Appearing on the April 29 edition of "The View," former House Speaker Newt Gingrich proved his intellectual superiority to Joy Behar punching holes in her very shallow debate points. Also, in discussing the ongoing Reverend Wright controversy, Whoopi Goldberg placed Billy Graham in league with Wright and Louis Farrakhan. [audio version of embedded video available here]
In challenging Newt Gingrich’s assertion that there’s a sympathy on the far left for America haters such as William Ayers, Behar inquired, "there’s no romance going on between the hard right of this country and Saudi Arabia let’s say?" Gingrich swiftly answered "the hard right in this country deeply dislikes Saudi Arabia as the source of Wahabbist funding."
Behar pressed on noting Donald Rumsfeld’s picture with Saddam Hussein, apparently forgetting Saddam Hussein is not a member of the Saudi royal family. The former speaker compared the US-British alliance with Stalin against Hitler to the US supporting Iraq’s efforts to stem the Iranian revolutionaries and added the William Ayers equivalency was not valid because Ayers "was bombing the United States government." Behar quipped "according to Bush the WMD's were in Saddam Hussein's country," which Behar labeled the Bush administration "liars and murderers" for claiming Saddam Hussein had WMD's.
In the previous segment, as Newt Gingrich discussed the Reverend Jeremiah Wright controversy, Whoopi Goldberg drew a comparison to Billy Graham adding Graham "at one time had very vicious things to say about Jewish people." When Barbara Walters reported Wright’s connection to Farrakhan who "said some of the most discriminatory things," Goldberg quickly added "yeah, like [Billy] Graham."
Was the Reverend Billy Graham truly an anti-Semite? For one, he never was known as a firebrand minister who spewed anti-Semitic sermons. The anti-Semitic charge stems from a recorded conversation in 1972 with then President Richard Nixon. Nixon complained about a group of liberal Jews dominating the media. Graham apparently agreed. Since that conversation has been made public, Reverend Graham as apologized.
The entire transcript is below.
WHOOPI GOLDBERG: Apparently this morning when you were on "Good Morning America" you were sort of talking about Reverend Wright and you said that you thought that he was sort of deliberately trying to damage Obama out of anger. And I’ve heard other people sort of allude to that. What did you mean?
FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER NEWT GINGRICH: Well, I went back, and if you read what Reverend Wright said yesterday at The National Press Club, you can’t imagine some of the things he said being done without knowledge that it would hurt Senator Obama. Because there were a couple of phrases in there where he’s almost like setting up Senator Obama and the hope was-
BARBARA WALTERS: Politician, he’s a politician.
ELISABETH HASSELBECK: He does what a politician needs to do.
GINGRICH: Well, he talks about, "we really were praying in the basement before he announced So even though he didn’t let me be at the announcement, I was really at the announcement. He really can’t distance himself from me because I’m still the pastor." You know, there were three or four places where it was like he was going out of- and then he went back to repeat some of his harshest and I think most factually false comments about America.
JOY BEHAR: So what is it, incredible narcissism on the part of Jeremiah Wright?
WALTERS: Why would he try to hurt if, if he’s trying to- just to get back to that, if he is trying to, to have more rights for black people, why would he deliberately harm the first candidate for a black presidency? Why does he matter?
GINGRICH: A good friend of mine, Vivian Berry Hill, is the spouse of an African-American minister in Mississippi and has organized a nationwide organization of spouses of ministers in the African-American community. She sent me an e-mail this morning and she said, you know- after the show she had watched us on "Good Morning America." She said, "you know, if you look at Reverend Wright’s hostility to people becoming middle class and the sense that they were selling out the African-American community," she said "it’s almost as though Senator Obama became more acceptable to white America." He suddenly began to peel away from being acceptable to Reverend Wright’s version of America. And the Reverend Wright’s investment is in a very, very deeply afro-centric model. And he said this a lot if you look at some of his sermons. I mean, he legitimately believes if you become a Bill Cosby, if you become somebody who’s successful in mainstream America, you have deserted the community.
GOLDBERG: I, I don’t know about that Newt. I think that’s, that’s kind of a big stretch, you know. I, I understand folks are upset, but I don’t really think he’s trying to hurt Obama. I think because he’s not running, he doesn’t care. He doesn’t- he’s not on Obama’s time schedule. He’s on his own. He is a man who said yesterday "listen," they said "why are you speaking out now?" He said "because you’ve talked about my mother and her religious background and my daddy and his religious background and I’m speaking out. And I’m speaking out now." He is not running for office. This idea that we keep going back to him I find extraordinary given the fact that we have had all kinds of strange preachers in our background as Americans.
HASSELBECK: Do you think it’s important then to examine the connection between Reverend Wright and Obama? Because this is something that some people say is irrelevant and other people say is extremely relevant.
WALTERS: Is it going to hurt him?
GINGRICH: Well, look, I think we have explored it. I’m, I’m a little sympathetic to the idea that, okay, we got it now let’s go to the next topic.
BEHAR: Well, you know, just FYI everybody should know that McCain has said "I do not believe that Senator Obama shares Reverend Wright’s extremist statements or views." McCain himself has said that. So can’t we just put this to bed now and forget about Jeremiah Wright? He’s just getting air time.
WALTERS: But even Bob Herbert who writes for the op-ed page for "The New York Times" and who is African-American, he says the same thing that you did. He said he is deliberately trying to hurt him. And I, it’s just so interesting that, that he would take the one candidate, and, and try to undermine him.
GINGRICH: The other side of it is, here’s a moment where somebody who has been preaching his whole life, now has a national stage. He has a moment to deliver his message to the entire country and, and-
HASSELBECK: And he did.
GINGRICH: You can kind of understand why that would be a very powerful temptation. And I agree with the point that, that you said that he, he’s on a totally different clock. I mean, he’s on a clock of 40 years of being a minister. And he’s going to give you his sermon and his views, and he actually doesn’t care what the election clock is.
SHERRI SHEPHERD: And also he’s been laying, he had laid low for a bit and it never died down. And it was attacking him personally and hurting his church and hurt- so he is not only, he has to protect his church.
HASSELBECK: But he also said the things that he said.
BEHAR: The thing that he’s saying-
GOLDBERG: And there are so many other guys. There are-
HASSELBECK: He has to defend it.
GOLDBERG: You know, he, listen, we all know, as I said to you last week, Bill Graham at one time had very vicious things to say about Jewish people. This is the man who was the spiritual guide-
BEHAR: Which he apologized for.
GOLDBERG: He did apologize. But let us not forget that yes we have seen this before in our preachers. This is not new.
HASSELBECK: This man hasn’t apologized though, and also-
GOLDBERG: And he has no reason to apologize yet.
HASSELBECK: -two wrongs, no pun intended, no pun intended, two wrongs don’t make a right. I’m not saying what that was right what Billy Graham did and I’m not saying this is right.
GOLDBERG: But no one, no one has said, you know, we’ve seen this before. You, everyone is acting like this is the first time that this has happened. You know, this, we’ve had this before.
HASSELBECK: I know it’s not the first time.
BEHAR: But can I say this? The one time that he said that I really didn’t appreciate, was that Obama is being political. Now, Obama is basing his campaign that he is really not trying to be political. He’s trying to change the conversation about politics and rise above the low brow politics. Now this guy drags him down into that venue again, which I think is very, sort of nasty of him. He doesn’t have to say that.
HASSELBECK: It was fine with him for 20 years, 30 years.
BEHAR: But if he wants him to win, he is an African-American man running for president. You know, why undermine the guy?
GINGRICH: But I think, you know, here’s a guy that also has a lot of personal pride and he’s saying, and he’s also saying back to Senator Obama, "you want to diss me, I can get a pulpit and diss you too."
WALTERS: But he’s also saying "these are things that have been said before." But when he says that this country deliberately caused AIDS in African-Americans, did it deliberately, that this country brought on terrorism themselves, that Louis Farrakhan that is really, you know, said some of the most discriminatory things.
GOLDBERG: Yeah, like Graham.
WALTERS: Now, people have- I know that- people have done it before. But to raise it again in the most, sort of, you know, declamatory and, and in a sense, you know, the kinds of things that we hope we’ve done away with. The fact that it’s been done before, doesn’t help the fact that this man who is a preacher. And it’s just, I mean, this whole race is so, I don’t mean race race, this whole race has been so amazing.
BEHAR: What has happened to free speech? It’s free speech.
HASSELBECK: And we’re having it now saying what he said is not okay.
GOLDBERG: I’m being even more free than everybody at the table because we’re going to go and come right back with more with Newt Gingrich.
BEHAR: Good, let’s keep him.
GOLDBERG: We’re back with Newt Gingrich. Joy you have a question?
BEHAR: I have a bone to pick with Newt. May I call you Newt?
GINGRICH: Sure, may I call you Joy?
BEHAR: Yes you may. I saw you on, I think it was "Hannity and Colmes" and you said "the left wing of the Democratic party, frankly, kind of admires American terrorists. They don’t mind at all that Farrakhan is anti-Semitic. They shrug off Jeremiah Wright." Now, I don’t consider Farrakhan and Jeremiah Wright terrorists. They haven’t bombed anything. All they’re doing is exercising free speech which is, you may not approve of, but that is our right according the First Amendment. Why do you put Jeremiah Wright, Farrakhan in the same conversation with terrorists?
HASSELBECK: It seems like you separated them in there.
GINGRICH: No, you’re right. For clarity’s purposes, what I should have said is William Ayers, who is a terrorist-
GINGRICH: Well, as late as 2001 said he was sorry he didn’t plant more bombs.
BEHAR: Yeah, but that’s free speech. Saying that is free speech. Planting the bombs is terrorism.
GINGRICH: Saying he wish he didn’t plant more bombs is very close to the edge of free speech.
BEHAR: Okay, okay, something like yelling fire in a theater.
HASSELBECK: Yeah, that would get you, maybe, arrested.
GINGRICH: But, by the way, as an example, Ayers just won an election to the National Education Association, in a campaign in which he listed his autobiography as a fugitive as part of his credentials. I mean, I don’t think we should underestimate on the hard left, not most people, not 90 percent of the Democratic party, but on the hard left there’s a romantic desire to believe in these kinds of things.
BEHAR: So there’s no-
WALTERS: By the way, we should point out that, if people don’t know who he is because in the last debate, he had been friendly with Barack Obama, and it was another thorn in Barack Obama’s side. And evidently, there were two people, just in case everybody doesn’t know what we were talking about.
BEHAR: So there’s no romance going on between the hard right of this country and Saudi Arabia let’s say?
GINGRICH: No, in fact the hard right in this country deeply dislikes Saudi Arabia as the source of Wahabbist funding, when the hard right would say "well, Saudi Arabia is the prime funder of terrorists."
BEHAR: Well, I saw a picture of Rumsfeld with Saddam Hussein. I mean, he’s considered the big terrorist of the decade, right? And yet he took a picture with Rumsfeld. That’s one of your guys. So is that, is Rumsfeld now considering-
GINGRICH: That was a picture from 1983.
BEHAR: You’re talking about Ayers from 1963.
HASSELBECK: Wait a minute, that’s a little bit unfair because, you say, "oh we can’t draw the link between Senator Obama and Reverend Wright," but you can draw a link between Cheney did you just say?
BEHAR: No, Rumsfeld.
HASSELBECK: Rumsfeld and Saddam Hussein from a picture. You can’t have it one way-
GOLDBERG: It’s the same thing. It’s not, it, it, both things are ridiculous.
GINGRICH: Wait a second, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Winston Churchill were allies with Josef Stalin to defeat Adolf Hitler, which did not mean they were pro-communist, okay. We consciously worked with the Iraqi government to try to block the Iranian revolutionaries of the 1980's. This is a matter of deep public record. This is not, you know, we weren’t sneaking around in the back room. William Ayers was bombing the United States government. I think there’s a little difference when you’re-
BEHAR: According to Bush, the WMD’s were in Saddam Hussein’s country.