Politics & Policy

Just Plain Screwy

Bernard Goldberg on Al Franken and 99 others.

Bernard Goldberg, the former CBS newsman who’s told the brutal truth in Bias: A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the News and Arrogance: Rescuing America From the Media Elite, has a new book out in the same tradition–100 People Who Are Screwing Up America: (and Al Franken Is #37). Goldberg takes his pen to (a sometimes weird but) influential cast of characters, including Bob Shrum (33), Latrell Sprewell (30), John Edwards (16), Michael Jackson (90), Michael Savage (61), Sheila Jackson Lee (98) and many more. (And, yes, of course, Dan Rather [12].) Goldberg recently talked to NRO editor Kathryn Jean Lopez about the book and some winners included in it.

Kathryn Lopez: No offense, but Michael Moore (1)? Aren’t you giving him a little too much credit putting him at the top of your list like you do?

Bernard Goldberg: No offense, but no, I think he deserves to be there. Here’s why: Once upon a time this guy would be seen a fringe lefty. Now he’s mainstream. People who used to look up to JFK now admire Moore as a courageous voice of reason. They showed his movie in Washington to the Democratic congressional caucus and all these big important pols gave him a standing ovation. We live in the United States of Entertainment and in that country Michael Moore is big, no pun intended. And besides any one who says “They are possibly the dumbest people on the planet” referring to his fellow Americans–in a foreign newspaper no less–is a pretty good choice for #1, in my humble view of course.

Lopez: And don’t you give some of these people more attention then they deserve by including them on your list? I mean, does America really need to know who Linda Hirshman (77) is? We wouldn’t have if not for your book!

Goldberg: I know, I know. Being exposed to new information can be painful sometimes. But Hirshman is just too good an example of feminists gone wild to have left off the list. As I say in the book: She “is not the best-known feminist in America, but she just may be the most self-important, smug, condescending one in the whole bunch, and that’s no small accomplishment.” Details in the book.

Lopez: Do you like killing puppies? You criticize PETA’s Ingrid Newkirk (49)?!

Goldberg: I love puppies, but I’m giving serious thought right about now to strangling you! Newkirk has said, “There is no rational basis for saying that a human being has special rights. A rat is a pig is a dog is a boy. They’re all mammals.” I disagree. I think a rat should have more rights than Ingrid Newkirk.

Lopez, Survival Instincts Kicking In: Can I just thank you on behalf of all Americans that you included Scott Harshbarger (40)? Now there’s a name everyone should know–yes?

Goldberg: Harshbarger was a prosecutor in Massachusetts who put three members of a family in prison for a long, long time for supposedly molesting little kids at their day care center. Just one problem: They didn’t do it. A court eventually let them all out. Best I can figure, to this day, Harshbarger still thinks they’re guilty. He’s a pretty good example of this insane reign of terror we’ve seen involving alleged abuse of kids at daycare centers- in cases where it clearly didn’t happen.

Lopez: How influential do you think Peter Singer (39) really is?

Goldberg: The New Yorker magazine said, he “may be the most controversial philosopher alive; he is certainly among the most influential? What’s an influential philosopher you ask? A big time academic who influences lots of other academics who sooner or later may influence the people who make laws. Singer has said that “Killing a disabled infant is not morally equivalent to killing a person. Very often it is not wrong at all.” I wonder what would have happened if Helen Keller had been born deaf, dumb, and blind. She might never have made it out of the hospital in Peter Singer’s America.

Lopez: Why do you call out Al Franken (37) on the cover/in the title?

Goldberg: Because I felt like it.

Lopez: Who from your list did you know zip about before you started your book and wish you could now forget about?

Goldberg: Matt Kunitz (69) comes to mind. He’s the “brains” behind Fear Factor. Enough said?

Lopez: For sure.

CBS did not escape the list! Do enough people watch it to make those folks matter much?

Goldberg: Good point, but let me say one word about that: Memogate.

Lopez: Has anyone gotten mad to your face because you included them?

Goldberg: Not to my face, but there have been some pretty ugly things said on the web. Man, the Left is even angrier than I thought.

Lopez: Have you gotten grief for having Judge Roy Moore in their yet?

Goldberg: Yes. If conservatives are going to yell–correctly, in my view–about liberal activist judges, then we have to yell about conservative activist judges, too. I make clear in the book that this is not about whether the Ten Commandments should or should not be in the Rotunda of the Alabama Supreme Court building. But when a federal court judge tells the chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court–Judge Moore–to remove the monument, he’s got an obligation to do it. Instead he said I know better than you. That kind of thinking leads to anarchy and conservatives should be on my side on this one.

Lopez: What’s going to happen to Howard Dean (20)?

Goldberg: If Republicans have their way, he will keep talking and alienating more and more ordinary Americans who are not political junkies, but who are sick and tired of the anger and meanness in our culture–which, by the way, is what this book is basically about.

Lopez: Is Ralph Neas (10) going to win this whole judge battle?

Goldberg: I avoid clichés at all cost, but only time will tell.

Lopez: Would you ever consider doing a positive follow-up book? “The 100 People who Make America a Better Place?”

Goldberg: Maybe. I think I’d call it “100 People Who Are NOT Screwing Up America.”

Lopez: Is there anyone you wish you had had room to include in the 100 but had to squeeze out?

Goldberg: If the book went to press later, Dick Durbin would have made the list and so would have all the Supreme Court justices who voted in the majority in the eminent domain case. I thought liberals were the ones who cared so much about the little guy.

Lopez: So, with 100-plus (Durbin…Supreme Courters…) screwy people out there screwing up America, are we screwed?

Goldberg:Not in the long run. There are too many sensible Americans out there who are fed up with the anger and nastiness and sooner or later–I hope sooner, but I’ll take later if I have to–they will say Enough. And if the cultural elitists keep going with their nastiness, the Democrats whom they support will continue to lose election and then maybe–maybe–even they will wake up and become more civil. Or maybe not.


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