Fired from MSNBC for Anti-War Views, Phil Donahue Speaks Out on Republicans and Journalism, While Campaigning for Norman Solomon in California
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Now, you’ve had your own encounters with the corporate media. And it’s a problem because if people don’t, if we don’t have that Fourth Estate free and, if you will, questioning the centers of power, then we’re in trouble. Would you remind people, just very briefly, what happened to you. We were all very excited, you were starting a new show on MSNBC, I think it was 2003, a wonderful….
DB: 2002. A wonderful producer named Jeff Cohen, who was a founder of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, was your producer. What happened there? It didn’t last long. It was a wonderful show, but it didn’t last long.
PD: Well, I think we signed on in August  and I was gone in February of the following year which is a month before the invasion. MSNBC and its corporate parent, General Electric, were not at all pleased with my anti-war position. And I was outspoken about it.
And a memo was released, and printed by the New York Times from a consultant hired by NBC News. “Donahue appears to take delight in his anti-war stance.” See how we’re marginalized there, “delight.” So I not only opposed the war, I was, I delighted in. …. I mean what kind of crass person am I?
They’re so clever. The propaganda campaign that’s been leveled against the so-called liberal voice. By the way, we’re not liberal anymore, we’re progressive. We’re actually ashamed of our own name, liberal. The political idea that dare not speak its name.
So, I just, I noticed that the more I got into this the more I realized what I had learned from Norman. How easy it is to go to war, especially if you have corporate media on your side. And you can bet, that if there is another war, corporate media will be on the side of the establishment. It’s not good for business to oppose a war.
People who oppose wars are scolds, nobody likes a scold. They are crabby, they don’t love America. And how can you oppose a war when a president is ramping up for one? You embarrass the president in front of the world, and the people that we’re trying to overcome here, and you’re disrespectful to the troops.
So we’ve sent how many thousands and thousands of Americans to fight for our freedom, including free speech, and when we need it the most, at a time when a president [is starting a war], we have millions of people in this country who believe it’s unpatriotic to not support the president. That’s why, that’s how war is made easy. It’s amazing.
And then if you, if you scare the people you can move an entire population. George Bush took this nation by the ear and led it into the sword, and we let it happen. It’s amazing what you can do if you scare the people. And corporate media will always be on the side of whatever the White House wants to do. They don’t want anybody mad.
I mean imagine the money that General Electric makes out of just these defense contracts. And Donahue is on the air making fun of [Defense Secretary] Donald Rumsfeld. It’s counterintuitive for them to want to have me on their television program. When the board of directors went to their country clubs I am sure their golf buddies said “What the hell are you doing with Donahue on the…?”
And this is, this is 2002. The Iraq War resolution was October 2002, this was less than a year from the [9/11] towers. And Bush called for the Iraq resolution two weeks before an election. Only 23 senators voted “No.” Twenty-three. [One-hundred-and-thirty-three] House members voted “No.” This resolution passed overwhelmingly on lies. It wasn’t true. Saddam had nothing to do with 9/11, and there are, I’m betting you, I can’t prove this, there are millions and millions of Americans who today, believe he did.