ABC Touts European Outrage Over Polanski Arrest; Sawyer: It’s an ‘International Incident’

Hosts and reporters on Monday's Good Morning America hyperventilated about the arrest of fugitive Roman Polanski. Co-anchor Diane Sawyer worried that the detention of the director accused of child rape has created a "true international incident." Co-host Robin Roberts played up the supposed complexity of situation, referring to the event as an "international chess game."

Reporter Nick Watt fretted, "When Polanski, who is a French citizen, walked into a police trap here at Zurich Airport, he sparked an international row." Highlighting French outrage, he parroted, "This morning, another French minister said, ‘There is a scary America that has just shown its face.’"

Polanski was detained in Switzerland for supposedly drugging and then raping a 13-year-old girl in 1977. Sawyer also made sure to point out the anger of Europeans by trumpeting, "His films revered in Europe. It's a true international incident this morning. The French cultural minister called it absolutely horrifying."

A transcript of the September 28 segment, which aired at 7:01am EDT, follows:

DIANE SAWYER: 76-years-old, Roman Polanski. His films revered in Europe. It’s a true international incident this morning. The French cultural minister called it absolutely horrifying.

ROBIN ROBERTS: Yes. International chess game, if you will, this morning. And we have discovered that the Oscar-winning director of such films as the Pianist and Chinatown was taken into custody in Switzerland over the weekend. Faces extradition to the U.S. for having sex with a minor in 1977. There's been an outstanding warrant for his arrest for more than three decades. Many developments this morning and our Nick Watt is in Zurich with the latest. Good morning, Nick.

NICK WATT: Good morning, Robin. Well, this morning, the French and Polish foreign ministers have written to Hillary Clinton asking for clemency. When Polanski, who is a French citizen, walked into a police trap here at Zurich Airport, he sparked an international row. This morning, another French minister said, "There is a scary America that has just shown its face." Roman Polanski has been on the run since 1978, avoiding countries that might extradite him. He hasn’t set foot on U.S. soil in 31 years. He won an Oscar for The Pianist" in 2003 and had Harrison Ford collect it for him.

HARRISON FORD: Roman Polanski.

WATT: In 1977, Polanski pled guilty to having sex with a minor. He was accused of drugging and raining a 13-year-old. He says he didn't know her age. Polanski spent 42 days in the California jail being psychologically evaluated. Then, he fled to France.

STEVE COOLEY (Los Angeles D.A.): He wouldn't surrender himself. He pled this jurisdiction to avoid sentencing. He fled the jurisdiction. So, it took this long because he was a fugitive. Well, now he's no longer a fugitive.

WATT: Now he's in a Swiss jail awaiting an extradition hearing. Diane Sawyer interviewed Polanski in 1994.

ROMAN POLANSKI (fugitive director): I think at that time I had a hard time to persuade myself that it was wrong. Because I don't think anybody was hurt.

SAWYER: You don't?

POLANSKI: At that time, I said. Later on I realized, you know, it's just, you know, I was too close to the forest to see the trees.

WATT: Polanski learned his trade in Poland and earned global acclaim with his first Hollywood feature Rosemary's Baby, released in 1968.

[Brief clip from Rosemary’s Baby.]

WATT: The following year his actress/wife Sharon Tate and their unborn son were murdered by followers of Charles Manson. Chinatown followed in 1974. And then, three years, later the rape of 13-year-old Samantha Geimer during a photo shoot.

SAMANTHA GEIMER (Rape victim): He changed me to, like, change and change in front of him and stuff. It didn't feel right. I didn't at that time have the self-confidence to tell my mother and everyone, no, I'm not going to go.

WATT: Geimer now in her 40s says she has forgiven Polanski and does not want him jailed.

GEIMER: You know, if he could, I'm sure he'd go back and he wouldn't do it again.

WATT: The Swiss say they might grant bail and actually awaiting for an official extradition request from the U.S. Polanski has hired Swiss and French lawyers to fight had his corner. He doesn't want to be cuffed and put on a plane to L.A. Robin?

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org