ABC’s Cokie Roberts on Polanski: As Far as I’m Concerned, Just ‘Shoot Him’

Longtime ABC journalist Cokie Roberts on Sunday harshly criticized fugitive director Roman Polanski, going so far as to joke, "As far as I’m concerned, just take him out and shoot him." Appearing on the internet-only segment of This Week, she bluntly stated, "But, Roman Polanski is a criminal. You know, he raped and drugged and raped and sodomized a child. And then was a fugitive from justice." She followed up with her "shoot him" quip.

Roberts’ comments were in stark contrast to the cautious remarks coming from many other journalists. On Monday’s Good Morning America, host Diane Sawyer referred to the director's arrest for the 1977 rape of a 13-year old as an "international incident." On Tuesday, Sawyer described the capture of Polanski in Switzerland as the culmination of "a 31 year-old prosecutorial obsession."

The weekly conversation, which is an extension of the program’s roundtable segment, also featured conservative columnist George Will. Summing up Hollywood’s defense of the filmmaker, he explained: "The Hollywood view is Chinatown is a good movie. Therefore, the fact that he used a Quaalude and Champagne to drug and rape a 13-year-old is...a so-called crime."

A transcript of the online, October 9 Green Room segment can be found below:

UNIDENTIFIED PRODUCER: We have a little bit of time left. There were two issues slated to talk about on the roundtable. Two sordid issues. Roman Polanski and David Letterman. Talk a little bit about those two. And why do people care?

COKIE ROBERTS: Well, they’re very different from each other. I mean, I think that the David Letterman situation is not a good situation. You know, there’s an inherent power imbalance in a boss versus his employees. But, Roman Polanski is a criminal. You know, he raped and drugged and raped and sodomized a child. And then was a fugitive from justice. As far as I’m concerned, just take him out and shoot him.

[Laughter]

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: Oh, no. Cokie. Now, we’re both mothers of daughters and I think, Roman Polanski, there should be no dual system of justice in this country. He should not be privileged because he’s a famous director or even because he was a victim of the Holocaust. But, I think one needs to see the documentary which was made that I thought was very powerful in showing judicial and prosecutorial misconduct. That doesn’t mean that he should have fled the country. I think he needs to come back, not fight extradition. But find an appropriate way of serving time and doing justice at this stage. But, I think to say shoot him is obviously not a polite response in a Sunday morning-

MATTHEW DOWD: To me- To me, this is reflective of- To me, the whole Roman Polanski thing is reflective of a huge segment of Hollywood that somehow thinks because you’re part of their clique and you’re successful in their clique, you stand outside the law. And they wouldn’t have that view of anyone outside this country. Someone from rural Alabama or from rural Mississippi that did something, they would be like, "Go after them. Go after them. Go after them." In this case, it’s a commentary on Hollywood that they would allow him to not be held accountable, think it’s okay after the heinous crimes he committed for him not to be held accountable for it.

GEORGE WILL: Yes. The Hollywood view is Chinatown is a good movie. Therefore, the fact that he used a Quaalude and Champagne to drug and rape a 13-year-old is, in the words of Harvey Weinstein, a representative of Hollywood’s monochrome culture, it is a so-called crime. Now, if Chinatown had not been a good movie, we might have to rethink this.

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