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THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP

HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN



JOINED BY: MICHAEL BARONE, TONY BLANKLEY,

ELEANOR CLIFT, AND JAMES WARREN



TAPED FRIDAY, JUNE 18, 1999

AIRED THE WEEKEND OF JUNE 19-20, 1999



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MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue one: Russia's "separate piece." Russia wants a piece of Kosovo, too. NATO has divided the war-torn country into five sectors: Germany, Italy, France, Britain and the U.S.. No zone for Russia. So Russia says, "Hey! Wait a minute! Let's get this straight. Italy gets a sector and we don't, yet we cut the deal to stop the war? France gets a sector and we don't, yet we cut the deal that stopped the war? And who gives NATO the right to assign sectors and leave us out?



"NATO signed U.N. Resolution 1244 last week. That resolution invites Russia to be involved. Quote, 'The Security Council authorizes member states of the U.N.' -- that includes Russia, of course -- 'and relevant international organizations to establish the international security presence in Kosovo,' unquote. We're invited."



"Furthermore, 1244," Russia says, "explicitly stipulates that NATO is not in command. Quote, 'The Security Council authorizes the international security presence with substantial North Atlantic Treaty Organization participation, be deployed under unified command and control,' unquote.



"NATO must be crazy to think that it can keep us from having a sector of Kosovo, or that it can order us around. The unified command and control of the Kosovo international security presence -- that includes NATO nations and other nations -- reports to the U.N. Security Council. Russia is a permanent member of the Security Council, co-equal with the U.S., the U.K., France and China. Last week, Clinton said that the U.N. is in charge. Is Clinton now saying that the U.N. is no longer in charge?"



So asks Russia. These are not empty words. Before the ink was dry on the Brussels-Belgrade peace plan, Russian tanks roared into the Kosovo capital, Pristina, and seized the airport, despite NATO, which was at first dumbfounded, then enraged.



Later in the week, NATO and Russia discussed an agreement at great length and arrived at an arrangement for the distribution of Russian troops in Kosovo. Question: Make no mistake about it, agreement or no agreement, the stand-off between Russia and NATO will be with us for some time to come. How serious is it and how long will it last? James Warren.



MR. WARREN: First of all, it's good find out that Boris Yeltsin is doing some free-lance writing for you guys with that intro. (Laughter.) Very pro-Russian, there. I think --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All I did was quote bona fide U.N. documents, James.



MR. WARREN: No, the fact is, territorial integrity has to be kept of Kosovo. They're not going to slice it up --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, are you re-writing the U.N. --



MR. WARREN: You're not going to --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you re-writing the U.N. resolution?



MR. WARREN: You're not going to slice it up any more. NATO --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: NATO will slice it up enough?



MR. WARREN: The NATO command structure is going to be maintained. The key thing here is giving the Russians something, sort of a psychological balm for a country that right now is very proud but also very screwed up, and has a military that wants to sort of flex their muscles like the old days. But in a practical sense, for sure --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What a patronizing view.



MR. WARREN: In a practical sense, for sure, they've got to try to help keep the Serbian civilians in line and give the Serbians some sense that the whole structure is an impartial one.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony, can you talk sense to this guy, or are you going to echo this blather?



MR. BLANKLEY: I'm not going to quite echo the blather, but the point is, I wouldn't look at the legality, I'd look at the reality. The reality is NATO fought the war, so they get the majority of the spoils; but Russia negotiated the peace and has an inherent power presence in the Balkans, have historically, continue to have, so they're going to get some bit of the action, plus they have the ability through the U.N. to veto and make a mess of this peace if they want to. So it's not a question of patronizingly giving them a bone, it's a question of they have the ability to make things so unpleasant that we have to recognize certain claims but not quite as much as a combatant.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And the Balkans is a sphere of influence of Russia, of course.



MR. BLANKLEY: Nobody has designed Balkan policy for the last 400 years without dealing with Russia.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.


MS. CLIFT: The point is, if you give the Russians their own sector, the minority Serb population, which was only 10 percent before all this broke out, would all be herded together under the protective cover of the Russians, and you would, in effect, have partition. That's what NATO wants to avoid. Jim is right, this is psychological, this is Russia on the couch. They're resentful that they have to come to the West with their hands out. They need to be made to feel important, and they will be.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, yeah, more patronizing talk. This is really so sickening.



But let me ask you this. Let me pick up a point that she has made because she touched upon what is Russia's policy here. What is Russia's larger policy in demanding -- correctly, I believe -- a sector in Kosovo?



MR. BARONE: Well, that depends on, you know, how Boris Yeltsin is getting along and whether he's got a hangover at a given time and who the minister --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, can we stop the shots against --



MR. BARONE: John, the -- no, I think the fact is --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeltsin may be a little smarter than you think.



MR. BARONE: Yeltsin has a heroic role in history, but right now he's an uncertain leader, unfortunately.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's his policy?



MR. BARONE: The question is, we don't know. Look at what happened --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We do know.


MR. BARONE: He would like to extend -- we have been expanding NATO. We have been trying to expel the Russians from influence in Eastern Europe. They have taken the opportunity that Bill Clinton's refusal to rule out ground troops and lots of factors on the ground gave them to be a mediating role. They played a mostly constructive role. They --


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Shall I tell you what the policy is?



MR. BARONE: They want to insert themselves back into this part of the world.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Shall I tell you what it is? The policy, as is indicated by Eleanor, the policy is that Russia, jointly with Yugoslavia, they now want a partition. And a partition is really a good idea.



Wouldn't you agree with that?



MR. WARREN: No, I disagree with that.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did you read Charles Krauthammer's excellent piece in the Washington Post this week?



MR. WARREN: And I think it's wrong. The Balkans have been Balkanized enough, I think, sufficient to keep Kosovo intact. (Laughter.)



MR. BARONE: No, wait --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh! You think these two can -- these two ethnic groups can live together?



MR. BARONE: John, apart --



MR. BLANKLEY: In fact --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yes, I want to hear from you.



MR. BLANKLEY: In fact, a lot of policy experts have been suggesting over time that the final way to resolve the Balkan problem right now is to have a partition with Balkan Serbia part of Serbia, with Albanian Kosovo not part of Serbia.



MS. CLIFT: Yeah, but for the moment, this is Russia tweaking the West. They couldn't even supply the troops they had at the Pristina airport and it's really pathetic.



MR. BARONE: Yeah, one of the problems here, John, is that the Russians are a rather feckless partner in this thing. A partition would not be a terrible thing. But --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Feckless?



MR. BARONE: Well, one of the explanations they gave for the reason these people seized the airport was that, well, there was just no command and control; they went and did what they wanted.



If you look at the Russian performance in Chechnya, inside the boundary of their country, they were not good at executing. So it's going to be tough to have them even as a friendly partner.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit -- quick exit answer. In the light of what has happened since March the 24th, three months ago, the onset of the U.S.-NATO bombing, are you persuaded that it is a good idea or a bad idea for U.S.-NATO to have undertaken its role in this theater?



Barone?



MR. BARONE: Well, I think that what we've got now is making the best out of a poor hand.



MS. CLIFT: With the Serbian atrocities being uncovered day by day, nobody needs to justify the involvement of the West.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right. Well, the KLA atrocities will make the -- the atrocities of the KLA will make the Serbs look like Mary Poppins.



MR. BLANKLEY: I've always thought that there was no justification for America getting into the Balkans. I continue to think that it's more of a burden than a benefit.



MR. WARREN: The presence in the theater is unavoidable, and I suspect we will be there not for months, but for years.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The presence in the theater is a horrid, horrific blunder.



When we come back: W and Big Al. A two-man race already?



(Announcements.)



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue two: Stuck with UCK. In Kosovo, words of peace have not been enough to still the sounds of war. Serb troops may be on their way out, but the Kosovo Liberation Army, the KLA, better known there as U-C-K, UCK, is on the move. The feared, drug-running, terrorist group, 17,000 strong, agreed to demilitarize as a part of the Kosovo peace deal. But bands of vengeance-seeking UCK soldiers are still swaggering about in full uniform, still carrying Kalashnikovs and threatening, even killing, Serb civilians. On Wednesday, U.S. Marines stopped a column of 100 UCK soldiers on their way to a small Serbian village. A tense standoff ensued, but the Marines soon took control, disarming the 100 soldiers, arresting the six UCK commanders, even immobilizing them.



LT. COL. BRUCE GANDY (U.S. MARINE CORPS): (From videotape.) I simply offered him one more time to please lay down your weapons. He refused.



SPECIALIST ROBERT JOHNSON (U.S. ARMY): (From videotape.) We're taking their weapons as well. They don't like it very much because their long-term goal is, you know, to just kill whatever Serbs they can.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's the problem for NATO, marauding UCK soldiers forcing Kosovar Serbs to flee their homes or go into hiding, eerily reminiscent of the massive depopulation of ethnic Albanians perpetrated by Serbs and triggered by NATO's horrific bombing.



Question: Specialist Robert Johnson says that UCK intends to kill all of the Serbs. Is the U.S. Army soldier right? Eleanor Clift?



MS. CLIFT: Well, given the atrocities that are being uncovered, the thirst for revenge, I think, is understandable from human nature. The challenge for NATO is to convert this ragtag army into citizens with a police force, and it is a huge task and there are going to be incidents along the way. But they -- you know, NATO is not going to sit by and allow them to herd out Serbs. They're going to protect the Serb civilians. And this is a village-by-village process because of the --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, I'm glad that you acknowledge a thirst for revenge.



MS. CLIFT: Of course!



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's unfortunate that you didn't acknowledge it on the part of the suffering Serbs when the NATO bombs fell and what they did may have been prompted by -- certainly it may have been that NATO stoked the fires of their anger and hatred, which is the story of our whole unfortunate involvement.



MS. CLIFT: I think you have your facts a little wrong there, John.



MR. BLANKLEY: Well, look. Eleanor's partially correct. The question is it's the struggle of the hearts and minds of the KLA whether they can become a government or whether they're going to simply be a bunch of ex-guerrillas who cross over into terrorism. It remains to be seen whether they're going to have the discipline and whether NATO can persuade them to move towards responsibility.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And you think that's a realistic expectation?



MR. BLANKLEY: There's a chance. There's a working chance, but right now their blood is up and there's going to be more raping and more revenge for a --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't think that they want to have their expansionist, monolithic republic?



MR. BLANKLEY: Look, there's no doubt that there are a lot of KLA leaders who do, but there are some who don't.



MR. WARREN: The answer is that they do want that. And though as grossly disproportionate as your analysis is, particularly of their marauding. And remember, the fact is that the War Crimes Tribunal will look at allegations of KLA atrocities, as they will also probably NATO alleged atrocities.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Have you tried doing any research for this program, like reading Chris Hedge's piece in Foreign Affairs about the history of the KLA and their behavior --



MR. WARREN: I know well his views -- know it well.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- or David Binder (sp), whose brilliant columns appeared in the New York Times in the late and mid-'80s about the incipient KLA and how they kill and terrorize --



MR. WARREN: Yes. Yes.



MR. BARONE: John --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- about their heroin laundering, $1.5 billion a year?



MR. WARREN: Let's stipulate to their morally aberrant ways. Now let's not, though, at the same time say that their actions have been equivalent --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about their --



MR. WARREN: -- to what we're finding out about the Serbs.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh! Come, come, come, come! What about their relationship with bin Laden and their dependence upon those Muslim resources?



We've got to get out.



MR. BARONE: John, you were minimizing much -- too much earlier the Serb atrocities that -- handed down there. And the fact is that this may have been a response in part to the bombing, but it was a carefully planned, calibrated thing by Milosevic and his lieutenants. I don't want to go bail for the KLA. I think that we've got very serious problems there with possible murders there as well.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The signs of the forced depopulation and the atrocities, horrid as they were, were precipitated by our bombing because it gave cover to the terrorists.



MR. BARONE: And the fact that Bill Clinton ruled out ground troops, which he need not have done.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, an eye for an eye. The UCK, as noted, is conducting a terror campaign of its own. UCK soldiers defaced Serbian religious shrines and monasteries, where they raped a Serbian religious nun. On Friday, German soldiers detained 25 UCK members after finding 15 tortured Serb civilians and one elderly Serb man dead in a UCK-controlled police station.



Here is more of the videotape footage of how the monasteries have been desecrated by these UCK soldiers.



Exit question: Will the UCK, i.e., the KLA, they're the same parties, eventually take over Kosovo?



MR. BARONE: The answer is yes, I think they will eventually, John.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?



MS. CLIFT: If that day comes, they will do it as respectable citizens; they're not going to do it by warfare. And, John, at the rate you're going, you're going to get subpoenaed to be a character witness for Milosevic! (Laughs.)



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor? I mean -- excuse me. Tony?



MR. BLANKLEY: They are taking it over, and unless something is done to stop it, they will have taken it over.



MR. WARREN: And the fact is, the presence of NATO there for a long, long time -- again, I suspect years -- I think will be a -- you know, a bit of a deterrent force.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But they'll take it over.



MR. WARREN: I think not.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You think not.



The answer is they will take it over.



Issue three: When Bush comes to shove.



GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX): (From videotape.) I've come here to tell you today this: I'm running for president of the United States, there's no turning back, and I intend to be the next president of the United States. (Cheers, applause.)



("Here Comes the Sun" by the Beatles is played.)



FORMER PRESIDENT GEORGE BUSH: (From videotape.) Let George now make his own way, which he seems to be doing very, very well.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Texas Governor George W. Bush -- W, as he's called -- informally but irrevocably threw his hat into the White House 2000 ring last weekend. The announcement came at the start of W's first whirlwind campaign tour through early primary states. Over 100 reporters flew along with W on his aptly named jet, Great Expectations.



So were those expectations met? Yes, and then some. W passed his first stump test with flying colors, at ease, enthused, a hit with the press, and dwarfing all other GOP presidential wanna-bes at the polls. And in a face-off against Al Gore, Bush beats Gore 53 to 36 percent.



But not everyone basked in the golden boy's glow. Bush's GOP rivals were ready to pounce on W's every utterance, especially Bush's comment that he would not, as president, require judges to pass a, quote, unquote, "litmus test" on abortion in order to be appointed to the Supreme court.



PATRICK BUCHANAN (commentator, columnist): (From videotape.) I think you've got a moral obligation as president to try to stand up and oppose what has been an appalling atrocity in this country: the slaughter of 35 million unborn. I disagree profoundly with the governor.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Will the litmus test issue hurt W, Tony Blankley?



MR. BLANKLEY: No. I think, to the contrary, it helps him. That's why -- they're already in a general election contest. The reason why even conservative Republicans are going to support Bush is because he can beat Gore in the polls. By taking his moderate position on the litmus test, he strengthens his position vis-a-vis Gore. Therefore, he looks better in the polls. Therefore, he strengthens his primary effort.



MS. CLIFT: Well, Pat Buchanan's the only one who isn't willing to set aside purity in the hopes of winning. The rest of the right wing looks like it's ready to lay down over this issue.



I think Bush is in bigger trouble when the suburban moms and women discover that he's really not this laissez-faire on this particular issue. I mean, he is the most anti-choice governor in the country in this session in the Texas legislature, and he can only finesse that for so long.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor --



MS. CLIFT: He's as not moderate as he's pretending --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why don't you look at a few of the pluses. Number one, he's got the brand name. Number two, he's got the personality. Even you admit that off-camera.



MS. CLIFT: Oh, he's got all the moves. He's very charming, and he's trying to finesse the issue --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And he's also got the political record, the way that he defeated Ann Richards, plus this huge landslide.



MR. BARONE: No, John --



MS. CLIFT: Yeah, but on the particular issue of abortion rights -- (inaudible) -- he's not a moderate.



MR. : (Inaudible) -- good populist (leader ?) --



MR. BARONE: Look, what Eleanor's saying --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He connects the way Bill Clinton does, especially he's done it very well with the African-Americans and with the Hispanics.



MR. BARONE: Well, the Hispanic vote, he got 50 percent --



MR. WARREN: He's getting 40 --



MR. BARONE: -- (inaudible.)



MR. WARREN: He's getting 40 percent.



MR. BLANKLEY: I think the answer is that this hurts him potentially a smidgen in the early primaries. But in a general election, help him. And then remember, Eleanor, at this point, surprisingly and derpressingly to Al Gore, he is leading among women. He is being seen as a reassuring (rather benign ?) president.



MS. CLIFT: Right, which is is why his record has to get out --



(MR. BARONE ?): Let's look at -- let's look at --



MR. BLANKLEY: Well, now, just a minute, Eleanor. The record that you're talking about is the record of support of parental consent for abortion. That's a 70 percent issue the people favor. It's support of the partial-birth abortion ban, which tends to be favored by large majorities of people, and was nearly passed over Bill Clinton's veto.



MS. CLIFT: It's also a cover-up --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on, Eleanor. Let him finish.



MR. BLANKLEY: The whole point of -- you know, the fact is that as Bush says and as everybody knows, this is not going to be a country that outlaws abortion tomorrow. And that's really not a salient issue.



MS. CLIFT: It's also --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor, let me turn to a more pleasing subject.



MR. BLANKLEY: I think he's helped himself.



MS. CLIFT: Excuse me, I -- no, I want to --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A more pleasing subject.



MS. CLIFT: I want to just finish that one off. There is fatigue about the issue, yes. But he is signing a bill to cut off all family planning funds to clinics that provide abortions, which includes Planned Parenthood. I -- you know, I think that's pretty extreme.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, he also really has Reagan's -- Ronald Reagan's position.



MR. BARONE: Well, that is the position that -- (inaudible) -- you know --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He against -- he wants parental notification --



MR. BARONE: Right.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- and no abortions except in the cases of rape or incest.



MR. BARONE: Partial-birth abortion ban --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- and no government money for abortion --



MR. BARONE: -- I mean, the interesting -- abortion --



MR. BLANKLEY: It's moderate --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's moderate. Yeah, it's moderate. (Cross talk.) I think it is going to go well with most rank and file.



MR. BARONE: Yeah. It's unlikely.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. "You can call me Al."



VICE PRESIDENT GORE: (From videotape.) (Cheers, applause.) With your help, I will take my own values of faith and family to the presidency to build an America that is, not only better off, but better. And that is why today I announce that I am a candidate for president of the United States.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And away he goes, Al Gore running for Bill Clinton's job but Al Gore running away from the dark side of Clinton.



In his announcement speech, the vice president drew a strong contrast between button-down Gore and pants-down Clinton. Children, families, morals and values are cited 44 times by Gore in the speech, more than twice a minute, and that 44 climbs to 46 if you count what Senor Al said in Spanish.



VICE PRESIDENT GORE: (Translated from Spanish.) My friends, we will continue working together side by side for the future of our families and our children.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And if that veiled allusion to Monica was not enough, Gore was openly blunt this week about Mr. Clinton's moral imperfections.



VICE PRESIDENT GORE: (From videotape.) I felt that what the president did -- particularly as a father, I felt that it was inexcusable. And for me, the worst of it was that we lost a lot of time. That is what angered me. And I feel an extra sense of urgency now to make up for that lost time.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Jim Warren, appraise Al Gore's week.



MR. WARREN: "Pants down Clinton"; this falls of Jonathan Swift when it comes to satire, closer to Lenny Bruce.



I actually think he had a pretty poor week. I thought that speech, as we saw in that bite, was a little bit screechy, a little bit loud. He is almost like some -- I don't know- Baptist minister on amphetamines. However, I think that the speech read better than it sounded. And if you look closely at it, I think a lot of these issues, including the time deficit and the health-care deficit, were trained right at women -- (cross talk) -- (inaudible).



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: His big objective was to cut himself loose from Clinton, and he did it perfectly. Did he not?



MR. WARREN: No, because I don't think people are still listening very much at this point.



MR. BLANKLEY: What you are really saying is his speech writer had a good week.



But, look; I think he does have to distance himself from Clinton, but he also has to distance himself from himself. He was Clinton's biggest cheerleader during the scandal. Now he is distancing himself from his own positions, and that goes to his credibility. And so I don't know that he -- he didn't have a bad week, but he didn't have a good one.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But he has got his answers for that, too. He was concerned about the stability of the country, and that makes sense to a lot of voters.



MR. BARONE: You can argue about that, John. The fact is that as soon as he spoke in Spanish here -- he obviously has been taking some lessons in improving it. No Buddhist languages -- (laughter) -- in reference to that.



But the interesting thing here, one of the things that Al Gore has done, is talk to providing social services through faith-based institutions. That is also a distance from Clinton because, when George W. Bush sought to do that in Texas, it was the Clinton-Gore administration that stopped him from doing that and brought a lawsuit against that. Gore has changed on this position from the Clinton-Gore administration.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How about bringing forward the ideas --



MR. BARONE: It is an interesting public-policy initiative.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- okay. Actually, you make a very good point. (Laughter.) Faith-based institution's a great idea, and he is behind it. What about the promise of technology that Al Gore also pointed to this week?



MS. CLIFT: Maybe he is going to engineer himself as a candidate of the future.



Look, his problem is not family values; his problem is that he has got to convince the country he is a leader and that he has got some ideas that are different from Bill Clinton's. He has yet to do that.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: Who won the week, Gore or Bush?



MR. BARONE: I'd say Bush, but I think Gore did pretty well.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?



MS. CLIFT: I agree with that.



MR. BLANKLEY: Bush had more to accomplish, and he accomplished it, so I give it to Bush. But Gore did not stumble.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well phrased, Tony.



MR. WARREN: Bush. A rather reassuring president gave you a sense of how in the general campaign he is basically going to be saying, "Turn away from the soap opera of the last eight years."



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Answer: Bush, but a close call.



We'll be right back with predictions.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Forced prediction. Will Microsoft be split up?



MR. BARONE: No, industry is changing too fast.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?



MS. CLIFT: Divested, not divided.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony?



MR. BLANKLEY: The government doesn't have a case, no.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Jim?



MR. WARREN: Yes and no. The trial judge will break them up and it will be reversed on appeal.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Penalties, but no division.



Happy Father's Day. Bye-bye.



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®FL¯ PBS SEGMENT



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue four: "Dissing" Dad. It's Father's Day. So says Hallmark. For the other 364 days, Dad takes a beating. And the culture wars have left Daddy weary and scarred. Ever since the '60s, men, especially white males, have been blamed for everything. Practically all of society's ills. Feminists blame white males for sexism. Civil rights activists blame white males for racism. Homosexuals blame white males for homophobia, and so on. So it comes as no surprise that today's anti-white-male bias now includes fathers, fathers as objects of widespread scorn.



American culture persists in stereotyping fathers as incompetent boobs, especially on the TV screen, deadbeats in the divorce court, even dangerous, Congress implies in its domestic violence law.



Who undercuts dads the most? Hollywood. They love to get a cheap gag at Dad's expense.



WADE HORN (the National Fatherhood Initiative): (From videotape.) And for those fathers who are on television, the general portrayal is one of either uninvolvement or incompetence.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's Dr. Wade Horn of the nonprofit National Fatherhood Initiative, NFI. In a study of prime-time TV, NFI found that only four out of 15 shows portray fathers positively. The rest present fathers as uninvolved or negative role models. The worst dad shows? "Dawson's Creek," "That '70s Show," "Brother's Keeper," and "The Nanny."



Question: How can dads fight the negative stereotypes they face? I ask you, Jim.



MR. WARREN: I'm sorry you find white males as beleaguered a group as your friends the Serbs in Kosovo. (Laughter.) But I think we still seem to run the world.



I think the business of the popular culture is sort of interesting. You would know, as a student of it, that "Home Improvement," sort of the last big family show, just went off the air. When you look at the families on television these days, they're rather dysfunctional, with maybe one parent, a gay parent, no parents, and also the big shows really don't speak at all to family life.



MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah, well, look, I think, you know, white males and fathers can take it, because they've been the elite of culture for 6,000 years.



MS. CLIFT: Listen, a lot of women learn the hard way they couldn't count on men to be breadwinners or attentive fathers. But it's a rare woman who doesn't want a man as a full partner when it comes to raising children. That means giving up golf on Saturdays! (Chuckles.)



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Three seconds.



MR. BARONE: Well, the fact is that what's happened -- we're getting more single fathers exercising responsibility. We're getting less divorce in this country. We're getting fewer abortions in this country. Things are actually starting to move in the right direction in some areas.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Thanks for that lift.



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