Andy Rooney Pleased by Tom DeLay’s Departure, Calls Eavesdropping a “Disgrace”

Tom DeLay’s ouster from the House leadership is the “one good thing that's come out” of the Abramoff scandal, CBS’s Andy Rooney declared Friday night during a live appearance on CNN’s Larry King Live. Asked by King about “the tapping of phones in the interest of national security,” Rooney called it “a disgrace, an absolute disgrace. And how the President has convinced himself or how the Vice President has convinced the President that this is a good thing to do, in the interests of American security, it's a disgrace." But when King suggested that “you think it's despots that do that in times of,” before King got to the word “war,” Rooney rejected King’s characterization of Bush: “Yes, they certainly do. I'm not willing to call President Bush a despot.” Rooney went on to regret how Bush gets bad information: “I don't know where he gets his information, but I don't think it's very good."

The MRC’s Brad Wilmouth took down some of Rooney’s comment on the January 6 Larry King Live:
# Larry King: "Scandals, Abramoff. What do you make, is this going to expand?"
Andy Rooney: "It looks wonderful. I mean, for anybody in the news business, this is the best thing that's happened in a long while, it looks as though."

# King: "Do you think Tom DeLay got his comeuppance here?"
Rooney: "I think he's getting it, yeah. That's one good thing that's come out of it. He's apparently done."

# King: "What are your thoughts on the war?"
Rooney: "Well, I have some opinions that are unpopular, even with me. I mean, I don't like having the opinion that we should not pull out. But it is my opinion that we should not pull out. It was wrong for us to go in, but it would be wrong for us to pull out. For one thing, there are too many of them there who have supported us who are decent people who would be slaughtered if we pulled out. That would be wrong."
King: "Where then do you think it goes?"
Rooney: "Nowhere good. I don't know. I certainly have no idea where it goes. Every once in a while you see something going one way or another. It looks hopeful for a while, but there's nothing hopeful there. I don't know what's going to happen. It seems like, every once in a while you see somebody from there, and they seem just so normal and so average. You see them shopping, and, my goodness, you know, you think of them as some strange creatures from another world, but they're a lot like Americans in a lot of ways."
King: "What do you make of the tapping of phones in the interest of national security?"
Rooney: "Well, I think it's a disgrace, an absolute disgrace. And how the President has convinced himself or how the Vice President has convinced the President that this is a good thing to do, in the interests of American security, it's a disgrace."
King: "Because of personal liberty? But what about-?"
Rooney: "But we have to be so careful about that. Our whole country was built on the idea that we are free from that kind of government. I mean, it is seriously wrong what's happening in Washington and how they're forcing it down out throats, I don't know. And I hear people on the radio, today I heard somebody defending it, saying, well, we're in a time of crisis here, and we've got to protect ourselves. That's not the way to protect ourselves."
King: “You think it's despots that do that in times of-
Rooney: “Yes, they certainly do. I'm not willing to call President Bush a despot.”
King backtracked: “Bush is sincere. He believes that one of the ways to stop terrorism is to learn of it in advance.”
Rooney: “I think to say the President is sincere is probably true. But there are some other things that follow right on top of that make you wonder. I mean, how, where is he getting his information? On what basis does he base -- does he put his sincerity? Why does he think as he does? I don't know where he gets his information, but I don't think it's very good.”

Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center