Jonathan Schwartz found this remarkable transcript of Dan Abrams after Fishbowl DC said they heard he forced David Shuster's apology to Rep. Blackburn that was unwarranted. Kudos to Mike Farrell for trying to bring Dan back to earth during the run up to the Iraq war, but he was out of control. And the media wonders why we blame them for enabling the White House to fool the American people about Saddam.
So how did Abrams become general manager in the first place? Clearly GE executives liked the job he was doing previously as host of The Abrams Report—for instance, his impressive performance in this December 12, 2002 interview with Mike Farrell. (I learned about this from Jeff Cohen's book Cable News Confidential.)
As you'll see, it's no surprise GE decided to elevate Abrams to a key decision-making position. He knows how to get the job done.
DAN ABRAMS, HOST: On the agenda tonight: a new report that Iraq may have given Islamic terrorists nerve gas. If so, could that change a lot of minds about war? We'll ask policymakers, and a even Hollywood star who is leading the anti-war effort, whether this could change everything...
[The story Abrams referred to had been on the Washington Post's front page the day before, and was completely untrue.]
Some of Hollywood's biggest names are urging restraint in the standoff with Iraq. This week, they signed a letter addressed to President Bush asking him to tone down the rhetoric and urged him to find a diplomatic solution to the conflict instead of using military action.
The letter reads, in part: "War talk in Washington is alarming and unnecessary. The valid U.S. and U.N. objective of disarming Saddam Hussein can be achieved through legal diplomatic means. There is no need for war."
But does Iraq's reported sale or gift of chemical weapons to an Islamic extremist group change all of that?
Joining me now is one of the people who signed that letter, a former "M.A.S.H." star, as well as NBC's "Providence," Mike Farrell...
What do you make of this? This new report indicates to me that this, if true, is a very, very serious issue that might warrant a war with Iraq.
FARRELL: Sure. Let me, if I might, ask you to back up just a bit. "If true," you said.
FARRELL: What if it's not true?
ABRAMS: Well, let's start...
FARRELL: No, let's start with the history.
You know and the American people should know that this administration has hired a public relations firm to sell its case on war -- for war on Iraq. If this leak that is, as Secretary Korb simply just pointed out inferentially, if this leak done in the way it is, which doesn't really tie them to it, but may propose the proposition, so that you and others can raise it on television and ratchet up again people's fears, if this report is not true, what does it mean?
And what does it mean to those of us in America who feel that perhaps this administration, as has been called the most secretive in U.S. history, is simply trying to gull us into approving an action that goes against the very principles upon which our democracy is based?
ABRAMS: OK. Now let's go to my question, which is, if it is true, does that change your position? And my concern has always been that this letter was premature, meaning that, right now, what we have seen is the president go to the U.N., get a 15-0 resolution, hasn't attacked Iraq, hasn't gone in unilaterally, maybe doing this as a strategic move to make it clear that the U.S. is serious. If this is true, then would that make you reevaluate and say to yourself: Maybe we were hasty?
FARRELL: Sure. Let me respond to your preamble before I respond to the question.
The president's going to the U.N., as you well know, or I assume you know, was done reluctantly. It was done at the urging of Secretary Powell, against the wishes of most of the hawks in the administration.
ABRAMS: It was done, though. It was done. Who cares why? It was done...Now answer my question, which is, if it's true.
FARRELL: Yes, but you have also -- forgive me -- you have loaded the question with any number of principles leading up to it.
ABRAMS: Forget about the principles. Just answer the...
FARRELL: No, I am not going to forget about the principles. I will answer the question if you will shut up and let me...But let's be fair. The administration has been acting -- the media, forgive me, has been acting as a megaphone for the administration throughout this process.
ABRAMS: You know, that's...How much media are you actually watching on this? Are you really watching a lot of...
FARRELL: When you emblazon your own show with "Showdown With Iraq" or "Countdown on Iraq" and all this other stuff...what is the message that is sent, do you suppose, to the American people?
ABRAMS: The message that is sent is that there has been a U.N. resolution that has given Saddam Hussein a certain amount of time to respond. Saddam Hussein had a timeframe. He had to respond..
Let me bring in Lawrence Korb...Lawrence Korb is someone who you all have cited, because, as I pointed out before, he has been reluctant.
Are you as cynical as Mr. Farrell about the administration, basically suggesting that any possible al Qaeda connection, etcetera, simply would be false?
KORB: Well, I think one has to be cynical about the way that they have released information. For the longest time, they kept trumpeting this idea that there was this meeting in Prague. That turned out not to be true.
And there's the point I made earlier. If in fact this is true, they need to come forward, tell us, not have leaks, unnamed sources, without White House permission. On "60 minutes" last Sunday, they showed that they leaked a story to the paper. Then, all the members then went on television and cited that as a source.
ABRAMS: I agree with you both when it comes to how information is released. The question is, if it is true, it is scary.
FARRELL: Well, yes.
ABRAMS: And that is much more important to me than how it's being released...
FARRELL: Is it important to you that the administration has lied in the past and that we have indications that they're continuing to try and gull us into believing that they are telling the truth?
ABRAMS: I don't know about that.
FARRELL: Well, they have.