THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP
DATE: SATURDAY, JANUARY 19, 2002
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THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: Ken Lay, that F.O.B. -- Friend of Bill.
The unfolding Enron story may leave the impression that Enron's ties to the White House were predominantly Republican. Well, information just uncovered by the House Energy and Commerce Committee investigators now poring over Enron's just-obtained inside memoranda tells a different story. The focus: The Kyoto global warming treaty.
Enron strategized that the Kyoto Treaty was a godsend from heaven because the treaty put draconian curbs on coal-burning carbon dioxide emissions, meaning that demand for Enron's huge natural gas supplies would skyrocket.
1995: Anticipating a worldwide regulatory pact, Enron begins a pattern of soft-money contributions to the Democrats in the White House, $420,000 over three years.
July, 1997: Ken Lay meets with President Clinton and Vice President Gore in the Oval Office. Lay presses Clinton and Gore for approval of the Kyoto treaty six months away. An internal Enron memo says the treaty will, quote, "do more to promote Enron's business than will almost any other regulatory initiative outside of restructuring the energy and natural gas industries in Europe and the United States," unquote.
August, '97: Ken Lay tells Enron employees Clinton, quote, "solicited," unquote, Lay's views, quote, "in advance of a climate treaty to be negotiated at an international conference," unquote. And Lay says Clinton agrees to support Lay's policy of an emissions-trading system from which Enron plans to profit hugely while American consumers pay steep price increases for electricity and natural gas.
In another private internal memo, an Enron officer exclaims, quote, "good for Enron stock!!" unquote, referring to the manipulation of electricity and natural gas pricing.
August 15, 1997: By a 95-to-0 vote, the Republican Senate rejects the Kyoto treaty as fundamentally flawed.
1998: Despite the Senate decision to shoot down Kyoto, Enron persists in lobbying the Clinton administration for what they call, quote, "a restructuring of legislation," unquote, that would become, quote, "a first step to solving the problems of global climate change."
According to the minutes and memos of Oval Office and executive branch meetings, Enron lobbied for laws that would have maximized Enron's natural gas inventory and minimized competition from coal.
February, 2001: President George W. Bush announces that he opposes the Kyoto accord and its way of regulating carbon-dioxide emissions. Enron then energetically tries to persuade President Bush and Vice President Cheney and their new administration to save at least some remnants of Kyoto. But the efforts fail. Bush indicates that only voluntary and self-imposed restraints will be the norm for coal-burning power plants.
Question: Are we investigating the wrong White House? Rich Lowry.
MR. LOWRY: John, I'm not sure I would go that far, but it is true that there are roads here, if you're looking for political favors, that go back to the Clinton administration. They worked very closely with Enron on Kyoto because Enron wanted to trade these carbon emissions. They also worked with Enron on a bunch of other stuff. They helped them get this power plant going in India, sort of a typical corporate-welfare project.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Export-Import Bank.
MR. LOWRY: Exactly.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What was the tab there?
MR. LOWRY: Three hundred million, I believe.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Three hundred million.
MR. LOWRY: But John, let me stipulate this, though. I don't think there's a scandal in the Bush administration or the Clinton administration. Both of them played to their ideological type. What did Clinton do to help Enron? He signed a liberal global-warming treaty because he was a liberal. What has the Bush administration done to help Enron? Deregulate and advocate drilling all over the place, which, again, is what a conservative Texas oil guy wants to do by temperament and philosophy. So this scandal is way overblown.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think, Eleanor? Did you hear that whitewashing of Ken Lay by the National Review editor?
MS. CLIFT: Well, it seems to me that you have uncovered the real story here, that Al Gore is the secret agent of Enron, and that's why he adopted his position on global warming. Look, just because Enron is under fire now doesn't mean everything they ever did in their corporate history is evil. They were on the right side of the global-warming issue, and the solution trading scheme is actually a good one, which I think the Bush administration has now belatedly adopted.
But investigating the White House -- if you look at the Bush administration's energy plan, you will find that there were 17 provisions which Enron wanted. Now, maybe some of those provisions are good. But why doesn't the Bush White House release all that paper and show us exactly what kind of role that Enron had in crafting the energy plan? Because it's embarrassing to them that a company like that had that kind of access and sway, and there's no doubt that they did.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So it's nothing illegal. But is it venal?
MR. BLANKLEY: No, I don't think it's venal. I mean, I agree with Rich. I think that neither White House -- so far I don't see any evidence of impropriety. In fact, there's nothing wrong with lobbying and there's nothing wrong with contributing. As long as the government is involved in how we run our affairs, people have every right to get involved in what decisions government is going to make.
I frankly don't think that, unless the White House misplays this, there's much of a scandal. But there's always a danger that they will try --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You're talking the Clinton White House.
MR. BLANKLEY: No, I'm talking about the current White House. The Clinton White House has played out their game, for better or worse.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I know, but we're getting into whether or not, over an eight-year period, there was a quid pro quo.
MR. BLANKLEY: This is the oldest argument, quid pro quo. I mean, Rich is right. People contribute to government and government acts, and there's rarely bribery in the criminal sense of the word.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But isn't it an instance of the game is you buy access, then you cut a deal with the government, and then you get rich?
MR. BLANKLEY: Look, you certainly --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's lobbying, right, according to Enron?
MR. BLANKLEY: No, no. You certainly try to buy access. I think that's the one thing you do buy with money is good access. You don't buy decisions. In fact --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, Kyoto, you agree, is a bad treaty, because the mandated emission volume is such that the United States would lose GDP --
MR. BLANKLEY: I agree.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- and it would lose hundreds of thousands of jobs. And yet they will subordinate the interests of the United States and go forward backing a treaty and urging the backing of a treaty because they will sell more of their own natural gas and enrich themselves. You don't see that as venal?
MR. BLANKLEY: Interests -- people are going to act in their own interest. Corporations, unions, are going to act in their own interest. It's up to the government to make treaties. Bush made the right decision in killing the Kyoto treaty.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you going to take a different view than the unadulterated cynicism on this panel with regard to --
MR. PAGE: You mean a different view of Tony and Rich? I don't know whatever gave you that idea. (Laughter.) As I said in the previous scandal, John, there was not a quid pro quo, but there was a lot of quo pro quid. There was an awful lot of money being shelled out by both sides. That is how the system works. The scandal here is in the appearance of impropriety, and politically that has weight, because a lot of Americans are fed up with --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I want to -- hold on, hold on.
MR. BLANKLEY: There's no appearance of impropriety yet.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I want to go back to this quid pro quo thing. There was a $3 billion plant in India that Enron wanted to have built. It needed a $300 million loan from the Export-Import Bank. It got it. What happened four days after it got the loan? One hundred --
MR. LOWRY: Probably gave a contribution.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: One hundred thousand dollars was contributed to either the Clinton-Gore -- well, it was --
MR. LOWRY: I thought it was the other way around. I thought it was four days before.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It was four days --
MR. LOWRY: But, John, look, Commerce departments in both administrations exist to dole out these sort of favors to corporations. You know, Enron made a lot of bad investments, and one of them was in soft money, because the Clinton administration would have signed Kyoto whether there's Enron or not, and the Bush administration would have created an energy plan that was a sop to energy businesses across the United States whether there was Enron or not.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor, what's the most surprising revelation or disclosure about Enron this week?
MS. CLIFT: This week?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah. Do you know?
MR. BLANKLEY: Yes.
MS. CLIFT: No --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What was that?
MR. BLANKLEY: In an act of extraordinary ingratitude, they fired their accountant. (Laughter.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What else happened this week? Did Enron try to start an Internet porn site? Did they go to Playboy and to another magazine -- what was it -- Penthouse, to try to get them on board? It was their broad-band business.
MS. CLIFT: Yeah, and they took a big (flyer?) on broad-band and it hasn't progressed fast enough, and they lost a lot of money.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This is not a value judgment. I just note, though, that it is surprising, is it not? Do you find it surprising?
MR. LOWRY: It is surprising. But the worst revelation was the insider trading by Ken Lay, the trades he made after he got that memo from the employees that said they're in danger of blowing up in an accounting scandal. That is disgusting.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is that not in a contest, however, with the 900 offshore companies that it had?
MR. LOWRY: Sure. And, you know, look --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Inaudible) -- has none.
MR. LOWRY: You look at Exxon-Mobil; it has about six of these things.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I thought it was three.
MR. LOWRY: They're one of the biggest corporations in the world.
MS. CLIFT: If we're going to talk about government policy, the Clinton administration tried to tighten up the rules on those offshore things and was rebuffed by the Republican Congress. And Paul O'Neill sees absolutely no need to tighten down on those.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question --
MS. CLIFT: So government policies do matter, and they do make it easier for these --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Enron debacle is already on its way to becoming the most massive financial fraud case in U.S. history. Okay? Will it also become a political scandal? Rich Lowry.
MR. LOWRY: No, it won't.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Become one. Will it become one?
MR. LOWRY: No, it will not, absent some new revelation. And if Democrats want to run in the fall on new securities regulation and new accounting rules, more power to them.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: This is an embarrassment for the Bush administration. Every day we learn more about who has stock in Enron. And remember, there were three weeks between the calls to Paul O'Neill and Don Evans, and --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What was that -- (inaudible)?
MS. CLIFT: Well, between the fact that that became public. I'd like to know if any of the people who held Enron stock throughout this administration might have unloaded some of that stock during that period. There's still lots of trails to follow on this that could mean great embarrassment.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor --
MS. CLIFT: Plus Dick Cheney's revealing whom he met with in connection with the energy plan. He may get taken to court over that. There's lots of places for this story to go.
MR. BLANKLEY: I think it may develop --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So you're saying political scandal.
MS. CLIFT: Political scandal.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But it will not be bipartisan; it will be a Republican political scandal.
MS. CLIFT: Largely Republican.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Predominantly --
MS. CLIFT: Predominantly Republican.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. What do you think?
MR. BLANKLEY: I think it may evolve into a mini-scandalette at most.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Scandalette.
MR. BLANKLEY: A mini-scandalette.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does that dance around?
MR. BLANKLEY: Just a little bit.
MR. PAGE: Mini-scandalette; I like that. Keep an eye on the energy task force. Dick Cheney seems to have a biological resistance to revealing anything to the public and the media, whether it's about this, whether it's about defense matters, but especially these task force minutes. The smart thing to do would be to dump all this paper out on the press. But he can't seem to do it.
MS. CLIFT: He's going to show an embarrassing intimacy with Ken Lay.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think it will be a political scandal and I think it will be bipartisan.
When we come back, is it a good idea not to charge John Walker with treason and not to try him in a military court?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Two: The Line of No Control.
SECRETARY OF STATE COLIN POWELL: (From videotape.) I would like to do everything that I can do, and I know that President Bush would like to do everything he can do, to get the two sides talking to one another again on all of the issues that are between them. And one of those issues is Kashmir.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Secretary of State Powell did some shuttle diplomacy between Pakistan and India this week in an attempt to defuse the tensions as the nuclear stand-off enters its second month. At the core of the dispute is Kashmir, a predominantly Muslim region. For decades, Pakistan's and India's armies have exchanged fire along the line of control separating Pakistani Kashmir from Indian Kashmir.
Terrorist attacks instigated by Kashmiri separatists have sparked the mobilization of more than 1 million troops on either side of the border. India and Pakistan have gone to war over Kashmir twice, most recently in 1971. What may keep the current crisis from erupting into war is that both countries now have nuclear weapons, Pakistan some 30 to 45 warheads that cover India in the north; India between 50 and 100 that can cover throughout Pakistan.
What may escalate the crisis is that India's bigger army, and better army, more aircraft, and more armor by a two-to-one ratio, may begin to hammer Pakistan's army. With its population of 1 billion, India has a huge advantage over Pakistan, with its 148 million, in a conventional war.
But if India does cross the line of control to clean out Pakistan's positions with conventional weapons, the probability that Pakistan will respond with nuclear weapons becomes practically certain, many analysts believe. Then India strikes back with a nuclear response.
Question: Should the U.S. get involved as peacemaker? Tony Blankley.
MR. BLANKLEY: Yes, of course we should. The challenge is that both the Indian and the Pakistani governments are driven to a large extent by their popular desires. The Indian government particularly is keeping up a very high rhetorical line and moving troops up to the line because of that, because that's with all the people there. Pakistan -- I think Musharraf has done really a noble job of trying to rhetorically back down as much as he can without risking his government.
We can be helpful. We can try to put some pressure and some encouragement for the two leaders not to listen completely to their own streets and to think of reason. But we have to understand it's a limited role we can play.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, you don't want us to sit down at the negotiating table, a la Clinton and the Palestinians and the Israelis, do you?
MR. BLANKLEY: Well, I don't think they want us to. But I certainly think we should do what we can to avoid them blowing each other up.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you aware that the Indian army chief of staff says, quote, "There is scope for a limited war"? Does that frighten you, Clarence?
MR. PAGE: The whole prospect is frightening. But, you know, the thing about India and Pakistan is that each country uses the other to get themselves out of a political jam. In other words, just bringing up Kashmir unifies your people, whether you're leader of India or Pakistan. The problem is, as they play this brinksmanship, could they go over the edge? This is why it's important that the U.S. get in there to try to build some confidence-building measures.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think there is scope for a limited war?
MR. PAGE: Scope?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Scope.
MR. PAGE: Or possibility of it?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, scope. Do you think there's scope for a limited war, meaning that it would stay limited?
MR. PAGE: Oh, would stay limited.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Correct, especially if India strikes first.
MR. PAGE: Eisenhower --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the fallacy in this thinking?
MR. PAGE: Eisenhower said war will always surprise you. You never know, once a war starts, where it's going to end.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, but that's not quite the point. What's the fallacy in the thinking that there is scope for a limited war, meaning that it will stay limited? If India strikes first --
MR. LOWRY: Pakistan, their great fear is they don't have strategic depth, as they say, which is a fancy way of saying they're a puny country that could get crushed by India if India were really serious about waging war. And that's why Pakistan has not made a no-first-use pledge on nuclear weapons the way India has.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: Well, they've fought three wars in the last 30 years, so I think the potential that they could do it again is obvious.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, the last one was 1971. That was quite a few years ago.
MS. CLIFT: Well --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And also, that was pre-nuclear.
MS. CLIFT: Yeah, right, exactly, which makes it more dangerous now, which is exactly why Colin Powell and the administration need to sit on both sides, because we do have some leverage over there. And the point is to get the Indian government, which is quite nationalistic, to give Musharraf some room. There's a history of distrust there. But if the radicals in Pakistan do wage an attack, the important thing is to get India not to respond.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I guess I'll --
MS. CLIFT: That's the risk that we face now.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'll have to answer my own question about the fallacy of that thinking. The fallacy in the thinking is if there is a first conventional strike, an attack, to clean out the line on the Pakistani side, an attack made by the Indians, Pakistan is not going to construe necessarily that the Indians are going to keep it at that level. And therefore, they will respond, conceivably, with nuclear force.
MS. CLIFT: The fallacy in the thinking is that one side is going to want to win and is going to do whatever it takes, and that unleashes nuclear weapons.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We've got to get out. We've got to get out.
MR. BLANKLEY: The dangerous --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Can you hold that till next week?
MR. BLANKLEY: Yes, I can.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. Exit question: Grade the success of Powell's mission on a deterrence scale, zero meaning zero deterrence, with the risk of nuclear exchange remaining; 10 meaning complete deterrence, nuclear war is now unthinkable on the subcontinent. Rich.
MR. LOWRY: I'd give it about an eight or a nine. Nuclear war is very unlikely.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: I forget exactly how you phrased it, but I give it an A-. I think he's done very well up to this point. But obviously the risk --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That sounds like a nine.
MS. CLIFT: Nine, fine.
MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah, I'd put it about a nine, 9.5.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's done a good job.
MR. PAGE: No, there won't be a nuclear war.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The idea is how much he's done by way of deterrence --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Three?
MR. LOWRY: (Inaudible) -- Musharraf's speech.
MR. PAGE: I agree -- about an eight or nine.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is six.
Issue Three: Johnny Walker on the Rocks.
ATTORNEY GENERAL JOHN ASHCROFT: (From videotape.) John Walker Lindh chose to fight with the Taliban, chose to train with Al Qaeda and to be led by Osama bin Laden. We may never know why he turned his back on our country and our values, but we cannot ignore that he did. Youth is not absolution for treachery, and personal self-discovery is not an excuse to take up arms against one's country. Misdirected Americans cannot seek direction in murderous ideologies and expect to avoid the consequences.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Twenty-year old John Walker Lindh was indicted this week on four counts: Conspiracy to kill U.S. nationals overseas; two counts of providing support to the enemy, to the Al Qaeda and to Harakat ul-Mujahideen; and a fourth count, engaging in prohibited transactions with the Taliban.
Walker has not been charged with treason, it being too difficult to prove on the basis of current evidence. The maximum sentence: Life. The government is not seeking the death penalty. The attorney general said the indictment is based on Walker's own voluntary admissions.
In interviews, Walker stated that eight months ago he first trained as a terrorist; then was allowed either to fight in Kashmir against India or join the Taliban and fight in Afghanistan. Walker chose the latter and went to train at an Al Qaeda camp where he met the infamous Osama bin Laden.
ATTORNEY GENERAL ASHCROFT: (From videotape.) Walker reported that Osama bin Laden visited the camp on three to five occasions. On one of these occasions, Walker met personally with bin Laden who, quote, according to Walker, "thanked him for taking part in jihad."
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Walker is also charged with having known, four months before the September 11th terrorist attacks, that suicide operations had been planned in the U.S. Walker will not be tried in a military tribunal; rather in a federal court in Virginia.
Exit question: Is this a good disposition of the case, meaning better than a treason charge and better than a military tribunal? Yes or no. Rich Lowry.
MR. LOWRY: It is a good disposition. The problem is we have here a traitor who it would be very difficult actually to throw treason charges at and make them stick. The problem with the military tribunal is that he's technically a U.S. citizen. And, you know, I probably don't think he should face capital charges. No jury is going to send this guy to death because they're going to look at him and see partly a moral (creed?) and partly just a (waif?) who was never told what was right and wrong over in liberal Marin County.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: If we apply that thinking, what about the conservatives like Timothy McVeigh that were brought up? Were they told right from wrong?
MR. LOWRY: He murdered people.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly.
MS. CLIFT: You can't blame an ideology on this. First of all, he is going to plead that he made a conscious decision, as John Ashcroft said.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about brainwashing?
MS. CLIFT: He wanted to join the Northern Alliance -- to take up arms against the Northern Alliance, not against Americans. And the most damning evidence they have is that he knew that suicide bombers were sent to this country. But what was he supposed to do with that information -- call home? Go to the embassy? It didn't exist.
MR. BLANKLEY: He may very well confess to everything. That's what he's been doing so far. I think he's proud of what he's done. Maybe we should charge him with treason and see if he'll say it in open court.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about his self-incriminating statements made to the FBI?
MR. BLANKLEY: I mean, he's told --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Those were under coercion, though. He was wounded. He was in military detention.
MR. BLANKLEY: After written and oral waiving of Miranda rights. I think he's proud of what he's done. There's no evidence that he's going to change his mind.
MR. PAGE: From what I've seen so far, I don't know if he's all that proud of it. But we don't actually have evidence that he took up arms.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you satisfied with the fact that there's no military tribunal --
MR. PAGE: Yeah.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- and that he's not charged with treason?
MR. PAGE: This will be an easier case for them to make.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is it was a wise decision because he should not be made into a superhero for various elements around the world. We'll be right back with predictions.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions, fast. Rich Lowry.
MR. LOWRY: Things will get friendlier for Bush in Europe. By the end of the year, four of the five biggest European countries will be led by right-of-center governments.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: Bush, trying to build on his bipartisan love affair with Kennedy, will announce more money for Head Start in the State of the Union.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony.
MR. BLANKLEY: Edmund Stoiber, the Christian Democrat premier of Bavaria, will win the election in Germany against the Social Democrats.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's good news and big news, huh? Clarence.
MR. PAGE: In Congressman Jesse Jackson's district, where he's running against a man named Jesse Jackson, somebody named Jesse Jackson will win.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Peru is demanding the extradition of Alberto Fujimori, former president. I predict, instead of that, Fujimori will run for the Japanese Diet and he will win that legislative seat.
Next week: How deep a wound is Argentina's financial chaos inflicting on the U.S.? Bye bye.
(End of regular program.)
(Begin PBS segment.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Four: PC Statue.
It was one of the most memorable pictures taken after September 11th, a photograph of three firefighters raising the American flag at ground zero, reminiscent of the flag-raising at Iwo Jima. The photo became the model of a 19-foot bronze sculpture to be erected this spring at the New York Fire Department's Brooklyn headquarters.
But now the ensemble statue has crumbled into controversy. Instead of depicting the three firefighters in the authentic photo, who were all white, the statue will use professional models to pose for the statue, one white, one black and one Hispanic.
The decision was made by the fire department, the makers of the statue and the commercial company that commissioned the work and is paying for it. All three want the sculpture to symbolize the sacrifices of the different races and ethnicities that perished. But some firefighters and their families say this is political correctness run amok, an attempt to rewrite history, an attempt to rewrite history.
MAN: (From videotape.) They clearly (tampered with?), you know, the racial makeup of the firefighters. And, you know, what they're attempting to do, I don't know. I just think it was wrong.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: At week's end, the use of a photo as a model for the statue was being reconsidered in view of the controversy. What's the purpose of monumental art? Is it to provide an historically accurate record? I ask you, Clarence.
MR. PAGE: Not necessarily. Artists are supposed to represent, not necessarily replicate. This is a remarkable controversy, John. I don't know why folks in New York want to make a big deal out of this, because to me they're just calling attention to the fact that, in reality, there's more diversity in that statue than there is in the New York Fire Department.
It's the whitest department of the 10 largest cities by far, and that's been a big issue for years. This is not news with me. It was even an issue during the mayoral campaign. This whole controversy is a big embarrassment. I don't know why people want to make a big deal out of this.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Would you, if you were judging this, recommend that three white firemen be depicted in this statue?
MR. PAGE: They could have avoided the whole problem by just making them blank faces. (Laughs.) You know, that would be the way to do it. They wouldn't have this controversy.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Would you favor retouching the photograph?
MR. PAGE: Everybody agrees that there ought to be representation of the heroism here. I certainly do.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But can a case be made for retouching the photograph with computers so that we have an African-American and an Hispanic as well as --
MR. PAGE: I care more about -- (inaudible) -- than symbols.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But that would really be unthinkable. That would be Orwellian, would it not?
MR. BLANKLEY: Monumental art is meant to idealize the values of society. So there's nothing wrong with a black, an Hispanic, an Asian, a white, an Indian, whatever else. The problem with this is there's a particular historical artistic work, the photograph, and they're trying to change it. And that's sort of like going back and colorizing -- not by colors but by race -- movies from old Hollywood; you know, turning Clark Gable --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you against using the photograph as a --
MR. BLANKLEY: Yes, I'm against the lie, which is to take a fact and transform it by digitalizing and --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But is it a lie? It's the basis for an idea. Monumental art is always triumphalistic. You had George Washington at the bow of the ship crossing the Delaware. They are brawny, they are handsome and they are high-minded.
MR. BLANKLEY: If it was a photograph of Thomas Jefferson there, then it would have been wrong to do the painting with George Washington.
MS. CLIFT: The analogy that's being drawn is to Iwo Jima and the statute commemorating --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Which was done with actors, correct?
MS. CLIFT: It was based also on a photograph, and I think it's historically accurate.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The photograph was transposed.
MS. CLIFT: Yeah. You get into trouble if you're using a photograph as a model and then you change it. But they ought to find some way to commemorate everybody who died at ground zero.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: If you were a fireman, one of those three firemen depicted in that photograph, how would you feel?
MR. LOWRY: I would be mad, and they were mad.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why not be honored that your photo serves as a symbol for unity of the United States in this time of crisis?
MR. LOWRY: It did. When the photo was taken, it served as a photo of unity. No one was thinking about race. Then they decided to change it with the worst sort of ham-handed bean-counting. And Tony is exactly right, and Clarence is right too. You know, this monument should have a lot to do with symbolism. But you can't change that actual picture, because everyone's going to think it's --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why not use the picture that we did with Iwo Jima as the idea for the statue?
(End of PBS segment.)