|Donahue for July 22
|Read the complete transcript for Mondays show.
|THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PHIL DONAHUE, HOST: I want to show you a picture. This is 13-year-old Noah. While reenacting the video game Mortal Kombat, he was stabbed to death by his friend.
This is 15-year-old Casey. She, along with three of her fellow students, were killed in a school shooting. She was shot in the back of the head-an area of the body that one video game calls the kill zone. So you get to learn about the kill zone if you do video games.
Joining us is Daphne White, who believes that violent videos make violent children. Shes here with Dr. Henry Jenkins, whose studies conclude that violent videos by themselves do not cause violence.
Well, now, Mrs. Wilson-Mrs. White, forgive me. You heard your son say, kill him, kill him. What got you involved?
DAPHNE WHITE, LION & LAMB PROJECT: Well, when my son was about 4, he was playing a handheld video game with a friend of his. And he said to me, mom, can I play this game? And I said, OK, let me see it. He said, its not violent, mom, dont worry.
Within two seconds-because he didnt have a Game Boy at home, he wasnt doing it fast enough-his friend was saying, kill him, kill him, because he wasnt killing fast enough. That got my attention.
DONAHUE: Let me show you-this happens to be the No. 1 video game out there today, Grand Theft Auto III. You may even know about this. It says M on it, mature. Yes, we are rating.
Just take a look at some of this. Here is a video game where-now, look at this. Wham, bam. Well get the blood here in just a minute. Heres random shooting, explosion. Now, youre manipulating this. You have to assume that youve got the joystick and youre able to run around and create all this mayhem.
And, that alone is going to cause fatalities? Youre going to have a hard time convincing some people of that, you know? Although it is true, when I grew up, I mean, I had buddies who would go bonk, beep, bam. We watched The Three Stooges. So if we see that, we behave that way. Thats your feeling?
WHITE: Well, first of all, its a long time. Its a long way since the three stooges.
WHITE: Second of all, no one is saying that one thing is going to make a child become a killer. But unfortunately, what made me start an organization is its not just one game. Its not just video games.
Its video games, its movies, its computer games, arcade games, television, toys. Its a whole marketing industry thats spending billions of dollars to market violence to children. Thats what were concerned about. The whole...
DONAHUE: Dr. Jenkins, you would say in response?
HENRY JENKINS, MIT PROFESSOR: First of all, I think Daphnes organization does a good job in educating parents about some of the material thats out there in the market. This game is rated M. Its a game that was never intended to be used by children. And I dont think parents who are making reasonable choices would give that to children of a relatively young age.
WHITE: Unfortunately, parents dont have the chance often to make that choice. These games are being marketed to children. And a report just came out by the Federal Trade Commission, which showed-Ive got a copy of it.
DONAHUE: Go ahead.
WHITE: Which showed that a lot of these violent video games are marketed to children. Ill get it here. And in the first FDC report, they found that one quarter of children ages 11 to 16 said one of these M-rated games are their favorites. These games are still being marketed to them today.
JENKINS: On the other hand, the same MTC research is showing that something like 80 percent of video game purchases are mediated through parents. The question is putting more information in the hands of parents so they can make a reasonable decision about the kinds of material thats appropriate for their children.
WHITE: I totally agree with that. And I do think parents need to be responsible and make decisions. My question to you then, Henry, is why does the industry oppose every time theres a piece of legislation-which theres been in Indianapolis and St. Louis and one in the Congress right now-which would put the decision in the hands of parents, which would make it illegal to sell adult-rated games to children, just like we dont sell cigarettes and alcohol to children.
Every time theres a piece of legislation to give parents the power, which is what we want, industry fights it. Why?
JENKINS: I would make a distinction between the function of ratings for education and the functions of ratings for regulation. I think the decision, ratings are not a scientific measurement. Theyre a statement of values. The minute we turn them into a regulatory structure, we take away the right of parents to make decisions based on their own values.
DONAHUE: I confess to being conflicted on this. I believe in free speech. I believe in the First Amendment. But I ask our viewers now to take a look at this one. Were going to kill a cop, or more than one cop, and a prostitute. Watch this. This is Grand Theft Auto III.
And, now, theres the prostitute dressed, halter top. Now were going on a rampage here. Boom. This is gratuitous violence here. Were beating, beating. Well get a little blood here in a minute. The blood, youll see. Look at this. You win by beating people up.
JENKINS: Well, not quite, Phil. This is not a game in which you score points or rack up, where you have to push your way through a certain level. Its a very open-ended game where in fact you can choose to run an ambulance. You can run a fire truck. You can do a variety of things.
WHITE: You can hijack an ambulance. You can hijack a police car.
JENKINS: Absolutely. And I think one of the challenges is were not going to get rid of violence in storytelling. Every story telling medium in the history of the world has included violence.
The question is, can we get it to the level where theres a question of choice and consequence? And while I dont approve of a lot of the content of Grand Theft Auto III, it is a step forward in terms of the art of game design. Because it is more open-ended, more flexible, and therefore forces people to think about the choices theyre doing and the consequences of their actions.
WHITE: If you kill the prostitute, you get more health points. When you steal cars, you get more money. There are no consequences. In 98 percent of these games, there are no consequences.
DONAHUE: I think that the professor is trying to make the point that in games which he would approve, its not just life or death. Its requiring you to think and perhaps make decisions which wont be quite as violent-do I understand?
WHITE: Which games would you be talking about?
JENKINS: I dont think the market is there yet. Ill be frank with you.
JENKINS: One of the things that Im doing is going out to the game industry and doing creative workshops to get them to think about the question of violence, and push forward the art of game design. Because I think part of the reason the game violence is trivial right now in many cases, is because were in an early stage of development in a medium that has richer potentials that weve realized so far. And so I dont approve of the regulatory response, but I do want to see creative solutions to the question of banal violence in games.
DONAHUE: Yes, let me show you the game ratings here. You may already know this. Incidentally, this is-this brings in more money than the movie industry.
WHITE: The video game industry, not this particular game.
DONAHUE: Right, this industry brings in more money than movies.
WHITE: And this game won the game of the year, the Oscar given by the industry, the Game Developing Association, made that game of the year this year.
JENKINS: But it didnt win it because of its violence. It won it because of the open-ended landscape...
WHITE: The industry talks about technology. Youre talking about technology. Im talking, as a parent, about the fact that this is marked to my child. Every child knows about this game. Very few parents know about this game.
DONAHUE: Here are the game ratings. You may know this. EC, if its early childhood, ages 3 and up. E is for everybody, 6 and up. T for teens, M, mature. And incidentally, the prostitute and the cop, thats a mature. And then, adults only.
Well talk with a mother who has more than a passing interest in this issue. And for her its too late, but shell tell us what happened and why she, herself, would line up with Mrs. White. Well be back in a moment.
DONAHUE: Were back with Daphne White, whos opposed to video games, and MIT Professor Henry Jenkins, whose studies report videos do not cause violence.
Mrs. Wilson, can you hear me?
ANDREA WILSON, CONNECTICUT: Yes.
DONAHUE: Mrs. Wilson, how old was your son, Noah, when he died?
WILSON: Noah was 13 years old.
DONAHUE: He was stabbed, is that correct?
WILSON: Yes, he was.
DONAHUE: He was stabbed in the manner of a stabbing that you discovered to be included in the Mortal Kombat game.
WILSON: Yes. The boy who stabbed him was acting out the part of Cyrex. There were four boys that were there in the group in total. The boys were on their way to one of the boys house so that Noah could call me to ask my permission to go and see the movie, Mortal Kombat:
They had played the game numerous times, although I cant say that I was aware of it. It wasnt allowed in my house. And I know that they would-you know, Noah would have money. Hes 13 years old. It was the middle of the daytime. Hed be home at night.
WILSON: Hed go to play football. Theyd go for ice cream. And I guess they played video games. And one of the games that they played was Mortal Kombat. And the boy who stabbed him was acting out the part of Cyrex.
DONAHUE: This took place in Norwalk, Connecticut. We should say that a lawsuit is under way. You know, Mrs. Wilson, that youre appearing with a woman who shares your anxiety, and with Dr. Jenkins from MIT, who feels that these video games are getting kind of mauled over by righteous people who have very little respect for the First Amendment.
I must say, you get my attention with that. But...
WILSON: Well, Noah was an actor. He was in the Screen Actors Guild (UNINTELLIGIBLE). And, let me tell you something. I feel very strongly in the right for people to be able to express themselves with speech. I do not, however, feel that in any way, manner, shape or form, violent video games, or any kind of video games, really, are speech. Theyre programs. And theyre programs that people interact with.
DONAHUE: Right. Let me, Mrs. Wilson, show one more time the nature of-this happens to be Grand Theft Auto III. I mean, whats violent to you? Remember, youre controlling these figures with your handheld consul. And heres a cop. Theres a cop being offed, as they say.
And before that, we saw-I mean, a prostitute. And I guess you want the audience to know that kids are upstairs in their rooms playing this, often with no knowledge on the part of their parents.
WHITE: Because the industry is, very directly and in a very concerted way, spending millions of dollars to market it to children, bypassing parents.
By the way, I do not oppose video games. Its that I oppose the marketing of violent video games to children. I dont oppose the games themselves. And I dont oppose adults playing them and I support the First Amendment.
DONAHUE: Dr. Jenkins, are you remunerated at all by the video game industry? Do they pay you for your testimony?
JENKINS: I have sponsored research relations with some game companies to develop games for education. Im not paid to do testimony. Im not paid to be speaking in a program of this sort. Were working with the industry to try to promote the development of some new directions for games, including the use of games for education.
DONAHUE: Right, OK. Were not suggesting...
WILSON: You know what would be really interesting?
WILSON: Theres a doctor in Iowa, Dr. Craig Anderson, who has done studies on the effects of violent games with children.
DONAHUE: Very little time. Youll make your point, because I have to run.
WILSON: I would love to see these two gentlemen do a debate.
JENKINS: Ive debated him.
DONAHUE: He already has.
But, just so we-without confusing people, you are legally, nobody is saying you should be handcuffed for this. But do you enjoy an income from the people who make these games.
JENKINS: I dont accept any personal salary off of any of my research.
DONAHUE: All right. We have a caller, I believe, from New Jersey, is that right? Are you Beth?
DONAHUE: You wanted to say?
CALLER: I dont agree with the theory that these games have enough of an influence on these teens to make them into killers. They have to have some influence by themselves, like they have to be violent enough to be able to...
DONAHUE: I think even Mrs. White agrees that there are certain young
people who may be predisposed to violence, where others arent. To be
sure, millions of kids are playing these games. Millions of kids are not -
how old are you?
DONAHUE: Let me just show you the other-do you know that 72 percent of those who play games are what? Male. Should we be surprised? Well, are you getting anywhere with this effort, Mrs. White?
WHITE: Well, I have an organization called the Lion & Lamb Project.
And if I could give out our Web site, because people can look up Dr. Andersons research and lots of other research. Its lionlamb.org. And I think hundreds of thousands of people are looking at our Web site constantly. And I think we just have to (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the choice.
JENKINS: The question is, what can we do to increase educated choice by parents? That, we agree on. The question whether there should be a regulatory solution that bans certain works from circulation...
WHITE: Im all for industry self-regulation if it works. But all these years, the industry is now $10 billion a year domestically. Its bigger than that, internationally.
DONAHUE: I have time only to thank you.
WHITE: Self regulation hasnt worked. If you want to make it work, great. But it hasnt.
DONAHUE: Thank you both.
The market drops another 230 points. When we return, well talk to investors who have lost their nest eggs in just a moment.
DONAHUE: The stock market, once a celebrated way to gain wealth, is now creating hardships for many. From Chicago, please meet Valerie Beck, who lost just about everything to the stock market. And joining us from Boston to shed some light on todays economic state is Ellen Frank, a professor of economics at Emmanuel College.
Well, first, Miss Beck, here you are, Harvard law grad. Everything your folks wanted you to be.
VALERIE BECK, LOST $50K IN THE MARKET: Yes.
DONAHUE: Well, youre joining a lot of very well-educated, bright people in this spot. You put 20 grand into the stock market in 1998. And it did grown, didnt it?
BECK: Yes, it did. It grew up to $50,000. I thought, well, this is moving in the right direction. But it was certainly not a pleasure to see my burgeoning retirement account crash down to zero.
I put money there, as so many of us did, because most people in my generation certainly dont count on Social Security to be there for us. I think a lot of us see it as a pyramid scheme. The last one in is not going to make any money. And if I tried to run an operation like that out of my home, Id be put in prison.
So, we went to mutual funds. Thats what all of the literature and books and respected individuals seemed to say. And I know Id watched my granddad invest very successfully. He had seen the 1929 crash and yet he still had faith in the market. He was able to retire early. And I thought, well, I can do this. And I have just felt defrauded and really just left high and dry.
DONAHUE: Youre 32 years old, Miss Beck. Youre saying you do not believe you will get Social Security. Do I understand you?
BECK: Oh, absolutely. I dont know any of my friends who believe were going to get any Social Security.
DONAHUE: You think its a pyramid scheme.
BECK: I certainly do. Its the sort of thing...
DONAHUE: The last people in lose.
BECK: Exactly. Thats the definition of a pyramid scheme. No product is sold. Its an investment game, and its illegal.
DONAHUE: And you read that several years ago and you said, Im not going to count on this. Im going to get smart and invest. Why did-and was-it grew to $50 grand in a 401(k) is that right?
BECK: Thats right. Thats absolutely right. And I just left that in the hand of the money managers.
DONAHUE: Right. Did you have too much in one stock or were you reasonably diversified?
BECK: I was reasonably diversified. I tried to follow everything by the book, and yet it still crashed.
DONAHUE: Well, youve heard this before, Professor Frank. And I know youre going to tell us that our problem was that happy days were here again in the 90s and nobody was looking ahead, or there were very few naysayers.
ELLEN FRANK, PROF. OF ECONOMICS: Well, its really interesting to hear somebody describe Social Security as a pyramid scheme. Because Social Security is exactly what the stock market and 401(k) accounts are not. Social Security is what is known as a pay-as-you-go system.
Current workers pay into it. They take care of their elders. The elderly are cared for by the younger generation who, in turn, will depend on the next generation behind them to take care of them.
So, if your guest, a 32-year-old guest, is worried about Social Security, then she must be worried about her children or her future children and their childrens willingness to take care of her when she retires. I have much more faith in my children and in the younger generation, the generation behind me, than I do in the stock market, which is indeed a pyramid scheme.
In fact, the way the stock market has worked for the last decade or so is that money has poured into the market. And the biggest source of that money is exactly these mutual funds and 401(k) and retirement accounts that people have opened, looking for extraordinary gains. Looking for gains that are greater than the growth in the economy. Hoping to get rich and to bypass the problems of-the problem of Social Security.
The problem, of course, is that so much money poured into the market, that prices got bid up beyond all expectations or all possibilities of what could actually be realized once people started cashing them out.
FRANK: Stocks were...
DONAHUE: Im-a computer break forces me to interrupt you just briefly. You will be back. More on the stock market when we return, in just a moment.
DONAHUE: Were back talking about the effect the stock market plunge is having on your investments and everybody elses, including the investments of Valerie Beck who lost $50,000. Were also with Ellen Frank, a professor of economics at Emanuel College.
Valerie, you heard Professor Frank. Did you want to respond to her point?
BECK: Yes. Yes, I would love to. I certainly appreciate what the professor is saying and I certainly do know people who do look at the stock market as a get rich quick scheme. I think most of us though are very responsible about it. The reason I dont depend on Social Security to be there for me in 30-odd years when Ill be ready for it, Ive seen the cuts that have happened. My mother, who is a schoolteacher, is not going to be getting any Social Security when she retires.
And so, I really think I would be a fool to rely on something thats not there for my mother now. Why would it be there for me 30-odd years from now? As for the market, it seemed that that would be the only place. Can I ask you, professor, where should I put my money? Im tempted to just stick it in the mattress. Im not sure where its going to be safer than that. Ive really taken the view now that the entire economic boom of the 90s has really just been a numbers game.
DONAHUE: Well, not only that but a numbers game in which the suits bailed out in the year 2000, long before the crash.
BECK: Absolutely. Absolutely. They have their golden parachutes in place and were left holding the bag.
DONAHUE: Professor, you wanted to say?
ELLEN FRANK, EMANUEL COLLEGE: Thats exactly the problem. Whats happened in the market in the last decade is that prices got bid up and what people dont understand about stocks is that if one person sells a share of General Electric at $80, then all General Electric shares, all millions of General Electric shares are revalued to $80. And so the solution of wealth creation occurs, so everybodys portfolio looks more valuable.
But when people actually try to cash that out to get that $80, to actually sell the stock and get the cash so they can use to it live on, then prices start to tumble. And what we saw happen in the last couple of years is that the problems inherent in the market, the problems that anybody who really understood the market could see that prices were way too high, that nobody, not everybody was going to be able to realize these gains, these paper gains, those were understood by insiders earlier than they were understood by the rest of us, the small investors, the people with 401(k)s. And they sold out and they got theirs and left everybody else to suffer losses.
DONAHUE: Let me get a call on here. Eric (ph), are you there, from Mississippi?
CALLER: Im here.
DONAHUE: Go ahead.
CALLER: The stock market is no question the best place to be investing money. People are focused on the past year or two, which has been slightly negative.
DONAHUE: Yes, slightly.
CALLER: But over the long term, theres no question. Social Security, a diversified stock portfolio is going to outperform anything.
DONAHUE: Well, youre in the minority.
BECK: How do you get our trust back?
DONAHUE: Miss Beck, you were saying?
BECK: How will we get our trust back? I do believe that everything is cyclical. Of course, this is a strong nation. People work hard. Im not sure that we have a misperception about the stock market and how it works. I really feel that weve been sold a faulty pair of goods. You know, it looked like silk, turns out to be polyester. All these corporate shenanigans, accounting fraud, how is it going to bounce back? How will we get our trust back? DONAHUE: Did you want to try to take a swing at that, professor? Hows it going to bounce back?
FRANK: Well, I think - its probably not going to bounce back for a number of years. I mean remember that after the crash of 29, stocks didnt reach their pre-crash level until the 1960s. Sometimes it takes many, many years for stocks to come back.
In fact, if we were to see historical rates of returns, an average rate of return of seven percent between 1980 and whenever, then it will take another 25 years to get back to normal...
BECK: So, what do I do?
FRANK: ...because weve been seeing returns of 15 percent and 20 percent and in some cases 80 percent. I mean returns that were completely out of line with anything realistic.
FRANK: And the question, of course, that Valerie is asking is what do people do, and its a very good question but its not a question that I think ultimately people can answer individually. I think the basic problem here is that we as a society have left people on their own and said, well you know, you want to live for 20 years without working after the age of 65. You want to put your kids through college. Do it yourself.
FRANK: Were not going to help you. Nobodys going to help you. The only way that people can solve these kinds of problems, where we really, really require resources from the whole society, is if the whole society gets behind us and that means that we have to put more resources into things like Social Security, not less.
FRANK: More resources into things like public higher education, not less.
DONAHUE: And more resources into...
FRANK: And stop looking at...
DONAHUE: ...into regulatory agencies, more teeth into the...
BECK: The criminals are getting away with it. If I go around writing bad checks, Ill end up in prison. Weve had a lot of bad checks written by companies in terms of fraudulent balance sheets. So many companies now are saying that they need to go back and restate.
Arent they admitting that they did something wrong? Sure, buyer beware. Maybe we all could have, you know, been a little bit more sensitive to this inflationary bubble. But you know, they presented us this beautiful palace of emeralds and diamonds and we got cubic zirconia in the end. Whos going to pay for this?
FRANK: And people got fleeced.
FRANK: And the people who got fleeced are largely the workers of the very same firms.
FRANK: And the $1.2 billion that Enron executives took out of the firm in the last year before bankruptcy is exactly equal to the amount that the employees lost in their retirement accounts. Lucent employees had 17 percent of their retirement accounts invested in Lucent stock, which is now trading at about $1.50. So, the insiders knew what was going to happen and they sold out early and got out with actual cash and left everybody else holding just paper.
DONAHUE: Well, this should put to bed forever the notion of privatizing Social Security, or is there something Im not understanding?
FRANK: Lets hope so.
DONAHUE: I mean - but I have to say also, Professor Frank, youre the second economist weve had on our brief run here and both of you are saying the same thing. We should have known, but nobody was out there saying this during the boom.
DONAHUE: Including you. Now maybe thats because you werent invited. Im asking, I dont know. Can you imagine going on the air in 1999, for example, happy days are here again, before all this happened to us, and saying be careful? No one did that. It was fading on itself, this energy.
FRANK: I think that the media actually and programs like your own, not that I blame your own because you werent on the air then, but many, many programs, especially the financial networks that were arising in the last few years, are very much to blame in this.
FRANK: In fact, there were people saying it cant last. Robert Schiller (ph) of Yale wrote a book in 1998 or 1999 saying it couldnt last.
FRANK: Dean Baker of the Center for Economic Policy Priorities said it couldnt last.
FRANK: I wrote an article a couple of years ago saying it couldnt last but we werent the ones who were being asked.
DONAHUE: Professor, let me - let me get one more, Professor, one more real live investor here before we have to break. Osman Guven is his name. Hes a former WorldCom employee who had $380,000 in the stock market. How much do you have now, Mr. Guven?
OSMAN GUVEN, FMR. WORLDCOM EMPLOYEE: About $3,000.
DONAHUE: And was most of your stock WorldCom stock?
GUVEN: All of it...
DONAHUE: All of it.
GUVEN: ...was in the WorldCom stock, yes.
DONAHUE: When you started to see it go down, youve worked 12 years.
Youre a systems guy for WorldCom.
DONAHUE: Yes, Im sorry?
DONAHUE: When you saw it going down, youre with us from San Jose, California I should say.
DONAHUE: You just hung on and you said oh, its going to rally? I dont know. Im asking you for your thoughts. How long did it take to get from $380,000 to almost nothing?
GUVEN: Well, its about two years, around two years.
DONAHUE: And, as a loyal employee you didnt want to sell, or could you sell?
GUVEN: Well, I didnt sell it because all the news that I was hearing internally, and all the analysts in the stock market, were always saying that WorldCom was a pretty good, solid company. This is just a period that they are going through, and they will make it, and I did believe that and WorldCom as I still that is still a solid company, except that there is some mismanagement. There was some bad management as far as the accounting.
DONAHUE: Right, but you are no longer employed by WorldCom, correct?
GUVEN: That is correct. Im one of the ones that got laid off on June 28th.
DONAHUE: And did you get a severance?
GUVEN: I got severance, and if I may say it, when I left, I had six months of severance but now that WorldCom is declaring bankruptcy, when I called the hotline, WorldCom Severance Hotline, this morning they told me that the bankruptcy is going to affect the severance. It is under review. You might not get anything.
DONAHUE: Yes. What are you going to do, Osman, if I may call you by your first name? Youre 57. Whats up now for you?
GUVEN: What - I have to start all over again if I can. You know in todays market, work market theres a lot of people out of a job. I mean getting a job at 57, starting all over again, its not going to be easy, and I am really mad that after 31 years, I dont have a single penny in my 401(k). I am about to lose my severance. Wheres my protection? Whos protecting me?
DONAHUE: Uh huh.
GUVEN: Im mad.
DONAHUE: Do you hear this, Professor Frank? I know youve heard it before. You join Miss Beck. You both share the same feelings, and youre saying its going to be years before we can recover and have a positive economy with minimum unemployment?
FRANK: We can have a positive economy with low unemployment. What Im saying is that its probably going to be years before we see the stock prices return to the levels that they hit in 2000. But in the meantime, theres a lot that we can do to protect ourselves, and I think that what we really need to think about is how we can protect each other.
Were all interdependent. We all work together and we need each other, and you know the economy is very volatile, and companies do go bankrupt, and people need to retire, and people need to have savings when they lose their job.
FRANK: And what we need to do as a society is make better provision for them and not expect them to throw everything in the stock market and hope that they get rich and can bypass all this misery.
DONAHUE: Right. Osman, youre still with us?
DONAHUE: Go ahead, you wanted to say?
GUVEN: I wanted to say something. How can I not invest my money in my own company when my company tells me that were doing OK, were a solid company? What do you want me to do? Take my money and invest in some other company? Yes, go ahead.
FRANK: Any financial planner would say that the worst thing that you could do is invest your money in your own company because youre already dependent on your own company for your job, so if something happens to your company, then not only do you lose your job, but you also lose your investment. Its the worst case of putting all your eggs in one basket.
BECK: But my money wasnt in many baskets. My money was in many baskets and I lost it all too. Absolutely. My money wasnt in my law firm. It was in all the mutual funds. What about ethics? I keep hoping that something good is going to come out of this. Is it going to be OK to talk about ethics in terms of business again?
DONAHUE: Uh huh.
GUVEN: Yes, I mean when the company every quarter, every quarter they come out with their earnings that say we earned 60 cents a share, 25 cents, whatever they earned. Its a profitable company. They are making profit. Why wouldnt I invest in it?
DONAHUE: Yes. We hear your frustration, Osman. Someday Ill be Solomon and be able to fix it all for you. I regret - its very difficult to say goodbye to anybody under these circumstances, but that is alas my responsibility now.
Let me just take a moment to say we, this program, will be in Houston talking to Enron employees, WorldCom, Tyco, and others, similarly situated. Thats coming up. The next person coming up is a woman whos been at the White House longer than any president dared to. Shes Helen Thomas and well be back in a moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HELEN THOMAS, DEAN-WHITE HOUSE PRESS CORPS: Thank you, Mr. President.
JOHN F. KENNEDY, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you, Helen.
RONALD REAGAN, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Ms. Thomas has
the first question tonight. And now, Helen, its your turn.
GEORGE BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We should proceed. Helen?
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But now theyre saying thank you, Mr. President. Some of us might never have ended our news conferences.
THOMAS: Do you really think that the American people will tolerate you widening the war beyond Afghanistan, and I have a follow-up?
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you for warning me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DONAHUE: Shes known as the Dean of the White House Press Corps, and has covered nine presidents from Kennedy to Bush. Shes written a new book called Thanks for the Memories, Mr. President. Im pleased to welcome Helen Thomas.
THOMAS: Thank you.
DONAHUE: Youre wearing red. That means I will call on you. Thats a serious statement, isnt it? I mean literally. I know when Leslie Stahl was covering it, you all wore red because...
THOMAS: Because Ronald Reagan liked red.
DONAHUE: Liked to call on those with red. Helen, apparently this president is going to invade Iraq. Tell me your feelings about George W.?
THOMAS: My feelings are he certainly does not have the world with him on this. Theres been no provocation. If hes really got the proof of mass, development of weapons of mass destruction, lay it on out. You know when John F. Kennedy wanted to assure the nation that, indeed, Russia, the Soviet Union had placed missiles in Cuba, we saw films. I wouldnt have been able to tell whether it was a missile or not.
THOMAS: But certainly it was identified that way.
DONAHUE: Is George - Im sorry.
THOMAS: Theres no proof here.
DONAHUE: Right. Is George W. different than his father?
DONAHUE: You think so? The son is different?
THOMAS: Hes so far to the right. His father was a moderate and the Christian right never - the ultra right never really believed he was a moderate, so I think they were always suspicious that he was not quite in their camp.
DONAHUE: But the right, the religious right today, knows theyve got the president?
THOMAS: Very much so.
THOMAS: I mean its unprecedented to have a religious office in the White House. It really breaks down the wall of separation of church and state.
DONAHUE: Yes. Not too many folks are making that observation, Ms.
THOMAS: I am.
DONAHUE: Well, thats one of the reasons we asked you to come here. We also asked you to come here at a time, not only when we appear to be cranking up for war - incidentally, can we not invade Iraq now? Can we huff and puff like this and not go for it?
THOMAS: Oh, I think so. You might try to spook him. Why invade? I mean this is lives were talking about, human beings. War is hell. Most of the people playing this war have never been to war.
DONAHUE: Right. And now we have to ask ourselves why, if this is true, does the American Populous appear to be so immobile, silent?
THOMAS: Fear. Fear of being called unpatriotic.
DONAHUE: I want you to talk more about that when we come back in just a moment.
DONAHUE: Forty-one years, nice run, still going. If you were on Broadway, wed say you had legs.
THOMAS: Every day is a new day.
DONAHUE: Continuing with Helen Thomas, who was the White House Press Correspondent through nine presidents. You were saying - you have a lot of concern about the erosion of civil liberties or the surrendering of them.
DONAHUE: Tell me.
THOMAS: I think the chipping away of our civil liberties is unprecedented. Even in World War II, I never saw anything like that in Washington or any of the wars. I think that people are standing mute, and I remember the rabbi in the March on Washington program. He said that the greatest sin of all in the Nazi era was silence. He had been in a concentration camp for many years. People have got to, they must speak up now or forever hold their peace.
DONAHUE: How do you view - grading your colleagues, has the press been...
THOMAS: Too quiet. I think that theyre too, theyre going along and acquiescing to things that they wouldnt ordinarily, I believe, not if you want to fight for the rights that we all should have, and I dont see any reason to take these rights away.
DONAHUE: Uh huh. Youre right.
THOMAS: I do believe in security. I think we obviously had to tighten security.
DONAHUE: Yes. You know but during World War II, they didnt have to empty Senate office buildings for anthrax. During World War II, we didnt see people running off the White House property after a report that a plane...
THOMAS: Thats true. There is a difference, but at the same time, I mean I think it was Benjamin Franklin said if youre willing to give up your liberties for security...
DONAHUE: You dont have either one.
THOMAS: Youre in danger.
DONAHUE: Yes. So youve never seen then at the Press Corps, even during World War II, as quite as patriotic or how do we say this, rallying around the flag?
THOMAS: Its just amazing to me because theres a certain amount of fear. You dont want to be on the wrong side. You dont want to be considered unpatriotic if you question or dissent and I think thats absolutely necessary in a democracy.
DONAHUE: For 41 years, youve been asking your own questions, and not all of them have endeared you to presidents. So for that and other reasons, first of all your tenure obliges us to listen, and...
THOMAS: Oh, I wouldnt go that far.
DONAHUE: Well, certainly respect what you say. Your stories about president - my guess is that you liked Kennedy better than any of them, huh?
THOMAS: I thought he was the most inspired of all the presidents we had.
DONAHUE: Hes also your first?
THOMAS: Well, actually...
DONAHUE: I mean couldnt everybody go for the guy? I mean all the women.
THOMAS: He had vision. He had his eyes on the stars. He uplifted us all. He made young people know that they should go into public service; give something back to the country.
DONAHUE: Whos your least favorite?
THOMAS: Well, I think that...
DONAHUE: I know you hate to say, but you will.
THOMAS: No, but I think that all of them were well intentioned, but something happened on the way to the forum.
DONAHUE: Uh huh, so you wont give us your...
THOMAS: I think they were all well meant I truly do.
DONAHUE: Right. Ive also heard you say very, very strongly that so many of the presidents youve covered, their downfall was their thin skin. They couldnt handle the criticism, and were often moved to do silly things as a result.
THOMAS: Well, I do think that you have to rise above yourself when youre in the presidency, but its the greatest honor that can come to anyone, and thats the trust of the American people.
DONAHUE: The Press Corps has become louder. Mr. President, Mr. President, and Ive heard White House people say that their own parents are upset that theyre yelling at the president, but those questions are not always going to the heart of the matter. And it seems to me, you...
THOMAS: You know weve only had two full-scale news conferences this year, and thats not enough. So, when you get your chance in the barrel, you start screaming and youre sort of shocked when youre called on.
DONAHUE: Right. And it is true, you know, Clinton didnt have a news conference for many, many months after the inaugural.
THOMAS: Whenever a presidents in trouble, they dont hold news conferences, cant blame them.
DONAHUE: But the American people dont seem to - theres no pressure on them to do a press conference.
THOMAS: No. No there isnt, but there should be because its the only forum in our society where a president can be questioned, and presidents should be questioned. Otherwise, they could be dictators or kings.
DONAHUE: Uh huh. We have to ask why there isnt more screaming about the unavailability of the president from the Press Corps itself. Theyre the ones that would seem to be the biggest...
THOMAS: I think there is an atmosphere since 9/11 that everybody is submitting to, but theres a little breakout now.
DONAHUE: A breakout, meaning?
THOMAS: Yes, theres more questioning and (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
DONAHUE: Its getting easier isnt it?
THOMAS: Well, I think theres much more - theyre being much more critical in terms of the business dealings in the stock market.
DONAHUE: Right. Is the president running the show right now?
THOMAS: I think he certainly makes the ultimate decisions, but he has a very strong cordon or sanitaria advisers.
DONAHUE: Well, we thank you. Thank you, Helen. We thank you for watching. Stay tuned now for HARDBALL. Filling in for Chris Matthews tonight is Mike Barnicle.
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