOROUGH: … Rosie O`Donnell compared Christian extremists to Muslim extremists, said they were just as dangerous to America.

SKLAR: Radical to radical, and well they are dangerous to America. They`re extremely dangerous to America.

SCARBOROUGH: Are they as dangerous to America…

SKLAR: Anti-abortion…

SCARBOROUGH: Are they as dangerous to America…

SKLAR: … anti-condom use…

SCARBOROUGH: … as Islamic extremists?

SKLAR: Check.

SCARBOROUGH: Now, come on. You got to answer my question. Rachel Sklar…

SKLAR: Are they as dangerous…

SCARBOROUGH: … are Christian extremists as dangerous to America as Muslim extremists?

SKLAR: I`m going to stick to my guns and say that radical extremism in any for any religion…

SCARBOROUGH: Is bad.

SKLAR: … taken to the extreme…

SCARBOROUGH: Fine.

SKLAR: … is dangerous. Now, are we going to…

SCARBOROUGH: Is dangerous?

SKLAR: Are we going to say — obviously, we have a very obvious example here of al Qaeda and Muslim extremism, and I`m not going to sit down here and argue that that`s not [a huge concern]…

BURKMAN: Rachel, do you know of any…

SKLAR: … a huge concern.

BURKMAN: … Christians — do you know of any Christians who would like to see nuclear — even the radical ones, even the ones who hit abortion clinics — do you know of any of those who are involved in systematic, deliberate and concerted efforts to obtain nuclear devices to kill millions of people in cities? Do you know of any?

SKLAR: I`m happy to say that they don`t…

POZNER: You know what…

(CROSSTALK)

SKLAR: … my acquaintance, no.

BURKMAN: But do you know of any?

SCARBOROUGH: But — and of course, the point — Jack, actually, your point is, again, that you do have Osama bin Laden, you do have other Muslim terror groups that would like to acquire those weapons, that are trying to acquire those weapons so they can kill millions of people in New York…

POZNER: Joe…

SCARBOROUGH: … and Los Angeles…

POZNER: Can I jump in here?

(CROSSTALK)

POZNER: I`d like to jump in here, Joe.

SCARBOROUGH: Go ahead.

POZNER: Because I — around — on this issue, I think that we`re conflating a number of things. If you — it`s really an issue — if you`re saying it`s an issue of scale, then it`s about a matter of who you are. If you`re a woman in Pensacola, as you said yesterday, you`d seen those bombings in Pensacola abortion clinics — if you`re a woman in Pensacola or in any number of states that have been subjected to this kind of anti- abortion terrorism in this country carried out in the name of…

SCARBOROUGH: Right.

POZNER: … a bastardized version of Christianity, you fear for your life…

SCARBOROUGH: OK, but…

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH: But let me tell you this…

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH: OK, but hold on. And I`m glad you brought up Pensacola because I live in Pensacola. I`ve got three children in Pensacola. I`ve got two in Pensacola. And now I`ve got one that goes to college in New York. If I had to weigh the dangers between my children living in Pensacola or my child that goes to school in New York, I`m a little more concerned about the student that goes to New York because of the terror attacks…

POZNER: But it depends. If you`re…

SCARBOROUGH: … in New York.

BURKMAN: Joe, this is so serious…

POZNER: But if your kid were in Pensacola…

(CROSSTALK)

POZNER: … was 17, if she had to go to a women`s health clinic…

SCARBOROUGH: All right…

POZNER: -even just for a check-up, right…

SCARBOROUGH: OK, but…

POZNER: … and then there were those people who would bomb…

SCARBOROUGH: I understand, and that`s a good point.

POZNER: … that clinic…

SCARBOROUGH: And let me answer that question, too. If I had a daughter who was 18 years old, she went to an abortion clinic or she went to a women`s health care clinic…

POZNER: Even just for a check-up.

SCARBOROUGH: … in Pensacola, Florida, I would not be nervous because I would have to go all the way back to, I think, like, 1992, 1993 to find an instance where an abortion clinic was bombed. And I mean, that`s a huge difference. Whereas all I have to do is look in the newspapers today, and I can show you an instance of where 55 people were blown up by Muslim terrorists today.

POZNER: All over the country…

SKLAR: I don`t think any…

(CROSSTALK)

POZNER: All over the country, there are these instances of violence. And Rachel`s absolutely right. Nobody is saying, Rachel or I — neither of us, and I don`t think anyone who supported Rosie`s comments — are saying that there was any excuse in any way, shape or form for the terrorism that was carried out on 9/11 and the terrorism that is carried out in the name of Islamic fascism.

BURKMAN: Well…

POZNER: But we`re also saying that, as Rosie said and as the discussion on “The View” was a little broader, that the response to that terrorism by U.S. foreign policy has been to kill other innocent people, and that`s…

BURKMAN: No, wait! Are you…

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH: Hold on a second! Hold on a second! The response right now in Iraq — our biggest problem in Iraq is not that Americans are shooting at and killing Iraqis. It`s that Muslim extremists are blowing up children, Muslim extremists are blowing up women, Muslim extremists are blowing up any civilians…

POZNER: As are U.S. bombs!

SCARBOROUGH: … they can blow up. No, they aren`t! Shi`ites are killing Sunnis, and Sunnis are killing Shi`ites.

BURKMAN: Joe, if I…

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH: Hold on a second! Stop! The Brookings Institute says that 75 percent of the deaths that are occurring in Iraq every day are occurring because of sectarian violence, Muslim extremists killing Muslim civilians. Now…

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH: I need a yes or a no answer, and then we got to go. Rachel, yes or no. Do you believe that Christian extremists pose as much of a threat to American safety today as Islamic extremists? Yes or no.

SKLAR: I don`t believe that, but I also believe that if you adopt…

SCARBOROUGH: OK, well, you mention…

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH: We all agree — you`re saying something we all agree.

SKLAR: Oh, good.

SCARBOROUGH: We all agree that Christian…

SKLAR: I`m so glad.

SCARBOROUGH: … extremists are dangerous. We set that out at the beginning. Jennifer, I`ll ask you the same question, yes or no. Do you think Christian extremists pose as much of a threat to the safety and wellbeing of Americans as Islamic extremists today?

POZNER: It depends on which American safety you`re talking about.

BURKMAN: Wow!

SCARBOROUGH: Any American safety.

BURKMAN: Wow!

POZNER: It really depends. If you`re a woman who needs health care, then — then yes, but if…

SCARBOROUGH: OK…

POZNER: But if…

SCARBOROUGH: Jack Burkman…

POZNER: … you`re a New Yorker, maybe not.

SCARBOROUGH: All right, Jack Burkman, I know your answer. I`m going to ask you this question.

BURKMAN: Yes?

SCARBOROUGH: Do you think there will be a boycott against ABC by advertisers and Christian groups that will force Rosie O`Donnell to either apologize or get off the air?

BURKMAN: Oh, probably not because everybody wimps out. But I`ll tell you, Joe, let`s start one right now. I`ll call for one right now. If she`s not off the air in seven days, will you join me right now in a — in calling for a national boycott?

SCARBOROUGH: You always…

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH: We got to go. We got to go. Thanks so much, Jennifer, Rachel, Jack. No, Jack, I won`t call for a boycott, but I will tell everybody to call ABC right now, write ABC, send e-mails to ABC and make Rosie O`Donnell apologize for those outrageous comments that showed — I mean, they were stupid, but they were also dangerous. They showed a bigotry and an intolerance that ABC needs to apologize for. Bigotry and intolerance! Bigotry and intolerance! That`s what Rosie O`Donnell was guilty of! Coming up — the same type of bigotry and intolerance that she attacks.

One Response to “Transcript from Scarborough Country 9/14: WIMN’s Jennifer Pozner & Huffington Post’s Rachel Sklar debate Jack Burkman, GOP sex scandal king”

  1. IGLU
    September 10th, 2014 05:28
    1

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